La Vie américaine  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

“To become and to remain an American, one must look upon life as a struggle and not as a pleasure, and seek in it, victorious effort, energetic and efficacious action, rather than pleasure, leisure embellished by the cultivation of the arts, the refinements proper to other societies. Everywhere-—We have seen that what makes the American succeed, what constitutes his type—is character, personal energy, energy in action, creative energy.”, Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel citing La Vie américaine by Paul de Rousiers

This is the earlier English translation:

"He who would become or remain an American must look on life as a struggle and not as a pleasure; he must count victorious effort and energetic arid efficient action more than ease, more than that leisure adorned by artistic and refined culture which is sought after in other societies."

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

La Vie américaine (1892) is a book by Paul de Rousiers. It is cited in Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel. The book does not mention the protestant work ethic.

The book is an analysis of American society based on deliberate investigation including visits to factories and farms, observations of life in the cities and countryside, and interviews with representatives of different social groups including owners, workers, politicians, officials and professionals.

The publisher Firmin-Didot provided funding for Paul de Rousiers to visit the United States from March to June 1890. He wrote of what he found in La Vie américaine (1892), an analysis of American society based on deliberate investigation including visits to factories and farms, observations of life in the cities and countryside, and interviews with representatives of different social groups including owners, workers, politicians, officials and professionals.

His goal was to understand the sociological forces behind the growing economic power of the US, which was starting to cause serious concern in Europe.

De Rousiers interviewed George Pullman, who exerted huge control over the workforce who lived in his Pullman City. He wrote of Pullman's manufacturing complex, "Everything is done in order and with precision. One feels that some brain of superior intelligence, backed by a long technical experience, has thought out every possible detail."

The book appeared in English in 1892, translated by the geographer Andrew John Herbertson.

In La Vie américaine Paul de Rousiers distinguished the west, with its ranches, farms and towns that were no more than farm markets, from the east with its manufactures, commerce and city life. He saw them as two successive states of the same society, with the west helping to explain the east. De Rousiers, who inspired the revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel with this work, wrote that the American aristocracy stressed ability and discouraged mediocrity, even among their own children.

They were much more concerned with helping those with ability than with preventing the incompetent from dying of hunger.

He wrote that every American feels himself capable of trying his luck on the battlefield of business, so that the general spirit of the country is in complete harmony with that of the millionaires.

Full text[1]

PAUL DE ROUSIERS


AMERICAN LIFE


TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH


BY


A. J. HERBERTSON



i 892 FIRMIN-DIDOT & CO., PUBLISHERS

PARIS. NEW YORK.

FOR SALE BY

DYRSEN & PFEIFFER, 254 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK.



Copyright, December, 1891, by Firmin-Didot & Co.


CONTENTS


PAGE.

INTRODUCTORY 9

CHAPTER I. How a New Territory Is Opened 19

CHAPTER II. Cattle Raising The Ranches. 39

CHAPTER III. The Cattle Markets The Great Meat Cities 57

CHAPTER IV. Cultivation on a Large Scale Extensive Farms. 81

CHAPTER V. Farming on a Small Scale The Homestead 101

CHAPTER VI. Auxiliaries of Culture The Small Towns of the

West 115

CHAPTER VII. The Outlets for Farm Produce The Great Cities

of the West 137

CHAPTER VIII. The Working of the Mines Gold in the Rocky

Mountains 157

CHAPTER IX. The Beginnings of Industry in the West 171

CHAPTER X. The Manufacturers of the East Their Predomi nance Unity of Type Abundance of Coal and Natural Gas

Some Examples of Large Factories 189

CHAPTER XI. The Labor Question Signs of Misery Signs of

Wellbeing Whence Comes the Contrast ? 203

CHAPTER XII. The Economic Condition of American Manu factures High Wages and their Consequences American Industries and European Competition The McKinley Bills The Dangers of the Protective System The Effects of a

Free-Trade Reaction 225

CHAPTER XIII. The Great City of Commerce and Banks The Intensity of Commercial Life and the Cosmopolitanism of New York The Empire City How an American Capitalist

Invests His Money 239

CHAPTER XIV. American Education Primary Education All

Trades are Respectable The Young Girls 253

CHAPTER XV. Betrothal and Marriage Heiresses Dowerless Daughters Forms of Marriage. Large Families and Child less Marriages. The Divorce Question 271


21G994


AMERICAN LIFE.

CHAPTER XVI. The Americans at Home and Abroad Familial Homes New York and Boarding-Houses The Domestic- Servant Difficulty Travelling The Last Journey and the Last Resting-Place 289

CHAPTER XVII. Daily Life Meals Drunkenness Temper ance Societies and Prohibition Dress American Amuse ments 313

CHAPTER XVIII. American Aristocracy The Virginian Aris tocracy in Earlier Times and To-day A Developing Aris tocracy 335

CHAPTER XIX. Associations for Private and Public Benefit Associations for Comrtion Interests Associations for Public Weal 353

CHAPTER XX. Politics The Corruption of Public Bodies and of Politicians How Public Action is Substituted when Private Interest Requires It The Restricted Nature of Public Au thority 363

CHAPTER XXI. The Intellectual Life of the United States The Education of the Young The Liberal Professions News papers and Reviews American Authors The Taste for Art. . 387

CHAPTER XXII. The Religious Condition Are Americans Re ligious ? The Catholic Church in the United States 415

CHAPTER XXIII. Conclusion 433


AMERICAN LIFE.


NTRODUCTORY.


I. AMERICA OF OLDEN TIMES AND OF TO-DAY.

The year 1892 will see the four hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America. In the far-off time, when Christopher Columbus landed on the Bahamas, thinking to have reached the further end of the Indies, assuredly no one foresaw the important part this New World has been called upon to play.

When the brave explorer retured from his first expe dition and made his triumphal entry into Barcelona, undoubtedly there must have been great enthusiasm at the Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. An admiration of his happy genius took hold of everyone ; the men of science joyfully saw the bounds of human knowledge suddenly extended ; the statesmen dreamt to base the supremacy of their country on great conquests ; the merchants already counted up the vast profits the ex ploitation of a new country would pour into their cof fers. But there were none who imagined that the West Indies would be anything for Europe but a magnificent prey.

This first impression was sustained by the series of discoveries which continued up to the eighteenth cen-


10 INTRODUCTORY.

tury. The further men pushed onwards into the im mensity of this new continent, the more its natural riches seemed to be at once enormous and undeveloped. The natives had hardly cultivated the soil, still covered with impenetrable forests and vast savannahs. It was a marvellous field open to European activity. So, for almost three centuries America was looked upon as a European dependency. Each great nation staked off large possessions, and sought only to make them profit able to itself.

In a measure, the War of Independence was the first phase of a disillusioning, which is still far from being complete. Then it began to be seen that the colonies could easily do without the mother country, and that separation, far from hindering their developement, was notably favorable to it. It is at this point that America entered on the scene.

To-day we are witnesses of the second phase of this disillusioning. America has not only a separate exist ence of its own, but it has grown to be a formidable rival to the Old World. Already everybody knows even in the most out-of-the-way country places that American grain has begun to compete with ours. The French soldier carries canned meats, prepared in Chicago, in his knapsack. Just remember the stir the question of American imports has caused in European agricul tural circles ! Protective tariffs have been established to arrest the progress of the scourge ; but no one has very great faith in barriers which can be thrown down so easily. America has ceased to be an object of curiosity in becoming an object of dread.

But this is not all. New types are appearing in the nascent society on the other side of the Atlantic. Have these to be ascribed to transitory causes ; or, on the


INTRODUCTORY. 1 1

other hand, are they the first signs of a future evolu tion ? Europe begins to feel uneasy, and the Old World nations are asking if, after all, they must seek for new models among these barbarians.

II. THE TRUE THEATRE OF AMERICAN LIFE.

The great movement which I have tried to charac terize is not affecting the whole Continent either in the same way, or, above all, with the same intensity. A shifting of centres has happened which explains the difference between the fortunes of North and South America.

At the discovery, and for two centuries afterwards, it could truly be said that America was all in the South. These were the times of the great Spanish and Portu guese colonies, the famous epics of the conquistadores and of galleons weighted with gold. There was a vague knowledge that certain puritan sects had sought a refuge on the shore of New England, but their exist ence was not revealed by any noteworthy event. They lived unknown to the world, while the names of Cortez and Pizzaro were already immortal.

Thus it is that American history begins in tropical lands. New World development was first focussed there, but it has faded little by little, and is now out shone by a second and more northern one, whose glow and brightness are growing every day. This new centre is in the United States. It is there that the people are developing most rapidly ; there that towns are springing up all at once in the midst of the wilder ness ; there that the spirit of enterprise, carried to its utmost limits, is covering the virgin soil with railroads, with farms, with manufactories, e er old Europe has


12 INTRODUCTORY.

learned the name of the country where these astonish ing transformations are going on. Thence it is that there comes this dreaded competition of which I have just spoken. Even our way of speaking betrays this mastery of the United States; for when we talk of the American type without other qualification, we at once think of the citizen of New York and of Chicago, of the Yankee and of the Western settler. He who would give an account of the America of to-day and under stand the American spirit, the American way of doing things and American life, must go to the United States.

But there is still a choice to make. This progress has not the same characters everywhere. The States which \vere the most famous in the early days are no longer at the head of affairs. A hundred years ago Virginia had a special part to act in the Union. She gave it its leaders. Washington, that most famous of all Virginians, has left an imperishable memory. One may say that the race of Southern planters, of whose executive qualities he was the embodiment, realized the independence of the States. Without it, the uprising of the public spirit against England would have been futile. To direct this, men were needed who were ac customed to command and who were capable of making effective use of the precious elements the nation con tained. These were the men that Virginia gave to New England.

To-day neither Virginia nor Georgia nor any of the Southern States occupy a preponderant position in the Union. During the recent agitation about the great city which should have the honors of holding the Uni versal Exposition, no one thought of New Orleans or of Baltimore. The struggle was limited to one between New York and Chicago, between the great city of the


INTRODUCTORY. 13

East and the great city of the West ; because the East and the North-west are the two most active and the two most powerful parts of the Union.

For a like reason, the East and West form the true theatre of American life, the places where it is at the same time most intense and most characteristic. Let us, therefore, study it there.

III. THE SALIENT FEATURE OF AMERICAN LIFE.

In the East, as in the West, the love of independence forces the United States citizen to make a position for himself ; and this constantly spurs him on. To get it, he works hard and ever tries his fortune ; so that Amer ican life, in a measure, is all consecrated to business. Business ! that is the word which the lips of the Yankee or the colonist pronounce the oftenest, and one reads such preoccupation on their faces. In meeting one another, the greeting is " How s business?" It is the first subject they think of speaking about.

In the States, one talks of business more readily, be cause of its uncertainty. It progresses with no steady, prudent pace, but has hazards, fluctuations and number less vicissitudes. The abundant resources of a new country, with an unforeseeable future, give it this char acter ; and the active and enterprising spirit of the Americans make it all the more marked.

Were I to give, in a few words, a general idea of American life, I should say that it greatly resembles a ladder up which everybody is climbing, hanging on, falling, and beginning the ascent again after each tumble, without wasting time in whining or deliberating on the decision to lose not a rung. Nobody thinks of stopping ; nobody rests contented on any step ; everyone is climb-


14 INTRODUCTORY.

ing; none are settled. It is precisely this that an American understands by life. Not only must he be independent ; he must also be powerful. He will not ac cept mediocrity ; he will not consent to remain an ordinary clerk, or a small storekeeper, or a little proprietor ; he must be manager of vast undertakings. If he desires riches, it is not to enjoy in old age the fruits of his earlier labors, but to try still bigger undertakings with the large capital he has collected. For him, money is not so much something to enjoy as an instrument of work a lever ; not an end, but a means.

The ardor which he develops in this pursuit is thus ennobled and increased ten-fold. No task is too hard ; no labor too severe for a man animated with these sen timents ; no consideration will stop him in his schemes when there is a chance of success at the last. He does not dread great risks, for he alone was father of his fortune, and ruin means nothing to him but the return to a condition he already knows, and out of which he has already managed to escape. As to difficulties, he al ways hopes to conquer them ; for him they are a kind of sport, Between the steep slope and the winding way that lead to the heights of fortune, he chooses the former because it is the shortest. With hands and feet he fastens himself to every roughness, at great risk of breaking his back, provided that this gymnastic lets him arrive quicker. Of such a man, it is not sufficient to say that he struggles for existence ; one must add that he risks his life to gain the end he has in view.

IV. EAST AND WEST.

How shall I become independent? Such is the question every American puts to himself at the age of


INTRODUCTORY. 15

fifteen or sixteen years. We must first study this desire, if we would understand American life.

The means differ in East and West, and differ pro foundly, because the economic conditions of East and West are in vivid contrast. The East is the region of manufactures and commerce the centre of city life ; the West is the country of cattle ranches and of farms, and even its cities are, essentially, cattle marts. It is, therefore, necessary to distinguish between the East and West in order to understand the various sources from which American life derived its strength.

If, on the other hand, you cross-examine the differ ent aspects she assumes, its unity appears, and it is clearly seen, that East and West are but two successive stages of the same society. They differ only in economic condition. The best proof is that the West is always receding, while the East advances in the measure that this happens.

In the days of M. de Tocqueville, Ohio was consi dered a State of the extreme West ; to-day it is thought of almost as an Eastern State, and this not merely geo graphically, for its society has become of a thoroughly Eastern type.

There still remains another point to settle : where to begin this description by East or by West ?

It seems to me preferable to begin with the West, for several reasons. In the first place, the merits and weaknesses of this extraordinary people are more em phasized in the Western States. There can be seen very clearly the causes of its rapid developments still in action ; there can be watched the elements at work which have combined to make America what she is ; there, consequently, is to be found the key of the whole social system. The best way of showing, to the out-


16 INTRODUCTORY.

sider, American life in its true light, is, therefore, to describe this Far West where it is to be seen struggling with all the difficulties of savage nature, and also profit ing by all the resources of a virgin soil. In the second place, this glimpse at Western America lets us under stand not only the actual state of things, but also the history of their development. At the present moment, the East acts as a sort of metropolis to the West. It supplies the capital for the great undertakings began there, and it also sends by far the largest number of those who manage these enterprises. The Yankee leads the West as England leads Australia or New Zealand, and as it formerly led the American colonies. That which is taking place to-day in the West through Yankee aid, is very much the same as formerly went on in New England by English help.

Lastly, the West also explains to us the actual con dition and progress of the East. If the manufacturers of New England and of Pennsylvania have developed so marvellously, it is because the West has given them a constantly growing number of purchasers ; and if the shipping from Atlantic ports has risen to such wonderful proportions, it is because the cattle and the wheat of the West are not unknown in Eastern harbors.

Let us join the hardy pioneers who search for new lands, and see the very beginnings of colonization. To do this, it is not necessary to go far back into the past, for almost every year the President of the Republic declares some part of the Indian reserve territory open to the settlers. Then must the Redskins move away, carrying with them the little store of dollars which they have been paid for yielding up their reserve ; then a heterogenous mob of adventurers and of settlers rush


INTRODUCTORY. I/

on to the virgin soil, to build their towns and to grow their crops.

There American life is born ; and there is not a corner of the United States that was not the scene of similar operations at a fairly recent period.


AMERICAN LIFE.


CHAPTER I.

How A NEW TERRITORY Is OPENED.

I. THE DIVERSITIES OF TYPE.

Amongst the territories recently opened for colonization, Oklahoma has attracted as much public attention as any. It is a small region surrounded by the Indian reserves, and about 50 miles from the southern frontier of Kansas. Interested to see a really new country, I promised myself to visit this one, and on April 23d, 1890 a year and a day after its opening I arrived in Oklahoma.

There is no material difficulty about the voyage. One buys a ticket for Guthrie or for Oklahoma City, just as one does for Lyons or Bordeaux ; but, in looking through the glass of the car windows, the view makes one think of Fenimore Cooper rather than of the fields of France. Shortly after passing Arkansas City, the limits of the Reserve of the Cherokees is reached, and there all traces of civilization disappear. The bare and slightly undulating prairie is not cut by any fence, nor covered with any habitation. At times one sees a herd of cattle which some Redskins on horseback permit to graze for a Kansas colonist ; then the solitude begins again. Wherever the eye searches the horizon, it sees nothing but the eternal prairie, so often and so justly compared to a boundless sea.

However, all along the track a well trodden path marks the route of the emigrants ; and the dead bodies of horses, mules


20 AMERICAN LIFE.

and cattle lie here and there, abandoned by the colonists, whose wagons they had pulled a caravan route.

Before being aware of it one is in Oklahoma. The first station in the colony is noticed only by a group of two or three little houses, hastily erected near the depot. The most elegant are made of wood, while others consist of a wooden frame-work, on which pieces of cloth are stretched, making a sort of square tent, not promising much comfort. Here are stores or hotels. Soon the country becomes more lively. On the banks of a little creek there is a fairly well built wooden house, carefully painted, surrounded by a well cultivated field, enclosed by barbed wire. A man, doubtless the colonist, stands before the door, to look at the passing train. He has the important air of a country proprietor, and his whole person seems to express ease and contentment. The other more provisional settlements round about him are occupied by another sort of emigrant. The family are sheltered by miserable sod-houses. The occupied land is indicated sim ply by a few rough stakes fixed here and there into the ground, which is still covered with prairie grass. On seeing such contrasts, renewed at every instant, one realizes that all do not come to Oklahoma with the same objects. Some wish to settle in the most thorough way on good ground, to put the hand to the plough and vigorously turn over the sod to make a fertile farm for themselves. Others desire to specu late, to make certain of the ownership of a lot, by living there the necessary time, and then to sell out to some new comer.

That is what my fellow-travellers told me ; on alighting at Guthrie the diversity of types I met confirmed their explana tion. The first crowd that invades a newly-opened territory is very heterogenous. Here are some of the types by which the reader may judge for himself. First of all, there are mere adventurers, who rush in the midst of the throng without quite knowing what they are after, but buoyed by the hope that some lucky hazard, some happy hit, will make their fortune. My landlord at Guthrie belonged to that style. He was one of the most loquacious of men, and I did not have the trouble of asking him his story, to know all its incidents. His talkativeness interested me greatly, because he had lived


AMERICAN LIFE. 21

in every part of the Globe and was a curious specimen of the wandering Bohemian. A native of Transylvania, he shipped in what capacity, I know not on an Austrian vessel, and landed in Australia. There he acted as cook. Next he re turned to Europe, then back to the Pacific, this time, however, to America, and from the Pacific Coast he passed to that of the Atlantic, and lastly, in April, 1889, invaded Oklahoma. In spare time .he had married a stout German, who used to go about the hotel with an earnest air. His admiration for American institutions seemed tome to be slight ; he infinitely preferred European governments, and would willingly have ex changed his lot of land and his hotel of wood and zinc for a room in Paris or Vienna. Paris, which he knew from a short stay there, was especially seductive ; and in Paris the most attractive thing for him was the Bal Mabille, whose name he pronounced in a very curious way, but with grateful remem brance. I also can avow that he kept himself in touch with our master-pieces, for one night, when I had retired early to recover from the fatigues of a well-occupied day, I was dis turbed in my sleep by the tapping of a firm hand on a discor dant piano, whose sound brought to my ears the well-known air to which one of our generals owed his celebrity, and to which he gave his name. I was very anxious to sleep, but the idea of hearing En Revenant de la Revue, at the end of a voyage in Indian Territory, seemed so droll to me that I never thought of regretting the disturbance.

Another curious type was a so-called architect, born in the Palatinate, a great hunter, a convinced Socialist and, above all, an enemy of the Jesuits. He told me that he arrived in Oklahoma with $25 in his pocket, dreamed of building Gu- thrie in stone and brick, prophesied that shortly lands there would rise to an astonishing value, and while waiting till he became a millionnaire, borrowed cigars from the landlord. His hunting stories were marvellous. He had trailed the grizzly bear in the Rockies, killed the lynx, buffalo and antelope in prodigious numbers, and gained his living for several months by selling quails and pairie-hens. He had also cleaned locomo tives at a dollar a day, built railroad bridges for the Missouri Pacific Company, and lectured against capitalism.


22 AMERICAN LIKE.

Alongside of the genus adventurer, there is that of specu lator, in whose first ranks are the land-agents. The land-agent is a man with some capital, who buys lots of lands from those who are confirmed in their possession of it, and sells them again to new comers or to settlers dissatisfied with the land they have taken.

In one of the streets of Outline I saw an immigrant in his canvas-roofed wagon, drawn by a pair of good horses, and with a cow tied to the rear end. These signs of prosperity in an emigrant do not escape the notice of the keen-eyed land agents of Guthrie, for there is one approaching to propose a bar gain before the wagon has been drawn up. It never does to miss any chance. In fact, many lots are still to be taken up. Everybody who took possession of the 160 acres which the federal law allows to the first occupant is not a real settler; but many simply wish to be assured the right of property by a stay of six months, and then to part with this right for ready- money. The land agent helps them by buying their claim, but as he has several on hand, he tries to get rid of them as soon as possible, and hence he plies his trade with the immigrant in the streets of Guthrie.

The existence of the land agent reveals to us also that of a more modest speculator he who takes a claim not to cultivate it, but to sell it. In a little Western town I knew a group of Frenchmen who had lived for six Summer months in a place absolutely uninhabited on the prairies of Western Kan sas, in order to take claims there. At that time they had re turned home in the hope that the real colonists would settle in the neighborhood of their claims, and so give them a consider able surplus. One of them had realized speedily enough a very modest return ; the other two awaited a rise of prices, with their two hands in their pockets, like true proprietors.

In the main, everybody puts his hope in the settler who cul tivates the soil, growing wheat or maize, raising cattle, and who transforms the country. This is true for Oklahoma as for other virgin districts of the United States. Adventurers and speculators cannot live if the others do not work ; for they are but parasites. It is not they, it is the settler, who opens up the district.


AMERICAN LIFE. 23

It is the settler, then, that we must study. He, too, is of va rious types, depending on his origin, his tastes and his capabi lities. Sometimes he arrives in solid groups ; sometimes he is a poor wretch, with neither cent nor trunk; sometimes he settles solitarily ; sometimes he is an important capitalist. Everyone contributes his share to the prosperity of the country, but the contributions are of different values, and must be separetely studied.


II. SETTLERS WHO SETTLE.

In all Oklahoma I did not meet immigrants who had come in bands organized beforehand ; but in several Western States there are entire districts peopled by families of the same na tionality, and united by ties more or less close. The most striking example of this that I have noticed is that of the swarm of Menonites, settled at Hillsboro, in Kansas. These Menonites would not undertake military duties, because of re ligious scruples, and had to leave Germany for Russia, about the end of the eighteenth century. There, again, a recent ukase enforced the law of conscription, to escape which they came to Kansas. After eighty years in Russia and four teen in Kansas, they speak neither Russian nor English, but German, their native tongue. Being ignorant of that language, I was obliged to secure an interpreter at Hillsboro, to talk to the Menonite parson, to whom I had been directed. In com pany with this interpreter a young German storekeeper and several friends, I arrived one morning, about 10 o clock, at the farm of V- . While fastening our horses to a stake, as is the ordinary custom, V - came forward, shook hands and asked us the object of our visit. He was a rather strong man, about forty, of a kindly appearance. His long beard, fur cap and thick hair gave him the look of a Russian peasant. Nothing in his dress told that he was a parson ; but his calm looks, dignified and peaceful, were in strong contrast with those of the Americans accompanying me. It seemed to me as if I saw one of those Pilgrim Fathers who formerly landed at New Plymouth, seeking a lone land where they could settle,


24 AMERICAN LIFE.

protected from the corrupting contact of other sects. Clearly, this man did not come to Kansas to make a position for him self, as most immigrants do, but simply to live in his religious faith, ambitionless and tranquil. He had settled on a farm of only 160 acres the claim given to an immigrant but he had bought it from the Santa-Fe Railroad, as his companion Men- onites had done. " We want to be all together," he said to me, u and it is hard to find on government lands enough free space to let each of us have his 160 acres; but the railroads own large tracts, and have given us some on very advantageous terms." It is, indeed, good luck for the Santa-Fe Railroad to have a settling of 4,000 cultivators near their line all at once, and it is easy to understand that they gave them every possible facility to do so. Many had nothing with which to pay for their claim, having spent all that they possessed in paying the costs of the voyage from Russia. But they offered special security to the company, in consequence of a curious organization which makes them conjointly responsible. V- - explained to me that the whole church forms a sort of society, each of whose members was responsible for the debts of all the others. In giving credit to one family, the Santa-Fe had the debt guaran teed by a dozen others. Further all these Menonites, accus tomed to farming from their youth, are serious settlers, and not simply adventurers glad to place the Atlantic between them and their creditors.

Such are folks who have truly peopled and given worth to a desert land. It is a rare case, for one does not find every day a population ready to leave their country en masse to settle in the lonely wilds of the Far West. It is not an unprecedented event in America. The Puritans of New England in the eigh teenth, and the Mormons in the nineteenth century, have founded important settlements in a like spirit ; but individual immigration is the common and dominant case. In Oklahoma I encountered no other.

Usually it is Americans, North Germans or Scandinavians who come there and settle alone on their 160 acres of prairie. By preference, Americans come to land not yet opened up. It was they who threw themselves on Oklahoma as on a prey, while millions of acres are still vacant in States constituted for


AMERICAN LIFE. 25

several years. In the environs of Guthrie, I saw a Californian and his wife who had crossed the Rockies to seek their fortune there. On the edge of their little garden, which they had dug in front of their cabin door, an arbor of Californian vines was al ready planted. A little way further, an old woman from Ohio came in her wagon, with her husband, and several children still young. She had traversed that enormous distance to try her luck, and did. not seem .to consider herself a heroine. The journey lasted three months, which is to say that for twelve weeks she had rolled along in a wretched wagon, shared all the jolts on a prairie road strewn with ruts, stopped each evening to get ready a spare meal, and endured the fatigues and dan gers of such an enterprise, to find at the end of it 160 acres of bare prairie, and the sod-house which her husband had built. It is interesting to note that this woman was not reduced to poverty. Near the sod-house I saw the wagon, in good con dition, a pair of horses and a cow. Inside was a bed, primitive it is true, but covered with perfectly clean sheets. She could have lived without undertaking this long journey ; but she pre ferred to take the risks, in hopes of profiting by the advan tages of Oklahoma and becoming proprietress of land of her own. It was not stern necessity that drove her from Ohio, but a desire to raise herself.

The new lands are thus not peopled only by the poor immi grants. The same spirit of enterprise which animates all Americans pushes some to newly opened territories, and it is because of it that the pressure of the rich and powerful causes the successives encroachments on the Indian reserves. This is specially true of Oklahoma. The Federal Government had no desire to buy this little piece of land far from any consti tuted State from the tribes occupying it. However, it had to resign itself to this, owing to the extraordinary perseverance of some citizens of Kansas in pushing the matter. It was a certain Captain Couch who contributed most to the attain ment of the desired result, and as he was buried while I was at Guthrie, he was then the subject of every conversation. I report this here because it shows, in a very accurate way, the type of an eminent settler, the man who opens a territory. Capt. Couch was not a captain in the United States Army, as his


26 AMERICAN LIFE.

title might lead one to believe. He was called captain, either be cause he had received this rank in some local militia, or simply by courtesy, because he really commanded a certain number of men voluntarily gathered under his authority. It is very hard to tell of what profession he was. Like many Americans, like most Westerners, he had followed several trades, varying according to circumstances. Thus, in 1871 we find him, at 21, married and settled as farmer on the lands of Osage City, Kansas. He had come there the year before, after having left his family (originally from North Carolina) in Johnson County. In 1876 he had a notion to go further West, and he landed at Wichita, a small town just born then and now full of life. There he became a cattle-dealer, and rapidly gained great profits. Encouraged by this success, he set up a grocery and hardware store, but far from letting himself be absorbed by molasses and kettles, he found time to form in the neigh borhood a rural property of 1,400 acres. His prosperity vanished, all at once, in 1881, the results of Couch being victimized by friends in whom he had trusted. Forced to liquidate, he met all his obligations, returned to his first farm, and began to make money by selling cattle from Texas. But during his stay at Wichita he had joined with Captain Payne, and even had furnished him with financial help for the organi zation of a colony in Oklahoma. From 1883 he took a personal part in the attempt at settlement directed by Payne. The little troop they had gathered contained 600 men. Payne was commander and Couch had charge of the wagons, num bering 1 19 a real expedition. The young colony had already chosen a site on the northern branch of the Canadian River, when Captain Carroll, of the Ninth Cavalry a real officer, this one cut short its destinies by reconducting the whole band back within the Kansas frontier, and gave them orders not to cross it in future. It must be explained that the Federal Government often uses its army to defend the Indians from the invasions of Americans. It enforces the laws which prohibit any but aborigines staying in the Indian Reserves, and we are sorry to see that this is not always managed without difficulty.

The expedition of which we have been speaking took place


AMERICAN LIFE. 27

in February. In August, Payne and Couch organized a new one in Arkansas City, the town nearest the frontier. This time Couch entered Indian Territory with 200 men, while Payne remained in Kansas, to raise a movement in favor of the enter prise. Everywhere he stood by his opinion, that colonization de facto led necessarily to colonization dejure; and once settled in Oklahoma, the public powers would be forced to open it. Soon, however, the United States cavalry brought back again to the frontier Couch and his 200 men. Couch tried a new plan :. taking with him 30 of the best horsemen, he boldly entered Oklahoma, and for a month escaped pursuit. Finally, how ever, he and his followers were caught, and after imprisoning them for several days in Fort Reno, they were taken to Texas and there set free.

In the Spring of the following year (1884), 600 colonists in vaded Oklahoma, but were rapidly scattered. In May 200 others came in their turn, and settled on the river Cimarron, about 6 miles above Guthrie. These were taken to Fort Reno, and Couch, with four other ringleaders, was handed over to justice. The court, however, acquitted them, and while the trial was going on, Payne, followed by a great number of settlers, crossed the frontier ; but he was afterwards conducted to Fort Smith, in Arkansas, an<J there set at liberty.

In November of the same year, it was decided to make a new effort, but Payne died. Couch paid the last respects to him, and soon afterwards began a new march to Oklahoma. This time he settled on the site where Stillwater now is, and, en couraged by his acquittal, he determined to adopt a new attitude in face of the army. Indeed, when Lieutenant Day, of the Ninth Cavalry, came to order him to deliver himself up, he replied by a pointblank refusal, saying that he disobeyed no law, because he had not been condemned by the tribunal which tried him, and consequently he would resist violence by violence. At these energetic words and warlike intentions of Couch s band, the Lieutenant felt he was too weak, and went to seek reinforcement ; but the United States Army has only 25,000 men, so the garrisons are small ; and a month passed before Cap tain Hatch had collected and led to Stillwater light companies to oppose Couch. Even in face of these superior forces Couch


28 AMERICAN LIFE.

refused to capitulate and declared himself ready to fight ; but Captain Hatch, wishing to avoid bloodshed, stopped all supplies for the settlers, and after a little famine, forced them to return to Arkansas City. The Stillwater affair created a considerable stir in the country. Couch was once more dragged before a court of justice and acquitted by it. The protests of the settlers came before Congress, and finally the President of the United States was authorized by law to open negotiations with the Indians Seminoles, Creeks and Cherokees for the ceding of Oklahoma. It was a triumph which Couch thought definite ; but he had still many obstacles to surmount before he gained his end. For President Cleveland did not seem disposed to profit by the authorization to treat with the aborigines, and settlers who waited for the declaration at Arkansas City began to lose all hope. Couch now undertook a new sort of cam paign. Personal bravery had already got all it could get. He felt himself backed by public sympathy, so he now tried to effect a legal solution by acting on the federal powers. He left Kansas for Washington, was presented to the President, to the Secretary of the Interior, and received the conviction of their bad will. It was, therefore, necessary to get a new Act from Congress to overcome this, and for four years Couch occupied himself to promote tjie Bill with the same perse verance which had served him when he first invaded the Indian reserve. But it was not till 1889 that he obtained the Act permitting the formation of Oklahoma.

This capability to use successively every means necessary to obtain an end, no matter how they may differ, is an important trait of American character. The typical American is a com plex being, capable of living either alone in a settlement hid den in the middle of the prairie, or in a hotel with a thousand rooms, in the centre of a large city. We shall understand this singular faculty better when we see how an American lives in isolation even in the midst of a crowd. By the bye, let us re mark that Couch had this complexity and versatile mind in a very marked measure. It is a very different matter to gallop across the Oklahoma wilds with an armed force at one s heels, to camp in the open air and keep a band of adventurers in order, from dancing attendance on Ministers or buy up the


AMERICAN LIFE. 29

powerful Congressman ; in one word, to carry on political intrigue.

As soon as the Bill had passed Couch left Washington, in order that he might have occasion to enter Oklahoma before the official opening. He obtained a concession from the Santa- Fe Railroad for laying a certain length of track near Oklahoma City. In this way he was assured the possibility of choosing an advantageous position on which to settle the minute the territory was declared open, the Railroad Company becoming an accomplice in this little fraud in return for the great ser vices he had rendered them. Previously it had crossed nothing but Indian Reserves for a large tract of country between Kan sas and Texas ; and the foundation of a colony in Oklahoma added a new element to its traffic, and might become a great source of profit for it.

Justified by this special reason, which he could bring forward for his presence in Oklahoma, Couch patiently waited the opening day near the land he had chosen in advance ; and, on April 22d, 1889, at noon, he rushed from the track where he superintended the works, and took material possession of a well-placed claim. None could dispute his right as first occu pant ; but one Adams, pretending that this title was vitiated by the fraud of which Couch was guilty, pitched his tent on the same lot and claimed exclusive right to it. This was the be ginning of a long quarrel, and a fatal one for Couch, who one day was enclosing the claim, when Adams fired at him the six barrels of his revolver, and wounded him in several places. He soon died from the effects of these wounds.

The settlers of Oklahoma, in telling me this story, expressed the warmest admiration for this caracter at once daring and calm, and for this extraordinary perseverance which had over come every difficulty. Of an unsettled and restless disposition, Couch was a good representative of what is there termed a frontiersman a pioneer, a founder. He was typical of these Americans who lead the hardiest of the settlers in their search for new lands. But such people as the Californian couple or the old woman from Ohio, of whom we have spoken, are not able to determine the opening of a territory.


30 AMERICAN LIFE.


III. THE RIGHT OF FIRST OCCUPANT.

The tragic end of Captain Couch leads us to speak of a spe cial difficulty encountered by those who invade a new territory. I speak of the many quarrels that arise out of questions as to the ownership of lands. They have not led to many bloody scuffles ; indeed, scarcely two or three deaths, explained a Gu- thrie citizen to me with marked satisfaction ; but they show themselves in thousands of other ways. I read the following bill in the street :

A CK/SJS.

" Now is the time to act against Lot Jumpers and inciters of riot and ruin. Let every citizen who believes in property- rights, law and order be at the City Hall, East Guthrie, at 7.30 to-night, to organize for protection of honest property- rights."

A gentleman whom I had met that morning and who saw me writing the announcement into my diary, began to beg me not to send a copy to Paris. " Don t believe " he added, " that there are Communists, enemies of property, here as with you. There is nothing in all this except squabbles between the real settlers, who entered Oklahoma on the day and at the hour fixed by the President of the Republic, and the individuals who were introduced by fraud before that time, and were able to seize in advance certain well-situated lots. We usually call them the sooner s, or folks who turn up too soon ; the bill calls them Lot Jumpers, and it has exactly the same meaning."

The sooner question has greatly agitated the population since the opening up of Oklahoma. At first, the sooners^ many of whom were, of course, the followers of Payne and Couch, were sure of winning, and as soon as possible tried to establish their having taken possession ; but a crowd of protests were lodged, and to-day the difference is squared in favor of the bona fide settlers. I was told a curious fact which clearly shows this turn about. The thought struck one of the reporters who came to Oklahoma in 1889, f noting the names of most of the sooners installed on the lots of the town of Guthrie ; and as


AMERICAN LIFE. 31

these were confident in their right of first occupancy, they were delighted to have this publicity, and rushed round the reporter.

However their names were not published at once, but when the rights of the sooners began to be questioned seriously, the sharp and malicious journalist made his clients understand that their fortune was in his hands, and sold his silence for $30,000. Whoever is sure of having deserved the epithet of sooners may, therefore, see himself dispossessed, but this is a question of fact difficult to prove, hence the number of litigations that arise.

The Land Office Receiver, a functionary of the Federal Government, is intrusted with the charge of receiving the com plaints and the declarations of the settlers on this subject. I had a letter of introduction to him, and one morning I sought him at his office. The official residence is a one-story plank house which one enters under a verandah, to find oneself in a small enough room, at the back of which a safe occupies the place of honor, while the furniture is completed by a stove, several chairs and two or three tables ornamented with the feet of several so-called "gentlemen," who talk and smoke in that position dear to all Americans. At one of these tables sits the Land Receiver, a tall fair young man who, with his pipe between his teeth, listens to the testimony of the persons present, answers them in a few words, administers the oath, and appends the signatures all without any solemnity. I ad vanced among the others and delivered my letter to the Receiver, who read it, spoke to me for a moment, gave me a seat opposite him, while he went on attending to the affairs brought before him. Everybody I thus saw pass in front of me during an hour came to demand the free possession of their claim. Sometimes the settlers appeared themselves, sometimes an agent appointed by them. Some kept their hats on their heads while speaking to the Receiver, while others put their hands into their pockets ; it is true it was only preliminary formalities that were being transacted.

I asked the Receiver if many of the disputes did not arise more about the best situated lots in the town, rather than about the lands for cultivation. " No," he answered, " we do not trouble ourselves for the present except with claims of


32 AMERICAN LIFE.

1 60 acres purely country claims. When we get to the town lots it will be a very differend thing, but at present that property isn t fixed." " But how is it that one can build on a lot without being sure of owning it ? I saw three stone- houses in town, and they are building two others at present ; these houses can t be shifted." " I guess not, but the people who build a stone-house on their lot are absolutely sure of having their right to the claim recognized. What we really want to know, above all, is whether we have to deal with true settlers or sham ones. Everybody who comes here with the intention of staying and doing business has a right to our help, and the best proof he can give us of this intention is to make improvements on his lot. We always take that into consi deration."

In going about the town I saw a smart-looking bank, whose pointed turret cut the simple lines of Guthrie architecture ; next a big business building being erected and superintended by the Socialist architect; then a wooden Catholic church, spacious and well looked after. The proprietors of these estates are as sure to keep them as if they were holding their titles in order. Entering the church, I found a Benedictine Sister teaching a class of children, of whom a certain number were Protestants. She is of Belgian origin, and told me that the Benedictines have missions already old in the Indian Territory. This gave them the idea of coming to Oklahoma. This is another type of settlers. A Benedictine Father whom I met there told me that he had bought the ground around his church and around his little log-house beside it. "You see," he added, "we consider the property really established as it has become exchangeable."

In fine, the uncertainty allowed by the law of first occupancy has a corrective. In case of dispute, the proprietorship of a lot is allotted to the one who seriously settled and worked hardest after taking possession of it. Everybody can t build a bank or a church, but he can raise a little log-house ; he can surround it with a strong fence, and I have seen the brave fellows making a primitive kitchen-garden in front of their door, while others, with stronger leanings to elegance, formed little flower-gardens, surrounding them with broken preserve boxes.

Thus the settler is installed in new territory. We have seen


AMERICAN LIFE. 33

him arrive; and doubtless many of my readers will ask how he can cultivate and improve the land he has appropriated. He needs help from the railroad for this. We have just learned of the secret understanding existing between Couch and the Santa Fe Company at the opening of Oklahoma. Compacts like this occur everywhere, for if the railroads have need of the settlers, the settlers have a greater need of the railroads, because without them they cannot send off their produce or procure a crowd of things which they deem indispensable. It must be clearly un derstood that the American is not a peasant living exclusively and directly on his land. He eats meats preserved in Chicago, drinks tea from China and coffee from the Antilles, wears clothes made in Europe or in the manujacturing centres of New En gland, chews tobacco from Virginia and reads journals from everywhere. He gets all these with dollars, and he gathers the dollars by sending to a distance the produce which nobody wants in districts where they are plentiful. The railroad is the connecting link necessary for the life of the one and of the other ; and only after its construction does the land begin to be valu able. In Oklahoma, owing to its special situation, the railroad was already built. Let us now see how they go about forming one where it does not yet exist.


IV. THE INFLUENCE OF THE RAILROADS.

When we wish a railroad in France we intrigue with the Deputies, Senators and Ministers to force some company to build it. Thus it happens that even the smallest of our Sub- Prefectures are served by lines very burdensome to those who made them. In return for these charges which the State im poses, it guarantees an interest to the great companies, and this money comes out of the taxpayers pockets. So that in France many of the railroads are affairs of luxury rather than matters of business.

It is quite different in the United States. An undertaking which will not pay, which brings in no interest, is soon aban doned, and it is left all the quicker because no artificial stay exists there to support it ; each works for itself, and the Govern-


34 AMERICAN LIFE.

ment leaves to private enterprise the building of railroads wherever they may be useful, without giving them any monop oly or any guarantee of interest. The only question asked, before deciding about any line, is, " Will there be any money in it ?" In an inhabited district its natural resources are carefully calculated, and if the examintation be satisfactory, the track is laid. But, you say, how do they get the money for such a costly and risky untertaking? For, if one be deceived as to the advantages of the region crossed, if settlers do not come, then ruin is complete?

Doubtless ; but in the United States the people who build railroads are usually rich enough to do it three or four times over, so that it is sufficient if they be convinced of the advan tages of the undertaking and are decided to run all risks. In the second place, the tracks are laid as simply and as economi cally as possible. In the East the old and rich companies, whose lines pass through a very populous country, are begin ning to introduce the special refinements of constrution to which we in France are accustomed. This is the case, for in stance, with the Pennsylvania Railroad ; but if some of the profits are spent in the bettering of the iron-road, future profits are never compromised by sinking at the outset too large a capital in the cost of construction. Those who would under stand the American railroad system must remember these two most important points: they are much more the outcome of individual enterprise than ours are, and, consequently, they must suffice in themselves they must pay. For this, it is nescessary to transform the solitudes through which they pass to inhabited and cultivated lands. The creators of Western railroad companies have accomplished only a part of their task when they have carried out the proper construction of a track.

The State owning vacant land usually concedes, gratuitously, a certain amount of ground alongside the track of newly-formed companies. The soil is completely divided in sections of a square mile, and companies get, for instance, one section in two north of such a line between such and such points. So that they are interested in the early settlement of a long tract of land and can stimulate it by whatever means they judge fit.


AMERICAN LIFE. 35

This is an encouragement given them by the authorities in return for the public good which they do ; but this does not mean much unless the companies are well organized and know how to attract settlers to regions of no value in themselves. Thus, in all the West each well-managed railroad company claims for its own line that it is the best track. Here is a specimen, copied from the Great Northern :

HOMESTEADS CLOSE TO RAILROADS AND MARKETS.


Chances for Raising Horses and Cattle, Sheep and Hogs ; for Growing

Cereals and Root Crops ; for Mining Precious Metals, and

Living in the Healthiest Part of the Continent.


1%/TONTANA is a large State, larger than all of New England, a

    • \^ hundred times larger than Rhode Island, nearly four times as

large as Ohio, and half again as large as the great State of Minnesota. The following diagram of comparative sizes may aid in giving the reader a better idea than mere words of the vastness of this new and growing commonwealth :


MONTANA - - Area. MINNESOTA OHIO MASSACHUSETTS

Population. In population the contrast is the other way; Mon

tana has a population of 160,000 ; Ohio has 4,000,000.

MONTANA.

OHIO

This very clearly announces the fact that there is room in Montana for more people indeed, millions of them.


THE GREAT RESERVATION,

Recently opened to settlement, is quite as large as the State of Ohio itself, and has 18,000,000 acres eligible to entry for free homes under the beneficent Federal Land Laws. The Great Northern Railway


36 AMERICAN LIFE.

has no land grant within this limit, and no land to sell, and there are no land grant restrictions, such as exist almost everywhere else in the West. The only benefit inuring to the road will be simply on the pro ducts of the country after it is settled, as freight on ores, coal, wool, grain, cattle, horses and sheep, and passenger traffic. Horses, With but 160,000 population, Montana is one of the

Cattle wealthiest countries in the world. It has everything that and makes money. To show how farmers and stock raisers Sheep. ac q u i r e wealth, the Governor estimates that there are 5,000,000 horses, cattle and sheep, or a band of 32 head for each man, woman and child in the State. This is almost as great a number as the 4,000,000 people of Ohio own.

Then follows a description in the same style of the mineral, agricultural, vegetable, fruit and other resources; then an article on the climate and healthiness of the region, in which it is shown that the only profession that will not pay is that of doctor; and then, finally, a lyric paragraph on the Cream of the Land, a sort of promised land, situated among the valleys of the Upper Missouri and the Milk River. After that, nothing remains but to say a word about the principal towns, and to append its address, which the prospectus does not forget to do.

Such advertisements are an important branch of literature in the United States, and are to be found everywhere on the cars, at the hotel, and in the journals. I have quoted from one, but all the lines crossing new countries issue similar pro spectuses. Under my eyes is the time-table of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. It is made up of one big sheet, 40 inches by 16 inches. All one side is taken up by a map of the United States ; the other is divided into two almost equal parts, one with the times of the trains, the other filled with the most American laudation of the sixteen States or Territories through which the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway- passes. I leave you to conceive the expenditure of imagination needed to vary the epithets of extravagant praise without de stroying the superlative character of any one of them.

The only thing you can object to in these prospectuses is their exaggerated benevolence; in substance they are true and practical. It is useful to the settler and also to the Railroad Company to know where the soil is clayey and where it is limy;


AMERICAN LIFE. 37

whether it is covered with forests or pastures, etc. All this is stated with precision. But the announcements of the pro spectus, however well done, will not persuade everybody, and more serious proofs are needed to attract settlers, so that the originators of a railroad furnish these by exploiting part of the land themselves and counting its advantages on paper. Nothing shows better the close connection between the making of a railroad and the opening up of the territory through which it passes, than the obligation its supporters feel, after having laid the tracks, of transforming themselves into farmers, breeders, or miners; to show an example to others, and to aid in making prosperous the country they have just opened. We have already seen this transformation, or rather accumulation, of different occupations as a feature of the American character, and there need be no surprise to hear a banker sitting behind his screen, or a grocer at the back of his counter, knowingly talk of the advantages of Shorthorn cattle, or Herefords, or the quality of wheats, or about the best way of fattening pigs. That banker and that storekeeper have been, or are still, farmers, and per haps to-morrow you will visit them at their homestead.

In short, whatever be the nature of the soil, the making of a railroad is the operation preliminary to making a region valuable. But the nature of the soil determines the starting of great ranches for cattle or horses, farms or mines.

We shall now study the formation of these ranches.


CHAPTER II.

CATTLE RAISING THE RANCHES.

I. A LARGE RANCH FOR FATTENING.

A very modest farm is sometimes called a ranch, in the West. The owner of a little ground in Kansas will say to you, when inviting you to go home with him, "Come along and visit my ranch;" but in its general sense the word is reserved for large tracts of land kept for the raising or fattening of animals. I shall take my readers to one of these great establishments, that of the Standard Cattle Company, which raises 35,000 head of cattle in Wyoming, and fattens about 6,000 every year in Ne braska. The fattening ranch of the Standard Cattle Company is near Fremont, Nebraska. I was staying in that pleasant little town when a friend proposed that we should go to see it. I readily accepted the invitation, having heard people speak of that interesting business. So we went to the telephone to ask the proprietor, Mr. A., when he could show us his ranch. Mr. A. has a telephone at his house and communicates with Omaha, the largest market-town in the neighborhood, where he sells a certain number of cattle, fit to be slaughtered. Mr. A. kindly replied that he was completely at our service, and the next morning, in the brilliant May sunshine, two speedy horses, hired at the livery stable, pulled us in our buggy over the almost trackless path across the prairie. We soon arrived at Ames, a little railroad station formed there on the property itself of which it is the centre. Some wooden erections, the depot, an immense barn and an office, in which two or three clerks were working, formed the whole. At the side of the barn a tall chimney-stak rose toward the sky ; it belonged to a small steam- engine for shelling and bruising the maize eaten by the animals being fattened. At the first glance this made the place look more like some manufactory than like an agricultural establish-


40 AMERICAN LIFE.

merit. We hitched our horses to stakes fixed for this purpose, and after waiting a moment, we saw Mr. A. coming along, mounted on a little white horse. He wore yellow boots and a big gray felt hat, with a twisted bit of embroidery, such as cowboys usually carry. From the instant he gave us his hand we felt ourselves in the presence of a gentleman. Mr. A. be longs to an old Boston family, and was brought up among Bos ton circles, the most aristocratic of all American centres.

He asked to be excused for his lateness, and explained that he had just come from his morning ride round the ranch, and then invited us to begin looking around at once. No sooner said than done. Our buggy had places for four, and we were but three. Mr. A. mounted beside us; we untied the horses, and then started to make what we call in France le tour du proprittaire. The size of the ranch, 5,000 acres, is enough to explain why we did not go round it on foot; and, besides, in America, nobody but tramps go on foot; a gentleman would think himself dishonored were he to walk for an hour on end. That would be to make publicly known that his time was not worth the hire of a carriage. It is true, the roads are not splendid, but the American buggy can stand all the jerks and get out of all puddles ; so we ran along among the ruts, across the prairie, when the track was too awkward to follow.

We first visited a corral, where the cattle are enclosed. It is in a wooded part, through which runs a little creek. In the middle of the black mud, made by the constant trampling of the cattle, huge long troughs were raised some feet above the soil, and contained enormous quantities of crushed maize and bran, and blocks of salt lay here and there in these mangers. They were well polished by the tongues of the animals, who came to lick them and to gain in this way an added appetite favorable to the interests of the ranchman. Here and there the ground is strewn with hay, which the cattle come and eat in an indolent way, as if resting themselves after their gourmandizing with maize and bran, all the rest of the day. Each morning a man comes in a wagon, spanned to two horses, and renews the supply of hay, the wagon coming full and going away empty, after slowly making a turn round the corral, while the man discharges it. Thus supplied with abundant and varied food, near water needed


AMERICAN LIFE. 4!

forquenching their thirst, and protected from the sun and the wind by the trees which surround them, the cattle fatten rap idly. Six months on the ranch is usually enough, for 6,000 to 7,000 head are fattened every year, and there are no more than 3,000 to 3,500 there at one time. It is true that heifers are also fattened, and these, counted in the average, require less time to become in proper condition.

The cattle do not pass all at once from the simple life of the Wyoming breeding ranch, where they crop the natural grass of the prairies, to the ordinary abundance of the fattening corral ; for there would be a danger in filling all at once with rich food stomachs accustomed to a much less substantial nourishment. They are first shut up in a vast pasturage, fenced in with barbed iron wire ; there they browse on choice and specially sown grass, and grow accustomed, little by little, to larger rations of bran and maize. Mr. A. took us to one of these pastures, which we entered, still in the buggy, without the beasts seeming to be very astonished at our visit. They are evidently used to men s presence; they are not the wild natives of the boundless prairie, but domesticated animals. We chased them into groups, and got photographs of some remarkable specimens, and then we went off to another part of the ranch.

Every pasturage has water, and when it is not alongside the streamlet, then water must be raised by means of wind-mills from wells dug by the hands of men. These wind-mills are very common in the West, and almost always one sees them beside stables and dwellings which they reveal to the passer-by a long way off. They save manual labor, and, as one knows and can readily understand, such economy is the constant care of the American. The organization of the ranch at Ames showed this well, for one individual can distribute food to a considerable number of animals, as nobody herds them in the strongly enclosed corrals. When we came to a gate, one of us jumped out and opened it. One must learn to serve one self in the United States.

On the prairie, between the enclosures and the cultivated ground, we saw small-sized haystacks, which are made at the moment of harvesting by the aid of a machine, as simple as it is ingenious, called a hay lifter. Formerly Mr. A. built the


42 AMERICAN LIFE.

hay into big stacks, which needed a lot of labor, and after his calculations the method now used yields a saving of 25 cents a ton. The large stacks cost 40 cents a ton, the little ones only 15 cents.

More and more, too, his experience leads him to prefer small installations apart from the great central buildings. We came to such a farm place at a considerable distance from the station at Ames, and it was one of the two or three little settlements that Mr. A. is now building on his ranch. When he began to manage the ranch his first thought was to centralize every thing in one place ; but he soon learned the inconveniences of this system, and deplored the heavy expenditure he had made at first, because of this plan. The great barn which had at tracted our attention on arriving is one of these unfortunate expenditures. It was believed that the severity of the Winter in Nebraska would necessitate an enormous building, in which to keep the fattening cattle during the worst season; and to provide for this, Mr. A. did not hesitate to spend $15,000 for the barn, which had not been of any use to him during the past two Winters. He would willingly get rid of it could he find anybody to take it off his hands. These wooden build ings have the great advantage of being easily taken down and transported. " I must sell it to an Englishman," Mr. A. said to me ; and as I could not understand why he wished a British buyer, he added, " It is an expression in this country. When we wish to get rid of some encumbrance at a high price, we cannot count on getting it from Americans, who are too prac tical and too primitive in their ways of working to risk it ; but a young Englishman, newly landed, is inexperienced and has money in his pocket, and will easily believe in the utility of such a thing as he is used to a complicated and ad vanced agriculture in Europe." It is the same in Switzerland, where the English tourists are generally provided with a host of things field glasses, plaids, baskets of provisions, pocket medicine-chests,water-proofs, etc., of which more are hindrances than useful. The American tries to simplify and goes around the world without luggage, in a flannel shirt and a cellu loid collar. The same contrast can be seen in everything.

Mr. A. not only divides the direct administration of the ranch


AMERICAN LIFE. 43

into several separate groups, but he has different combinations in cultivating his land. In fact, the property is not all in hay- meadows or in pasturage, but 2,500 acres are mown, 1,200 acres are in pasture, and 1,400 acres are cultivated. Even then he must buy a large quantity of maize from outside. Of these 1,400 acres, 800 are wrought by the farm-hands and form a single magnificent field of maize. The rest is rented to tenants. Some pay Mr. A. a third of their harvest and keep the other two-thirds as the price of their labor ; some receive thirteen cents for each bushel they sell, while others lease the land at an average price of fifteen bushels an acre, or the same in money ; but this last is the rarest arrangement, as Mr. A., above all, is anxious to get part of the enormous quantity of maize which he needs every year.

So arise in the most distant States all the modes of tenure known in Europe. Owing to the independence of the employees, recourse is had more and more to the system which frees the ranchman of a supervision truly too weighty and of an overwhelming confusion. Even with tenants he has his cares.

We had been driving in the open air since eight in the morning and the energizing breezes of Nebraska had made us forget the bad breakfast we had at the hotel ; so we were de lighted to accept the gracious invitation of Mr. A. to come and lunch with him. The telephone had already forewarned Mrs. A., for as soon as the team drew up in front of her pleasant wooden-house, she came out to bid us welcome, and a few minutes later we entered a large and elegant dining-room where lunch awaited us. I do not remember the dishes that made up that lunch, for I had a huge appetite and the enjoy ment of sitting down with well-bred and intelligent people, perfectly acquainted with ranch-life, far outweighed the gastro nomic pleasures. It is always pleasant to fall in with amiable hosts and good company when travelling, but when that meet ing takes place away in Nebraska, it adds a charm to it of the first order. Mrs. A. lived for several years in Texas and in Wyoming, and is a true ranchwoman ; she is also a true-born lady. She passed her youth in New York, of which she was a native; journeyed in Europe for a couple of years; knows


44 AMERICAN LIFE.

French literature perfectly and speaks with as much ease, either in English or in French, of her husband s herds or Daudet s latest novel. Further, she interested herself in all her duties as mistress of the house. The young German girl, in a light gown, who waited on us at the table, it appeared was not very strong, and Mrs. A. told me how she made her go out on horse back, because it is a healthy exercise. Of course she keeps house herself, and manages the details of every section- kitchen, poultry-yard, kitchen-garden, etc.

Mr. M., the friend who introduced us, brings her asparagus and different ornamental plants, which she has not yet. It is a practise among neighbors to exchange vegetables, flowers and fruits, as still happens in some of the Provinces of France which have retained their simplicity, where the gentlemen of the same district give each other mutual help in embellishing their gardens. One feels that one is in a very rural neighbor hood, where everybody is interested in country matters; and, indeed, how could one live on a Nebraska ranch without that? Folks are the more interested in these things because they have a personal share in them, and the care of a thousand little details often becomes a source of pleasure. What really pleased me most in our hosts was their contentment with their lot; and nothing, in all the pleasure of intercourse can replace that precious quality of inner contentment; nothing either can re place it in the sound direction of life. Certainly, if some good fairy could suddenly transport in the midst of this active living society many of those idlers troubled with ennui, to whom existence is a burden, because they take it lazily, they would there recover the taste for life, and would end by understanding that it is bearable only when useful and interesting, only when occupied. The Americans teach us a great lesson in this, for amongst them we find few of those morose, sour, life-weary spirits, produced only in society exclusively devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. They accept the struggle which is imposed on our humanity as a beneficent necessity, and, after the ex ample of good soldiers, they taste all the sweets of victory all the sweeter, because such victory is entirely due to themselves, to their own efforts. That lesson is well worth a voyage to America.


AMERICAN LIFE. 45

After lunch we inspected the large and comfortable house, which costs $10,000 and clearly indicates a settled establish ment. A veranda runs the whole length of the chief elevation, and it is a pleasant place for smoking a cigar or abandoning oneself to the pleasures of conversation, combined with those of a rocking-chair. In the parlor, well lit by big windows, a good piano occupies the place of honor, and several bedrooms, simply but well furnished, complete the dwelling. It is several hundred yards from the office where we arrived in the morn ing, and also from the little depot of Ames ; nevertheless, in the entrance-hall was a telephone, whose bell every now and then called our host away to business. Through it he communicated with Omaha, and gave us news of that day s sale. That morn ing he had sold a wagon of heifers for $3.85 per 100 pounds, and one of cattle for $4.40 per 100 pounds. l

When he thinks it will pay better, Mr. A. sends to Chicago. The telephone and the telegraph allow him to keep in constant communication with the different sale centres in the States, and to decide to which to send his stock. Often, too, he receives offers and effects sales without leaving the ranch.

May days are long, and Mr. A. wished us to inspect his im provements as thoroughly as possible. We mounted the buggy, which this time belonged to Mr. A. It was very strong, and was spanned by an Oregon mare and a Wyoming horse, as full of ardor as their master. With this turnout we got over a lot of ground in a very short time, and, omitting the coarseness of the ground passed on the way, nothing could be more agreeable than that rapid drive, directed by a firm and experienced hand. Mr. A. delighted in showing us the pace of his team, which he had raised and partly trained himself. One felt that he was happy at his success, and that he enjoyed the pleasure of driv ing us through the midst of his work. As in the morning, we

I For readers whom it may interest, I may say that the price should be under stood for live weight. In changing it into French measures and in supposing 40 per cent, to be the difference between a pound live weight and a pound net, which is that generally allowed for animals in prime condition, the following are the prices :

Heifers (meat net; o fr. 6ic. per kilog.

Beef (meat net) o fr. 68c per kilog. i ?., nearly half the prices paid at La Villette, in Paris.


46 AMERICAN LIFE.

saw the pasturage again, picturesquely situated on the banks of a pond, in the shadow of the cottonwood and box-helders, where vast flocks of wild ducks sported in the water and the sun shone on Mr. A. s magnificent Herefords, giving to the whole scene a feeling of poetry, recalling the beautiful pictures of Troyon. A little further, we came to the piggeries, vast wooden erections, very low and very primitive. The brood- sows were also kept in wooden enclosures, and they looked like animals exposed at the agricultural show of some little town. The fattening pigs wallow near their half-full troughs, waiting till returning appetite lets them empty them. It is the image of abundance ; five hundred pigs live on the ranch.

As we strolled along the banks of the River Platte, which bounds the property, we talked with Mr. A. about the organi zation of the ranch. His greatest difficulty is to find faithful and hard-working men whom he can attach to himself ; for those whom he would like to keep prefer some place of their own, something to direct themselves to the highest wages he can offer. In a country where everything favors independence, no one rests in a subordinate position when he feels the possibility of succeeding. Heaven witnesses that their conditions on the ranch are pleasant enough ! Some of them receive as much as $500 a year, have a seperate house where they live with their families, when they are married, and have liberty to raise as many animals as they need. A worker thus installed in a home, with one or two milch cows, a pair of horses and some pigs, cannot seem, to us in France, to have much to complain of.

As evening came on, we turned back again to the house to get our horses and say good-bye to Mrs. A. When passing his office, Mr. A. stopped and asked me to step in on bringing back his horses. Everybody here is supposed to know how to mount a horse or manage a team. This seems as natural as walking. A few moments later we took leave of our agree able host and hostess, carrying away memories of a charming and profitable day. Better than all book arguments, Mr. A. had shown me, by his simple manner in the midst of his ranch, by the pleasure he took in showing us his animals, by his affa bility and his education as a gentleman, what immense re sources are still to be found in the old Eastern society, of


AMERICAN LIFE. 47

which he was a member, and what services this society renders every day to the younger Western States. She gives them a truly superior class ; she is, as regards them, a nursery of governors of men, and the rapid fusion of the many diverse elements which mingle on the vacant lands has no other cause. It acts under the influence of those choice elements who are heads of the movement and who stamp the impression of their origin on the whole country. Without wishing to be poetical, I must confess that on getting back to Freemont that night I had the impression of having seen at work, in this nineteenth century, a founder of society similar, in more ways than one, to those whose memory and popular imagination preserved and made poetic in olden times. This notion may seem to be exaggerated at first sight, but if the reader will carefully reflect; if he will calculate all the obstacles to be overcome in creating and conducting such an undertaking in a semi-desert land ; if he will picture to himself the energy needed to conquer it, to turn to his service a crowd of obstinate elements without having at hand a single means of compulsion, he will gain an accurate notion of the truth of the comparison. Further, use what mathematicians call a reductio ad absurdum : imagine a blockhead, some poor wretch, some man without energy, on the ranch at Ames, and consider what would happen ! Every thing would fall to pieces in a few days. It requires, then, all the converse qualities for directing such a concern ; and, as the undertaking is a big one, it needs them in a high degree.

Mr. A. does not own all the 5,000 acres of Ames himself, nor the enormous capital of the two ranches. Two of his cousins, capitalists in Boston, are in partnership with him, and run the great affair under the name of the Standard Cattle Company. Such form of property is often found in other ranches, those engaged in raising stock being specially fitted for it. We will now seek the reason.

II. DIFFERENT TYPES OF RANCHES.

44 In Wyoming," said Mr. A. to me, " I own only 160 acres of land, like any ordinary settler ; but we let our cattle graze over thousands of acres, for pasturage is free as long as the soil is


48 AMERICAN LIKE.

unoccupied. We bear the expense and divide the profits of exploitation according to each one s share in the herds; and should we wish to liquidate to-morrow, all we should have to do would be to drive our cattle to the nearest market, for we are not tied, as we are here, by a large tract of land on which we have carried out costly improvements."

Thus we see that the business of simply rearing cattle is one which may be started and given up much more readily than a ranch for fattening. It is, therefore, much easier to do this in a collective way. The ranchmen who club together are not in dividually bound the one to the other. This is why we shall find, on the horse-ranches, for instance, more societies than the Standard Cattle Company. At Fleur-de-lys Ranch, in Dakota, five or six young Frenchmen have joined with Baron de Grancey in breeding horses. They patriotically mix the blood of Perche stallions with that of American mares too light for draught purposes. Then there are silent partners Easterners, or even Europeans, who put a ranchman in charge of their capital, to make it grow by exploiting a troop of horses or a herd of cattle. There are still other points in which these ranches differ from the one we have just visited. As there is no cultivation, they are less complicated in management. Grazing is the simplest kind of exploitation that exists, for the animals of a breeding-ranch wander over the prarie all the year round, feeding exclusively on the natural grass which formerly the bison cropped.

Ranch life is rough rather than laborious. Interminable rides on horseback, in the burning heat of Summer or the biting cold of Winter, are its main features. Of work, properly speaking, there is little, and what there is chiefly consists of looking after the animals, in preventing a mixing with neighboring troops, and breaking-in young horses. Good health, plenty of energy and physical strength, and a taste for open-air life are the qualities needed in cowboys intrusted with these duties.

The cowboy is a type totally different from that of the farm- help whom we saw at Mr. A. s, in Nebraska. There is nothing agricultural about him, and he would think he had demeaned himself if he dug or ploughed an acre of ground. He enjoys


AMERICAN LIFE. 49

gambling, drinking and noisy pleasures. He is a bronzed war rior, admirable in the face of pressing danger, or when a violent effort is needed ; but he is also careless, intemperate and im provident.

The managers have the same character. There are in the Unitee States some ancient non-commissioned officers of our cavalry young men of good family, whom their parents have sent to the Far West, and who, in the isolation of a ranch, de velop some of the sterling qualities which never get exercised in our European society. Of course, many of them return home at the end of a few years, without a cent. Others, again, gain experience, learn their own value and become men.

If the breeding ranch be less complicated than the fattening ranch, on the other hand it is run at greater risks. In the first place, high-priced stallions are a necessity. To make breeding profitable first rate animals must be produced, and consequently a considerable outlay is necessary from the beginning to get good breeders. Generally, these are brought from Europe. For some years our Perche horse-breeders have found a profit able market in America, and have competed successfully with the Shires and Clydesdales imported from England. The Perche cross generally succeeds remarkably well, and gives to the Americans excellent draught horses, by strengthening their somewhat light races. Arabian and " French Coach " stallions are also used to produce animals of more elegant and less heavy forms. Imported stallions, no matter of what breed, command very high prices in America. Perches vary from $1,000 to $3,000, and Shires and Clydesdales usually reach the latter figure. In explanation it must be mentioned that none but model animals are imported, and that a horse for which 4,000 francs ($800) is paid in the Perche, must be resold for $1,600 in the States to give a fair profit. It is only by doubling the original price that the expense of transport, of middlemen, of feeding, and the considerable risk of the voyage can be cov ered. A horse always suffers when afloat; he usually reaches port thin and in very poor condition, with congested fetlocks and stiff legs. The importer is obliged to keep him long enough to bring him into good condition again, and, finally, he must find a solvent purchaser, wait three or four years before the


50 AMERICAN LIFE.

price is paid in full, and often seize the land which has been given as security.

The same inconvenience occurs in the case of bulls, which are brought principally from England. Herefords or Shorthorns are usually found on the large ranches, and they are often sold to the breeders for higher prices than the stallions. I have sev eral times seen a bull bring $2,500, and it is not at all uncom mon to find four of this value on the same property. Any ac cident to such animals means a considerable loss of money, and hence I was right in saying that the proprietor of a breeding- ranch has to run considerable risks.

Nor are these the only ones. In the severe climate of the Northwest in Montana, for instance the Winters are long and the animals find but little food. In Spring they look a mel- ancholly show of leanness, and some succumb altogether when the weather is particularly bad. The horses can withstand ex treme cold much better than the cattle. They scratch the white coating off the ground with their feet, that they may find under the thick layer of frozen snow the dry hay it has covered up, and so keep themselves alive until the return of the warm sea son ; but cattle have a great difficulty in resisting. I knew a Wyoming ranchman who lost 20,000 head of cattle more than half his stock in a single Winter. Such disasters do not hap pen on the horse-ranches.

On the other hand, horses are often stolen by unscrupulous people who make a living by this lucrative occupation. In these almost desert regions, where policemen are out of the way, where the ranchman knows his own animal by the mark of the red iron branded on them, where the troops often stray to great distances from any habitation, it is easy to get hold of a band of horses and drive them rapidly in front to some distant market, where the thief can pass them off and sell them as his own. This thieving is common, and the horse-stealer is the terror of the honest ranchman. It was against him that the famous " lynch-law " was first framed, which permits honest people to get rid of rascals, in order not to be done away with by them.

The innumerable tricks of these horse-stealers are often the subject of conversation in the Far West. When the cowboys,


AMERICAN LIFE. 51

gathered of an evening round the stove of their little wooden hut, are smoking their pipes and drying their clothes, each one tells of the wondrous adventures he has seen ; and stories of stolen horses and of lynched thieves are constantly related.

One of the best tales of the ruses of horse-stealers, is told by the anonymous author of "A Lady s Ranch Life in Montana." A ranchman owned a remarkable lot of mares, which grazed at liberty on the neighboring slopes. One day he received a visit from a person who privately warned him, on account of the great friendship he felt for him, of the great danger they ran there. " If I were you," he said, " I would not leave them loose all night. Shut them up in the corral (a sort of fenced park); they will be safer there." Grateful for this good advice, and happy to find this proof of his friend s honesty, the con fiding ranchman rode after his mares and drove them into the corral. The next morning they had disappeared ! The friend of over night had easily evaded the watch of the keeper, and had secured a first rate catch in letting the proprietor pick out the best of the band.

Beside these large properties of which we have been speak ing, there are very many smaller ones. Whenever the country is being peopled, land tends to rise in price and becomes divided up. Where maize grows well, every settler who has a little capital at his disposal uses it to buy cattle to turn his maize into meat ; and as fodder is plentiful in the West, it becomes easy for this man to breed a part of the stock he wishes to fatten, and thus form a ranch for fattening and breed ing. This is a very common type, especially in Kansas. We shall describe one of those we saw there :

Mr. C., a Frenchman, owns, in all, 274 acres of ground near the little town of Florence, in Marion County. He has about all of it cultivated by tenants, on special terms somewhat simi lar to those noted at Mr. A. s fattening-ranch. He sells the wheat he gets from his tenants, but keeps the maize to feed the animals he fattens during the Winter on the small piece of ground he reserves. In Summer the herd does not live on his property, but is sent off to pasture, five or six miles away, where the cpwboys watch them from the ist of May until the 1 5th of October, at a cost of $1.25 per head. This pasture-


52 AMERICAN LIFE.

land is nothing but the natural Kansas prairie, where formerly the Indians hunted the bison. This sum that Mr. C. pays for feeding his cattle during the fine season is thus only the ex pense of watching them. When the first Winter colds come on, the herd is brought back and gets on with the Winter food. When Mr. C. settled he built a big barn for fattening animals in ; but experience has taught him, as it did Mr. A., that it is better to leave them outside. He showed us the twenty-five steers he is fattening this Winter in a corral. At first sight they seemed curious. Their horns had been cut level with their heads, in order to avoid the dangers of quarrels and to facilitate their feeding together. The want of horns is exceedingly ugly, but it has its practical advantages, and Kansas ranchmen, little concerned about the aesthetic, are not influenced by it. The corral is small only about five acres; there are different varities of trees; nuts, box-helders, etc., are scattered about it and a conspicuously-winding creek forms one boundary. ]

In the centre stands a large wooden box, open on the top and filled with maize in the ear, and all round the box, at a convenient height, runs a crib, communicating with the interior by several openings. The weight of the maize is enough to make it fall down into the manger as the cattle empty it, so that there is always plenty of food for them without anyone being there. When the maize is all eaten, more is shovelled into the box with a spade. Nothing we see could be more primitive. The cattle do not eat very carefully the ears of maize thus given to them. They take them between their powerful jaws, indolently chew them, and strew the ground with the remains of their meal. This has been foreseen, for seventy pigs that live in the corral, mixed up with the cattle, feed on these leavings. Often the ranchmen, careful to use the maize without losing any of it, let some turkeys into the corral, and these make a last inspection of it. In spite of all this, the maize was mixed with the thick mud through which we waded, so much of it is thrown about. Here and there we knocked against a tub of salt, for stimulating the appetite of the oxen ; of lime, to sweeten their stomachs, they told me ;

I In the West every little streamlet is called a creek.


AMERICAN LIFE. 53

and also of sulphur, to guard against swine diseases. The ani mals are thus looked after, but in the simplest and most ele mentary way. For fattening cattle, they give them also, as at Mr. A. s, a mixture of bran and crushed maize, but the meat is not so good here since they deal with trade stock, while Mr. A. had nothing on his ranch but Herefords or Shorthorns, of which he made a point of choosing the best beasts. The sale price shows the difference clearly. I was at Mr. C. s when a dealer from Kansas City came to buy his twenty-five cattle. He got them for $1,500, that is about $4.00 per hundred pounds. Mr. A., we saw, got $4.40 at Omaha, about four centimes the more net weight. Yet Mr. C. s neighbors thought he had made a good bargain.

Nothing is more curious than the way in which they drive cattle to the depot. Mr. C. and his man, both on horseback and armed with long leather-thonged whips, drive in front of them at a smart trot their twenty-five animals, quite surprised at such unaccustomed treatment. All that stray off the road are brought back with much whip-cracking, and thus they ar rive at the. yard, a kind of field alongside the track for the cattle that are to be shipped off.

At the side of the fattening corral, Mr. C. has a winter pasture, where 108 animals are kept, eighty of those to be fat tened the next year. The others are cows and young calves, one of which, born three days before, placidly received the heavy rain on its back. If it can stand such a test, good and well; if it dies, one must just console oneself, for there is no time to surround it with precautions, to shut it up in a stable with its mother; that would teach it sybaritic habits, to which the hands are not numerous enough to attend. Indeed, Mr. C. has only one man to help him in looking after all the cattle and to take charge of the work-horses.

This little ranch is an excellent specimen of a limited under taking. The stock fattened is not usually raised here. " For that," said Mr. C., "I should need a herd of 500 head, and that would be a nice mess." Every superfluous care is avoided as much as possible, and the business is conducted with little capital. It is the installation of a settler with small means and preferring to have less income in the long run than to risk


54 AMERICAN LIFE.

large sums of money. The French character sage, steady, economical, but with little enterprise is well seen in these traits.

Some miles away, another modest-sized ranch, managed by two young brothers Englishmen forms a striking contrast to this one. There they pride themselves on having picked animals; a white-headed Hereford is preferred to a Shorthorn, because it is more rustic and earlier and heavier. I also saw three animals completely black, which they told me were Gallo ways; and running about among the fattening cattle were pigs of the Polan-China breed, a much appreciated cross, which gives animals red bristles of a most picturesque appearance. I noted a breeding cow considered worth $500 and a bull worth $2,400, which had taken the first prize at a recent competition among the five States Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. On this ranch there are $30,000 worth of bulls and stallions.

I visited a sheep-ranch in the same district, which belonged to a Prussian settler, Mr. W., who had erected large stone- buildings, carefully disposed. Evidently he had a desire to settle permanently. No American would ever do as he did and spend $20,000 in putting up his flocks. Indeed, the Americans rarely succeed at sheep-breeding, for they find that they want too assiduous attention, and a very great deal of it, it seems, after what I saw that day. In the prairie we met 1,200 sheep watched by three men, and I expressed surprise to Mr. W. that it should require so many men at once for so simple an affair. In Australia two or three shepherds are enough for a run of 20,000 sheep. Mr. W. explained to me that his property was not fenced in, as Australian runs are, which makes the herding more difficult ; "and then," he con tinued, "all the settlers of Kansas who go in for sheep-breed ing without keeping on the lookout at every instant, lose both their time and their money. That is the best reason I can give you. Here I take a thousand precautions, and it is only by so doing that I manage to live at all. Every night part of the flock is driven into the big barn that you see near the house, and the rest sleep on the prairie, in a series of parks, which are shifted every now and then ; and at the same time the wooden house on wheels is shifted, and the shepherd whose turn it is to


AMERICAN LIFE. 55

watch retires to it when night comes on." We passed close beside one of these, which was exactly like a Gipsy caravan, such as is met on any of the roads in France. The shepherd has more to do than watch the sheep ; every day he deals out to them a little bran, maize or turnips ; he superintends the lambing and ear-marks each newly-born lamb with its mother s number, by means of a little leather thong, which fastens a zinc plate. Thus, when a lamb strays they are able to seek for the ewe to which it belongs and return it to her. In spite of this, Mr. W. told me that he lost 10 per cent, of his young lambs last year.

The mean yield of the clipping is eight pounds of wool per head. Four thousand sheep or ewes were shorn in the Spring of 1889, and the 32,000 pounds of wool yielded are still (April, 1890) in the ranch-buildings. Mr. W. could get only eight to ten cents a pound, and hopes that Merino wool, such as his, will soon be at its normal price of twenty cents per pound once more. He is counting principally on the protective tariff, but the Eastern manufacturers, who desire to have manufactured goods very highly taxed, are not nearly so anxious to see a rise in the price of the raw material which they use; and as Pro tectionist influences are precisely manufacturing ones, the sheep- farmers find no echo to their demands, either among the Pro tectionist party, and certainly not among Free Traders. This strange situation leads to this, that the sheep-farmers are the only agriculturists in the States who suffer from foreign com petition. All the others, whether they cultivate the ground or raise cattle, grow more wheat, more maize, more meat than the country can consume ; while, on the other hand, the factories of New England cannot get all their wool in the States, at least all the qualities of the wool that they need. On the other hand, Mr. W. sells his fat sheep at $3. 74 to $5.00 per hundred pounds, live weight, dearer, that is, than the corresponding quantity of beef. When I visited his ranch he had 800 all ready for the market, at Kansas City.

This journey over the ranches has shown us many diverse elements that greatly contribute to forming American society. In the great fattening ranches we have met the eminent type of American settlers ; in the breeding-ranches we have seen the


56 AMERICAN LIFE.

first tilling of the soil by the most adventurous pioneers ; the little ranches have given us a glimpse of the formation of an intermediate class of proprietors ; and it must be noted that we have not yet come across the poor immigrant, who arrives with no riches but the force of his arm. We shall meet him in the course of this work, but there is no use searching for him on the ranches.

We must now trace the history of the animals produced by the ranches and sold to be killed. It is the natural sequel of the subject.


CHAPTER III.


THE CATTLE MARKETS. THE GREAT MEAT CITIES.

As the fattening-ranch is the necessary supplement to the breeding-ranch, so is the meat-city a necessary extension of the fattening-ranch. The fattened beast must be butchered.

You will inform me that cattle are killed in all countries without needing meat-cities for it ; that each town, big or little, has its slaughter-houses and its butchers stores, as it has its bake-houses and its grocery stores, in the measure of its needs, and that we have not a single town in Europe based on its butcher business. Lyons is a silk city, Bordeaux the town for wines, Newcastle and Cardiff coal ports, and Manchester the metropolis of cotton, etc. ; but in no centre is the butcher s anything but a retail trade.

In the States, however, there are several towns where butcher ing is a great industry and the source of its riches. The most famous of these, Chicago, has given us in the last thirty years an example of the most unprecedented development of the most extraordinary boom that can be imagined. Neither Pittsburgh, the flourishing iron city, nor Denver, the centre of metal-yielding mines in the Rocky Mountains, have realized such a great career so suddenly ; and it is on the wholesale slaughter of cattle and pigs that the prosperity of Chicago is based. If you doubt it, open the first New York comic paper that you come across, and you will be very unlucky if you do not find some satire in it addressed to lard-sellers in Chicago.

o

Do not wrong yourself, however, for the satire matters little to them, provided that the prices of salt-provisions keep high and that Europe needs its preserved meats. One can truly say of Chicago, in altering somewhat a well-known formula, " When the meat goes, all goes."


58 AMERICAN LIFE.


I. WHY AND HOW THE MEAT-CITIES WERE BORN.

A very simple fact has determined the formation in the United States of these great slaughter centres. In that country it is impossible to eat all the meat grown, so some of it must be exported ; and as they cannot get rid of it except very far away, on other continents, it must be put in the most convenient form for transport. Hence, large slaughter-houses are formed, not for local needs, but in view of exportation ; and as this exportation opens an almost limitless market, these slaughter-houses do not remain small work-shops, but immense manufactories of preserved meats. This is the primary reason for those large packing-houses, where thousands of animals are swallowed up each day.

It is clear that all situations are not equally good for these vast emporiums. They ought to be at the entrance of the fattening country, to receive the cattle, sheep and pigs with the minimum of freight rates possible ; and, further, to be well furnished with many and easy ways of communication with the shipping ports whence the duly preserved meat is sent off to Europe. Hence the meat-cities are shifted as the rearing and fattening lands move Westwards with the development of colonization. So this shifting is also towards the West. About 1850, when Mr. Taine wished to present to the Parisian public an American type the salt-pork merchant" he placed the residence of Mr. Thomas Graindorge in Cincinnati. At that period it was at the head of that industry, and for a long time it was known by the significant surname of " Porkopolis." Chicago was hardly born then, but later it entered on the scene, along with Louisville, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Milwaukee, all of which it promptly surpassed. To-day its rivals are Kansas City and Omaha ; to-morrow, probably, some unknown Texan town will count among the great meat-cities.

On casting a glance over a map of the United States one sees that Chicago, Omaha and Kansas City, the three most important meat centres, are joined by a broken line, to the west of which lie the meat-producing States. This line cuts America into North and South, and separates the West from


AMERICAN LIFE. 59

the East the new land from the civilized land. It is true that there exist other less known centres, but the dozen States over which they are scattered occupy exactly the same intermediary situation between East and West. 1

In these States, wherever the means of transit are numerous, some packing-house is established; and where they reach their greatest development, these packing-houses assume formidable proportions.

We, therefore, find Chicago the greatest railroad centre and the greatest packing-house centre at the same time. Fifty-one tracks, belonging to thirty-two different companies, go out from Chicago to radiate all over the surface of the States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada,-

1 These twelve States are : Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. (See Twenty-first Annual Report of the Hog-packing and Cattle Slaughtering of Chicago.)

2 Here, after the "Travellers Ready Reference, Appleton s Guide," is the list of these lines and companies. Only the name of the company is mentioned when it owns but one track leaving Chicago :

Erie Railway Picturesque Route of America through Niagara Falls or Chautauqua Lake.

Chicago and Atlantic Railway. New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. Michigan Central. West Shore Railroad. Pennsylvania Railroad. Fitchburg Railroad. Grand Trunk Railway of Canada Main Line.

" Southern Division.

Alleghany Valley Railroad. Baltimore and Ohio Main Line.

" Central Ohio and Lake Erie Division.

" Chicago Division

Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway System. Nashville, Chattanooga and Saint Louis Railway. Chicago, Saint Louis and Pittsburg.

Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and Saint Louis Railway. Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad. Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Railway. Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway. Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railway. Dayton, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad. Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific California Line.

Southwestern Division. Illinois Central. Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul Railroad- Chicago Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

" Chic go, Council Bluffs and Kansas City.

" Chicago via Prairie du Chien or via Dubuque.


60 AMERICAN LIFE.

while four and a half million pigs and over two and a half mil lion cattle were slaughtered there in a single year (March, 1889, March, 1890). It is there where the most important firms, Armour, Swift and Hammond, have their head establish ments.

To the stranger arriving in Chicago for the first time, this double character of the city is shown as much by the crowd of chimneys that pour forth their black smoke, as by their num berless iron roads that traverse every quarter ; and even in the centre there are immense depots, formed by-large areas covered with rails. They have built innumerable bridges for the circu lation of foot-passengers and vehicles, and their ugly iron frame work sticks out on every side. Near the Chicago River, the movement of the trains, of the steamers and of the tramways is not comparable with any other, except that in the lower part of New York. To help trade, Americans must have their rail roads in the heart of business quarters, and much prefer to spoil the aspect of a great city to running the risk of losing a little time in it. And what does it matter? Their cities are only vast business premises in which they do not live. It is outside, in the suburbs, that they build their elegant mansions. This explains, for instance, how, right beside Twelfth street, in a most central district, there are no buildings at all; but a rail-


Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul Railroad Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw Railway.

Chicago, Santa-F6and California. The Wabash Railway Company Chicago to Saint Louis.

Boston, New York, Detroit, Chicago. Chicago and Alton Railroad Chicago and Saint Louis, Short Line.

Chicago and Kansas City Line. Wisconsin Central Railroad. Green Bay, Winona and Saint Paul Railroad. Texas and Pacific Railway.

Burlington Route Chicago and Peoria to Omaha and Council Bluffs. " Chicago and Peoria to Denver and Cheyenne.

" Chicago and Peoria to Kansas City, Saint Joseph and Atchinson.

Chicago and Peoria to Denver, via Kansas City, Saint Joseph. Chicago to Dubuque, Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Chicago to Denison, Houston, Austin, Galveston and the South and

Southwest.

Chicago, Buihngton and Quincy Railroad. Kansas City, Saint Joseph and Council Bluffs Railroad. Chicago, Burlington and Kansas City. Chicago Northwestern Railway Chicago and Des Moines Line. Chicago and Milwaukee Line. Houston and Texas Central Railway Chicago, Saint Paul, Kansas City Railway.


AMERICAN LIFE. 6 1

road track runs along for a considerable distance and gives it a dirty, miserable appearance. Such thing would not be endured in Paris. The depots are built away from the heart of the city (except St. Lazare, which owes its central position to having been surrounded by the extending town), and the construction of a metropolitan line meets such vigorous opposition. We will not permit a sacrifice of elegance to quicken communica tion, because Paris, above all, is an elegant city. Chicago has no such pretensions, and is organized entirely from the point of view of the development of its activity. Anything appears justifiable there that can usefully contribute to this result.

Chicago was destined to become a great transport centre, because of its geographical position, long before the days of railroads. Situated at the extremity of the great hollow that forms Lake Michigan, it was the most northerly point by which a traveller could pass from New York to the Northwest ; so, when this Northwest began to be peopled, Chicago was evolved in due course. Further, Lake Michigan gives it a valuable opening to the North, and the Mississippi was so close on the other side, that by a canal, simple to construct, it was easy to reach the Southern States by that grand waterway. No other point could have become so excellent a centre for the American railroad system as Chicago, but a special circum stance helped to accelerate its marvellous progress, at the time when America began to build its iron web in a serious manner. In the middle of the War of Secession, St. Louis declared for the South, and the growing Northwest, accustomed to commu nicate with the East by the Missouri Valley (of which it is the key) found itself cut off from the Atlantic Coast. Such a crit ical situation could not be prolonged indefinitely, and it was the interest of the East to put an end to it. Then began the great building of railroads which were to make Chicago the pivot of commercial life and the Capital of the West. All the capital of the East combined its efforts to raise a powerful rival, before which St. Louis soon waned ; so that it may be said that by the end of the War the centre of America had already been shifted.

At that time the resources of the Northwest began to be known, and the Civil War, combined with the building of rail-


62 AMERICAN LIFE.

roads and the rise of Chicago, helped to give it a good lift on wards. St. Paul was only a little town, and Minneapolis did not exist in 1860; to-day each has more than 200,000 inhabit ants. Minnesota had a very sparse population ; Iowa and Wis consin were hardly thought of. But each new settler, who went to fix himself on unoccupied lands, gave the railroad an additional source of traffic, and sent a new lot of beasts to be slaughtered in the Chicago market. Thus, the two causes of Chicago s prosperity the rise of the railroads and the in crease of settling grew alongside of and mutually supported each other. These two forces acted so powerfully that when the disastrous fire of 1871 destroyed the town, it rose again from its ashes more active and flourishing than ever. The reason of its being was the same before as after the disaster, because it was an external one. Chicago is the place where the agricultural produce of the West is concentrated.

Wherever these two causes have existed simultaneously, cities of the same sort have arisen. To-day, Kansas City is the centre for the cattle and pigs of Texas, of Missouri, and of Kansas; and the great Chicago houses have branches there. If Kansas City is later in appearing on the scene than Chicago, it is because the Civil War retarded the settling of Missouri and of Kansas by hindering the building of the iron roads. There was no railway at all in Kansas in 1870. If Kansas City has not boomed at the same rate as Chicago, 1 it may be explained partly because its geographical position is not so exceptionally favorable ; partly because it has not experienced the effects of temporary circumstances which furthered the swarming of Chicago. The Civil War acted the part of good fairy to it one of those god-mothers of the stories who places in the infant s cradle a heap of precious gifts, while she played the part of the wicked Fairy Carrabosse to Missouri and Kansas.

Omaha, which has not yet reached the importance of Kansas City, is another of those towns whose prosperity depends on the meat trade. There, too, the great Chicago butchers have built their slaughter-houses, and near the present centre of the

I Chicago has over a million inhabitants ; Kansas City only about 200,000.


AMERICAN LIFE. 63

young city. Swift and Hammond kill, cut up and pack the dif ferent kinds of cattle and pigs from Nebraska. In fact wher ever a new maize-growing district is opened, a meat-city arises beside it. Immense stock-yards are seen to rise near the future packing-houses, and the cattle, pigs and sheep are driven there on coming out of the freight train. The material forming these stock-yards is of the simplest. Imagine an immense area cut up into squares by strong wooden stakes, joined together by thick planks. These fences are from six to eight feet high and are coped with batten-laid flatways on the top of the posts, forming an elevated path round the enclosure. A man the stockman can run in every direction on this plank, and strike at the beasts to make them leave the yard or push them in there. In some yards a crib is placed along the fences to hold the food for animals, which must wait several days before they are slaughtered. The company own ing these stock-yards charge a certain rate per head, which covers the expenses of the business and usually yields a sub stantial profit.

There is a bank in the middle of the stock-yards to facilitate the considerable exchanging of money which goes on in the cattle trade. The bankers have plenty to do in such towns. From March, 1889, to March, 1890, the Chicago market received 6,326,984 pigs, of 245, average weight, whose price varied between the extremes of $3.35 and $5.10 per 100 pounds. Let us take $4.20 as the mean price, and that gives $10.39 P er head, a total of $65,737,362.86. That is for pigs alone ! The cattle and sheep, taken together, represent a much larger sum. As information on this point, there is a notice stuck up in the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, May 12, 1890:

Pi S s.

Estimated receipts for to-day 12,000

Official, yesterday 1 7,906

Shipments 5>39 8

Receipts for the week 126,918

Shipments 29,885

Receipts for corresponding week last year 146, 773

Shipments 38,253

Packing to date 849,000

Packing last year 678 ooo


6 4


AMERICAN LIFE.


Left over, about 2,000.

Quality, good.

Market, active, and prices firm; 2c. to 5c. higher.

Cattle.

Estimated receipts for to-day 2,400

Estimated receipts for yesterday 10, 500

Shipments 6,044

Market, active and steady.




^





Jj


.




_|


S


6


|


1


1


1



HOGS.


s


t^



x^


K^


g


.S


^




^


5


1


^



1


^


.





,^


^


S5


1


2


$




k





s




Day s Receipts



00


I.QOO


800



6,000




Official Yesterday .


7,427


1035*


  • 9^7^^^

I.QOO


800



1^138


4.7Q


e 604


Shipments


O t^/


I2K


  • J^v^v

I,OXX)


800


"JOO


4, 1 1 c


T-J;7


j) w :7T-

5 53 2




D




J wv -


T"? * J





At Kansas City there has been a money movement of 55,000,000 on the animals in the stock-yards since 1885. From such figures one can judge the importance of the trans actions which a centralization of the butcher business brings to one special point.

Let us glance at the establishment of Mr. Armour, and see to what sort of industry it gives rise.


II. IN THE PACKING-HOUSES.

The moment one sees the exterior aspect of these immense buildings of wood and brick, blackened by smoke from the engines, and surrounded by wooden pens, lines of rails and miry roads, it produces an effect by no means agreeable to the eye ; at the same time the sense of smell is disagreeably affected by an odor combining the bench, the slaughter-house and the kitchen, in the strangest and most odious fashion, so that one experiences a kind of relief on entering a large room, where the clerks of the establishment are at work. There, nothing unusual is to be seen ; some young people, in shirt-


AMERICAN LIFE. 65

sleeves and with hats on, are writing at their desks, or, perched on high stools, are keeping accounts in great ledgers half- bound in copper. This ordinary spectacle somewhat reassures the timid visitor and encourages him to accept the ticket which allows him to go round the packing-houses in the com pany of a guide. The man to whom it was my bad luck to fall was not an accomplished cicerone ; to every question he had but one* answer, that he had been only one week at Armour s, and knew nothing about it. Happily, to under stand the organization of a packing-house, one needs only to see it, for the machinery could not be simpler. I ought to say that this simplicity greatly surprised me at first. I had expected to see machinery of surprising ingenuity, almost superseding hand-work, which would kill, cut up, and prepare an animal without the direct intervention of any workman. Insteacl of that, at every step I encountered men armed with large knives, hatchets, saws and hammers ; cutting, sawing and dealing heavy blows. Evidently there was no such thing as the legendary machine into which you put a pig at one end and draw forth black puddings and sausages at the other.

My guide led me first to the hog-department, which is the most wonderful, because there is great variety in the prepara tion of the various parts, according to the use to be made of each. But let us proceed in order ; this will be so much the easier as the successive phases of the operation present them selves to the visitor in a series of pictures. Each room is de voted to a special kind of work, and the animal passes from one to the other, so that in following its course one learns exactly all the transformations it undergoes.

The hogs are brought from the stock-yards into a vast shed, situated under the factory; this is the waiting-room. They do not wait here long, for every minute four or five of them are hooked by the hind leg to an iron chain which lifts them up and causes them to disappear through the ceiling. The opera tions now begin, and we mount to the floor above to witness them. Here one sees the animal emerge by a trap and ascend to a height of about two yards, still attached to the pulley by the leg. At the outset the animal is thus placed so high that its weight shall cause it to accomplish the journey to which it


66 AMERICAN LIFE.

is afterwards destined. In reality it reaches a long rod, fixed to the joists and slightly inclined ; upon this the hook by which it is suspended slides smoothly. This rod runs through out the entire length of the room and communicates with sev eral others in the neighboring rooms. It is a kind of small Decauville aerial railway, with numerous branch lines leading to the various sorting rooms for cooking, smoking, etc.; but at the point where we now are, the line is still single, because all the hogs must first submit to a certain number of preliminary operations, which are always the same, whatever may be the ultimate use made of the animal. Before becoming chitterlings or ham, the hog must be bled, got rid of its bristles, etc. It is this that we are going to see.

The iron rod on which the hog accomplishes his last journey is not only inclined, but it is also bent at certain places in such a way as to admit of a change of direction that causes a short stoppage in the onward movement. Each of these stoppages, corresponding to bends in the iron-bar, marks a station. Thus, at the first turn, a workman plunges his cutlas into the victim s neck. The blood rushes out and flows into a trough ten yards in length, which runs underneath the iron-rod and receives all the blood the animal loses in the transit. Ten yards further on, the animal strikes against a kind of door. Thus ends the first act.

Whilst awaiting their entrance on the scene of the second act, the hogs form in groups against this door ; some, patiently resigned to their fate, lose the last drops of blood without a movement; others, making a supreme effort, avenge themselves for the cruelty of man on their companions in suffering. I can still see an unfortunate black and white pig, which, whilst uttering frightful cries, found means to bite its neighbor sav agely, thus employing all its remaining energy to satiate its rage.

The second act might be called the act of bath and sham poo. Each time the door opens to let one of the victims through, the beast slides along the iron rod for a moment; then reaching a gap, it falls into a large bath of boiling water. A round dozen of pigs are in the water at once, and any re maining spark of life is soon extinguished. The moist heat


AMERICAN LIFE. 67

of the water softens and loosens the bristles, and prepares them for the scraping, which is the next operation. In itself, all this seems as strange as it is repulsive. The unlucky beasts, pushed by negroes with long poles to the bottom of the vat to prevent their floating on the surface, the involuntary com parison with the bathing customs of watering-places, the tawny-colored water, and the warm pungent smell rising up, form an impression ludicrous and brutal, at the same time making one wish to laugh and go away. Nevertheless, one remains to see the end of all the operations. After a few minutes immersion, the hog is withdrawn. For this purpose an ingenious apparatus is used, resembling the agricultural horse-rake. It is composed of a series of curved iron-rods, forming a concave grating rotating on a horizontal axis. In its normal position the apparatus plunges to the bottom of the water ; and to make it act, one of the attendant negroes with his pole pushes the hog in such a way that it rests on the concave part ; then another unfastens a ring, and the grating, making a half revolution, sets the animal on a table pierced with holes. It is at once delivered to a machine, which brushes it, combs it and vigorously scrapes it. This ends the second act.

The cutting up comes next. A man cuts off the head with one blow of a hatchet. Then the hog, attached by the tendons of the legs to a horizontal iron-rod furnished with a hook, is suspended anew from the long bar on which it is to finish its journey. From this moment each of its different parts take a different direction. The head has already been separated from the body; the tongue and ears are removed, while the rippers cleave the animal with one stroke and remove all the internal parts, which they place in long boxes, above which watering tubes, pierced like skimmers, play unceasingly. The room in which this washing takes place seems one of the most repug nant. Puddles of mingled blood and water form in the uneven parts of the floor; one can hardly find a dry spot on which to set foot, and on all sides repulsive objects meet the eye. To see well, one should occasionally mount a ladder. Each step is soiled in some way, the one red with blood, the other covered with the bristles that the dirty hand of a workman has left


68 AMERICAN LIFE.

there in climbing. One must be provided with cheap gloves for a visit to such establishments, and throw them away on getting out again. As compensation for the horrors that must be witnessed, one can admire the skill of the workmen who cut up the quarters, separate the bacon, trim the hams, each one always performing the same limited operation. It is division of labor pushed to the extreme.

I have a vivid recollection of a tall, vigorous and brutal negro, armed with an enormous hatchet, who passed his whole day in cutting hams from the quarters presented to him. Three movements were enough, and the accuracy of his aim was marvellous. He was an artist in his own line. Elsewhere in the office, I was told that nearly all the workmen are skilful specialists ; yet what a difference between them and the mean est butcher s boy with us. These would, perhaps, be less rapid in the execution of this or that detail, but they know all the different phases of the operation of which the Armour work man has followed but one. They can tell of the weight of an animal at first sight, and are well acquainted with all the nice ties of the trade ; they not only slaughter the animals, but they also know how to buy them.

The men we see here are confined to one minute specialty ; they are mechanical workmen. Yesterday, moreover, perhaps they worked in a mine, to-morrow they will be farmers or mer chants. All employments are temporary in the United States. They are looked upon as a series of stepping-stones to fortune, and one remains momentarily poised on one step till he can reach the one beyond. From this point of view the division of labor renders an immense service to the Americans. It enables them to find employment in different branches of trade with out serving a long apprenticeship, and one can rapidly acquire the skill of the negro I admired cutting a thousand hams a day. Much more easily can one load an iron wheelbarrow with the remains of the flesh, and empty it into a large boiler flush with the floor, as I saw one of the less vigorous and less skilful workmen doing.

We visit in succession the vats in which the lard is brought to a liquid state, those where it cools, the rooms where it is packed in barrels, the casks, of bacons, the sheds where the


AMERICAN LIFE. 69

ham is smoked or cured with sugar, the freezing cellars, where fresh meat and reserves of bacon are stored ; then we proceed to the cattle department.

Things go on much in the same way here, except that the flesh of the ox is utilized in a more uniform manner than that of the hog. At the outset one notices a great mass of oxen under a dark shed. Now and then a man opens a door and pushes through five or six, which struggle together in a boarded passage having a considerable slope. The ascent seems diffi cult to them, and the stockman, from the top of the passage- wall, pushes forward the laziest with heavy kicks ; he sometimes also uses a long leather whip to drive on those animals whom the odor of blood inspires with instinctive horror; and in reality the lobby is the vestibule of the scaffold. At its ex tremity there is a long, narrow room, throughout the length of which runs a raised wooden platform. A workman, armed with a heavy mallet, walks up and down this platform, stopping only opposite each ox, to fell it with a smart blow between the two horns. Immediately afterwards, a large chain of iron, furnished with two hooks, seizes the felled animal by the hind legs and lifts it to the upper floor, where it is decapi tated. It afterwards passes through different rooms to be skinned, cut up, smoked, salted, packed in tins, etc. I spare my readers the description of these diverse operations, some what similar to those employed in the case of the hog. There is only one remark to add that owing to the considerable weight of the ox, the employment of machinery, driven by some motor, for the passage from one room to another, and for easy details, such as the division into quarters, which is accom plished by means of a circular-saw, pays much better than for hogs. On the contrary, the machinery is hardly useful for sheep. Although I saw several of them slaughtered in the neighborhood of the cattle department, this latter is a much less important branch of the industry of the packing-houses. Moreover, the flesh of the sheep lends itself less easily to the customary methods of preserving the flesh of the hog and the ox.

The beef that leaves the packing-houses of Chicago is not all destined to be preserved ; the greater part of it is used as


o AMERICAN LIFE.

dressed-beef. Thus, of 2,206,185 oxen slaughtered at Chi cago from March, 1889, till March, 1890, 1,800,000 have been absorbed in the trade of dressed beef. I must, therefore, say a word about this important specialty. As the name indi cates, dressed beef is simply beef cut into quarters, ready to be retailed to customers. Thus prepared by the packing houses, it is placed in the refrigerators (railway wagons), which distribute it over the whole of the United States, and furnish an enormous number of markets with material for retail. On whatever line one travels, long rows of these cars are to be seen, and each little Western town receives the number pro portionate to its consumption. In this way, it is not neces sary to be a butcher by profession in order to run a meat store, it is sufficient to go to the railway station, select the necessary quarters of beef, and cut them up afterwards. Di vision of labor thus reigns, not only inside, but also outside the packing-houses. It leaves the technical part of the work in the hands of the great packers of Chicago, Kansas City and Omaha, and confides to the first comer the purely com mercial part, of which the butcher s stall is the theatre. One sells meat in the United States as one sells cheese in France, without any apprenticeship. I lay stress upon this point, be cause it is a characteristic Americen trait ; everybody there is equal to anything, but let it be well understood, everything is coarsely done without care, without art. A man is not proud of his handicraft and jealous of his professional reputa tion, but he is proud of his being able to do any kind of work, no matter what, and of knowing how to make money enough under any circumstances.

Perhaps this is the reason that has prevented American dressed-beef from invading the European market. It is known there, and Chicago statistics triumphantly register some exports to England, Germany, and France ; but the great market for dressed-beef is always to be found in the local consumption of the States. Our careful housewives, accustomed to meat well cut and trimmed, cannot view with out repugnance these great quarters of beef preserved in ice and cut somewhat at random by any hand. The butchers, on their side, are naturally opposed to the introduction of


AMERICAN LIFE. 71

dead meat, which would enter into competition with their trade. Otherwise, it would be as easy for dressed-beef to be brought across the Atlantic in steamers, like the "Frigori- fique," as to be sent five or six days by rail in refrigerator-cars. To make amends, tinned meat, and all the different products of the pig, are in demand abroad. France, Germany, Eng land, Canada and the Antilles import a considerable quantity of them every year. The French Government has long been one of Armour s wholesale customers for military provisions. England, in particular, receives many hams, quarters of pork and bacon ; Sweden and Norway chiefly the last article.

To satisfy the different tastes of customers the packers have been obliged to prepare the flesh of the pig in many different ways ; and in the statistical reports I have counted thirty-one principal varieties. Beef, on the contrary, has only four or five.

The industries connected with a packing-house are numerous. Outside are enormous warehouses in which the products, ready for export, are stored ; There is a cooperage for the manufac ture of barrels, there is a factory for the production of tin-cans, and yet another is the meat-market, where eating-house keep ers of the town in which the packing-house is situated buy their provisions directly, without the intervention of the middle man.

On leaving these wonderful factories and returning to the pure air and the sunshine, one experiences unspeakable joy ; but in the evening, when the colored waiter of the hotel brings your beefsteak, horrible recollections arise, upon which it would be well not to dwell, if you wish to retain your appetite. Still, no one who wishes to make himself acquainted with American ways of doing things can regret his visit to these establish ments. This industry is very American in its nature, its methods and its results. It is within the capacity of almost any workman ; further, it creates one of the chief riches of the States, and occupies a first rank among the sources of their material prosperity. Not only does it enrich the packers, of whom several Armour among them possess colossal fortunes ; but it utilizes American agricultural products for the markets of the whole world ; it promotes colonization and the ever- increasing development of the lands of the Union.


72 AMERICAN LIFE.


III. THE^BOOM^OF A MEAT-TOWN.

The packing-houses give rise to another effect. In concen trating the meat trade in a few centres, they give rise to con siderable towns, the special features of which it is now interesting to study. If you walk on a sunny day along Michigan avenue, in Chicago, when thronged with elegant equipages ; or, if in Kansas City, you pass through Troost avenue, lined with spacious and substantial mansions, you must admit, if you reflect at all, that the reason of the exist ence of this luxury is to be found, after all, in the dirty, smoky packing-houses around which these towns have sprung up. Here, then, is the place to say a few words on the sub ject.

To get as good an idea as possible of the boom of one of these towns, transport yourself back fifty years in thought. The contrast is startling. One day, at the house of a common friend in Chicago, I had the good fortune to meet an old American who had been settled there for the last fifty-five years. He had come out to trade in furs, and he told tales of his connection with the Indians of Illinois, of the wolf-hunts the merchants joined in to get rid of these animals, of the fights they sometimes had when, owing to the rum either flowing too freely or being too firmly refused, they brought upon themselves the drunkenness or the anger of their savage allies. We chatted or rather I listened for a long time, taking a lively pleasure in this interesting conversation ; and, when I rose to take leave of him, it was with a kind of surprise that I again found myself in the office of the City Comptroller of Chicago, in the midst of an immense and sumptuous City Hall. Yet, it was not an old story that I had heard, and I found my self on the very spot where it had happened. The ground occupied by the immense business buildings that line Lassalle street was covered with grass fifty years ago. Dearborn street owes its name to Fort Dearborn, built by the Federal Government to protect the American Fur Company, and was destroyed only in 1856. Chicago numbered only fifteen families in 1830; to-day she possesses a million inhabitants, and it has


AMERICAN LIFE. 73

been possible for one man to witness this extraordinary trans formation.

This is wonderful, and yet the story of Chicago is the story of all the large towns of the West. The geographical situa tion which has made them railroad centres and centres of the cattle trade, had formerly made them centres for steamers or caravans, and for the fur trade. About 1840, Chonteau, a Frenchman, son of the founder of Saint Louis, set up a new fur factory on the Missouri ; and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kansas City, at that time a missionary, remembers when his metropolis was composed of a fort, a warehouse, and a few cabins. Omaha and Council Bluffs, situated on opposite banks of the Missouri, not far from its confluence with the Platte, also owe their origin to the fur trade. All these marts would have disappeared to-day had their prosperity been founded solely on this ephemeral trade. The Indians, once supplied with firearms by the traders, quickly exhausted the natural re sources they exploited ; but behind these traders came colonists who occupied the old hunting-grounds, brought cattle, raised stock, and in place of the fur industry which had disappeared with the large game, they created a new, inexhaustible and growing source of wealth.

Chicago, which is at the head of the provision towns, is also the most active, the boldest, the most American, of the cities of the Union. "These Chicago people," said a Frenchman to me one day, who, from a long sojourn in the States, was well able to form a sound opinion, "are enterprising in a manner at once foolish and admirable. Nothing discourages them, nothing astonishes them. The day after the terrible fire which destroyed their town, in 1871, they began to rebuild it without the least hesitation, building at one end whilst the other was still burn ing." It is here, indeed, that the American "go ahead," the idea of going always forward without useless regrets and re criminations, with an eye to the future, fearless and calm it is here that it attains its maximum intensity. Whatever be the prejudices of education and training, one cannot but admire such superb confidence. This confidence has a double origin, the personal energy of the Americans and their accustomedness to success. This is why it is strongest where success has been


74 AMERICAN LIFE.

particularly brilliant ; stronger in the meat-towns of the Western than in the Eastern centres, which are already old ; strongest of all in Chicago.

I have no intention of presenting my readers with a complete history of Chicago ; I shall merely try to give them an idea of the importance and rapidity of its boom by means of a few facts. And first, it will be remembered that, in March, 1871, Chicago was completely destroyed by a terrible fire; only one house, which is still pointed out, escaped the flames. It has lately been acquired by a richly-endowed public library, that will make short work of it ; and every stranger makes a pilgrimage to it, as the last vestige of the old town. The extent of the dis aster is explained by the unheard-of rapidity with which the fire spread. It was towards 9 o clock in the evening that the first glimmer of fire appeared to the north of the town. At that time the service of firemen had not attained the perfection to which it has since been carried ; however, one was accustomed to seeing fire break out in the wooden-houses, of which Chicago was almost entirely composed, without being followed by a general disaster; so except those in the immediate neighbor hood, none disturbed himself much. An eye-witness, living in a distant quarter of the town, told me he had noticed the flames to the North, and went to bed without misgiving. Towards midnight a policeman knocked to warn him that the fire was advancing with frightful rapidity ; in fact, a violent wind, such as is met with in America only, drove the fire towards the centre of the town, giving rise to the fear of a universal con flagration. But it was still at least a mile off, and Mr. W. took advantage of the delay which this distance seemed to promise him, to carry aid to the family of a friend. When he returned home, an hour later, he found his house in flames; in twenty- four hours the whole town was burning.

Deaths innumerable and ruin complete were the result of this gigantic disaster. At that time Chicago numbered about 360,000 souls, and it needed all the generosity of the Americans to keep so many families from dying of cold and hunger, home less as they were, and, for the time being, deprived of every means of subsistence. Trains, loaded entirely with provisions and clothing, arrived from all sides; Chicago was nothing else but a great board of charity.


AMERICAN LIFE. 75

It was in Drexel avenue, in a lovely public garden sur rounded by beautiful dwellings, that an old citizen of the town gave me these sad details. I thought to myself that, about the same time, in May, 1871, Paris also had seen some memor able fires, of which many traces still exist ; I recalled the lamentable ruins of the " Cour des Comptes " and the gravelled walks and lawns which replace the Tuileries. Here, there is nothing of this kind. Instead of a town built of wood and brick, with a population of 360,000, there is another town, bet ter built and numbering a million inhabitants. Progress, momentarily arrested, thereafter proceeded with fresh ardor, and the plots which I saw to right and left, though far from the centre of the town, were worth $20.00 per square yard. The greater number were occupied by private houses of elegant exterior, and the adjacent avenues on the shore of Lake Michigan are similarly lined, with a series of private dwellings, sheltered with fine trees and surrounded by a small lawn that isolates each from its neighbors. Nothing could less resemble our Parisian barracks ; here, each one, not only in the leisured-class, but also in the working-class, has his own home. Those who, by force of peculiar circumstances, cannot establish themselves under such conditions, make every effort to do so, and they consider it of primary importance to have an inde pendent home. To live in one s own mansion is neither an unheard of luxury nor a sign of large fortune. In Greenwood avenue I saw many charming residences valued at $15,000 to $20,000 which represent rentals of from 4,000 to 5,000 francs in Paris ; and if we take into account the differences in the value of money in Chicago and in Paris, this sum will be reduced at least by half. I do not exaggerate in affirming that these houses are occupied by people having in Chicago a posi tion corresponding to that of Parisian tenants paying a rent of 2,000 francs.

The workmen and inferior clerks find less costly dwellings in the more modest suburbs, where the price of plots falls to $1.00 per square yard. Here, again, the speculators in plots have realized handsome profits. At the outset all the environs of Chicago were assigned by the Government at $1.25 per acre, and even at $1.00 per square yard; hence one can say


76 AMERICAN LIFE.

that the business pays. Therefore, the trade of the real estate man in Chicago has developed on a large scale. Enormous fortunes have been made, lost and remade in real estate, and the enlargement of the town still continues.

It can be easily understood, how the American custom of living in separate houses causes the towns to assume gigantic proportions and thus widens the sphere of speculation. At three or four miles from the centre of Chicago it is still the city.

However, it is in the business quarters that the greatest strokes are made, because the greater value of the land allows of greater variations and larger gains. The large publishing firm of Rand, McNally & Co. reconstructed their premises in 1890, on lands which they had purchased for 400 per foot of frontage, and before commencing building operations they could have resold them at double the price. This frontage- measure, which will perhaps at first surprise my readers, is always used in the West in buying and selling town lands. It is only applied to the frontage side ; the lots are generally divided into lengths of 25 feet by 120 to 150 feet in depth. A foot of frontage, then, represents a right angle of 100 to 150 feet on one side and I foot on the other. Thus, in supposing that the land acquired by Rand, McNally & Co. has the max imum depth of 150 feet, and each foot of frontage costs $2,000, it would make the price of each square yard come to $148. Some sales bring a much higher price ; and I have heard of ground which was as high as $10,000 per foot of frontage, or $769 per square yard. I do not think that the notaries of Paris register such high prices.

Here I must notice that in America many towns enclose lands of such value. We do not propose, at present, to con sider the commercial or industrial centres of the East, such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, etc. But with out quitting the cities of the West, which have risen with the cattle-trade, we will take up some facts similar to those which Chicago has already furnished us.

Kansas City, more particularly, has boomed for the last thirty years in a very remarkable manner. In 1860 it num bered 8,000 inhabitants ; to-day it has more than 200,000 ;


AMERICAN LIFE. 77

and business is so important there that on Delaware street, in the centre of the town, a foot of frontage, with a depth of only 90 feet, sells at $2,500.

It will be easy to understand the ardor of the speculation in lands by the following facts : The largest dry-goods store in Kansas City, finding itself short of room in the premises which it occupied, wished to acquire another piece of ground for an extension ; and in Walnut street, between Tenth and Elev enth streets, a sufficiently large space for this project was found. The neighboring proprietors, considering that the con struction of a shop with plenty of custom would give a large surplus-value to their lots, hastened to form a syndicate and offered to the heads of the house a sum of $100,000 if they would decide in favor of this situation. This help was not to be despised, and the bargain was struck. What happened in Kansas City is that which nearly always happens when an American town begins to boom.

Speculators are not content to work the actual extreme value which the development of business gives to the town-lots ; they discount the future with too much rapidity and bring on an in flation an artificial expansion fertile in surprises. All at once they find that they have gone too fast, and a sudden stop comes, which makes prices fall a third or a half. Then three or four years of ordinary progress are required for recovery, and all the real-estate men who cannot wait for this return of former prices, put on very wry faces. According to them com merce is on the wane; they see everything darkly, and sigh over their own misfortune as if it were general. Meanwhile, during these times, the packing-houses increase their production, the stock-yards are never empty, and the town continues to ad vance. Only a few spectators are ruined for having wished to dance quicker than the piper played.

Thus, those who had acquired lands in certain suburbs about 1886, in the hope of a ready sale at a large profit, found them selves very much disappointed. I heard bitter complaints from a saloonkeeper who had refused $5,000 an acre for a little property situated at four or five miles from the centre of the town. To-day he can only get $1,560, and regrets having been too ambitious formerly. In the centre of the town the fall is


78 AMERICAN LIFE.

less, but certain lots which were worth $700 per foot of front age, are now not worth more than 400. On the other hand, certain lots have gone up steadily, in spite of the general fall, on account of a particularly favorable situation. In the neigh borhood of Troost avenue, at the corner of Lydia avenue and Twenty-second street, a piece of land bought at $25 per foot of frontage four years ago would be worth to-day $400 to $500. Still there are few sales being made.

In the best days of the boom they would have considered such profits far too small. Folks who were fortunate grew rich in a few months, and the victims of the actual situation do not fail to tell you how such and such persons have gained a fortune by pure speculation. I was shown some very pretty houses on Troost avenue, occupied by these fortunate speculators. So- and-so, for example, came to Kansas with a capital of $10,000, and has gained millions. He bought on option, that is to say that when a lot seemed to have a future,*he obtained a written promise from the proprietor to sell it at a certain price. He then sought a purchaser at a higher figure, and pocketed the difference. Sometimes in two or three days he realized a profit of 200 to 300 per cent, in this way.

It is easy to understand these enormous profits and the pro digious rise in land when you look at the luxurious banks, the enormous hotels, the ten-storied business buildings, which have grown up there.

All this has been produced by the cattle-trade and the rise in the value of land which has resulted from it. The banks exist principally by mortgages. A ranchman has not always the necessary money to buy lean cattle, which he intends to fatten. He goes to the bank and borrows on his land. In this very enterprising society, where the fact is of daily occurrence, only the great packers and railroad kings work with their own capi tal. So the banks are numerous and rich. In order to exhibit these riches, they display them in sumptuous buildings, where bad taste struggles with profusion of ornament. You go up marble staircases with golden-bronze balustrades; the ceilings and walls decorated with countless gildings; the elevators, the screens, everything is gilded and everything looks hideous. However, it is not a question of art, but of advertising. The


AMERICAN LIFE. 79

imagination of the customer must be impressed by this barbaric splendor.

This reminds me of the diamond rings worn by certain den tists, and the enormous lapis lazuli signet rings with which the butchers dazzle the eyes of the country men "at fairs. The same luxury and the same absence of taste is seen in the hotels. The Midland Hotel, in Kansas City, cost two and a half mil lion dollars to build and furnish. I do not know the cost of the Auditorium Hotel at Chicago, but it is an immense nine- storied building, glittering with gold, with choice marble and electric-light. For comfort there is nothing left to be desired. Each room has a dressing-room and bath-room perfectly ar ranged. The dining-room, on the ninth floor, is reached in twenty-two seconds by means of a perfect elevator ; but the eye is annoyed by the excess of decoration, the strangeness and the lack of repose of the architectural features, the barbarous aspect of this piling up of expensive materials, producing a harsh, dis cordant effect. It seems to me that Americans know much better how to make money than how to spend it. This will be shown on many occasions.

As yet we have studied only one way of money-making. Breeding, fattening and killing cattle is an important source of wealth in the States, but it is far from being the only one. A large quantity of grain is grown in the West, and American wheat has raised the bile of French farmers far more than American meat. So, we must leave the towns where the cattle are collected, to return to the farms and pay a visit to the New World settler at home.


CHAPTER IV.


CULTIVATION ON A LARGE SCALE. EXTENSIVE FARMS.

In France we usually have a particular conception of Ameri can farming, and readily think of it as gigantic in every detail, cultivating immense areas with a legion of steam- ploughs. This we consider to be the cause of our defeat in the economic struggle. This is the text of many an address at agricultural meetings, and the same conception appears in the publications of the great agricultural societies, and even in the statements of well-known public men who have crossed the Atlantic and lived in the States. By way of example let me quote from an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes of July I, 1890, wherein Count Keratry gives the great wheat and bonanza farms a preponderating influence in America. If you arrive in the States possessed with this idea and question a citizen of New York or Philadelphia, he is careful not to unde ceive you, thinking it would be a disgrace to his country to contain anything ordinary. The Yankee boasting is well- known ; certain epithets, such as, " astonishing success," " pro digious homes," " colossal enterprises," are constantly heard. They have adopted special expressions to characterize immensity, having exhausted the English vocabulary by their habit of exaggerating everything. In the term, " A mammoth hotel," they have gone back to an extinct species to find a point of comparison. A site is not picturesque, it is " the most beautiful in the world." A train is not merely well-appointed, but is " the best in the world." At the office of the rival rail road over the way, you will certainly be offered tickets for "the handsomest train in the world ;" and the clerk does not even smile in going through his advertisement. A man who succeeds well in business is " a splendid man ; " a good orator is " a blizzard of eloquence." These being the usual habits of


82 AMERICAN LIFE.

expression, what sort of answer is to be expected from the Yankee whom you question as to the extent of farms out West ? He appears surprised and utters some big words. The farms are not only extensive, they are " wonderfully extensive." l

You could as well ask from a citizen of Marseilles if his house of business is important ! They even use to tell, half seriously, half in jest, that on certain Western farms, the far mer who began to trace a furrow with his plough, took care to embrace his wife before starting, and to give her his sugges tions on the subject of the education of their children, as so much time must elapse before his return to his starting-point.

When I undertook to visit the agricultural States of the Union I was most anxious to see these immense cultivated tracts the terror of the European agriculturist and the pride of the Yankee. Wherever I passed I took care to inquire as to their existence, and the reader will appreciate the place which they hold in American agriculture in perusing the recital of the search which I was obliged to undertake in order to discover the few farms of abnormal extent which actually exist in the territory of the Union.

I. THE FARM FOR ADVERTISEMENT.

I had but little hope from the East, invaded as it is by manufactures; and, besides, every one sent me on at least as far as the Valley of the Mississippi. It was there that the as tonishing spectacle of the "wheat and bonanza farms" was to present itself to my sight. In Ohio and Missouri I hazarded a few questions, but without success. Ohio and Missouri, I was told, might pass for Western lands in the time of M. de Tocqueville, but to-day the West is no longer there. It was necessary to cross the Mississippi to find the new countries. The reflection was just, and I patiently awaited my arrival on the other shore to continue my investigations on the subject of big farms, the object of my curiosity.

i The Americans never use the adverb in expressions of this sort ; for instance, they say " awful good," " awful pretty." This is not English, it is a dialect; but it is so printed and so spoken everywhere in the States.


AMERICAN LIFE. 83

Arrived in Kansas, I thought it was time to open my eyes. I saw some great ranches, and also some tolerably vast proper ties, divided into separate farms, and an immense quantity of small domains, varying from 150 to 500 acres. This was, by far, the most usual circumstance. In observing the cultivation of Kansas, I easily understood the reason of this fact. Kansas is not an exclusive soil, like Dakota, which hardly produces anything but wheat. Here wheat, maize, oats, barley, millet, and even the vine, live side by side.

This variety in the culture is very favorable to the restricted cultivation, which can easily be surveyed by the eye of the owner. It becomes an inconvenience on the large farms, conducted, one might say, on administrative principles. Maize, for example, must be consumed where it grows, to give a good profit. The Kansas farmers are then obliged to have a cattle-fattening ranch, when they do not find an immediate sale for their maize. This is certainly advantageous for those who live on their domain and direct it personally; it would be a great complica tion for a capitalist residing at a distance and obliged to have a double set of laborers and cowboys. Finally, everyone told me that I should find elsewhere what I sought vainly here, and I resigned myself to see the agriculture of Kansas, such as it is and not as I had imagined it to be. In Oklahoma, where I went down afterwards, there are only settlements of 1 60 acres. I went up again to Colorado and Nebraska, thinking to attain my object, but met with a fresh deception. Great ranches were tolerably numerous, but the farms were of about the same extent as those in Kansas. Again the same in Iowa.

Dakota, the classical corn-land, the American Beauce, re mained, and I reckoned upon seeing there the great steam cultivation of which I had so often heard. Accordingly, as soon as I arrived at Aberdeen, I renewed my questions. There the settlements were extensive ; many reached 2,500 acres, but none answered to the description of " mammoth farms." " It is really in Dakota," I was told, " that you will see them, but in Northern Dakota. Here we are in Southern Dakota, which is very different." A few days after, I arrived in Northern Da kota. " Yes, it is really here, but not in all Northern Dakota. Go to the Red River Valley and you will be satisfied."


84 AMERICAN LIFE.

I went, obediently, to the Red River Valley, where I saw again, near Fargo, Moorhead, Breckenridge and Grand Forks, many farms similar to those of Southern Dakota ; however, the Dalrymple Farm was pointed out to me as containing 55,000 acres, and another 40,000 acres. I did not, then, come back as I went from my mammoth farm-hunt, but I think I may testify that they are rare game, and that the Western States owe their agricultural prosperity to another element.

It is easy, also, to understand why these farms have attracted the attention of authors and travellers. Exceptional facts have always the good fortune of not passing unnoticed. They are often the only ones which a superficial observation seizes upon ; but they are, nevertheless, the least interesting for those who wish to make an exact account of things ; since precisely on account of their exceptional character they have little influence. Suppose, for example, that an architect wishes to study the manner in which staircases are built in Paris : evidently, he would gain a false impression if he attached the greatest im portance to the merits of the one of the Opera. It is the stair case most talked about in Paris, but it is also the one which has the least influence on the ordinary conditions of habitation.

The mammoth farms are generally owned by proprietors who are very anxious to make them known, and in a good position to do this effectively, thus making their reputation more extensive. In fact, they are farms run as advertisements, so that they may be talked of. I have already pointed out that when railroads are built in a new country, the companies get enormous concessions of lands, which they endeavor by every possible means to boom.

One of the commonest ways is to begin farm-work on those grounds. Example is better than precept, and if the farm thus created does not pay itself, it is at least useful in attract ing settlers, and the proprietor compensates himself in this way. The opening of small farms is enough to encourage settling, but the railroad kings are often forced to make them excessively large, for special reasons. An Act of 1862 decided that all lands conceded to companies and not sold within three years after the opening of the whole line, should be subjected to pre-emption and homestead dues, like other public grounds ;


AMERICAN LIFE. 85

that is to say, that if the land be not sold, the concession is withdrawn at the end of three years. To avoid this, the rail road king buys part of this land himself, and may become, in his way, the owner of a 55,ooo-acre farm. Of course, the whole is not cul-tivated. Dalrymple Farm has only 15,000 acres broken, the other 40,000 being prairie, bare as on the day it left the Creator s hands. The luckiest thing that happens to such a proprietor is to sell lot after lot of this land to charita ble settlers ; and, indeed, this is usually the sole object of the holders of such properties.

I fancy I can still hear the complaints of a banker who found himself burdened with such a tract of land situated in Minne sota, and of much less extent, too, for it was only 3,200 acres. Formerly it had been bought, to boom the lands of a railway, at $1.40 per acre. Mr. F. had broken up i.ooo acres and enclosed 640, but did not find it profitable. " I am too far off, and too busy," said he, "to look after this work myself, and the manager who replaces me never stays long, because if he does badly I send him away, and if he does well, he settles for himself at the end of a year. You would render me a ser vice," added he, like a good American, " if you found me a buyer, and I would willingly give you a good commission."

I have neither sought or found any buyers, but some day they will appear, and Mr. F. will rub his hands at the idea of no longer losing money by his farm.

One cannot obtain an income from one s property in the Far West, as in France, where the profits can be drawn at a notary s. If the farmers of Beauce and Brie found good lands without an owner within their reach, it is very certain that they would not amuse themselves by cultivating those for which they have to pay rent. Well, as there is plenty vacant land in the States, so there cannot be any big farmers.

On the other hand, it is impossible to manage farms which surpass certain limits. We have already seen how Mr. A. first tried to centralize, but was forced to spread the workings on his fattening-ranch of 5,000 acres. In the case of farms this is even more necessary, for on them, also, laborers have to be very highly paid. It is, moreover, next to impossible to keep them ; and, besides, there is need of skill and closer oversight. In the


86 AMERICAN LIFE.

future these mammoth farms will get their proper place. They are not only exceptional but also temporary, as the fact that they are not to be found in districts which have been settled for twenty years proves. Dalrymple Farm itself is divided up into lots of about 3,000 acres, each of which has its own buildings.

I was still less lucky in my search for steam-ploughs, for / never saw a single one at work. I am far from asserting that nobody uses them, for I have no pretensions of having visited all the farms in the West ; but at least they are not very com mon. At the beginning of my investigations a Kansas journal ist assured me that these ploughs, so much used in Dakota, were able to till an acre of land for 40 cents ; while the same dressing cost $2.00 with a horse or cattle plough. I had carefully marked this precious information in my note-book, but frankness forces me to confess that I was well laughed at when I gave it to the settlers of Dakota, who, without furnish ing me with such precise figures, simply told- me that they had tried steam-ploughs and given them up, because they did not prove successful. Now the steam-ploughs held an equal place with the mammoth farms in the more or less fantastic recitals I had gathered here and there. The only thing to be learned is that railway promoters in the States admirably understand the art of advertising, and that the colonists, attracted by their twaddle about steam-ploughs, break up the prairie with horse- ploughs.

If, in crossing the vast plains of Dakota, you see a wide belt of unbroken prairie, you may be pretty sure that this land is still in the hands of some capitalist, more or less intimately connected with the nearest railroad. It is in this negative form that the mammoth farm is usually found.

In short, if one wishes to become acquainted with the way in which the wheat and the maize which flood our markets are actually cultivated, it is not on these large properties that one s observations must be made ; but on those which really form the dominent type the ordinary large farms.

II. THE ORDINARY LARGE FARM.

The large wheat-farms are mostly found in Dakota. They should be carefully inspected, not only from a purely agricul-


AMERICAN LIFE. 87

tural point of view, but also on account of the evidence they give of a superior element in the population. Small claims of 160 acres are commonest even in these vast plains, for they are the only ones on which the greatest number of immigrants can establish. But there is also a good number of farms of 2,000 or 3,000 acres held by settlers who came with some capital. These settlers are usually Americans. Young French men and Englishmen of good family may be met with on the ranches, but I am bound to say I have never found any on the big farms.

The big farmer of the West nine times out of ten comes from the Eastern States. He is a Yankee, turned farmer for the moment, and occupies an exceptional place in the new territory. In the midst of German or Scandinavian emigrants, it is he who preserves the American nationality and imposes it on the young settlement. But let us leave these general con siderations. I propose to conduct my reader to some of the large farms, where they will understand for themselves their importance and the function performed by their owners. One day, being forced to stop off a Moorhead, in the Red River Valley, in consequence of the defective train arrangements, I asked the proprietor of the hotel where I stayed about the neighboring farms. By a coincidence, common enough in the States, this hotelkeeper was also a farmer, and so able to be of great service to me. While we were talking he telephoned to the livery-stable, and just as we decided on my route, a little buggy drew up before the hotel door. I had only to step into it, to go one mile north, two miles east, and then half a mile north to arrive at Mr. Shribner s farm, said to be that of a model farmer.

Nothing is easier than to find one s way in those vast tree less tracts, divided into square miles, with a road between each square.

On stopping the buggy in a large courtyard surrounded by buildings and fences, I asked, in an assured tone, as one well aware of his facts, " This farm belongs to Mr. Shribner, does it not ? I should like to speak to Mr. Shribner." " Oh ! Don t you know that he has been dead six months ? " This reply somewhat cooled my ardor, the hotelkeeper having forgotten


88


AMERICAN LIFE.


to give me this detail, and I was obliged to admit that I was not a private friend of Mr. Shribner s, but that the great rep utation of his farm had made me visit it. While talking, I fastened my horse to one of the posts set up for this purpose, and drew out my note-book. An American is always favor ably impressed by the sight of this object. Accustomed to interviewing and reporting, he considers them powerful ad vertisements, and always undergoes them with good grace. Thus the task of an observer is easy, for he never finds him self exposed to the distrustful suspicions of the peasants, as in


6


5


4


3


2


i


7


8


9


10


II


12


18


17


16


15


14


13


19


20


21


22


23


24


30


2 9


28


27


26


25


3i


32


33


34


35


36


PLAN OF A TOWNSHIP IN A WESTERN STATE.

Each section is a square mile (640 acres). The ordinary "claim" is the quarter of a section (160 acres).

Europe, but everywhere receives a welcome. This is easily understood. The peasant, living on his land, has no need of anyone, and mistrusts the questioner. " Doubtless," says he to himself, " he asks me all that to increase my taxes." Not so with the American ; he needs to be talked about there is a great advantage in it. If the neighboring lands are peopled by immigrants attracted by his recital, he will be able to sell his possessions at a good profit, and go to form another settle ment elsewhere. Far from dreading the encroachment of the foreigner, he calls for it with all his might.

The Scandinavian I now faced readily replied to my ques-


AMERICAN LIFE. 89

tions and showed me his late master s farm. Mr. Shribner s family were of German origin, as his name indicates, but he came from Pennsylvania and is an American. On his arrival in Dakota, twelve years before, he had bought 700 acres of land near the town, and then resold them for $46,800, during a " boom." Then he started the new settlement I visited. It is much larger, being three and a half sections (2,240 acres), and Mr. Shribner valued it at $83,200, including stock and machin ery. The farm has been cleared and all the land is cultivated ; even the 600 acres of prairie have grown a corn crop. The plough that is used is a gang-plough. It cuts two furrows at the same time and needs five horses to draw it, while the driver calmly sits on a small iron seat, like those on our French reaping and mowing machines. He has no bodily fatigue, like the European laborer, bending over the furrow he is tracing ; but he drives about with his five horses over the big field, and has no physical effort, except that of regulating the depth to be cut, by a lever placed within reach of his right hand. The Dakota field-laborer needs neither a long apprenticeship nor great skill, for his work is typically American, and such as almost anybody could do. Sowing, reaping and mowing are all done by a machine. The flatness of the land permits and the dearness of hand-labor necessitates this. Mr. Shribner usually has only ten or twelve men, at about $25 a month, during the working months, but only one-half that number from December to April. During harvest, threshing and mowing, more men are needed, and a score of temporary hands are hired for two or three months every year. These get $1.60 to $2.00 a day. Everybody lives on the farm.

Such a business not only involves a large outlay in rolling- stock, but also needs a capable manager.

In good years twenty to thirty bushels of wheat are got per acre. In 1889, Mr. Shribner threshed about 60,000 bushels, giving, him a good profit ; but in a dry Spring, the wheat does not grow, or else grows badly, and the great cost of ploughing, etc., becomes pure loss.

The great risk in Dakota is drought. The climate of such a great plain, far from ocean and mountains, open to every weather change, is naturally very continental. The Winters


QO AMERICAN LIFE.

are very severe, the thermometer often registering forty degrees below zero, and the snow driven by the wind does not lie thickly enough to protect the seed from frost. Only summer- wheat is grown, and this is sown in May, not in March ; so that the grain is no more than three months in the soil. At the time it is sown the thaw gives some moisture, but if rain does not fall, it soon withers and dies. Everything depends on the weather during this short period of three months, and I do not believe there is a country in the world where rain or shine is discussed with greater interest than here. The news papers publish jubilant telegrams when a shower has fallen in some district : " Great Joy of the Farmers," " Harvest Assured," etc. There is almost a public rejoicing in rain. The people meet each other with radiant looks. The farmers already see their wheat being cut by the reapers ; the mer chants, their stock being bought ; the bankers, their interest being paid ; and the speculators, the rising of the price of land. Everybody lives directly or indirectly on farming in these lands ; and everybody re-echoes the saying of the peasants when a long-wished for rain falls: " Ah, sir, see the money falling ! "

The Red River Valley is said to be less subject to draught than other parts of Dakota, and so the harvest there is more uniform; but I was told of certain counties where the harvest varied from none to five bushels an acre in a dry year. This means not only suffering for all, but disaster for many. Nor is there any compensation, for wheat is the staple saleable pro duce of Dakota. Mr. Shribner grew nearly 4,000 bushels of barley and about as many bushels of oats, besides the wheat ; but they were eaten by the fifty horses needed on the farm. Nevertheless, Mr. Shribner tried to get rid of the great risk of all his profit being at the mercy of a shower, by varying the grain grown and utilizing a neighboring town by starting a dairy. The combination he adopted is interesting in its sim plicity. The animals on a Dakota farm are usually either for farm work or for carrying things. It is no good gathering a lot of manure, as the fields are not fertilized ; the land being so fertile that even no rotation of crop is necessary. For a series of eight or nine years wheat is sown, and the future left


AMERICAN LIFE. 91

to look after itself. If the land be exhausted, so much the worse ; there are other fields further West. The all-important object is to make the most dollars in the least time. Mr. Shribner did not adopt this short-sighted policy ; yet he wished to avoid too great complexity in his farming, so served part of the land with a mixture of oats and peas, to be cut green, which gave much less work than root-crops and, kept in ensil age, made excellent food for milch cows.

There are 175 head of cattle, including calves, on Mr. Shribner s farm to-day ; and 200 pigs live on the dairy refuse a subsidiary but important source of profit. The second crop of oats and peas, buried when green, keeps the ground fertile. But this better system is exceptional in Dakota, where the ordinary practice is to exhaust the ground, as is done every where in the West. All the same, I came across another farm of 960 acres worked in the same way and close to Mr. Shrib ner s. It belonged to a Moorhead banker, Mr. T., and was noteworthy for the excellent condition of the buildings and the special care taken in butter-making. On both farms the cows are fine Holstein Weizen. They were imported at great cost, and the Danish laborer who showed me Mr. T. s barns was be wailing the loss of a $1,000 bull. In the centre of the barn and under the same roof were three huge boxes holding the ensilage of oats and peas. I saw a $1,600 Percheron stallion in the stable, ten breeding-mares and twenty work-horses, all in splendid condition. It seemed to be a most carefully-farmed place, and directed by a man who was both intelligent and rich.

Mr. T. has built a house on the farm and lives there all the busy season, going to his bank for only a few hours every day. In Winter time he stays in Moorhead and visits the farm occa sionally. On returning from my expedition I found him in his office, and the valuable information he gave me confirmed the opinion I had formed of him when inspecting his farm. He said, " You must not forget that this is essentially a grain-growing country, although you have seen some milch cows on my farm. I set up the dairy only to make use of the green oats and peas, which I sow simply because I am afraid of exhausting the land too soon. I believe that the system


92 AMERICAN LIFE.

will show good results in a few years. Most of my neighbors, especially those who have mortgaged their lands to buy imple ments, beasts and seed, have only one idea in their heads, to sow wheat and get out of debt. It is usually reckoned too much to sow on the same land for a dozen years in succession ; yet many settlers are inclined to go beyond that limit. The settling here in Dakota is too recent to show the deplorable results of this abuse, but they are visible in the part of the Valley which is in Minnesota. Yet the soil of this Red River Valley is a wonderful one for cereals. The ratio of twenty to thirty bushels an acre is correct, as statistics show ; and I have even had a higher one. If it does not rain we still have some moisture in this region, for the dews are so heavy in June that one wets one s feet in walking on the grass at 10 o clock in the forenoon. The nearness of the Red River probably causes this, which is rare in Dakota."

Mr. T., like his neighbor, Mr. Shriber, is of Pennsylvania:! origin. His double quality of proprietor and banker shows that he has in him both the superior elements the American race gives the new Western States. I have already mentioned, in connection with the ranches, that New England in particu lar, and the East in general, supplies the capital which makes the work of the poorer immigrants fruitful. In truth, agricul tural credit is indispensable to the settling of the West, and middlemen are needed to organize it. The big mortgage banks of Boston and New York tried to do without them, and suffered in consequence. If any do exist, they lend entirely on town lots, always easily resold if the borrower breaks his bond. But for farm mortgages to be fairly safe, it is necessary to know the settler himself, to watch him, to know if he is doing well or badly, and to what extent. The man is the security, not the land. Before lending, it is needful to know- how active he is, his capabilities, the chances he has of succeed ing. As to his land, it is not worth much in itself, or, if you will, it is worth $1.25 per acre, if a buyer can be found for it. When all the land is broken, the buildings erected and live stock and machines purchased, the place has a greater value ; but the poor immigrant needs the money he borrows from the banker for buying the stock or implements and for build-


AMERICAN LIFE. 93

ing. Only some one settled out there can safely risk lending the money, and thus we find one or more banks, with an American as manager, in every little market town that is growing up in the midst of these farms.

In the West the American plays the same part as do the irriga tion canals in Egypt, for they insure plenty by circulating money, as the canals do in distributing the fertilizing mud ; but instead of acting unconsciously and mechanically, they open the sluices which keep back the wonder-working dollar according to the amount of confidence with which this or that settler inspires them. They must judge men, for success is proportional to their skill in this delicate art.

Every man with some capital is not equal to this. He is a superior man who can judge others, appreciate their capabili ties, and see in the immigrant all rags and tatters the steady settler of the future; and I am not at all astonished to see the prominent positions which American bankers usually occupy in the West. They, along with railway managers, form the nucleus of a governing class.

I know that this opinion will set most American citizen up in arms, for they are firmly decided to have neither governors nor governed. However, I maintain it, for it seems to me to be perfectly just. Doubtless, equality seems better realized in the United States than anywhere else ; but everywhere there, even more than elsewhere, men are classed according to their work, and play parts that vary with that work. Cer tainly, nobody is ranked after the antecedents of his family or the fame of his ancestors ; nobody takes a higher place with out giving some proof of superior personal ability. But although the governing-class is not a close corporation, it never theless exists. It constantly absorbs the choicest elements from the mass of the nation and rejects the others. It is the outcome of a constant selection.

The big settlers, such as those whose farms we have inspected, who import fine breeds and introduce better agricultural methods, ought also to be counted among the governing-class. They even have a place of their own in it, because they are the people of the country, and most intimately identified with its interests and its future, more than the banker and much more


94 AMERICAN LIFE.

than the railway man. They have another distinguishing characteristic. While the banker brings one or two clerks with him, or engages them out there, the big settler employs a dozen men all the year round, and thirty for three months every year. He is a labor-employer, and thus is of great service to the crowds of immigrants who come to settle in the West without money, and who are unable to accomplish this if they cannot find some lucrative employment within reach. How many so- called proprietors, settled on their little " claims," are glad to earn a dollar and a half or two dollars a day by hiring them selves to him during the busy season ? How many others get in his school the experience and capital which lead to their ultimate success?

The American who owns a big farm is, in a measure, the framework of the crowd that comes to seek fortune in Western States. This crowd is almost exclusively American or Scan dinavian in Dakota principally Scandinavian. At Mr. Schrib- ner s, a Norwegian received me ; he was an old sailor who had stayed in the States to practice farming. At Mr. T s., I began talking to a Dane ; and on enquiring about the nationality of these laborers on the farms, I found they were all Swedes, Norse or Danes. The stores in the little towns in the Valley in Moorhead, in Fargo, in Breckenridge, in Grand Forks had Scandinavian signs ; and I began to ask myself if Dakota is about to be invaded by the Normans as Europe was in the Middle Ages.

It is interesting to see how the European immigrants have distributed themselves over the immense territory of the United States. While the Irish and the people from Central Germany stay in the little manufacturing towns of New England and Pennsylvania, or at most venture to some of the great Western cities ; the German of the plains and the Scandinavian go and are lost in the out-of-the-way farms of Kansas, Nebraska, Min nesota, and Dakota, where they find the same conditions of independence to which they were used in their fatherland.

The peasant from Lauenbourg or Schleswig, or the Nor wegian fisherman is no more frightened to live alone on the vast American prairies than in the isolation of the Scandi navian Hof; and on the other side of the Atlantic he finds


AMERICAN LIFE. 95

plenty of that land he cannot get at home. This is the real cause of their wanderings, just as it was in the days of the vikings ; but the manner and effect of their migrations have greatly changed ; for, instead of bursting into tears as the Great Emperor of the flowing beard did when he saw their frail ships sail up the Seine, President Harrison cannot but rub his hands when the official dispatches announce that another group of Scandinavians has landed at New York. They are no longer formidable to the Government watching over the safety of its country ; they no longer come in arms, led by audacious vikings ; but they come, drawn by the enticing prospectus of some emigration agent, and peace ably take possession of vacant and fertile lands indicated to them. Indeed, what would be the use of arms ? They have not to fight with any human being, nor do they take ariyone s place. Their immigration and settlement are much more easily managed now ; but in the more heroic times, when they were less so, Scandinavians used to become chiefs in the coun tries which they invaded. There are no more Rollos or Rag- nard Lodbrogs among them. The ocean police have closed the series of Sagas and drained the source of that celebrated aristocracy of sea-kings. Since the piratry has been abol ished which gave Norway its great men, that poor conntry sends out only folks of little means the sons of fishermen and peasants. It is these precious but modest elements which the American governs and which he rapidly assimilates.

If, as sometimes happens, a Scandinavian makes a fortune big enough to raise him from his original condition to an impor tant position, he Americanizes himself more quickly than those who remain in the lower ranks, and becomes absorbed in the interests of the class he has entered. I have come across sev eral examples of this, one being a big land-owner in Minne sota, who came to America a poor Swedish immigrant, without resources, and who is now enormously rich. He made his fortune in a characteristically Yankee manner. Arriving at a lucky hour, he was eggaged as agent for a Dutch company that owned a lot of land, and he speculated for them for fifteen years, drawing a large share of the profits himself, and finding time to start and then sell at great profit three farms in succession,


96 AMERICAN LIFE.

each greater than the other and each farther West. Thus, though a Swede, he was predestined to become American.

In the Western States there are also farmers who have been fortunate enough to rise from a farm of 160 acres and become owners of fairly large farms, without making money except by wheat-growing. These are not Yankees, but Germans, Scandi navians or Anglo-Canadians, incapable of turning to a dozen different trades in the course of a few years, to constrain for tune to favor them, but sterling laborers, good watchers over their profits, and, let me add, well helped by chance. For in stance, I saw in Aberdeen County, South Dakota, two brothers, Canadians of English origin, who had come without a cent, but who then owned 1,150 acres of land, 1,100 being arable. Such settlers do not play the same part as the rich capitalists, who seek trTe best methods of culture and breed races of selected animals; they do not develop the progress of agriculture, but are given to abuse their land by drawing out of it wheat and dollars. Everyone of them borrows, at least at first, for they have neither stock nor implements nor money to buy these. The money is usually lent them at 8 per cent, or 10 per cent., so that they have large sums to pay as interest every year. In such conditions, how can they help trying to free themselves even at the price of exhausting the land?

From the agricultural point of view, then, they represent a lower type of big farmer, but they are of very great importance for the future of the country. They form the steadiest ele ments of the population, the base of all others, and give some material stability to a people always on the move. The banker and the big land-owner usually come to boom a town or the neighboring lands. If they find that it will pay to give up the bank or the lands, they go somewhere else to start the same operation, or to begin some new business that seems profitable. But the settlement of a Scandinavian or a rural German is more fixed, for they have left home with the idea of having a place of their own ; they have come to get land, as the Normans of the Middle Ages, and once they gain their end, they ask noth ing better than to be left to live and die on the soil that is their own and which has become fertile by their labors.

Each of these two elements helps to develop the country.


AMERICAN LIFE. 97

The American leads the conquest of the West ; he opens new territories, he is pioneer; he builds the railroads and opens the way. The German and the Scandinavian make the con quest certain ; they settle where the American has done noth ing but pass by; they found stable households, and finally at tach themselves to their second Fatherland. After twenty years they are all Americans.

We have seen how the big land-owner does the greatest ser vice to poor immigrants in giving them profitable work. Besides those who come to work on his estate, he often has tenant- farmers paying rent, some in money, some in kind ; others as produce-sharers. Every kind of combination, every sort of tenure exists in the States, as we have already seen in connection with the fattening-ranches. They rise naturally from different sorts of circumstances, and each corresponds to a different sort of need, to a special class of people. It is evident, for instance, that an immigrant who is a perfect stranger to farm-life, and who is not used to hard work or intense and prolonged physical exertion, cannot get a situation as farm-laborer, nor settle on the 160 acres the Government grants him. Nobody would keep him on the farm ; he would die of hunger on his claim. However, if a proprietor lend him a team, a plough and a sower^ he may, by taking advice from his neighbor and giving time to the work, sow some of his land and reap a harvest in three months. That will not make him rich all at once, but he will begin to gather a little capital without having run any risks, and the proprietor is paid for his advances and the letting of his land by getting a part of the crops. Such a way of be ginning is open to everybody. I once met in Kansas an um brella seller from Lyons. He had arrived in the country three days before and began his first attempts at agriculture in this way, on the land of a compatriot, whose tenant he would have to he for several months.

The immigrant who comes with his family, and thus has a certain number of hands at his disposal, may find a place on more important estates, as a farmer paying a fixed rent or as a produce-sharer. He has a house and farm-buildings supplied to him. Many begin in this way and find it better than to settle at once on a claim, far from all resources and where everything


98 AMERICAN LIFE.

has to be created. But everywhere in the United States the position of tenant is considered only a temporary one. Every body aspires to be independent, and everybody tries to be so. Some periodically fall to a subordinate position, but most suc ceed some time or another. One never finds a family of ten ants who have remained on the land of one owner for several generations, as sometimes happens in Europe. While such long engagements are considered by us to be most honorable, in America a man blushes to remain so long on the same rung of the social ladder.

It follows that few tenures are durable. A great landowner does not say he owns ten or twenty farms, for that gives no idea of the extent of his property. He says he owns so many acres. The manner of exploiting them varies. If he does not care to look after his property himself, he lets as much as he can, for a year, or even for six months, according to circum stances. But nothing is fixed. Some years he will cultivate I, ooo acres himself ; other years only 100. A great landlord may thus find himself; forced to cultivate all his lands himself someday or another; and it is necessary that he should be able to manage his farms himself, otherwise there is every chance that they will become waste-land.

This explains how certain settlers are hindered from return ing to their native land, after having made some money in the States. The master gone, the property becomes worthless. It is necessary to sell it before leaving. Other difficulties arise, for it is not always possible to find a purchaser, and when he has been fonnd, the price he offers has Iktle relation to the accustomed income. I have several times come across French men who were kept back by such considerations, from taking the first boat which was to cross the Atlantic to Havre. French people do not willingly settle abroad. They bitterly regret the society of their fellow-countrymen, the caf of their little town, the asphate of the boulevard, or the evening chatter in their village. They have not got that thoroughly rural dispo sition, and especially that custom of isolation which makes the Scandinavian find company in himself and live happily in his solitude and independeuce. Among those few Frenchmen who do succeed, how many are forced to remain Americans in spite of their wishes !


AMERICAN LIFE. 99

If it be difficult to find farmers in the United States existing under such systems of tenure, where only a few hire them selves for a very short time, it is quite easy to discover them in a certain sort of rural property, on which everybody has lived at some time or another. I intend to speak of those small properties whereon many cannot keep themselves, but where many live the " homestead."

The word " homestead " has several meanings that it is nec essary to define ; the commonest being " a family establish ment " (installation familiale). That is its grammatical signifi cance ; but it also means in legal language, a portion of land which the proprietor has the right to mortgage and which escapes from the hands of creditors. But in the United States a " homestead" or "claim is more generally understood of the 1 60 acres, which any citizen has the right to occupy on any vacant land, if he fulfil certain conditions.

Let us investigate as to the kind of settlers who occupy those homesteads.


CHAPTER V.


FARMING ON A SMALL SCALE. THE HOMESTEAD.

I. THE APPARENT EASE OF SETTLING.

At first sight, nothing seems easier than to settle on a home stead. Every emigration company will inform you that all vacant ground belongs to the Government of the United States, and that it gives it to the intending colonists on the most liberal terms. Indeed, it is possible to get 160 acres of land in three different ways, by settling there and notifying the Government Bureau which of the three ways is adopted.

To make you proprietor of these 160 acres as a homestead proper, it is only necessary that two neighbors witness that you have built a house and tilled part of the land in five years. There is no other expenditure. To reduce the time of residence to six months, you pay the government $1.25 per acre, i. <?., $200. This is the right of " Pre-emption." Finally, should you wish a larger tract of land, you may add a third to these two modes of acquiring it. The " timber claim " is a further grant of 160 acres, given when you have planted ten acres with trees a great gain on the bare prairies. In these ways you may find yourself master of 160 acres.

Your wife has the same rights as you have, and so has your son and even your daughter, if they are of age ; and a large family is certain to find a property for itself and plenty of work for its members. It is as easy to till the ground as to become its owner.

A man who has newly come West can farm unbroken and usually very fertile soil with the ingenious American imple ments. Hence the notion widely spread among the settlers, that anybody, no matter who, is capable of running a home-


102 AMERICAN LIFE.

stead. One day I was with a Frenchman who had settled in Kansas a long time ago, and who was now owner of his home stead. After a long walk over his grounds he said to me, after proudly glancing around him, " You see, Sir, what I have done here. In the time of the Indians I began with my two arms, defending my cattle and crops from them ; some times selling my plough-oxen to get a few measures of flour, to keep me from starving ; and yet I never learned anything but my trade of cabinet-making in my home in Burgundy." I asked him if many of his neighbors began farming for the first time on their homesteads. " Why, down in that valley through which you came to get here," he replied, " one farmer was once a waiter, another a salesman at Pygmalion, in Paris, a third a journeyman printer from New York, another is an old Norwegian sailor, who deserted ; and I can point out to you an advocate, old soldiers, merchants, and so on. The main thing is to be energetic, never to give in, and to be healthy, else everybody could farm like us, with machines which do all the work themselves."

To support this the former-cabinet maker pointed to a worker who was sowing maize ; seated on a little cast-metal seat, he guided the horses and watched the working of his corn-planter. At regular intervals a few grains fell to the soil, in which the flat wheel of the machine hid them, while a kind of light wooden-shoe traced the next row. The man s work consisted simply in keeping the team straight, in filling the boxes with maize when they were empty, and in turning the machine at each end of the field. This needed no great exer tion and no special skill. No word, no cry, no song accom panied the operation, and I thought to myself of the display of force, of the energetic oaths, and the full-voiced songs of the Southern French peasants, when they sow their maize in the fertile plains of Gascony or of Beam. It needs a Gascon or a Bearnais to make such an energetic cattle-driver, to sing those songs, and to come back from work swinging his goad behind his back ; but it suffices for the management of a " standard corn-planter " to have watched another work it for five minutes. As I have before said, an umbrella-seller can use it very well two days after his arrival in the States.


AMERICAN LIFE. 103

It is the same for wheat, in working and even breaking-in the prairie. The ploughs are always light, very sharp and easy to guide. The gang-ploughs" used on the large farms, need five horses to pull them, but they are not for the farmer of a homestead, who has smaller ploughs, always of simple construc tion and easily managed. And more than this, the land never needs manuring, nor draining, nor liming, nor very hard work in breaking it; for any that needs such care is at once left for better ground near at hand. The need for skilled labor is thus a minimum, and does not hinder the colonists, who soon and easily learns and practices such a simple mode of culture.


II. THE FIRST NECESSARY CONDITION FOR SUCCESS.

Nevertheless, everybody is not fitted for a colonist, and for those who are, there are many different ways of being one. There is a higher question than that of mere technique.

To be convinced of this, ask some of the Irish, or listen to the talk of Frenchmen, who have emigrated to the United States. He who told me that on looking back it seemed always possi ble to make a farm even though one be a Burgundian cabinet maker, forgot one factor, and that a most important one : he forgot his wife, who had done so much for their property and did not hide it. " He was lucky, mon Bourguignon" she said, "to meet with such a Comtoise as I." She told me how she had waded into the water up to her waist to save the calves from drowning in the creek; how she had jumped astride the first horse to turn the wandering cattle; how she had hurried up the workers, and so on. To-day, even, it is she who spans the buggy when her husband is going to town, and it is easy to see that this Burgundian has, indeed, been very fortunate in his partner. True, she is very anxious to go back to France, thinking that while America is good enough for gathering the sous, as she said, it was only in France one knew how to spend them. Her dream was to settle in Paris, or to build in her native village one of these miniature chateaux, whose towers, big as a Havana cigar, menace the sky with their ornamented weathercocks. But Father D. does not see the matter in that light. He calculates that his land brings him in 8 per cent, in


104 AMERICAN LIFE.

letting it to tenants, but that it is difficult to sell, and that it would not be profitable to leave Kansas; and Father D. has never made bad bargains and does not wish to begin now.

In fact, he is strongly attached to this corner of Mother Earth, whose transformation he has seen and directed. " When you have made everything yourself, and when you find all you wish at home, without seeking for it elsewhere, you have no great longing for quitting home ; but ma bourgeoise can t understand that; she sighs for her country." Considering her influence in the household, I am afraid that Father D. will end his days far from his Kansas farm.

Unluckily for many a colonist, his bourgeoise wants to go back to the home-land long before they have made their for tunes, and this is very often the case among the French. It is not the trouble of doing everything for themselves, or the change in their habits that makes it hard for Frenchwomen, but their isolation. Better than most, they know how to suffer privations ; more than many, they can keep house with that mixture of economy and care which is provident of the hus band s purse and yet gives him an agreeable home ; but they are never consoled for the absence of society. According to their rank and their education they regret the bonne compagnie which usually does not exist in the West, or the cosey chats by the fireside, which is the pleasure common to every class in France. The American of Anglo-Saxon origin finds sufficient company in himself ; and if he have a taste for society, it is restricted to his home, to his wife and bairns ; and as to the rest, these are his neighbors, the neighbors whom we should love as ourselves, but of whom, on account of human frailty, we think much less of than of ourselves. Neither sister nor brother nor cousins are other than neighbors for him; he has not that larger family feeling which characterizes certain European peoples ; he is not bound to folks of his own blood by any special connections. Still more, he does not live for ever with the people he has known in his youth, and who form, so to speak, an extension of his family. So it does not mutter much to him if he settles far from his relatives and friends ; provided the land is profitable and his neighbors pick no quarrels with him, he considers his home well fixed until a new


AMEklCAN LIFE. 105

order arrives. It is the same with the Scandinavian, who quits his fiord for an unknown land in the Far West of America, without shedding a tear for the country he is leaving. He goes forth alone, well decided beforehand never to return ; to marry a young girl of the new land where he has settled, when he has found one, and when he has gathered some money. Not only does he expatriate himself, but he isolates himself ; he loses himself, for he has broken with his origin.

Neither Irish, nor French, nor the general run of Germans act thus. The Irish live in the towns ; so do the French, as a rule ; but when one does risk himself in a homestead, he takes one near some small centre, and as far as possible in a district where he will find several compatriots. His strongest desire is to be one of a crowd, to feel his neighbor s elbows. It seems as if he were in his distant fatherland when he sees the farms around him cultivated by Frenchmen, on whose help he can rely or with whom he can talk in his own tongue. As French speakers from France are scarce in the West, he fraternizes with Swiss, Belgians Luxemburgians, any who can speak French or something like it. One does not meet these small groups of French settlers on the extreme frontiers of coloni zation. I saw none in Dakota or Oklahoma, but found a few of them in Missouri and Kansas.

I shall never forget these visits to my fellow-countrymen. When a real Frenchman, a Fran^ais de France, as they say, visits them, they lay on him all their patriotic affection, and a bond of sympathy is at once formed, in spite of the different origins and situations which would have raised barriers diffi cult to cross in the old country. Everywhere they receive you with open arms, feast and fondle you as an old friend. Every one, rich or poor, invites you. They speak of a thousand things at once ; of Paris, and of the Far West ; of the last piece at the Gymnase, an account of which they have got from an illustrated journal, and of the cattle shows; of the latest political crisis, or of the use of agricultural machines. It is a rule to drink together, whatever the hour of the day may be, and to laugh at the Yankee Prohibitionists, who swallow iced-water and suffer from dyspepsia. If you wish to know the worst side of American life, go and sit at these hospitable tables, where you


IC>6 AMERICAN LIFE.

will hear it criticised in every detail. They will tell you of the egoism of the parents, the independence of the children, the boldness of the girls, and the hypocrisy of everybody. The women are never exhausted on this subject. Brought up among different customs, which have become a sort of inviol able code to them, they do not understand the manners around them, and so condemn them without reserve. The husbands are usually less absolute in their judgments, and soften the hard epithets : American parents are not precisely egoists, they say ; but they wish their children to manage for them selves, as they have done before them, and this explains the independence of the young men forced to depend on their own activity alone, and the boldness of the girls, who are expected to provide for their establishment according to their own likings and ability.

Nothing is more instructive than these conjugal discussions. All the obstacles which our French system of education puts in the path of those who try to settle out there especially the women are clearly seen. It is easy to imagine the stupe faction of a young girl brought up in a small town in the South of France, with several friends permited by the family, with her piano, her embroidery, her preserves and her little brother, when she sees the daughters of Eve of the New- World travelling alone whenever they know how to find their way, driving their buggy, riding on horseback, walking about arm-in-arm with some boy, speaking of everything and saying nothings. Such manners appear strange to them, because of the absence of the proprieties which characterizes them. They also feel that any intimacy, such as they know it, could not grow with such people, who lack the feeling necessary before they could take pleasure in the little exchange of confidences which is at the bottom of feminine friendships in France ; and they remember with bitterness the old companions of their youth who have remained in the old country. It is true that these must live a little stingily from the small clerkship of their husbands and the littleness of their dot, but they have every enjoyment of the things that are lacking in the new country, for although their hat does not come from Paris, it is copied from that of a lady who sometimes goes to Paris ; al-


AMERICAN LIFE. 107

though their house is not of the highest condition, they have a bonne to open the door and to do the cooking; and, when a day for receiving guests arrives, you almost believe that they must live in luxury. And then they can see their friends. They can even slightly slander them in discussing them with other friends ; they are u ladies " (dames] as the others are. In the West all this little structure of variety falls of itself. Life is more isolated, and is not organized with regard to social re lations, but in view of the task of each member. This task is all-absorbing and leaves little leisure time ; and none knows what to do with it should it arrive. The men console them selves by thinking that America is a very good place for busi ness, and that existence is enlarged there ; but the women feel cruelly the loss of the family and social enjoyments to which they have been accustomed. Hence, they try to reproduce in the States as many as possible of the European customs; they force their husbands to settle near a town, to give themselves an illusion of society ; they get them to let their land to avoid the bustle of the farming and the resulting complications in the house-holding, and then they make them sell their homesteads and return to France, whenever it is possible to do so with some profit. It would be necessary to place them in an important group of French settlers in order to render bearable a situation so foreign to their tastes, and to let them find on a small scale what they desire so eagerly. Some organized immigration must be attempted before this can be done; some such group must already exist somewhere, and these, unfortunately, are uncommon.

Near Kansas City, however, I came across a certain number of Frenchmen who were market-gardeners, established on East Bottom, that is on the rich alluvial lands formed by the Mis souri to the east of the town. They were from Card, from the Juras, from Switzerland, vine-dressers or mountaineers, hard- workers, greedy of gain. Several had already amassed a con. siderable sum in selling vegetables in the market. The first came over in 1876, driven from home by the phylloxeras, with his wife and five children, in a state of great misery. " On our arrival," said Mine. M. to me, " I spent four days in the barracks, built for immigrants at the side of the station, with


I08 AMERICAN LIFE.

thirty-three cents in my pocket. That was all we owned, and those big boys there were not old enough to make their living. Luckily, my husband soon found work as a working-gardener. He did not know his trade very well, but he had been used to looking after the vines, and knew how to clean and dig the land. But, you see, in this country it does not do to be too particular; so his master kept him on for two years at good wages, and that let us live and save a little. After two years we were in a position to start for ourselves on some hired land ; and, as at that time Kansas was being rapidly built, the town began to boom ; everybody had plenty to do, and all went well. Ah ! these are good times, sir, when there is a great boom ! At the market, on Saturday evening, when the workers came to get their wages, everything could be sold for whatever price was asked. There was no need to put oneself about, especially with the * niggers. They are by far the best customers to be found when they have a few dollars in their pockets. With this to help, my husband w r as soon able to buy the fourteen acres we now own. It was dear, all the same, for it cost us $3,000 ; but we knew what we were getting, at least ; for it is not like a homestead, which they give you on the prairie to go to and starve. It has not hindered us, at all events, from having our house and paying a further $1,100 to the contractor. It is true, my poor husband is dead. He suffered too many privations at first."

M. s success had attracted one of his nephews to come to him, to sell cabbage and salads to the inhabitants of Kansas City ; but times are changed, and the trade is not what it used to be. The " boom " has slackened markedly, and all have felt this ; and then California has begun to send the earliest vege tables to the markets and to compete successfully with those grown at Kansas City ; so that the nephew has not reached the same degree of comfort as his uncle so rapidly did. His house is a miserable wood-cabin, whose badly-jointed planks let both wind and rain enter. He has tried to stop up the troublesome openings with tarred paper, but the remedy is of very little use. It is a pitiable dwelling. For all that, he has already bought five acres at $250 an acre, and hires seven more; he keeps two laborers, and does not complain. However, that is


AMERICAN LIFE. log

a characteristic of the race. The French peasant, especially if from the South, does not require much. When he can eat about as much as he wishes, and can get any sort of mattress to lie down on, night comes and finds him satisfied. When he has laid aside a little money, he is more willing to spend it in buying more land than in increasing his well-being ; and it is by this he rises. Saving is his great power.

That is especially noticeable in the United States, among Americans who are always prodigal with their money; and from this point of view also he keeps his superiority over the immi grants from Ireland, England, Scandinavia, and even over those from Germany. On the other hand, he backs the spirit of enterprise ; he is wise but not daring, economical but not timid. For instance, the excellent young gardener has no desire to push his fortune on new ground. That appears to him to be insane, although he is surrounded by folks who have done so and succeeded. But he immediately feels in what he is lack ing, and keeps to his market-gardening. All the same, he has bought some lots of land near Oklahoma-Texas, but as a pure speculation and without quite knowing where he will be. An Auvergnian hotelkeeper in Kansas City advised him to take these lots, to get rid of them himself. One remains Auvergnian even in Kansas, and the bargaining follows the child of Cantal to the other side of the Atlantic.

Each time I met a Frenchman in the States I noted his pro found aversion to solitude, and was brought to think that this contributes more than anything else to keep us outside the great movement of colonial expansion which steam navigation has brought about during the present century. Extraordi nary events are needed for a migration en masse. This is the only kind of emigration that those who dread being isolated in a strange land are capable of making. The reasons which made the Pilgrim Fathers embark to colonize America in the heroic age ; those which led the Menonites to exile themselves in our

o

own day, occur rarely in the life of the people. But the cir cumstances which push a young man to make a position for himself exist in every generation, and for each member of it. They are normal, regular, constant. Whenever the young men have a taste for independence great enough to let them agree


110 AMERICAN LIFE.

to isolation, and also an education according with this liking, they turn settlers just as easily as others become clerks or ser vants. It is their innate love of independence that supports the American in all these trying undertakings. They accept everything solitude, absence of the most elementary comfort, the dangers of a wandering life in the midst of a desert coun try in order to become their own masters and to live in their own homes. I have often heard strangers deride their notion of " home," which gives them a chance to vaunt its charms, while they can shift it with the greatest ease. This happens because many Europeans, and especially the French, do not mean the same thing by the expression " home " or cJicz-soi. The home of a Frenchman is the house in which he was born, the paternal roof, the place where, whenever he revisits it, childhood s memories are revived. The home of an American is any spot where he may happen to find himself for the time being, and of which he is the master. We attach to the word the notion of a tradition, while to the American it has an idea of independence. When they sing " Home, Sweet Home," and that happens nearly every time they do sing their thoughts do not turn to a picture of the complete family circle gathered round the armchair of a respected grandmother, nor to any of the poetic souvenirs that this revives with us. They congratulate themselves on being seated on a rockingchair where no other person has any right to be seated ; to warm their feet at a fire whose coal has been bought by their own labor, and to have such companions as they may choose seated around them. It is sufficient to note the air with which they sing this eternal refrain to have an idea of the significance they attach to it. Poetry is absent ; at least in our poetic idea, it is absent. For me, were I to try to truly interpret these words, " Home, Sweet Home," I should translate them thus : " How pleasant it is to be quit of other people."

The Scandinavian settler is animated by the same longing for independence, and with a more powerful desire for material stability, or, if you will, with less exalted ambitions. Thus, whenever he gains his end, whenever he becomes master and owner of a farm large enough to give him all he needs, he fixes himself, builds a pretty and coquetish house, often painted


AMERICAN LIFE. Ill

white from top to bottom, and very like a greatly-magnified Nuremberg toy. At a first glance it is easily to distinguish this homestead from that of an American, who lives in any sort of house, a place in which the dollar-hunting animal takes refuge at the end of a well-occupied day. His yard is enclosed by ugly stakes roughly chipped, strewn with agricultural machines, empty packing-boxes, rubbish of all kinds, and all in the greatest confusion, without any attempt at order. About that of the Scandinavian there is a certain feeling of elegance ; the fence of squared wood, regularly built and bright with fresh paint, encloses the kitchen-garden, the court-yard and the farm-buildings. The interior of the house is simple, even a little bare, but sparklingly clean and neat as a convent parlor. Usually a flock of children brighten the dwelling. I saw nine in one house, seven in another, a dozen in. a third ; and in others only five or six, but they were not the end of the series. These are excellent nurseries of young Americans! The Scandinavians, from long custom, are more peasants than traders, and so they specially seek out some good land without troubling themselves as to the ease of communication. The American never loses sight of the market, even when he be comes farmer ; and more than that, he never grows anything except for sale; whereas the Scandinavian, without living en tirely on his produce, still does so to a large extent, especially those who have only 160 acres and bring up a numerous family. Many come to have larger properties. I remember one Dane, who left Jutland in 1867, and first settled in Wisconsin, and then, in 1871, took a homestead in Kansas. By 1885 he had acquired a property of 615 acres, which he valued, together with animals on the farm, at $12,000. A hundred head of cattle, seventy-five pigs, seven work-horses, and five foals lived on the farm, of which 210 acres were arable. When Janssen landed at New York, twenty years before, all his capital was his two arms, and he owed his passage money, which an emigration company had advanced him. Others have something when they arrive ; for instance, Janssen s father-in-law, who left Schleswig Holstein with his four sons, that they might escape military service, and who has prospered very well.


112 AMERICAN LIFE.


III. THE RISKS OF THE ENTERPRISE.

After living a dozen years in the States, a settler usually has either increased his homestead by buying up neighboring lands, or abandoned it to his creditors. In Dakota I met several Ger. mans from Prussia, Pomerania, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg and Hanover, who cultivated 250, 500, 750 acres of land which be longed to them. Now, Dakota, when I was there, had been opened only nine years. I also remember hearing, on the cars one day, a German Socialist holding forth in a forcible way against the Yankee capitalists who, he maintained, ruined the settlers by their usurious lendings. We were then near Red- field, and still in Dakota, and the immense car with seventy-five seats in which we traveled was a true debating-hall on wheels. Our German friend felt it his duty to string off his theories and support them by touching illustrations. He rehearsed the sufferings of the immigrant, the difficulties during the first years, the loans necessitated by his poverty, and the impossibility of paying high interest when the harvest was bad or even middling. The audience listened calmly, laughed now and again at some joke hurled at the thin Yankees by this fat beer-drinker, and seemed contented enough to hear its creditors abused, for, like every audience composed of debtors, it was naturally an enemy of capital. However, one big gentleman, with a reddish beard, near whom I had taken a seat so as to hear better, did not ap pear to be fully convinced. " There are as many bankers as farmers ruined in Dakota," he said to me, "but the bankers brought money with them ; the farmers came with nothing at all, so that it is the bankers alone who have been the losers."

At the bottom, all these folks were right, and also those who vaunted the advantages of Dakota. The truth is easily got at and gives a coherence to the seemingly contradictory reports. Both farmers and bankers run the same risks, and may be ruined or may make a fortune ; that depends on their skill, their perspicuity, their energy and their good luck. The great ease of getting credit in the West promptly ruins the worthless immi grant, while it helps him who has the qualities needed for suc cess to rise very rapidly. The ease in which land may be had


AMERICAN LIFE. 113

acts in a similar way. It is as much fatal to the men born for dependent positions as it is favorable to the others. In fact these special conditions lead to an almost immediate selection of the fit from the unfit. In a society where everyone finds at his door the ladder to mount to fortune, it is soon evident who can clamber up it, who remain on the ground, and who fall and hurt themselves. It is most interesting to visit the homestead of one of the braves who has got to the top or is firmly fixed on his rung; but it is only necessary to open the Western news papers to read the notices of sales under distraint, which drive away others. These are not always rascals or persons incurably improvident; but many of them are simply drawn, little by little, into an expenditure not quite justifiable, and waken up some fine morning with a big interest to pay and their bank account exhausted.

An old and much-respected settler in Minnesota said to me one day that nine times out of ten this came about in the following way : The immigrant reaches his home stead without a cent or with a few hundred dollars and a couple of oxen. When he is going to begin his first harvest, one of the commission agents calls on him and persuades him that he must have a reaping-machine. He cannot pay for it at that minute, but that matters little, he can have credit and pay his debt of $200 in three yearly installments. The machine is worth only $100, it is true, but it is better to pay $200 and get credit. In three years three harvests will have been sold, and what are $60 or $80 lost on each of them? Trusting to this reasoning the settler signs an agreement which gives him a superb reaper. When he tries it with the oxen, the machine does not work well. The commission-agent forgot to tell him this detail, and so the farmer is obliged to go to the horse-dealer to get a team. The dealer has just what he needs, a pair of stout horses which he will sell him for $400, payment to be made within three years. A new note is signed, a new debt of $400 incurred, for two animals worth $200. They are yoked to the reaper, which works, but not very well, and a third horse is needed for good results. The settler returns to the nearest dealer and buys a third horse at double its value. In a short time he buys a mower, or a horse-rake, or a sower.


114 AMERICAN LIFE.

Then he gets completely submerged, and each time he appears to be obeying an imperious necessity without being able to go on otherwise. Add to these facts this, that his rudimentary and scanty buildings do not protect the machines he has bought at such a price, and it follows, in the course of a couple of years, that the sun, the dust, and the snow, and the want of attention, makes them unfit for use, so that they have to be re placed before they are completely paid for. Then, he needed money from the very first for building his house and for food ; and as the land is often mortgaged in advance and the unfor tunate settler is compelled to pay his taxes and his interest, he finds his only safety in flight. He thus abandons his homestead to his creditors, and begins again elsewhere with new expendi tures. Taught by experience, he restricts his operations at first, and buys no reaper, but hires one from his neighbor, and waits till he has made a little money before he supplies himself with machines and horses.

The most contradictory statements are heard and read about the condition of the American farmers, one authority saying they gather gold by the shovelful ; others saying they are dying of hunger. That happens because different cases are studied, and this explains everything. As in Europe, some farmers succeed and others fail, the difference in America being that the former make money more rapidly, and the latter immediately fall into utter want. Another difference is that the ruin is reparable if their incapacity is curable and not constitutional. In Europe two neighboring farmers, owning small and equal-sized bits of land, take a whole life-time, and often several generations, to develop the one towards ease and the other towards its ruin. In the West this movement is accelerated ; a man becomes rich in ten years, or he is not worth anything. The^qualities which raise and the defects which lower the social position of the workers are the same.


CHAPTER VI.

AUXILIARIES OF CULTURE. THE SMALL TOWNS OF THE

WEST.

I. WHAT THE SMALL TOWNS SUPPLY TO THE SURROUNDING COUNTRY.

The West is essentially rural, but rural in the American way, which is very different from the European one. As I have already shown, the settler is not a peasant. He buys his food, his flannel-shirt and his rockingchair ; he does not eat corn of his own sowing, nor wear wool of his own growing, nor does he occupy the long Winter evenings in making his chair of straw or his rude bench. When building his house the colo nist of the Mississippi Valley goes to the " lumber-yard " and buys planks and joists that have been cut and shaped hun dreds of miles away, for his land does not bear a single tree ; whereas a peasant quarries the stones from the soil and fells the oaks of his hedges. To get fuel, the former buys coal from a distant mine and burns it in a stove cast in a Pennsylvania foundry ; the latter piles upon the hearth the fagots he him self has cut. For cultivation, the first employs machinery of intricate construction ; the second makes most of his tools with the help of the blacksmith, and he grudges the dollar he pays the latter for replacing the teeth of an old harrow or for mending an old plow.

There is plenty of rural commerce in the Far West, whereas in Europe it is very limited ; in the one case it is the rule to buy, in the other it is the exception. There is still another advan tage on the American side : not only are the buyers numerous, but they buy largely and they spend freely. These customers are composed of two classes of colonists who are neither of them disposed to save their money ; the first because they earn it rapidly, are " doing well, " as they say in America, and deny


I 1 6 AMERICAN LIFE.

themselves nothing; the second, because they are improvident and allow tiemselves to be tempted by all they see. The im migrant who has succeeded does not grudge a new buggy, a pair of fine horses, or furniture for his drawing-room ; the one who is obliged to quit his homestead leaves it on account of his debts that is to say, because he has bought too much. Both encourage trade, but perhaps the greatest profits are realized from the second. The horse-dealer who sells for $400 a team which cost him less than half that sum, certainly makes something out of the poor colonist. The one who pays cash increases his floating capital, but the one who asks credit enriches him.

There is a rush of trade to the small towns to supply this demand, which, indeed creates them. A few stores spring up close to the station, between the bank and the hotel ; a wide road is marked out on the prairie, is dignified with the name of Main Street, and the United States reckons one city more.

The traveller smiles at this ambitious appellation, when he descends from the cars to stumble into the muddy road, and he hurries over the very evident ruts to the nearest boarded footpath. The idea of finding a milliner, a photographer or a drapery store in such a wretched cross-road seems, at first, strange, and he wonders what one can possibly sell in such a place. I have often had this impression on arriving at small Western villages, but I have always found trade brisk enough to cause many sub-prefectures to envy it.

To begin with, we find the lumber-yard, or depot of build ing-timber ; it is, in fact, one of the first supplies the cus tomers demand. Even where stone abounds, most buildings are of wood ; for it is cheaper and can be used more quickly both great considerations for Americans in general, and for Western colonists in particular. In Kansas I saw a number of small towns situated at the base of some undulating ground, containing excellent quarries ; yet almost all the houses were built of fir planks brought from Illinois or Wisconsin. At Florence, for example, one of these same small towns, only the bank, the public school and the opera for there was an opera in this market-town of a thousand inhabitants had stone walls. It takes only a few days to raise a small wooden


AMERICAN LIFE. 1 17

house, and anyone possessing a little ingenuity and skill can construct it almost entirely himself. In fact, the lumber yard furnishes the material ready for use ; the beams and joists are already squared and planed ; they have only to be sawn the desired length. Even that can be done beforehand and the pieces delivered ready for immediate use. Doors, windows, roof-ornaments, balconies, bay-windows, staircases are also sold. All these are manufactured in special work shops, fitted with machinery driven by steam. In every town of, say, 10,000 inhabitants, you are sure to find one of these establishments under the name of saw-mills," sash and door factories," etc. There planing, sawing, wood-cutting and the making of mortises, are all done by steam. In his work ing-day a workman can turn out hundreds of yards of mould ings with the mechanical tool he employs. Others make curious inlaid work, effective enough, but of doubtful solidity. Thus helped by an industry which saves him as much work as possible, the immigrant is able to erect a smart little dwell ing with his own hands. It is a box taken to pieces ; he re ceives all the different parts, fits them together, and is then housed. Of course, it will not defy time, and perhaps some tornado, some violent hurricane will carry this sort of improved sentry-box a hundred yards away ; but the settler does not always remain there, nor his house either. Before the planks have had time to decay, it will have travelled through the town in search of a more advantageous site, for in America the houses are not fixtures. If the land occupied by one of these dwellings booms effectively, the owner sells it to a bank, or to the proprietor of a warehouse or hotel desirous of set ting up in the middle of the town. He then raises his box on wooden rollers, spans in his horses, and thus transports it to a less favored quarter. One day, as I was walking in Florence with a Frenchman, now living in a large and firmly-built man sion, we passed in front of a small wooden frame-house of one story. " Look," said he, " there is the first house that I owned here. I changed its position twice, at first to place it on the spot where the line of railway which we have just crossed now passes ; afterwards to remove it when the company bought the ground from me which they needed. Later, I lived in another


Il8 AMERICAN LIFE.

house that I shifted once. It would cost more to remove the one I am in now, but with these boxes, it is quite a pleasure ; a trifle decides it one way or another."

The wooden houses not only offer the advantages of rapid construction and easy transport, but they can also be enlarged, altered and repaired at will, much more easily than stone buildings. In this also they are in harmony with the Ameri can character.

In the West one constantly hears the remark, "I am making an addition to my house." Every man who thrives or whose family increases reaches this point, the more so as he has gen erally settled in a very rough fashion at first. In such a case, he goes to the " lumber-yard," or to the " sash and door factory," orders his materials, and, with the help of the first carpenter he meets, nails a second wooden-box to one side of the first. The dwelling often gains in picturesqueness by this annex, but that is a matter of small moment to the American. If he obtain the picturesque, it is simply because he has not sought symmetry and regularity; because he has placed his addition where and when it was convenient for him. His house, like his life, is full of the unforeseen; its evolutions are similar, it changes from place to place, grows with his fortune, and in a short half-hour may be destroyed from top to bottom, But it rises again as quickly. I remember taking a walk one morning in Fremont, Nebraska, near some beer-vaults that had been burned the night before. The building, though it had been completely charred, was still standing, thanks to the upright wooden-beams which the fire-engines had saved from total destruction. Upon this blackened surface an enterprising tradesman had pasted long strips of white canvas, displaying his name, address, and inflated praises of the shoes he sold, which were, of course, " the best shoes in the world." But his advertisement must have been short-lived, for piles of new planks were already being stacked where the fire had been, and a few days afterwards it was seen no more.

After the lumber-yard, the most useful commercial estab lishment is the grocery the true pantry of the American. In the villages it is often combined with a draper s, a druggist s, or a haberdasher s store, and then goes by the more compre hensive name of " general-store."


AMERICAN LIFE. I IQ

It is, indeed, universal, this curious shop, where one sells hats and whiskey, canned preserves and flannel-shirts, chewing to bacco and scarfs, rubbers and tea. Nevertheless, this odd mixture produces no confusion, and from the order that reigns everywhere, and the expeditive and intelligent manner in which the Americans serve their customers, one could fancy they had all been trained in the " Bon Marche " or the " Louvre." Doubt less, they are wanting in the art of careful and elegant display, which characterizes the Parisian tradesman ; but if they differ from him in this particular, how much more do they differ from the small shopkeeper of our provincial towns ? None of the various methods of attracting customers is unknown to them ; they give premiums for most purchases, they are contented with a small profit on each article ; and where they have com petition to fear, they will sell even at a loss rather than keep their goods in stock, boldly following this course without fear of bankruptcy, which, to them, se.ems an occasion for beginning again under better conditions.

o

The same active spirit is shown in the arrangements made for the payment of the goods : all goings and comings for paywent or changing of money are avoided by means of an ingenious machine, which places the cashier in direct communi cation with each salesman. It is a nickel-box, placed within reach of the vender s hand on a kind of small aerial-railway. The customer hands over the money, which is put in the box, along with a note of the sum due; a spring is pressed, and the box speeds like an arrow on the miniature rails, which lead to the cashier, who takes the money, puts the change into the box and sends it back to the seller, who gives the customer his change and his parcel. In this way each one remains in his place, avoiding collision and loss of time, and lessening the chances of error in the reckoning. I have seen this apparatus in operation in the smallest villages.

The independent and enterprising character of the Ameri cans is turned to good account by giving each salesman charge of a special department, for which he is responsible. He even gets a share of the profits on certain conditions, which leave free scope to his trading faculty, and make him a kind of part ner. For instance, he varies his gifts to the customers accord-


I2O AMERICAN LIKE.

ing to what he deems most suitable, giving a toy to the mother of a family who buys her household provisions, a ribbon to a young girl, a pencil to the farmer who takes chewing tobacco, etc. I am well aware that these practices are not unknown in Europe. It is this decentralization which, in a large measure, has made the great success of the large fancy-goods ware houses in Paris, and perhaps the Americans have merely imi tated it ; but I cannot help remarking that whilst in France, in Paris even, the adoption of this principle is exceptional, in the United States it is general. Moreover, American educa tion favors it : in the Valley of the Mississippi it is easier to find a young man able to conduct a branch of grocery than to find a mere salesman. With us it is the contrary.

The character of the merchant, then, like that of his cus tomers, contributes to trading activity in the small Western towns. Another cause, equally favorable, is the absence of a capital like Paris, exercising an attraction over the whole country. A young girl of Puget-Theniers or Castelnaudary delights to exhibit to her intimate friends a hat or a dress direct from Paris ; and although not stamped with a well-known name, and bearing their modest price on the ticket attached, they have an indefinable quality in the eyes of the young pro vincial which gives her the keenest delight. She thinks that the Parisian women will be wearing just such dresses and such hats, and she looks contemptuously at the garments of her neighbor, made of thick stuff, which has been solidly sewed and badly cut by the local dressmaker. There is nothing of the kind here. A young lady of Nebraska or Iowa does not sigh for a hat from New York, and why not ? Because the one sold to her in Main street will be as ugly as if it came from New York, but not more so ; if you doubt this, go to Havre any Sunday, and see the American millionaires who come to make the tour of Europe. It is owing to this widespread want of taste that there are so few fashion journals in this country, where journals, reviews and magazines abound. The people clothe themselves rather than dress, except in certain large towns, where the pretentiousness of the costumes indicates an unfortunate leaning towards elegance.

Western life does not admit of this species of elegance. One


AMERICAN LIFE. i2t

constantly meets ladies on horseback, with a basket over the arm, coming to do their marketing in town. Others arrive in a buggy, fasten it to the first post, and come back for it when their business is done.

At their homes, cooking, cleaning or washing awaits their return. What would be the good of an elegant dress for such occupation ?

The dressmakers and milliners on the" spot do not then see their customers snapped up by their rivals in the large towns; everywhere there is a shop of this kind, and if there is a French woman in the population, she is sure to be found in it. In the same way, if a good dinner is to be had at a hotel, the chef is almost certainly French. The fashions and the cooking are still ours beyond the seas.

Other shops furnish hardware, tinware and agricultural im plements ; and, finally, there is the indispensable, never-failing livery-stable, where both good riding and driving horses may be hired.

To understand how a village can support such an establish ment we must remember that the American never walks. Walking is only for tramps. The livery-stables profit enor mously by this habit. Telephoning for buggies goes on all day long, and in a small town of 1,200 inhabitants one can have the choice of three or four livery-stables.

Of course, you must drive yourself; there is no coachman to send; and, if you take a driver, you pay as much for the com pany of this gentleman as for the use of the carriage and horses. It is a man s time that is of most value in America. But you will be trusted with a vigorous team that will run the whole day if you please. Nearly all the horses one hires are very tame ; and one feels they are accustomed to being well cared for ; they would not stand the brutal treatment of our inn ostlers, for their gentleness is not owing to old age or fatigue. Many a time I have been astonished to find both saddle and carriage horse in a Western village, which were incomparably superior to those supplied by most French livery-stable keepers in our large towns. I remember specially once riding a horse with good paces, from Guthrie, Oklahoma, for three or four hours, for the modest sum of a dollar. It was an excellent beast the


122 AMERICAN

best in the town, its owner said ; which made me rather sus picious, as everything above mediocrity is always " the best in the world." Nevertheless, the good round trot of this hired animal enabled me to keep up easily with a friend who pushed forward at a quick gallop. Another time I amused myself calculating the speed of a pair of horses drawing three of us in a buggy. It was at Aberdeen, in South Dakota, on a day when the rain rejoiced the hearts of the farmers and softened the roads to a degree most disagreeable to travelers. On these primitive roads, where turf alternates with ruts,we covered a mile in five minutes without forcing the pace in the least; that is a rate of about twelve miles an hour, which was kept up for about twenty-five miles. On a level French road we should certainly have attained a higher speed. I ought to say that my experi ence of livery-stables has done much to give me a high opinion of the kindness of the Americans to the animals they employ. I knew that numerous protective societies took in hand the de fence of the animals ; I knew that in certain States every need less brutality was severely punished by law ; but the fact that horses, continually driven by different hands, can at once pre serve their vigor and their good character seems to me the most convincing evidence in favor of the habits of the race.

The livery-stables are usually also boarding-stables ; that is to say, horses are received there as boarders. Many young people living in rooms, also many married men who live in their own houses, send their horses to be cared for at the board ing-stable, to avoid being their own ostler and having to wash the carriage and clean the harness. A buggy costs scarcely $200, a light horse from $60 to $100; whereas a man demands $20 a month, though he be good for nothing. It is, therefore, much easier to buy a horse and buggy than to keep a servant, apart from the fact that those remain, whereas the servant always goes off at the end of a few days or a few months. A young fellow, engaged the greater part of the day in selling groceries or hardware, takes his " girl " for a drive in his buggy when he is at liberty. It is done with the most honorable in tentions, and, to the Americans, is the most natural thing in the world. On returning he drives the girl home, takes the vehicle to the boarding-stable and sets to work again to earn the means


AMERICAN LIFE. 123

to marry the girl and buy a second horse. In the small towns of the West, besides the merchants, there are the " real estate men," or " land agents," who sell land; a notary public, to authenticate the transactions ; a " record office, " for registra tion of mortgages and the transference of property ; lawyers, bankers, doctors, ministers of every possible religion ; churches, schools, journals and hotels. All these are not always of the best quality ; the doctors, for example, have often nothing in common with their European colleagues, except the habit of charging fees. They do not suffer from mental over-pressure during their course of study, and their title of Doctor is easily acquired. It is as easy to become a doctoress, according to the following: An American ^Esculapius, living in one of the small country towns in Iowa, had the misfortune to lose his wife (that happens even to doctors). After a few months sacred to grief, our hero cast his eyes upon a fair Swede, who cooked his beefsteaks and fired his heart. But even in America it is unusual to marry one s cook, and the amorous widower pined till the idea of a stratagem occurred to him. Among the many marvels of the great city of Chicago, it possesses a faculty which can make a doctor or doctoress of the first comer in six months. This was the very thing. Next day the young Scandinavian started for Chicago, and six months afterwards the marriage of Doctor I. with Doctoress A. was announced. This healing couple now share the practice, and husband and wife are said to be of equal merit.

In the schools nearly all the teachers are women ; where there are many classes, one or two masters may be found on the teaching-staff, but these masters are not teachers by profession. One of them, whom I innocently asked if he had long experi ence in teaching, simply replied : "Oh ! I have only been here since the beginning of the year." "And what were you be fore ? " "I was twelve years in business." " Then you did not like it? " "Yes; but as I could not get what I wanted, I ap plied for a post as schoolmaster, which was given me, and this keeps me going while seeking something suitable. I think next year I shall be a doctor."

As you advance further West the instability of professions increases, and men get further and further away from all those


124 AMERICAN LIFE.

which entail a certain dependence. In fact, easy-going people do not go to new countries. This is noticeable even in hotels. In New York the restaurant-waiters are white ; they look like sham-waiters, and serve at table incidentally while waiting to become President of the United States. At Philadelphia and Baltimore, the waiters are all negroes. The head-waiter some times is white, but all the rest are the glossiest black. It is so in every large town right to the Rocky Mountains in St. Louis, in Kansas City, and even in Denver. But when one has penetrated into the very heart of the West, he has the ad vantage of being served in the smaller towns by girls, who are as slight as matches, and dressed like comedy waiting-maids. They usually wear white, pink or pale-blue gowns ; and on en tering the dining-room in the morning one is tempted to think- that the landlord has prepared a surprise morning-dance. The illusion is soon dispelled. The girls at once walk toward the visitor, give him a seat, and then begin to rattle off the items on the bill-of-fare, with a deplorable volubility. The bill-of-fare is the absent menu-carte, or if you prefer the definition, the spoken menu-carte. Nine times out of ten it is impossible to understand anything of that rapid enumeration. One orders bacon, or oatmeal, or some other standard dish, quite hap-haz- ardly, and is surprised to see the girl bring a dozen different plates. For a long time I travelled with a young Parisian who spoke very little English, and whose usual reply to the recited bill-of-fare was a discouraging sigh ; nevertheless, he always had placed around him a crowd of small dishes, whose contents gave him many a strange surprise. What I have just said, about the girls looking like waitresses in a comedy, is true only of their toilette, not of their manners nor bearing. None of them have the bold air of our ordinary inn-waitresses nor the provoking and wideawake look of many of our French work- girls; but neither do they show any of that somewhat timid modesty that marks an honest girl with us. They are of a separate sex, which is neither embarrassed nor provoking, neither graceful nor clumsey, which corresponds to nothing known to us in France. Perhaps all of them are not virtuous, but everyone has an air of honesty. " I have eaten my meals here for many years," said a young non-commissioned officer


AMERICAN LIFE. 12$

of dragoons, pxiled by his family in the Far West, " and I have never yet spoken to any of them, except when ordering my food. Funny garrison ! I have never seen anything like it!"

Certainly, we have never come across anything like this. The girls are better educated and often of better upbringing than the gentlemen to whom they detail the bill of fare ; and some day or another they will get married and probably become " ladies. " Like every other American profession, this is merely a temporary one. One goes into it, and then leaves it. It is a step on the ladder to which one clings for an instant in hopes of being able to mount higher.

We have now examined how these small towns are mainly useful to the farmers and ranchmen who live near them. They are provision centres, where the settler, isolated on his home stead, finds all the needs of life, material, intellectual and moral, in the stores, the hotels, and the schools of various sects. That is but one side of the question. In a proper account, expenditure must face income ; the series of expendings must be related to the series of earnings, which makes them possible. Now we must examine the debtor side of the account. We have learnt what these small towns do for the country ; we must now study what this country gives in exchange to these towns.


II. HOW WESTERN FARMS SUPPLY THE SMALL TOWNS.

Their produce is obviously all that they can give ; that is to say, their cattle, milk, corn, etc. ; but all this is accumulated and distributed through various channels by means of agents and merchants. A farmer buying clothes, pays for them in dollars and not in sacks of corn, cans of milk or droves of pigs; he must, therefore, have sold his corn, milk, or pigs to someone who has given dollars in return, and this operation, which does not at all resemble a similar operation in Europe, merits our attention.

When a farmer or countryman in France has threshed his corn, he carries it up to his granary, finds out the market prices, sells immediately if he is in want of money, but waits for a rise if he is pretty well off. Sometimes he will even allow


126 AMERICAN LIFE.

two harvests to accumulate, so as to have a big s^Ie, which in creases his importance in his neighbor s eyes and gives him the pleasure of seeing the hoard in the stocking increased by a good round sum.

The American settler has no hoard in his stocking, nor has he any graneries ; and he cannot, therefore, calculate like the prudent Frenchman. He has something else to do than to build graneries, and he would require gigantic ones to store a good harvest. Let us take an ordinary homestead of 160 acres, three-quarters sown with corn, and in supposing a yield of thirty bushels to the acre which is not at all exaggerated we have at once 3,600 bushels of corn. This cannot be stowed away in a little garret, such as is usually found over an immi grant s kitchen. What is he to do with it ?

In this perplexity he is willing to give a portion of his 3,600 bushels to anyone who will furnish him with the means of put ting them under cover, and as many other settlers are in the same position, graneries are built in the neighboring town, where the wheat is stored at the rate of two cents a bushel for thirty days. This accounts for the presence of the elevator.

Nothing is more convenient than an elevator for a farmer who has wheat and who does not know where to put it. He loads his wagon with wheat or maize without troubling to put it into sacks. He simply casts it by shovelfuls into his great rolling wooden-box, yolks one or two horses, according to the weight, and sets out for the town. When he arrives at the elevator he goes up an inclined plane until he reaches a huge porch overlooking a part of the building, at about the height of the first floor, and, opening a trap-door, tilts his cart and takes it down the other side, empty, receiving from a clerk the receipt, stating the nature and weight of the load. In going to the bank with this receipt he can get an immediate advance of a portion of the money it represents, or he can keep it by him and only part with it to the merchant who buys his har vest. In this case he has thirty days before him to wait for a favorable market, and if he has not made up his mind by that time, he is at liberty to leave his corn at the elevator at the rate of a half cent per bushel for every further ten days. The elevator is, in fact, a granary which the farmer is


AMERICAN LIFE. I2/

not required to build for himself ; but he contributes to its ex pense in proportion to the use he makes of it.

The corn stored in the elevator is not for local consumption, but for exportation exportation at least from the State where it was grown. An ungainly pile of elevators is always catching the eye alongside the railroad. As soon as the corn has fallen through the trap-door into the lower story of the building, it is raised to graneries at the top, by means of buckets fixed to an endless belt, moved by a steam-engine. When it is neces sary to reload for sending it off, a trap-door is opened and the corn falls through a wooden chute into the wagon placed un derneath.

A small town in the agricultural counties, if of any import ance at all, has at least ten or a dozen elevators ; but the smallest stations have always one, it being a necessary accom paniment to a railway depot. In fact, elevator companies have been formed to build them all along the track, or on a chosen part of it, and many of them are very prosperous.

These companies, of course, are identified with the private firms which I have already pointed out, and who build the railroads. They are usually composed of two or three per sons, although many attain considerable importance. You are often told in the West, " So-and-so is an elevator-man ; " that is to say, a man who has made his fortune in elevators. I have seen beautiful houses at Chicago built by elevator-men. They must be looked on as sacrifices offered to the god of architecture to atone for the huge wooden barracks, as hideous as they are practical, which have made their fortunes.

But the elevator-man is not content with storing the farm er s corn ; he often buys it and begins to speculate. He could make an honest profit and live peaceably by simply storing it, but such a business, without risk or chance of fortune, would hardly be American.

Sometimes, in small settlements through which a water course runs, there are flour-mills which grind the corn of the surrounding lands; but none of them have the quiet, harmo nious appearance of the village flour-mill in France. In fact, they are not part of a village, acting the role analogous to that of the public-oven of the Middle Ages, and doing a trade


128 AMERICAN LIFE.

with certain invariable customers; but they are manufac turers of food for any market, near or far, at home or abroad. I visited one of these mills in Kansas. It was of modest di mensions and able to turn out a hundred 2OO-pound barrels in twenty-four hours, but was working only during the day at that time, and so producing but half that quantity. The pro prietor kindly gave me details about his customers and prices. " I sell my flour," he said, to neighboring bakers and settlers at $1.90, 2.00, and up to $2.30 per one hundred, according to quality ; but I also send a great deal into the Southern States, such as Louisiana, Alabama and Texas. I do not generally send the best qualities South, as the negroes prefer fine clothes to fine bread. On the other hand, I have just executed an important order for the best flour for Liverpool, and have been greatly praised for it, as you may see from this letter," and he held out a sheet of paper bearing the name of a large English firm. " I also export," he added, " to Glasgow and Antwerp. Every 100 pound costs me 75 cents for transport, and I pay 10 per cent, customs duty in England. Under these conditions our flour can compete in English markets, but France has been practically closed to us sinc.e the new tariff. As for bran, I could sell ten times as much as I make, because it is used so much for fattening stock. I sell it on the spot at $7 or $8 per ton.

I am no prophet, and am absolutely ignorant of what has happened to this mill it may even be bankrupt, for aught I know ; but if I were to hear three or four years after this that it had tripled its importance, I should not be surprised. Every body goes in for big ventures, and the resources of the country tempt people that way. This is the reason one sees tiny pack ing-houses in little villages of Nebraska, or even in Montana. These bear the same proportions to the great establishments of Armour and Swift that the village itself does to Chicago. But these villages intend to develop ; their beginning is like that of Chicago, Omaha and Kansas City, and their energy and confi dence are not less ; it only remains to be seen whether circum stances will favor them or not. Cattle, and, above all, wheat, are the main things that cultivation supplies to commerce and industry in the small centres of the Far West ; but in taking


AMERICAN LIFE. 1 29

account of everything we must notice certain industries which are becoming of greater importance every year, viz., cheese and butter manufactories.

We have already noted their existence on some of the large farms in Dakota, where they were only a part of a big concern, and not separate industries. In Nebraska and several Western States, dairy farms have been started The size of the farms has something to do with this, for the capitalist, who buys three or four thousand acres of land usually can afford to start a dairy, while an immigrant, encamped on his home, finds it dif ficult enough to hire beasts to work his farm.

If each man s capital is too small to allow him to carry on some work which the whole community is interested in having done, then all the neighbors must band together and find some one who can do it for all. At Fremont, Nebraska, I saw a dairy that collects milk from 600 or 700 small farms in the neighborhood, by carts which go in forty-seven different direc tions. It was making 5,000 pounds of butter a day and seemed very prosperous. The farmer gets twelve cents for the milk used in a pound of butter, which is evidently the most rational mode of payment. They use an ingenious method for deter mining how much butter the milk contains. The carter weighs the milk from each farm, then fills a graduated flask half full of it before pouring it into the general receiver, where it is mixed with the milk of other farms. These flasks are numbered, collected, and placed in compartments of a box, which is rapidly shaken by machinery. In a few minutes the butter separates from the butter-milk in these flasks, and a glance at the graduated scale tells exactly the proportion of butter in each sample of milk. A clerk then looks over the slips handed in by the carters, on which the names of the farms, the weight of milk they have sent, and the number of the flask used for testing the milk are written ; he then puts the proportion of butter got from each sample of milk in a special column, and from these data he can make up the accounts.

The milk is poured into immence tanks, where the cream soon rises to the surface, all being kept at a constant tempera ture by refrigerators in the Summer and heating apparatus in the Winter. The cream is then put into mixers and churns


130 AMERICAN LIFE.

turned by steam. The butter is made into regularly-shaped cakes and is taken to large storehouses, covered with ice, when it is ready to be sent off.

The dairy, like the flour-mill, is not for local needs alone. The butter here is taken to the Rockies and on the Pacific Slope, at Denver, Salt Lake City, Ogden or San Francisco ; and when the supply is greater than the demands of these markets, it is sold by commission in New York.

These dairies are of great use to the settlers, in getttng a market for their produce, which otherwise they would not have; and besides, they save the farmers wives some work that most of them have neither the time nor the inclination to do. We must remember that we are dealing with people with little help, overburdened with work, and often, also, disdaining the minute attention a dairy needs. I once read, somewhere, of some American farms with numerous cattle grazing on excel lent pasture, where condensed Swiss milk was served at table. I never verified this, but it seems probable enough. It is one thing to have a cow in the meadows ; quite another thing to have milk in the cup. The Yankee economist of time thinks twice before spending it in milking a cow merely for the pleas ure of a draught of fresh milk ; but if it be to sell the milk to some dairy, then he will milk as many as he possibly can ; it is no longer a bother, but means business.

The dairy has another advantage, for not only does it turn milk into butter, but it makes butter of any desired brand, so satisfying the tastes of all its various customers, with a good will beyond all praise. I was much surprised to see pots of butter being prepared for sending off, with the name " Elgin " stamped in relief, for Elgin is a little Illinois town near Chicago which is famous for its butter an American Isigny. I thus caught them in the very act of cheating, but did not dare to ask the manager of the dairy about it. However, he volun teered this explanation : " Elgin is the brand for which we are oftenest asked, but it is not the only one ; for instance, we put " Jersey " on butter going to Salt Lake City, because it is thought more of there ; and we often send the same butter to the same town, but under different names. Without this, two storekeepers could not get their goods from us at the same


AMERICAN LIFE. 131

time, for they compete for customes, and how could either maintain the claim that his butter was the best in the world/ if his opponent sold some bearing the same mark?" Truly, the consumer is a being condemned never to know what he is consuming.

We now hold both ends of the chain. We know what these little towns give and get. They are the centres of exchange serving the country districts.

Their position is proportional to the importance of this double operation. All progress in cultivating the lands around brings about a corresponding advance in commerce and industry, an increase in the value of the town lots. Every check to rural prosperity affects that of the town. The development of the country, like that of the town, cannot be steady in this land, where all life is bustle, full of sudden shocks and unfore seen events. A rain falling in one district or a disease breaking out among pigs at another, is sufficient to give a strong im petus to or to seriously retard the boom of a little Western town. These vicissitudes are shown in a thousand different ways.

III. THE VICISSITUDES OF A SMALL WESTERN TOWN.

The American tells whether a small town is flourishing or not by three tests : electric-light, water-works and street-cars. These form the three ends of his ambition, and you will never make him confess that the city of his adoption is not one of the wonders of the world, once these three services are effi ciently organized.

The speculators booming a town always establish one of these services. They often begin with the electric-light, because that most vividly impresses the visitor. At Guthrie I saw the sparkling globes throw their brilliant light on plank barracks, built a year before; while sometimes in a quiet street they illu minated the prairie flowers still growing in the natural turf. Such contrasts please the Westerner, by telling how rapidly transformations are taking place in regions till now untouched. His principal effort is to give an air of prosperity to the town, rather than to benefit any of its inhabitants who may happen


132 AMERICAN LIFE.

to be out at night, as is easily seen at Guthrie. The town is built on the side of a little hill, and is crossed by a series of sloping streets. A huge wooden scaffold, narrow and high, is built on the very top of the hill, at the end of the most im portant street, and bears four or five electric lamps which are carefully lit every evening. There is no need for them what ever, but the settler, far away in his homestead, sees the bril liant point across the immensity of the prairie, and becomes confident of the future of Oklahoma.

Other towns, of older foundation when electric-lighting was less developed, make up for it in their water-works and street cars. I say nothing about the former, which are always use ful to any population ; but I have sometimes seen street-cars where the reason for their existence was difficult to under stand. They had no passengers, except the conductor stand ing on the platform, and wandered through the streets in a melancholy way, to the quick jog-trot of an old horse. A bell fixed to the neck of the peaceful animal awoke Alpine souvenirs out of place in the Mississippi Valley, and I seri ously tried to discover what could possibly be the reason of this lonely tramway. A Frenchman whom I met one day helped me out of the difficulty by giving me the key to the mystery. " There are never more passengers than you see to-day," he said ; " the enterprise does not pay of itself, but it pays all the same, because it is part of another concern. It is nothing but an advertisement, and this is its explanation : Two or three speculators, who own a great number of lots in the town, united to build this street-car line, which passes right through the middle of their property and opens it up. That enables them to sell it to anybody who comes to settle here, as lots with twenty-five feet of frontage on a street-car line, and also to get a higher price. The melancholy con ductor who puzzles you, travels about every day only to make certain that the ground he passes by will bring more money."

The Americans excel in such combinations. A speculator with money in his pockets or credit at the banker s, often undertakes the draining of and even the building on the lands he holds, in order to attract buyers and gain on each opera-


AMERICAN LIFE. 133

tion. If no buyer appears, all his expenses are pure losses ; but he prefers to run the risk of ruin than to stagnate in mediocrity.

It is welll to take a dose of distrust as to electric-lighting, water-works or street-cars, on entering a village. Sometimes they represent a natural development; but often they are nothing but baits, skilfully prepared by the dollar-fisher.

Every effort of the inhabitants has the same end to raise the price of land. The rate per foot of frontage is the low- water level from which the height of the boom is measured, and this boom is the great run of luck that the American sees in his dreams by night and works his hardest to bring about by day.

This constant hope and vigorous confidence are supported by numberless examples of sudden rises in the price of land first inhabited but a night or two previously. How many towns of ten to twenty thousand souls did not exist ten years ago, and not to be found on any foreign map ! Hundreds can be named. Note that I purposely exclude any which show at once that they have been called to a glorious future- such as Denver, Colorado which reach the figure of 150,000 inhabitants in one bound ! What I wish to study at present is the modest boom of a village surrounded by fields, as it changes into a little town. Even in such a limited sphere there is enough to tempt a speculator,

I visited a number of such small centres in tl^e Far West, from Oklahoma in the South to Red River Valley in the North, going by Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and the two Dakotas. Here are a few figures that will fix the reader s idea.

At Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, within twelve months after the opening of Oklahoma a lot of 50 feet frontage by a 140 feet was sold for $2,300. It was right in the centre of the town, it is true ; but everybody will agree that the lucky owner of this scrap of prairie made a very large profit. When Guthrie was declared the Capital of the Territory, on the 22d of April, 1890, exactly a year after the opening, there was a hope that it would soon be worth $100 per foot of frontage.

At Florence, a little Kansas town of 1,000 souls, a lot in


134 AMERICAN LIFE.

Main street, 25 by a 140 feet, was sold for $3,000 in 1887. I know well enough that it faces the Opera-House ; but I am just as well aware of what the Opera-House at Florence is for. I visited it one day and it was closed ; indeed, it is usually shut, except at rare intervals, when a travelling company comes to play " Uncle Tom s Cabin." I may add that this sale is now a legend of Florence, as its boom has been slacking for several years.

The price of land rises still more rapidly in places like Aber deen and Grand Forks, in Dakota ; Fremont, Nebraska, and Moorhead, Minnesota, which have five to fifteen thousand inhabitants. There prices of $100 and even of $200 per foot of frontage are not rare, and raise the arable lands round about them to $100 per acre. It is in these localities that the houses move about most. Some change sites three or four times, when their owner is lucky enough to be able to set them on conveniently-situated lots, which rapidly rise in value and are bought by bankers or merchants.

The other side of the picture is seen in the insecurity of property in newly-peopled lands, and even more in the depres sions that often follow after moments of great prosperity. The story of Captain Couch and his tragic death at Oklahoma City is a telling example of chaos that arises out of the uncertain ties at the beginning of a settlement. Subsequent depressions have another cause, and are revealed by two words which always recur in the talk of a Westerner good and bad title- deeds.

Good title-deeds are those delivered in right and proper form by the first occupant of the claim, or by a railroad, and trans mitted with due regularity from seller to buyer. There is never any difficulty about such claims.

When there is possession only on good faith, bad title-deeds usually originate. If the possessor is also the first occupant, his case is not without remedy, for he can have his deeds made right by giving the proof of his having lived on his claim the necessary period and by depositing a small sum. But, if the homestead on which he has settled has been previously claimed by someone who afterwards abandoned it but who still holds the true titles, it is absolutely necessary to get this correct


AMERICAN LIFE. 13$

title from its holder before the occupier can be sure of the property. But folks who forsake their claims do not usually leave any address. The result is that many excellent lots are unoccupied because nobody dares cultivate them, lest the man who holds the good title-deeds turns up unexpectedly some harvest-day.

Sales for unpaid taxes make bad titles common. Taxes are usually paid at two terms, one in July and the other in Decem ber. When anybody is in arrears the Receiver sends him neither notice nor summons, but advertises, without warning, at the County Court-House the land of the man who has not paid his taxes. Every six months a long list of lots of land or rural properties appear in the newspapers. At the day fixed in the advertisement, each lot is cried separately, and the option given to anyone to come forward and pay the taxes. Some business men usually come forward, pays the money, and takes possession of the lot. If the real owner wishes to get back his land, he pays this man the amount of the tax, with interest added, which makes it a paying little speculation for this agent. But, if the owner cannot be found, the agent keeps the land, which cost him half a years taxes, and tries to sell it to some settler who has just arrived and who is not acquainted with these good and bad titles.

To buy real estate in the West and to enjoy it peaceably it is not only necessary to go before a notary public, who authen ticates the deed of sale for $2.00, no matter what is the price of the land, but it is also necessary to go to the Record-Office, ascertain if the property bear any mortgages, and inquire into the origins of the claims ; otherwise, there is every chance of a thousand little unpleasantnesses.

Bad titles are very common in the small towns, because the speculator seizes lots of land more readily than homesteads; because the fluctuation of prices are greater and bring about more disasters than in the country ; and because it becomes very difficult to pay the heavy town taxes when a crisis arises. The taxes in some small towns are as high as 3 per cent, of the real estate revenue. Among those whom I questioned about this, one, who owned a little house and garden, paid $12.00; another, who had speculated in 117 lots, some of which were built on,


136 AMERICAN LIFE.

paid $720. These are big figures, but it must be remembered that the American pays no other taxes, that he has no indirect taxation, no town-dues, no succession duties, no conscription.

The population of these little Western towns is a very mixed one, both as to origin and worth. The reader perhaps remem bers the Transylvanian cook, the Socialist architect, and the other strange types we met at Guthrie. Such people are to be found in every new centre that is formed ; and it is not always discreet to ask them about their antecedents. These people are of very little help to make a town prosperous. In this class, too, may be put ruined and discouraged farmers, who have left their land and taken haphazardly to some trade ; the dishonest agents, who come to cheat the public ; in fact, all that scum which comes on the first wave of immigration.

Opposite such types we must place the modest, full-bellied hotelkeeper, usually from the banks of the Rhine, who brings up a dozen children and gathers a small fortune by sheltering travellers ; the active and intelligent business-man, who starts a provision-store and runs it like those in the large cities ; the man who builds a flour-mill or forms a dairy ; the prudent and pushing speculator, who gives the boom a useful help ; the banker, who supports him, etc.

These are the living forces in these small towns ; but they must have a lesson before they can become effective. Some man amongst all these must show himself capable of guiding the onward movement, or, at least, of interesting some powerful railway king in the future prosperity of the city ; one who is master of the lines and the tariffs, who can turn the place into an important centre by making some tracks meet in it, or sacri fice it to some successful rival. If such a leader be lacking, the boom is never great nor long.

In a word, these towns have all they need for their develop ment within themselves. It would have been better to have called them "young" instead of " small," because they are capable of growing very large. Circumstances will permit this development, but the man, to use these circumstances, must be found, else expansion ceases. Many villages, excellently sit uated for growing into a great cities, never get beyond the state of small towns, because he is lacking.


CHAPTER VII.


THE OUTLETS FOR FARM PRODUCE. THE GREAT CITIES

OF THE WEST.

I. THEIR AGRICULTURAL CHARACTER.

We already know something about a few of the great West ern cities, for we have followed the cattle bred and fattened on the ranches to the centres where they are killed, cut up, and prepared for export. Chicago, Kansas City and Omaha, more than any other cities, are the accumulators and distributors of meat ; they are meat-cities in the same sense that Lyons is the city of silks.

Just as the creation of the ranches lead to the foundation of Chicago and its rivals, so the creation of the farms brings about the rise of other towns, whither the grain is concentrated before being sent off on a long journey. St. Louis, St. Paul and Min neapolis may justly be called grain-cities, the vast emporiums in which the wheat and the maize are collected, and then re distributed by the trade on all the markets of the world.

Of course, that qualification of grain-city does not exclude the cattle-trade, which is especially important in St. Louis. Chicago, also, does not confine itself to the provision-trade of the packing-houses, but contains immense elevators which can store 14,000,000 bushels of corn at one time ; but, nevertheless, Chicago reigns as undisputed queen of dressed-beef and salt- pork, while Minneapolis is the chief milling centre.

Notwithstanding their various specialties, these cities have a well-marked characteristic in common ; they are the outlets for agricultural produce, and consequently depend upon it. If, by any chance, ranches disappeared from the surface of the States; if the buffalo browsed once more, as in Indian times, on the farms which we have inspected, Chicago and Minneapolis


138 AMERICAN LIFE.

would become abandoned villages, and in fifty years there would not remain a trace of the ruins of the hastily-built erec tions that now form there a sign of a flourishing past. I have not made this hypothesis because I believe it possible, for the future of America has better guarantees than the stability of its buildings ; but I wished to point out that the history of these great cities is closely bound up with that of the country, and the sequel will show this very clearly.

On arriving at St. Louis from the East one is at once struck by its agricultural character ; for it is the first city of this nature that is reached by one coming from the Atlantic coast. New York is a city of ocean commerce, Philadelphia is a man ufacturing city, and Pittsburgh and even Cincinnati, the ancient Porcopolis, have become great industrial centres. But St. Louis is an agricultural market. One sees this from the moment he alights at the station, by the numerous agricultural implements, wagons and machines that are piled on the plat form. In the streets near the river one meets cattle in bands of ten, twenty or thirty, going to or coming from the market ; and also droves of mules, for which St. Louis is noted ; and when one asks what are the sights of the city, he is shown the Cotton-Exchange and the Merchant s Exchange. St. Louis is an old-established centre for Southern cotton, and still very important to-day. The wool and fur trades have been carried on in the Cotton Exchange for some years, but in spite of this the Merchant s is much the more important of the two Exchanges.

The Merchant s Exchange is entirely a corn-exchange. It is a large hall about 222 feet long by 65 feet broad and some 60 feet high, forming part of the Chamber of Commerce Build ings. There is no lack of decorations, but an utter lack of taste, while the appearance of its frequenters is in strange con trast to the pretensiousnes of its architecture. The St. Louis citizens who are grain or flour merchants meet here every day, and jostle and greet each other with those short phrases, the secret of which the American possesses. At one end of the hall is a sort of ring, round which the excitement is wildest, the gestures, the cries, the yellings of the speculators making one imagine it to be a gathering of furious madmen ; while close


AMERICAN LIFE.

at hand ordinary business has less epileptic attractions. Numerous samples of maize, wheat, oats and barley are ar ranged on the long wooden counters, while bran and flour are in another part of the hall. Chewing their quids and squirting out vile jets of blackened saliva into the spittoons which ob struct the floor or, if there are none, onto the floor itself, the members oi the Exchange examine the samples, feel the grains with their practised fingers, rapidly write a few lines in their note-books, and send off telegrams at every moment. For this telegraph clerks are placed almost all round the sides of the hall, and the noise of their many instruments is loud enough to be noticeable amidst the general hubbub. From time to time some one goes to one of the little table-desks, placed in one part of the hall, to write a business letter or to engage in private conversation. These tables, like all American tables, have a double use : one alternately puts his hands on them while writing, and his feet on them while resting. The sight of these worthy people seated with their legs as high as their neighbor s shoulders, chewing, spitting, writing, telegraphing and shouting, gives one a much higher idea of their activity than of their good manners.

But we are not dealing with the question of good manners at present; and when the first disagreeable impression is got over, it is time to inquire what has brought so vast and varied a trade in grains to this particular spot. A St. Louis miller explained the matter to me, " Since the settling of Missouri, Kansas and other States to the West of St. Louis," he said, "we have always had a large grain-market here ; and even be fore the days of railroads, St. Louis had all the Southern trade by the Mississippi and all the Northwestern trade by the Missouri.

During the Civil War the Northerners did everything in their power to turn away all this exchange business from us, by building railroads in the Northwest, and in giving their capital to help the foundation of Chicago. That was a great misfortune for us. As long as the War lasted, St. Louis was the natural emporium of the Southern armies, and prospered ; but after the declaration of peace a crisis came which lasted more than ten years and whose effects we still feel. In other


140 AMERICAN LIFE.

words, the War kept back the progress of St. Louis twenty years. To-day, owing to the natural advantages of our side, we are recovering more and more. The river traffic always concentrates the grain from two immense fertile valleys at St. Louis ; the city is close to the rich alluvial land, formed by the muddy deposits from the river, known in the States as " American Bottom ; " and, lastly, the States which are our natural customers, are almost the only ones which grow winter- wheat. Wisconsin and Michigan reap a little of it in the North, but none of the other States do this, because the severity of the climate prevents it. Hence the market for winter- wheat is necessary at St. Louis.

The great stir that reigns on the quays about the Mississippi is also caused by products of the farms ; and there are found the fur and grain warehouses, piles of cotton-bales and im mense elevators which make those of little towns seem toys. There the negroes predominate. They carry heavy weights on their shoulders, unload the boats, and in general do all work that demands physical rather than intellectual effort. The temporary nature of the work specially suits them. When they need money, they come down to the quays, seek for some ship that needs loading or unloading, make $2 or $3, and then go to the neighboring saloons and get drunk. All along the quays are a large number of cabins, with low doors, blackened ceilings, wooden tables and big stools, which recall the inte riors of taverns painted by Teniers. In casting a glance through the door, always open to let in air and customers, the negroes can be seen drinking, eating, singing, laughing, playing at cards, their big and somewhat brutal faces lit up with afresh gaiety and an absence of all sort of preoccupation. If these lively faces be compared with the careworn ones of the Americans coming out of the Merchants Exchange, it would seem as if the negroes got more enjoyment out of life than any other class in the States. I once saw one tilted on a stool, with his back against the wall, playing the banjo and singing some song ; and I stopped to look at him for some time, so much had his tranquil contentment fascinated me. I saw others sitting or lying in a crowd on the floor, or grouped in a dark corner smoking, joking, tripping each other, and appearing to


AMERICAN LIFE. 141

be amusing themselves like school-boys out of school. That is the gay quarter of St. Louis, where only a few merchants, brokers or clerks burst on the scene and rapidly cross the quay to count their bales of cotton, to examine their wheat or their maize.

The negro element is not nearly so important in St. Paul and Minneapolis. They are from the farther South and the old Slave States, and are free from all association with the past. The Northwest is their tributary Minnesota, the two Dakotas, Montana, all States that are still young and so their history is much shorter than that of St. Louis. In 1850 St. Paul was quite a small town, and Minneapolis did not exist. To-day each of them has about 200,000 inhabitants . Already, however, a new rival has arisen at the extreme West of Lake Superior, to claim part of this great agricultural mar ket Duluth ; or, as it is called, the Hercules of the North west.

In these newly-opened regions, the great market-centres are not definitely fixed ; this or that becomes important ac cording to the district that is being settled, while another place may supplant it when all the country is cultivated. Thus St. Paul and Minneapolis owe their rapid rise to the action of the Civil War in helping the development of the Northwest. Along with Chicago, they inherited the high position which St. Louis had previously obtained and partly lost at that time. The war helped to develop, all at once, the two towns, which would have grown in any case, because of their great natural advantages, for they lie at the Northern extremity of the Mississippi, between Lake Superior and the Red River Valley, and so, like St. Louis, are the meeting-place of innumerable commercial routes. When the blockade of 1861 cut off all communication with the South, St. Paul was 500 miles from any railroad. " We received everything by the Mississippi," said a St. Paul merchant to me, " and only in the Summer. In Winter, snow and ice shut us in and stopped all traffic. We were a dependent of St. Louis, and lived only six months in the year." St. Paul would have disappeared after this if the tracks had not been laid, which joined it to Chi cago and the East, when the Civil War was fiercest. The iron


142 AMERICAN LIFE.

road did more than this; it brought settlers, and St. Paul be came an agricultural mart, instead of remaining a provision station for a few fur-traders. Then Minneapolis, Queen of Milling, brought forth and flourished at an astonishing rate, near St. Anthony s Falls. The excellent waterfalls formed a powerful motor-force, and led to the starting of a few flour- mills in the place where there are so many gigantic ones to day. Minnesota and Dakota began to be cultivated at this time, and soon their fertile lands were yielding abundant har vests, which were sent to towns whose populations still further increased by this new event. For several years in succession the population of St. Paul and Minneapolis was doubled each year ; the price of land and the material prosperity of the two cities naturally rose with their commercial importance. It was a great boom. There is no need to describe this boom, which was much the same as that of a Western city already detailed.

Some special points about the Northwestern grain trade are worthy of note, especially in connection with Minneapolis, and to study them we shall go to Pillsbury s Mills, the most famous in the United States.


II. THE GRAIN AND FLOUR TRADES.

Just as the visitor must inspect Armour s packing-houses at Chicago, so must he see Pillsbury s flour-mills at Minneapolis. They are the greatest sights of the town, and we shall see that they practically make the town.

The mills have grown into several separate establishments, owing to the great importance they have acquired. I visited one, an immense seven-story building, where the waterpower used is 1,400 horse-power. This waterfall drives all the grind- ing-mills and the numerous machines for separating the different qualities of grain as well as its various products, and also sup plies the force which drives the wagons, filled with wheat, to the mill, and draws them back again full of bran and flour. The line of rails used for this has an endless belt, constantly running above it and hauling trains of wagons. The flour is packed into wagons as it is ground ; more than two are emptied


AMERICAN LIFE. 143.

every hour. The mills go night and day, and 325 men are re quired for the work ; some superintend the machines, others roll wooden-barrels holding about three bushels, in which the flour is sent East, along the iron rails ; others weigh the large 28o-pound barrels, in which it is shipped to London, or the smaller ones of 196 pounds, for local consumption. These ways of packing are enough to tell how widely spread and varied customers are.

There are seven different qualities of flour, but they are almost exclusively made from Spring hard-wheat, the same that I saw in the farms of Minnesota and the two Dakotas. Spring-wheat is centralized at Minneapolis, as is winter-wheat at St. Louis. Pillsbury alone makes 2, 660 tons of flour per day in his various mills.

One can imagine what capabilities are needed for the man agement of such a business. In the first place, it is necessary to know every little improvement in flour-making machinery and to add it at once; to choose a staff of efficient workmen, and keep the same set of workmen as long as possible, which is always difficult in America. This is the industrial side. In the second place, it is necessary to buy wheat as cheaply as pos sible, and sell the flour and bran made every day. This is the commercial side. But the grain-trade is affected by many and widespread influences: the Russian harvest, the price of wheat at Batavia ; the customs-dues of France or Germany, are as im portant factors to be considered as the wetness or dryness of the Spring in Dakota. It is absolutely necessary to know the agricultural situation in every quarter of the Globe, to know how to decide about buying and selling. It is evident that the least error means a heavy loss when so large quantities are dealt with, and that the least profit on every bushel is multiplied into a great gain. And, lastly, think of the strains constantly produced by the rising and falling of prices, and you will un derstand that the man who makes such a business flourish has a marvelously-organized head. Americans have boundless ad miration for such remarkable powers, and show it on every oc casion. A St. Paul friend of mine, speaking of Mr. Charles Pillsbury, said: " He is a splendid man." Note the strange expression ; you will find it the right one.


144 AMERICAN LIFE.

During my stay at Minneapolis, in the Spring of 1890, Mr. Pillsbury bought 5,000,000 bushels of wheat in one week. That represents a sum of $3,750,000, which was paid on the spot. Wheat was then worth 75 cents per bushel, and it was expected to rise to $1.00, for which reason the Pillsburys bought such a large supply.

I cite this to show how great speculations and monopolies are natural fruits of the grain-trade. When the prices are low, the great slaughter-houses of Chicago or Kansas City cannot store up huge herds of cattle to kill, and sell them when prices rise again ; but they are closely bound to all the fluctuations of the market, and are inevitably affected by them. There was at one time a rumor that a " trust " had been formed by four or five important houses, such as Armour, Swift and Ham mond, to control the cattle market ; but this tentative is an indication in itself of the inability of any of these firms to do this alone, despite their enormous capital. After all, the action of the syndicate has hardly been felt. It may be able to check a sudden rise, but it cannot influence the trade movement in the way the grain monopolists are able to do.

The big Minneapolis millers are not the only people drawn into speculation, but the elevator companies have their share in it, as is easily discovered at Chicago, or even at New York, where there often are many bold strokes on the Corn Exchange. Many remedies have been sought to check these sudden changes in prices, but they have always failed.

" The Farmers Alliance," a powerful association, born some time ago in Minnesota, has formulated the latest plan and brought forward a Bill of unadulterated socialism, which makes the Government buy all the grain in the United States, so as to keep the price at a constant level. The only reply to this was the smart proposal of a representative, who suggested that the State should act as wet-nurse to all young Americans. Such Utopias are too much opposed to the ingrained social habit of each man looking after himself to merit serious con sideration.

Before leaving the Pillsbury Mills I wish to say a word about their internal management in its relation to the works. Mr. Charles Pillsbury is not only a remarkable merchant, but an


AMERICAN LIFE. 145

excellent employer. He is always trying to raise the men he employs, and is often successful, as witness the hundred millers trained by him who have started for themselves and now are the owners of large mills. This desire to elevate his workmen is seen in his ingenious plan of increasing the wages of the best of them by giving them a share in the profits. In September, 1882, a certain number of the workers in the Pillsbury Mills re ceived a personal letter in the following terms :

DEAR SIR: We have decided to give this year, as an experiment, to some of the leading men in our different mills, a portion of the net profits of the mill, after we have credited ourselves with the interest on the capital invested.

We do this in the hope that every one of the men having a share in this division will do his utmost in every possible way to effect a saving in the business, and that those who are not included this year, will also be stimulated to do good work, because if the experiment is a success we shall be inclined to increase the number hereafter. We believe also, that while we shall be doing considerably better by our men, we shall lose little or nothing ourselves. None of you have any idea how much can be saved in running a flour-mill if each man will do his best towards saving. The scheme is an experiment for this one year. Its continuance will depend upon whether we think it will pay us this year. We trust that every man included in this number will feel it his special duty to see that every other man does his work well; and, in fact, to see that everything is done in the best possible manner and with the least possible expense.

This apportionment will be made only to the men who stay with us during the year, and is subject to the provision that every man included in the arrangement shall perform his work and conduct himself in a manner entirely satisfactory to us.

We prefer that this matter be kept quiet.

Hoping to receive your hearty co-operation in the plan, we remain, Very truly yours,

CHARLES A. PILLSBURY & CO.

There were about 500 men in Pillsbury s Mills at that time, of whom 100 shared in this division. The following year, 1883, each of these received a check for $400, on the average a magnificent bonus added to their regular wages. The firm


146 AMERICAN LIFE.

found that the arrangement paid ; they declared that the experiment had been satisfactory, and established the system on a permanent basis. In 1884 an d 1885 the departure was again successful, and the workers received the same profit. In 1886, there were no returns in the Pillsbury Mills, and the following letter announced this to the participants :

We regret to inform you that we will be unable to make divisions of profits to any of our employees for the past business year. The simple reason is that we have no profits to divide. We have failed to receive any returns for the capital invested, or for our hard work and anxiety.

We are somewhat recompensed, however, in the reflexion that most of our men have had steady work, and that we have been able to pay you your wages promptly and without any reductions, thereby ena bling you not only to provide well for yourself and family, but to lay by something against a rainy day.

Now, what of the future ? We hope, with the aid of the strong arms and enlightened brain of our fellow-workmen, to not only receive a fair recompense for our own work and capital, but to have something left over to divide among our men, and we hope to make that division more general than ever before. In order to do this we are justified in asking of you to increase your efforts in our behalf, if possible; that you, in addition to doing honest work yourself, will insist upon its being done by others who, perhaps, have not as honest intentions as yourself. Especially do we ask of you to see that the strictest econ omy is practised in every direction, and that nothing is allowed to be wasted or misappropriated. We ask of you, also, to take no chances of accidents of any kind ; that you immediately notify the proper parties of anything needing repairs, or of any dangerous place or machinery which can be improved. We ask no one to take any chances of loss of life or limb, beyond what are absolutely inseparable from the nature of our business and machinery. Any suggestions from any of our men as to additional precautions against accidents will be thankfully received and fully appreciated by any member of our firm. We also ask you to especially take every possible precaution against fire. It is the enemy most to be feared by both you and ourselves. In these dull times of milling, a fire would permanently deprive you of a job with us, and also entail a great loss on ourselves. Let us ask you to be on the constant lookout for any possible danger from this source. Suggestions in this direction will be greatly appreciated by us.


AMERICAN LIFE. 147

We are very proud of the fact that we have never yet made a reduc tion in wages. We cannot now afford to pay you the wages we could a few years since. Cannot you, with your increased experience and with additional diligence to our interests, make your services more valuable to us than ever before, and thus restore the equilibrium ? If at any time you feel injustice has been done you, do not be afraid to come to our office and state your complaints. Co-operate profit-shar ing is on trial at our mills. Many all over the world are watching the results. Fellow-workmen, try and realize how much depends on your integrity and faithfulness. With the co-operation of every one of the employees, we hope for better results than ever before attained in our business ; without it, we see nothing promising for you or ourselves.

This communication was received by the workmen without complaint ; they recognized the accent of sincerity, and helped Mr. Pillsbury to pass over the crisis ; they had confidence in him. Since then prosperity has returned and the number of participants greatly increased. Mr. Pillsbury asserts that be sides being of great advantage to the workmen, his system is profitable to his own interests, and he praises himself highly for having made the experiment. However, he has not entered into any definite engagement with his staff, and still continues the arrangement that has been so successful with him as an experiment.

I have, perhaps, written at too great length of this particu lar organization, but at a time when certain economic schools preach co-operation or profit-sharing as remedies for every sort of evil, I wished to show how this is carried out in practice in a great American industry. The division does not give the workman any part in the commercial management of the busi ness ; the employer remains master of his purchases, of his sales and of his management, and gives account to nobody. His associates do not even know in what measure nor on what basis they are admitted to a share of the profits. In a word, it is a gratuity, an uncertain wage for them, and not a definite right. Further, every workman does not share in it, but only those chosen by the master those whom he thinks able to support him. The difference between this and a system of general profit-sharing is easily seen, and it is also clear that the authority of the employer is not interfered with.


148 AMERICAN LIFE.

In Minneapolis there are other noted examples of co-opera tion well known in the United States, but in much simpler in dustries, the best known being that of the coopers. As I have just mentioned, a large part of the flour is sent off in three-bushel barrels. The enormous consumption of such barrels by the Minnesota mills has naturally led to the starting of numerous cooperages. The employers used to buy the staves ready made in Wisconsin, and paid the workers by the piece for making the barrels. One day, some of these men proposed to combine, to gather orders, to bring the staves and sell their barrel, keeping all their profits to themselves. This was done, and after a certain number of checks, due to their inexperience, they formed the co-operative coopers workshops which are so prosperous today. There the oversight of skilled employer is not needed. The prices of barrel-staves do not vary like those of grain, and barrels are made with the aid of a few very primitive tools. There is thus no complication in buying first materials ; no need to keep up to date about methods, and then the methods are always simple. First-class workmen can direct such an affair, provided an outlet can be found for the goods made, and this is guaranteed by the suc cess of the milling. Their undertaking, too, has been helped in every way by Mr. Charles Pillsbury, who has always given them the custom of his extensive house.

The name of Pillsbury comes from my pen every minute, and it really does hold an important place in the history of Minne apolis. We shall once more come across one of those remark able men, whose managing powers, aided by that prodigious American activity, guide the progressive movement which bears the United States toward its high destiny. It is well to show that such men are not indifferent to their workmen s lot ; that they do not let themselves be entirely absorbed by a narrow anxiety for their own interests ; but that, on the contrary, they have a very strong desire to raise to higher levels those whom they employ. The duties of an employer, such as they under stand them, consist, above all, in improving the workmen and in making them more efficient assuredly a very high concep tion. Nor does this necessarily involve a contempt for the unfit and the abandoning of those hardened in their incom-


AMERICAN LIFE. 149

pentency. A proof of this is Pillsbury Hall, which stands alongside the Pillsbury Mills, and is a purely charitable institu tion, due to the generosity of its founder. The lot of those who cannot or will not be bettered is thus at least made en durable.

If all industrial chiefs were like Mr. Pillsbury, it is certain we should hear less -about American strikes; but it is quite possi ble, without going out of the milling-trade, to find employers very little inclined to bother themselves about their workmen. No doubt these are not the best known, nor the richest, nor those who succeed best; but they form the majority. In a country where nobody follows a trade by tradition ; where a business is quitted the moment it will not pay, there are few men inclined to make sacrifices to help their workmen at a time of crisis. The workshops are usually closed the minute the work is not profitable, and the men who were living by this work the previous day are set loose on the streets. The price of labor thus follows every fluctuation of supply and demand, and a crisis arises every time master and men differ about changing wages.

One day I heard a big St. Louis miller a very charitable and very estimable man, full of good intentions complain of the state of affairs. I profited by this to ask him some details as to the way in which his workmen lived. He at once frankly confessed that he knew absolutely nothing about it ; that the cares of business took up most of his time, and any rare leisure he spent in charitable deeds; but that the idea of finding out exactly how his men lived never occurred to him. So, even among those who scruple to dismiss all their workmen to-day or to-morrow, there are some who, nevertheless, are not true masters.

This indifference is encouraged by the ease with which work men of every industry in the West change their trade ; so many ways are open to them, that they never definitely decide in favor of one or the other. It is obvious that they will not attach themselves to some master, and that the employer will look upon his men as troublesome yet necessary helpers. This is most evident in workshops where improved machine-tools and extreme division of labor do away with all apprenticeship.


150 AMERICAN LIFE.

In milling, a considerable number of specialists are employed, and it is their interests to remain in that branch of trade in which they are skilled. This must be counted among the factors that helped Mr. Pillsbury in his undertaking.

III. ST. LOUIS, ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS.

An account of St. Louis, St. Paul and Minneapolis will give the best idea of all the great Western cities of agricultural origin and use. Their main industries have already been de scribed, and now a few words must be said about their appear ance.

St. Louis is much the oldest, and in some respects is almost an ancient city. It is quite a surprise to come across a last century building in a country where historical monuments are rare. The inhabitants of St. Louis show a stranger the Catho lic Cathedral and the old French Market with much the same feeling as a Parisian has in presence of Notre Dame or the Hotel de Cluny. The archaeologists make a pilgrimage to Saint Clair Hotel, where Lafayette descended about 1820; but the American archaeologist is not so enwrapped in the past as his European brethren, and he studies the historic souvenirs in order to measure the amount of progress since those days. u Just look at that wretched Hotel Saint Clair," they say, " with its small windows and blackened walls. It was the best there was in those days. But just compare it with the Southern Hotel, rebuilt in 1876, after having been burned, and to-day thoroughly fireproof."

Truly, there is a great difference. The Southern Hotel will compare favorably with the most luxurious of similar establish ments in Europe. It is an immense building, with a gigantic hall opening to four streets, with marble staircases, improved elevators and dazzling decorations. Our more refined taste is everywhere offended by the thousand details; but the colossal proportions of the whole make up, in some measure, for the faults, and one is forced to admit that it is an astonishing erec. tion. Moreover, a marble plate, placed so as to be well seen, tells that it cost a large sum ; and if the greatness of the figure draws an astonished exclamation from the visitor, the Ameri can asks for no more : it has produced its effect.


AMERICAN LIFE. 151

The central part of the town, with its immense business blocks and its stores, has no picturesqueness. The interior of all Western towns is ugly. To see the elegant part of the town the residences take the first street-car and travel as far as it goes. There are many very pretty houses in St. Louis, and more are being built every day. I saw a vast and superb establishment covering a large area in the neighborhood of Forest Park, and found its proprietor was a Mr. K., a willing grain-speculator. He had begun to build when a sudden fall in the market made him lose $600,000 and compelled him to stop the work for some time. He went on with his operations on the grain-market, regained what he had lost, and soon had his original plan executed. People do not readily give up a thing in the United States.

Not far from there I came across a man with a red beard, sitting at the edge of a building lot and superintending the workers who were digging the cellars for a new house. He was a German and a building contractor. We had a talk together, during which he gave me some details about the building- trade and the price of lots in the town. The land we were standing on was 2,260 square yards and had cost a rich mer chant $10,000. They were beginning to build a house with a stone basement and brick walls, which was to cost about $30,000 in all $40,000. Such houses are not rare ; but there are many smaller ones, costing from $10,000 to $20,000. Most of them have an elegant though often rather strange appear ance, and all bear the mark of being built for family rather than for public life, the various rooms being designed and located to suit every-day needs rather than for receptions. There was no Parisian gilded salon opening to an elegant street, and the rest of the rooms are little cages without daylight, termed chambres a coucher by a deceptive euphemism.

The little detached houses of St. Louis are surrounded with light and air, and one breathes at ease in them ; but, on the other hand, one usually looks out on a long stretch of clayey mud which serves as a street. Of course, the centre of the town is paved, but in going to the public promenades or to the most famous parks, one draggles through mud or raises up a cloud of dust, according to the season. I specially commend to the


I $2 AMERICAN LIFE.

visitor to St. Louis the avenues that lead to Shaw s Park as being true cross-roads. On the faith of a pocket-guide, which considers Shaw s Park one of the wonders of the world, we plunge through the dilute clay and reach a portico in very bad haste, which is the entrance to the park ; or, if you prefer the other name, the Missouri Botanical Garden. On going in, we find an ugly garden, badly designed and badly looked after, where some shrubs with labels grow somewhat a la diable. We ask if we are the victim of a bad joke; a small glass-house stands in one corner, and further off the small country-house, hermetically sealed, in which Mr. Shaw used to live. That country-house is ugly, but also precious, for it supplies the key to the enigma. Mr. Shaw was fond of gardening and had planted some exotic shrubs, of which he thought a great deal, on his property. After his death, he left his fortune to the city, with the charge to look after the shrubs; and the city, in the fullness of its gratitude, baptized the plantation of its gen erous citizen " The Missouri Botanical Garden. " Out of respect to Shaw s memory, no doubt, the pocket-guide to St. Louis compares them with the Jardin dcs Plantcs at Paris, Kew Gardens at London, and also to the Garden of Eden. However ridiculous these comparisons may seem, they reveal two characteristically American sentiments : the first is the ten dency to exaggerate, to boast ; the second is the desire to en courage useful public endowments. An American city will always respect your intentions if you help to improve it or add to its fortune, no matter what is the end you pursue. If you give it your garden to preserve a collection of plants you have taken pleasure in collecting, it will piously look after them and will not stint you in praise ; if you found a college, a library or a hospital, it will scrupulously observe the conditions you im pose on the gift. Such institutions are constantly being founded in the States by private individuals. Many public services are rendered unnecessary through private liberality, and it is too good a custom to laugh at, even when the too open-mouthed acknowledgements of a Western city have forced you to take a fruitless walk through its muddy streets. Forest Park makes up for such a misadventure. It is a large park, of some 1,350 acres, with long walks, lovely lakes and


AMERICAN LIFE. I 53

great trees ; where crowds of people move about each after noon, especially towards evening, in buggies, on horseback or on cycles. The guide-book is not misleading this time. The visitor must not expect to see ifhe correct turnouts of the Bois de Boulogne, nor the elegances to which the Parisian is ac customed ; but he finds it a pretty bit of country, sufficiently well laid out to make it a pleasant promenade, and not over done so as to spoil it. There are several picturesque places in France, with pretty roads running through them, which are quite like Forest Park. Nothing can be pleasanter than to take a breath of air and recreation in the midst of its verdure, after a very busy day. Few people come to show themselves off ; but most are there to get some physical reaction to the ex citement of the Merchants Exchange or the worries of a big business. The carriages are often badly looked after, but the horses trot quickly. The turnout is that of a busy man, who must go rapidly from one place to another, and who has taken advantage of a spare minute to drive round the park before going home. The young people of both sexes ride about on horse back, in any sort of costume, without a riding-habit and on badly broken-in animals. A boy in the advanced class of the high-school, or the simplest school-girl, would never consent to appear in such guise in any of our large cities in France. That is because people go about to be looked at in France, so that a girl is happier in a well-made riding-habit than in the exer cise which is its excuse. Here, on the other hand, people do not think of the on-lookers, for they look at things in a crowd just as they do if alone. It is the faculty of isolation we noticed in the solitudes of the prairie which we see once again, but now in a city of 500,000 inhabitants.

Everybody who can arranges for as much isolation as possible, and the custom of having each house standing by itself is a proof of this. These houses often have a very markedly rural char acter. I was received by one very rich miller whose residence is four miles from the centre of the city, and built on an emi nence dominating the Mississippi Valley, of which it com mands a magnificent view. The outbuildings are hidden on one side of the slope, and consist of a stable, a coach-house and a cow-house. The milk cows live there along with a heifer


154 AMERICAN LIFE.

and a calf ; a little poultry-yard is arranged behind these build ings. In fact, the place is a miniature farm. The owners of this establishment would evidently be less out of their element in the country than in Paris.

Even the workingmen can enjoy the independence of a sep arate home. Many building societies, which aid in building workmen s houses, are very active, and cover the less sought- after districts with cheap yet comfortable dwellings. A single- story house can be bought for $1,200 to $1,600, and great facilities are offered to workingmen who have not capital and yet wish to settle in this way.

I would sum up the general impression I have carried away with me from St. Louis thus : A great city, full of contrasts ; where the original Western agricultural character is dominant, despite some ostentatious displays of riches ; where the old Southern sympathies are still shown, but are overborne by the satisfaction at the great development which has succeeded the disastrous effects of the Civil War ; where the souvenirs of the past have the respect that is their due, and do not give rise to superfluous regrets, but allow a vigorous confidence in the future.

The character of St. Paul and Minneapolis is less complex. Cities, so young as they are know nothing of the past and think only of the future. They embody the enterprising spirit of the Northwest and grow under one s very eye, as children who have not yet reached their common height. This makes them a particularly interesting study. Their elegant appear ance helps to obtain the sympathies of the visitor for them. At this point the waters of the Missippi roll between the high hills that hem it in ; its clear waters make a magnificent stream. At St. Louis it is quite muddy. The inhabitants are careful to explain that it is the Missouri s fault, and that the Missis sippi s waters w r ould be very clear if the Missouri did not come and taint their purity. But at this point the Mississippi needs no excuse; and the beautiful residences of Summit Avenue and Marriam Hill have a beautiful perspective, which is greatly helped by its picturesque valley.

I have never seen anything in the United States that can compare with that summit terrace, fringed with luxurious


AMERICAN LIFE. I $5

dwellings, not huddled together and uniform, as is often seen in the better quarters of our great European cities, put made the most of in the middle of green lawns, dotted with beautiful trees, each domain having its own originality. I was fortunate enough to go through St. Paul several times, in the company of very obliging friends, who told me the histories of the mil lionaires who owned these sumptuous residences. One of them had formerly been employed in a commercial house at $90 a month ; another had begun in the world as clerk to a banker who paid him only $60 a month; and, to-day, twenty-three years later, he owns from forty to eighty million dollars. Many of these great fortunes have been gained in railroads or in ele vators ; but the development of the Northwest has led to the formation of vast stores of all sorts, and also to very high com mercial and financial situations. A wholesale grocer who could scarcely earn a livelihood before the Civil War, as he assured me, took me on a drive in a carriage with a pair of trotting horses which had gained I cannot tell how many prizes, and which were valued at $15,000. The great drygoods store of Mannheimer Brothers could almost compete with the Bon- Marche, and one of the partners recently offered the New York Museum a picture by Benjamin Constant, which he had bought at Paris at a high price. Mr. Marriam, the Governor of the State, has a residence marvellously situated on the hill that bears his name, which he built at great expense, in the midst of a garden of over two and a half acres. Now a lawn of two and a half acres is a luxury, when the land is worth more than $20 per square yard. To myself, I compare the position oj this Governor, with his home in such a house as this, to one of our Prefects, who is a temporary lodger in an administrative metropolis.

At St. Paul I stayed in a hotel managed by an Alsacian, and I took advantage of my being a compatriot to get some infor mation from my host about the importance of the establish ment. The annual rent paid to the company which owns the house is $100,000. The head-cook is a Frenchman, and he has a dozen assistants who are also French. They are thirteen artistes, and paid for as such. Such expenditure pre-supposes a certain movement of travellers in the town, and this hotel is not the only one.


156 AMERICAN LIFE.

Here also, as in St. Louis, we found the same mixture of elegance and simplicity. Very rich people will receive you in elegant and handsomely furnished villas ; but they have no servants, except one or two young Germans waiting for a hus band to come, and when he does they will leave their master in the lurch ; so nobody has a household of them. In New York, at the present moment, a footman is as rare as a pow dered lacquey in Paris ; coachmen in livery are taken notice of in Chicago ; and a man who has a youth to drive his horses is considered lucky in St. Paul. The absence of servants naturally prevents a great many of the little attentions, and, generally, that ensemble of refinements which we consider the necessary accompaniment of life. On the other hand, it shows the ease with which independent situations can be had, and the immense resources which new countries still offer.

When St. Paul and Minneapolis become old cities, in the midst of a country fully peopled and cultivated, it is probable that the millionaire of such times will be served by a crowd of perfectly-dressed servants. But then, St. Paul and Minneapolis will see the young Americans, who wish to get a good position as quickly as possible, leave the banks of the Mississippi for other lands still unoccupied, if any such lands exist. In these days people will emigrate from Minnesota as they do from England to-day. Then gentlemen with money will lead a pleasanter life there ; but bank accountants and miller s boys will no longer be able to become millionaires in a few years.


CHAPTER VIII.

THE WORKING OF THE MINES. GOLD IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

I. THE BEGINNINGS AND TRANSFORMATIONS OF MINING-CITIES.

Cattle and cereals are the principal elements of the fortune of the West, but they are not the only ones. If they be the most important in the Valley of the Mississippi, they take the second and not the first place at the foot of the Rocky Moun tains, making way for a powerful rival gold. Go to Denver, to Leadville, to Pueblo, in Colorado; to Butte or to Great Falls, in Montana, and you will no longer hear any talk about the harvest, the price of pigs or mortgaged farms ; you will no longer see the long rows of elevators near the depots ; and if you do come across some packing-house here and there, its modest dimensions tell that its industry did not create the town where you have just landed.

It is about thirty years ago that the gold-seekers rushed on to these lands and founded the first European settlements there ; but a complete transformation has taken place since then. It has not simply happened, as in so many places in the West, that the little newly-born village expanded into a rich and populous city by the normal increase of population and the development of commerce ; but something more has occurred, for the first gold-seekers belong to quite a different category from those who work the mines to-day, and the methods used were totally different. It is possible to say that everything has changed, not only since the time of the Indians, but since the early years of colonization. At first the golden-sands were washed in the little rivulets which rushed down the mountain sides. Any man furnished with a shovel, a pick and a sieve could undertake this simple industry, and sometimes succeeded


158 AMERICAN LIFE.

in finding a quantity of gold-dust sufficient to bring him a fair fortune.

Usually these gains vanished in the nearest drinking-saloon, or were stolen by daring miners who appeared to find the use of a revolver easier and more profitable than that of spade and pick. This was the first reason for the discouragement of the honest and hard workers, and the exhaustion of the placers was the second. When the sand had been washed several times and passed through the sieve, it gave only a small chance of fortune to the gold-seekers, who soon gave up the unprofitable work. The solitary miner of other days is not to be found to-day, except as a sort of a curiosity.

But there are mines of gold quartz, owned by rich capital ists having many workmen under their orders. The task is no longer that of working the surface-layers, but gold is sought in the depths, and complicated methods succeeds the old simplicity. Instead of the few implements of the surface digger, costly machines are used ; instead of picking the sur face-sand, which needed no initial outlay, it is necessary to sink pits, to bore long subterranean galleries, and to spend a large sum in preliminary operations. Any sort of immigrant cannot direct such works, but engineers are needed, special ists. This is so true that the land never reached its real value until organized mineral companies came to work it ; and then there was a revolution among the prices of the lots. Among other examples, they still tell at Butte that the Lexington Mine was got by A. J. Davis in exchange for a poor horse worth $20, and sold by him to a French company for $1,000,000. This is one case, and not an exceptional event. The gold-seekers saw a mine of quartz with the same eyes with which an ignorant man looks on a precious manuscript they could make nothing of it. There is the same difference between the placers of the earlier years and the deep mines of to-day that exists between the quarries where a mere peasant can extract the flints to pave a road to the mines of St. Etienne or of Cardiff.

A transformation has taken place in the physiognomy of these countries corresponding to the complete change in the methods of gold-seeking. In 1860 a hundred miserable-looking


AMERICAN LIFE. 159

sheds occupied the present site of Denver City. It was the headquarters of the miners in the Rockies, and one of the pleasantest gatherings of reckless men on the face of the Globe. Every evening, the majority of the population being dead- drunk, indulged in bloody rights, the result of quarrels at play, or simply of the love for revolver-shooting. For instance, it was a common joke to show one s skill by shooting between the legs of a dancer or by smashing the lamps hanging from the saloon-rafters. At this dangerous game a comrade might easily be hurt, and as he retaliated a general hubbub resulted ; the dead were picked up the next morning, and the saloon was crowded again, for its reputation had not been affected in the least degree by these little accidents.

Only the honest folk who were mixed with these brigands felt a distaste for such savage manners. Many stayed indoors every evening and tried to keep themselves unnoticed as much as possible. I knew a quiet wine and spirit dealer, who travelled among the Rockies for business purposes during twenty years, at the the time of the great rush of gold-seekers. It was an ex cellent time for pushing his goods, and he did not neglect to use it. "Very often," he has told me, "I did not carry any weapon and I never was uneasy. Whenever night came on I kept in my room, no matter what row I heard outside, for it would have been very risky to show my nose at the window, to discover who was being killed." Others took a more heroic attitude, and declared open war against the scoundrels, and tried to rid the earth of them. Lynch law was often used in those days. If an energetic Vigilance Committee got hold of a man convicted of murder or of theft, he was often arrested, tried, condemned and hung in less than a quarter of an hour. The Committee published a paper to denounce the guilty : the com positors never worked without revolvers close at hand, and the editor ran the greatest danger of being assassinated at the next street corner ; however, somebody was always ready to take his place, and others to avenge his murder and support his suc cessor.

The honest American has the excellent quality of not allowing himself to be crushed because he is honest ; for a law- abiding man is not necessarily one who shakes in his shoes, as


l6o AMERICAN LIFE.

is too often the case with us ; but, on the contrary, he thinks that his interest should be considered before that of a criminal or a gambler ; and, more than that, he has the necessary en ergy to resist, and the sort of life he leads makes him all the fitter to protest effectively, and to take the initiative and re sponsibility when circumstances demand grave measures. He is a man who spends his time in decisions, who makes up his mind every day, and does not enter some career at twenty, once for all, to find himself in it at forty, to grow old in it, and to give it up only when unable to go on any longer; but just the reverse of this: he begins to seek his fortune in one enter prise and continues to seek it, now lost, now found again, per haps several times, in a crowd of others; risking one day s profits in the new scheme of the next day ; always ready for every event ; never astonished at any reverse, and never hindered by any difficulty. Such a man never hesitates to put down, in the name of the higher interests he represents, any bandits who may compromise the future of a new land of bound less resources, in which he has settled and where he is anxious to make use of the riches it contains, and to raise himself to a superior position by his energy. That is why the corpses were suspended from the little wooden bridge across Cherry Creek, near Denver, twenty-five years ago ; and it is also because of this that Denver has become a pleasant city, where the stranger who comes to-day in the Pullman car can smoke his cigar at 10 o clock at night, in any street whatever, with less chance of an unpleasant scuffle than in certain districts of Paris.

Between the actual tranquility of these mining centres of the Rockies and the bad reputation they still have in Europe and in the Eastern States, there is a contrast which sometimes leads to amusing results. Among my baggage I had conscien tiously brought a revolver with the latest improvements, and a box of cartridges enough to make fifty of my fellow-beings bite the dust with a determined intention to go about armed on reaching " dangerous territories. But the

" Best-laid schemes o mice and men Gang aft agley,"

and I had completely forgotten the little arsenal lying at the bottom of my trunk, when, seeking some clothes one day, I


AMERICAN LIFE. l6l

discovered ball cartridges in my socks, among my handker chiefs, and scattered among my things. The box holding the cartridges had been broken by the terrible smashing of which American railroad employees are so prodigal, and its contents scattered on every side. Nothing was so laughable as these traces of vanished apprehensions and an energetic revolution so little justified by circumstances. Cosily settled in a comfort able room, heated by steam and lit by electricity and served by a rapid elevator, I was exactly like Tartarin de Tarascon landing at the grand hotel on the Righi, with his ropes round his body, his grapples, and his iron-shod shoes. My prudence gave me the enjoyment of a moment of gaiety, and by this little material incident, let me put my finger on the great change for the better that Denver has undergone since the times when heads were smashed there with so much readiness and good humor.

Denver not only affords every desirable security, but has be come a veritable centre of luxury and elegance. When one walks down Sixteenth street about 4 o clock on a beautiful sunny day, as is often the case there, when the sky is clear and pure, it is easy to imagine oneself in one of our European Win ter resorts. The ladies pass in elegant toilettes of American taste, to be sure, but indicating a refinement which is unexpected at mare than three days railway journey from New York. There are numerous elegant stores. The goldsmiths, jewellers and nicknack-sellers especially attract attention by the number and riches of their bangles. There are many merchants of curios and souvenirs, such as are found at Nice or Biarritz. The stones, the rare marbles and the delicate flowers of the Rocky Mountains give an excuse for the manufacture of fancy ornaments, small boxes, pretty albums, and a host of elegant objects which recall our Parisian articles. All these things carry you away a hundred miles from the prairie or the business bustle which is so manifest in most American cities.

The impression of luxury increases when one visits the beautiful residences on East Capitol Hill. The bankers, the owners of mines and smelting factories live there, and, indeed, all the rich people who have often come West from their homes


l62 AMERICAN LIFE.

in the East, with fortunes already made, to sink it in working mines that need their capitals. The composition of Denver is not the same as that of other Western cities of similar impor tance, such as Kansas City, Omaha or Minneapolis. There are more European families there and less of that restless activity and enterprising spirit which are so noticeable in the United States. This may seem strange at first sight, but it has an explanation. The gold mines that are worked to-day do not allow a man to rise so rapidly or so high as farming or speculation. A man cannot improvise as engineer or capital ist, no matter how supple he may be ; so, a working miner has many chances against his ever directing the shop in which he works. There is a barrier difficult to surmount between him and his employers. We have scarcely found this to a like ex tent in any of the branches of American activity already dis cussed. In stock-breeding or farming the barrier hardly exists, and the agricultural laborer passes without difficulty to the condition of proprietor of a homestead, for he has nothing to do but to take his 160 acres. In packing-houses and flour- mills, in the cattle and grain trades, master qualities are doubt less necessary for success, but these are natural ones, which are developed by experience and use ; an ordinary workingman may have them, and, with a little cheek and chance, he will get along much more easily than his emplo>*er s son, should he have less of these. We have already remarked that Pillsbury has turned out a hundred millers, now owners of important mills, in the twenty years he has been in business.

Here it is not the same at all, for the managers of mines and foundries must be skilled men. Theirs is a complicated art, based on a knowledge of abstruse sciences, and those who know it form a different class to those who carry out the oper ations they direct. Further, their special abilities are always in demand, instead of being without employment, as some times happens in countries producing too many engineers ; for few young Americans are inclined to undergo the long appren ticeship which such skill demands. Their situation is assured ; they draw a sure income from their professional knowledge, and, in a measure, show the characteristics of European offi cials. Thus, there exists a class of people in Denver, Lead-


AMERICAN LIFE. 163

ville, Butte, etc., who escape from the constant coming and going of American life. They form a separate element of the population, one which is more favorable to the idea of an easy life, that idea which we find so natural and which an American so rarely understands. When one is a master of some rare speciality, saved from all competition with his neighbor, and not affected by the change of commerce ; when one has only to look for another well-paid situation if the concern he serves should fail ; and when there is not great anxiety in life, there is every temptation to make existence as pleasant as possible. It is all the easier to do this when origin as well as profession exempt you from American influences, as is usually the case in many of the mines in the Rocky Mountains, which are managed by European engineers, who have come straight from their school without knowing anything of the education and customs of their adopted land. They are Europeans transplanted without needing to be acclimatized, because they find the conditions in the States somewhat similar in some points to those in Europe.

Everything conspires to make Denver an elegant city, a pleasure resort. Situated 5,250 feet above the sea, its air is light and marvellously pure, and through its perfect clearness a beautiful view can be got of the majestic and picturesque suc cession of mountains, almost always covered with snow, whose white outlines are clearly traced on a sky of spotless blue. The height is a guarantee against the heat of summer, which is hardly felt at Denver, and this attracts some visitors during the hot season. There is hardly any doubt that these lucky natural advantages, and the style of living that results from the presence of the administration of the mines and smelting- works, will soon make the town a centre of fashion.

There are characteristic symptoms of it already, especially the presence of a large number of Frenchmen, more or less rivals of Vatel, seeking a rich prey. In passing a group of people one sometimes hears scraps of French, and if he listens for a moment he is usually more inclined to go away as quickly as possible, than to stay and hold out his hand to his compatriots. One Sunday I heard French spoken by three young men who were walking together, and I listened for an instant to find out


164 AMERICAN LIFE.

what sort of folks they were. It did not take long to do so, for this was the first sentence I heard: u Ah, pour $a, mon vieux ! nous autrcs, les cuisinicrs, quand il sagit de boire, nous en sommcs to ujours ! " ("Oh, as to that, old man, when it comes to drinking, we cooks are always in it ! ") I quickly turned on my heels and fled.

Even at Denver, French cooking has important enough rep resentatives to let a small restaurant in the middle of the town be officially baptized with the celebrated name of Tortoni. This invocation of the boulevard in the Rocky Mountains shows, as well as anything else, the reputation to which Den ver is aspiring.

The number of Chinamen one meets is noteworthy. In the East, even in New York, there are a certain number of them doing laundry work. That is the only trade they follow there ; but here they follow many, some working in the mines, some acting as domestic- servants or serving in stores, and others even give themselves out as doctors. I read an amusing advertise ment one day in the Denver Times, of a certain Lee Wing, seller of Chinese medicines, who promised to cure a host of diseases, and protested against all suspicions of quackery by asserting his doctorial rank in the Celestial Empire. " Lee Wing," he said, "is not an ordinary empiric, but an intelligent Chinese gentleman, obliged to turn to selling his medicines, as the laws of the United States prohibit his practicing medicine by refusing to recognize his Chinese diploma." This gentle man, if he be one, is, at any rate, a rare conception, for Chinese immigrants are almost exclusively from the lower classes work men, domestic-servants, laundrymen or small tradesmen. That is the reason their arrival immediately lowers the price of manual labor. They generally accept work on any sort of con ditions, as they are usually incapable of setting-up for them selves and are accustomed to a very sober life. Hence the strong popular movement against them which has been shown several times in California; hence the massacres and vexations of all sorts of which they have been the victims. There are not enough of them in Denver to bring about such a crisis, but they play an important part there, as they help to emphasize the spe cial characteristics we have noted above, by becoming servants.


AMERICAN LIFE. 165

The lower-class Chinese do not leave home with the inten tion of becoming prominent citizens of the United States; but their sole aim is to gather a little money and then return to live at ease among their own people, whom they have left for a short time without any intention of abandoning them forever. They form a subordinate class and do not try to get higher. For this reason, true Americans have a deep antipathy to them, and try to keep out of their territory this race rebelling against their desires of bettering themselves. They fear too large an immigration of Celestials will compromise the future of their country by introducing an immoveable element into a society always on the move.

But Americans, who are less anxious about the future great ness of their country, who have not so much of this progress mania and a greater desire to enjoy life, are contented to find the servants, they cannot otherwise get, among the Chinese, and the careful and skilful workmen who will attend to every little detail, and so are capable of making fancy goods and other articles of luxury. The subordinate class, which is so irritating to the true Yankee, is most useful to all those who wish to enjoy the pleasures of life, of elegant habits and of true refine ment. A Chinaman makes an excellent chef, an obliging valet de chambre. He will prefer to attend to his master s nails than swing his pick in the mines, when he finds a master disposed to make him his manicure. Such masters cannot be found yet in Denver, but possibly they will soon be ; at least all is ready for them. The elements of what we in France call la grande vie exist here more, than anywhere else in the United States the elements of that existence about which some of our novel ists so complacently write, because it is the ideal of so many of our countrymen.

Denver has already quite a number of parasites, people who do not produce anything directly retail dealers and artizans, who live on the riches of the capitalists brought here by the mines and the smelting-works. One American whom I ques tioned as to how this population of 200,000 managed to live, told me it was an unsolvable problem for him. As permanent industry, there is nothing but four important smelting-works, and two or three tiny packing-houses. The inhabitants who do


166 AMERICAN LIFE.

not form part of the families of workmen in these places, must get the means of subsistence from the movement of money that goes on here. Banks are numerous, and the reason is easily discovered. I presented a letter of credit at one, and took advantage of the occasion to ask about the smelting-works one could visit. The Vice-President of this bank happened to own one, and kindly invited me to go over it with him. Most of the bankers are thus interested in the working of mines or of smelting-houses. That is what made Denver.

II. GOLD-SMELTING WORKS.

When visiting the gold-smelting works, I was principally struck by the capacity of the operations by which gold is ex tracted from its ore. The times when the miner put his nug gets into a^ bag every night and placed it under his head when sleeping, so as to diminish the chances of theft, evidently de parted long ago. To-day the miner cuts out blocks of rock, and this shapeless mass of ore is sent to the smelting-house to be treated there. Already this ore has gone through one operation. in the mine itself, where a lot of impurities are re moved by washing, before it is sent off. An outsider has much difficulty in recognizing the presence of gold or silver at all in the dark-colored blocks ; and much has still to be done in the smelting-room before the pure metal can be got. Firstly, the ore must be ground to powder, and for this it is thrown under a great steam-hammer, which quickly crushes it. Then the ore is thrown into the roasting-furnace, where it is purified from sulphur. Lastly, high furnaces give out a mixture of lead, silver and gold, which is run into long moulds. This is called bullion, or pig-lead. The smelting-works do not carry the process any further, but send off the bullion to the refineries, where the gold, silver and lead are separated.

Another difficulty must be added to these already complex processes. To know the worth of the ore and the proportion of gold and silver it contains, samples of the bullion of every different variety must be analyzed in the laboratory. The raw material is very costly and its price varies ; and the bullion sent to the refinery is a mixed product. There is thus a whole


AMERICAN LIFE. 167

series of problems which must be solved scientifically, for any empirical process admits too many chances of error.

Not only is it easy to be deceived about the amount of gold yielded by a mine, but also about its quality. I was shown some " fool s gold," a kind of false gold, which, it appears, often leads to serious mistakes. I seem to discover more and more that gold-seeking is not a trade for the first-comer, as in the times of the placers ; but to-day it has become an industry, scientific, complicated, and difficult.

Smelting-works, like mines, need a large floating capital. There were nearly 400 men in the one I visited, who were paid from $1.80 to $3.00 a day. The work went on day and night, and 275 to 300 tons of ore were smelted in twenty-four hours. That means a large sum to pay wages and buy raw material, and the cost of fuel must be added. The Globe Smelting-Works use 400 tons of coke, 300 tons of wood-charcoal and thirty tons of coal every week. Lastly, there is the upkeep of the costly machines which produce, distribute, and use the motive power, and of the high furnaces, etc., etc.

The expense of setting up such works is very heavy. They have lately built a new one at Great Falls, in Montana, which cost $1,000,000.

Such figures explain *how Colorado, Montana, Utah, and all the mining regions of the Rocky Mountains, have needed the help of powerful capitalists before their natural wealth could be used. These capitalists are not usually foreigners to Amer ica. The superior directing element which the mines of pre cious metal needed has been sent out by Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other great commercial industrial cities of the East. It is an analogous phenomenon to that we studied at the ranches, large farms and banks. It is interesting to find it in this new guise, because it is a confirmation of our ideas about the ability of Americans to direct every new movement that arises in any part of their territory.

Mines of precious metals have not customers everywhere, like coal or iron mines. Outside of goldsmiths, who use gold and silver as the raw material for their work, their only cus tomer is the Federal Government, which has a monopoly of the mint. Hence a difficulty. The government may or may


168 AMERICAN LIFE.

not buy the extracted metals. In reality, they take all the gold they can get ; but with silver it is a different matter, and this places the mining companies in a very embarrassing posi tion. The silver purchases having been very limited in recent years, a crisis has arisen ; several mines have stopped work, and others have struggled on with difficulty. The Silver Bill of 1890, inspired by a desire to satisfy electors in the Rocky Mountains, decides that the Government shall buy 4,500,000 ounces of silver annually, which is about the possible output of the mines actually worked. While the Silver Bill appears to put an end to the crisis by assuring sufficient outlet for the silver extracted, in reality it is only a temporary remedy. The advantage it gives to miners will soon bring about an increased production for the mines actually being worked and re-open other mines at present neglected. Consequently, in a short time the same phenomenon of over-production will occur and a new cure be needed.

The situation would be much simpler for the miner if the State allowed the free striking of silver as it does that of gold ; that is to say, if each holder of an ingot of silver could coin it and let it into circulation in that form. But free coinage has not yet been legalized. It is difficult to predict the effect of permitting this, as the economists, who know most about cur rency questions, are sharply grouped into mono and bi-metal- ists, the former maintaining that a single standard is the safe guard of public fortune ; the latter asserting that the adoption of a double standard would result in unprecedented prosperity.

Such divergences of opinion at least prove that the question of outlet is more complex for the miners and smelters of precious metals than that of technical difficulties. It is another reason why bankers should be the head men among them. Engineers are not enough to conduct an enterprise so closely connected with all the changes of the money-market. As it is, the production of gold and silver cannot have so certain a future as ranching and farming, being affected by a thousand different events. It may aid the material prosperity of the United States, but it alone is not enough to insure this; and it is well known that the countries which have the best share of gold and silver layers are often the poorest. Russia,


AMERICAN LIFE. 169

Siberia and certain States of South America are remarkable examples of this. If the riches of the United States grow at the same rate as the working of the mines, it is because it is a country of indefatigable producers. We have seen how Americans grow cattle and grain ; we will now observe them in a new sphere of activity in the world of industry.


CHAPTER IX.

THE BEGINNINGS OF INDUSTRY IN THE WEST.

I. THE AGRICULTURAL NATURE OF WESTERN INT3USTRY.

In the beginning of this book I contrasted the two parts of the United States I proposed to study the Agricultural West and the Manufacturing East. The division between them is not so clear nor so sharp that a mathematical point can be named where the one ends and the other begins ; for they in terpenetrate and are not simply in juxtaposition.

The East is driving back the West. As the land becomes peopled, as the soil gets exhausted, as the towns grow and as industry develops, the country assumes a new aspect and be comes Eastern. People no more come to seek land, but go away because they feel crowded. At the same time the region is no longer tributary to its older neighbors for the manufac tured goods it needs, but develops industries within its own borders.

Go to Chicago and you will see the point, or, at least, one of the most important points, where Western farming ends ; and you will also find Chicago is a manufacturing centre.

If you wish to study the history of industry, if you wish to know in what way it first developed in the States, you need not go to Eastern cities to Boston, New York, Philadelphia or Pittsburg but you must begin your investigation at Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City or St. Paul, where industry is making its first appearance. For this reason we shall go to the great cities of the Mississippi Valley and begin our study of a new form of American activity industrial labor.

Up to this point we have examined farms and mines, the products taken directly from the earth. We shall now see how another important form of activity is grafted on to this pri mary one, and that it, also, is organized in a characteristically


1/2 AMERICAN LIFE.

American way. We shall discover that it is already largely developed in the West, although restricted to a few objects.

Spinning and smelting are not found in Chicago or St. Louis, as in New England or Pennsylvania. There are industries, but industries of a special class, namely, those depending on agri culture or on transports.

Chicago, to which we must always return, as it sums up all the characteristics of a great Western city, is the capital of the railroads the place where most of the great lines meet and thus it is that all the produce of the country is so effectively drawn to Chicago. This enormous transport movement needs an immense rolling-stock. Hence arises an industry already highly developed, of which Chicago is naturally the centre, with all the more reason, as Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and, above all, Wisconsin, send her the raw material the timber.

The first great industry which is established, outside those of the packing-houses, flour-mills and dairies, where agricultural produce is worked up, is then an industry connected with transport. It is still indirectly, yet closely, related to agricul ture. It arises because cattle and grain must be sent to dis tant markets before being used ; while it, nevertheless, arises as a separate industry, and gives a manufacturing aspect to the place where it is practised, which makes them look some what like Eastern cities.

For example, everybody knows that the labor question is discussed at Chicago, and that strikes often break out there. The American and even the French newspapers often announce that this or that shop has stopped working. It is one point common to West and East. It is, therefore, necessary to visit other places besides packing-houses and elevators before giv ing a complete account of the essential features of Chicago. The making of railroad rolling-stock must be inspected. After visiting Armour we must call on Pullman.

II. _A MODEST INDUSTRIAL ESTABISHMENT IN THE WEST. THE WORKSHOPS AND CITY OF PULLMAN.

Mr. Pullman is the builder after whom the American wa gons de luxe the Pullman cars have been called ; but he does


AMERICAN LIFE. 173

not confine his attentions to turning out palaces on wheels. Ordinary passenger and freight-cars are also needed ; and, in deed, he turns out more freight-cars than anything else, for the number that are in circulation is infinitely greater than that of either sleeping or even ordinary passenger cars. An idea of the importance of his workshops can be had from the fact that a freight-car is turned out every quarter of an hour during the ten hours of each day s work. On the other hand, only three sleeping-cars can be finished in a week of sixty hours. Their cost is from $16,000 to $20,000 each.

The planning of these workshops is remarkable, and every detail seems to have been considered. To cite one point, the buildings in which freight-cars are built are a series of vast sheds as broad as the cars are long. Opposite each car a large bay opens on the iron way and a car, as soon as it is finished, runs along the rails and leaves the shop. All the timber that forms a car is cut to the required size and is got ready for fit ting together in a special department, whence it is brought along the same rails to the sheds where the car is built. Tiny little locomotives are running along the lines which are built in the spaces between the various workshops. Some are hauling magnificent Pullman cars, glittering with copper and gilding ; others drag trucks of planks, joists, bolts and the iron needed in car-building. Everything is done in order and with precision ; one feels that each effort is calculated to yield its maximum effect, that no blow of a hammer, no turn of a wheel is made without cause. One feels that some brain of superior intelli gence, backed by a long technical experience, has thought out every possible detail.

Besides the fitting-shops that deliver the finished car, there are many preparatory shops. The most important are the timber-shops, for wood is the raw material most used in the making of every kind of car; then comes the metal-works, wheel and bolt shops, forges, steel-works, etc., and then those which are more especially for passenger-cars, such as the hair cloth factory, etc., etc.

It is easy to understand the wonderful material complexity of such an enterprise. It needs a number of different kinds of factories which must be run for the common end. From the


1/4 AMERICAN LIFE.

purely industrial point of view, it is an interesting sample of the great American manufactories.

The Pullman Palace Car Company does not only make the rolling-stock, but it superintends the running of part of it over the whole surface of the States.

In fact, all the wagons de luxe on the American railroads be long to them, except those on the five lines owned or con trolled by the Vanderbilts, where Wagner palace-cars replace them. The Wagner palace-cars bear their inventor s name. Wagner was the first man to conceive a sleeping-car. He started a factory at Buffalo, and signed a contract with Van- derbilt for the running of his cars. When Wagner died, Vanderbilt got hold of his works, and to-day it is his heirs who own the Wagner Palace Car Company. Naturally, they have the custom of all Vanderbilt roads. But while Wagner was being absorbed by the powerful house of Vanderbilt, Pull man started an opposition business which soon surpassed its rival in the excellence of its work and in its better organization. That is why the Pullmans run over more than 60,000 miles of road without any legal guarantee of this monopoly, which they retain simply because of the advantages which they give.

The advantages are of more than one kind. As far as the companies are concerned, Mr. Pullman gives them a very large percentage for running his cars, and thus gets the preference ; and the comfort of the Pullman cars is made still more accept able to the public by the excellent organization of the service. For trie car is not only a good carriage, but also a first-class hotel, where you can sleep, eat, bathe, and, what is so rare in America, also find an attentive and polite servant, who will blacken your boots, brush your clothes, carry your bag and re ceive your "tip " with a smile. He is usually a negro or at least a mulatto but a negro properly and carefully dressed, with some external self-respect, and all the qualities of a good servant. The European experiences a veritable pleasure in finding this worthy man after leaving an American hotel, where personal attention is not at all understood, despite the luxury they display and the machines they own. But the traveller is astonished, as well as delighted. How is it that the Pullman Company have been able to get such a body of men together


AMERICAN LIFE. 1/5

in this country? How do they manage to keep it together on that vast net-work of American railroads, far from personal supervision ?

This is a problem that cannot be solved, or at least the solu tion cannot be understood except by visiting Pullman City, the town recently founded and built by Mr. Pullman, to hold his workshops and lodge part of his workmen. In seeing what colossal difficulties have been overcome in doing this, and what results Mr. Pullman has got, it is easy to understand how he has dressed the negroes as he has done. The demon stration is one by a fortiori.

Mr. Pullman s endeavor has been as follows : To mould not only a body of employees, but a whole population of work men and their families to ways of living which would raise their moral, intellectual and social level. Strongly imbued with the Anglo-Saxon idea, that exterior respectability aids true self-respect, he wished to test his theory on his workmen, and conceived the great plan which many treated as that of a madman ten years ago, and which everybody admires to-day in its realized form. This scheme was nothing less than to build a new town according to sanitary, healthy principles ; to make it not only elegant, but convenient ; and to transfer thither the workshops of the Pullman Car Company, and to lodge some of the workmen in it.

The plan was carried out to the letter. On May 25th, 1880, the works were begun on 4,000 acres of ground, which the Company had bought for the purpose, twelve miles north of Chicago, on a meadow near the shores of Lake Calumet, crossed by the Illinois Central Railroad. First of all, the future town was supplied with a complete system of sewers, designed so as to assure perfect healthiness, and then the water and gas mains were laid in every part. This under ground work being completed, the superstructure was begun. Besides workshops and houses, a hotel, a church, a library and a theatre were not forgotten, and everything was arranged with the greatest taste, any monotony being avoided by diver sifying the architecture and leaving wide spaces for streets between each row of houses, and by making promenades and squares, in which trees were planted.


176 AMERICAN LIFE.

There only remained the peopling of these pretty stone or brick-houses, so coquettishly built and so conveniently fitted up. The Company let them to its workers, and, in spite of the high rents, Pullman City soon had 8,500 inhabitants.

At Pullman City a suite of two rooms costs from $4 to $9 a month, according to its size and situation ; the dearest being those in small houses, which allow the tenant more freedom, for it is a great consideration in the eyes of Americans to have a home of one s own. The workmen who wish cheap lodgings live in large blocks, which Mr. Pullman built for this purpose. Large families, \vho need more than two apartments, can find the three, four or five rooms they seek at from $4.60 to $153 month. Detached cottages with five rooms rent at $16 to $20, and houses of from six to nine apartments at $23 to $100 per month. Of course, these are not workmen s dwellings, but resi dences for the managers at the works.

I have intentionally insisted on these prices because they show two characteristic features of Mr. Pullman s creation. In the first place, they prove that it is no charitable institution. Mr. Pullman has clearly said this to those who have asked him, and he said to me, " I have not contributed fifty cents to all that you see here. I never have had any idea of giving alms to my men, and every dwelling pays the rent it ought to do in order to give the company a sufficient revenue for the money sank in building Pullman City. "

In the second place their highness in price is easily explained by the conveniences of all sorts that the workman finds in these model dwellings. The housewives are especially loud in praise of the enormous simplification thus made in their daily duties: no more buckets of refuse to carry out to the pavement ; no more water to carry up; for all rubbish, sweepings, filth of every sorts, are at once let down into the underground sewers, which carry them to an immense reservoir. A powerful pump forces them three miles to a model farm, where Mr. Pullman has started market-gardening. Water-taps and water are abundant in every house.

A workman can set up house in Chicago for a little less than it costs him in Pullman City, but he must go to a badly-aired, unhealthy and hideous-looking district. Only men well


AMERICAN LIFE. 177

enough off to buy a house can have a comfortable home in Chicago.

Mr. Pullman wished to prove that it was possible for every body to have roomy apartments, supplied with every desirable modern improvement, without paying excessive rents. The quickness with which his houses have been occupied is a proof that he was right.

But Mr. Pullman aims higher than this. He is not only an intelligent and progressive builder ; he is also a mindful over seer, a man truly anxious about the moral progress of his work people. From this higher point of view Pullman City is of the greatest interest, for nowhere can one see a better example of how an American understands his duties as employer.

To prevent any misconception, I must explain that in Amer ica, as in Europe, many manufacturers do no trouble themselves about this duty, and deliberately set it aside. Mr. Pullman is thus far from representing the average type of an American employer of labor ; in fact, he is a specimen of the very high est type. In stating the motives which made him build Pull man City, I am not giving the reader a sample of the ordinary relations in America between master and men ; but I am show ing him what a noble-minded American employer considers his duty, when he seriously thinks of it at all. If you wish to com pare Pullman with some European manufacturers, you must select one who is famous for the institutions he has established for his men, and not the first great manufacturer of whom you think ; and it is only by doing this that your comparison will teach you anything. This being understood, let us see how Mr. Pullman was led to carry out his schemes.

I mentioned above that he wished to raise the moral, intel lectual and social level of the workingman by placing him in re spectable surroundings. That is his base of operations, but it has several accessory aids. One of the first of these is the ab solute prohibition of any saloon. ,He manages this by refusing to let any of his houses to any saloonkeeper, which he can easily do, as all belong to him ; and every tenant suspected of selling liquor is purely and simply asked to find a shelter else where. This is the only restrictive measure adopted by Mr. Pullman. Like many of his countrymen, he has seen the


178 AMERICAN LIFE.

ravages produced by an abuse of alcohol in all classes of Amer ican society, and especially among workingmen. He wished to remove the temptations to drink whiskey from his work men, and he has got a band of select men by this simple de vice. Indeed, drunkards, dissolutes and idlers, who are used to hanging about where the bottle is, have all fled from this temperance town, and only those of sober tendency remain. Add to this the fact that nobody is obliged to live in Pullman City, even among the workmen of the Palace Car Company, and it is evident that there is, properly-speaking, no compulsion at all. A houseowner who refuses to lease to an inn-keeper has never yet been considered a tyrant.

Beside this precaution against the entrance of a disturbing element, Mr. Pullman has neglected nothing that would help his workmen to develop intellectually and socially. He has founded a public library, schools and a church. One church was not enough for the needs of a community belonging to many religious bodies, so he has favored the erection of sectar ian churches. At Pullman City there is a theatre, large open spaces for the national game of base-ball, and numerous other attractions of a similar sort. There has been no wish to make a town of exaggerated austerity, but quite the opposite, as every honest means of recreation has been fostered.

These things are not given by Mr. Pullman to his men ; but, let me repeat it, they are offered to them if they care to pay the prices asked. With the exception of the public library which is an outcome of his personal liberality all the institu tions mentioned above are founded on the principle that each must contribute to their sustenance in the measure that he makes use of them. It is very remarkable that the workmen willingly accept the bargain offered. They pay more for their houses than they would do in Chicago, because they appreciate the advantages gained by so doing. They support the churches because they think them useful, and the theatre or base-ball because they wish to amuse themselves, without any of them needing to give a cent to the church, theatre or base-ball asso ciation if he prefer to remain sceptic or to amuse himself at home.

Mr. Pullman has thus thoroughly understood the aspirations


AMERICAN LIFE. 179

of the men in his factory ; he has not dreamt of an impossible material wellbeing, or a moral progress to which they are opposed. He has realized the practical maximum of material wellbeing that is suited to his men ; he has brought to their doors every means of moral and intellectual progress, and has kept away that great danger of large cities the saloon ; and lastly, he has been backed up in his work-shops. He has sup plied the necessary steps for those who wish to climb higher.

That is the essential feature of the oversight exercised by Mr. Pullman ; it is an oversight adapted to those who can profit by it. For French workmen there would be too much luxury in the fittings of the houses. They could not pay such rents out of their lower wages, and they would contract habits out of keeping with their means. The same drawbacks do not affect American workmen, who earn wages much higher than ours, and live a fuller life. Further, they have many chances of raising themselves to a better position ; and it is not imprudent to be preparing themselves for it. Another remark able feature is the absence of compulsion. I have already said that no worker is forced to stay in Pullman City. It is not an obligatory phalansterium ; no special restrictions exist, even for those who live there, except that prohibiting saloons. A visitor to the town is at once struck by its unusual appearance, for it is not only artistically built, but its inhabitants have also an air of carefulness and a look harmonizing with the frame in which they are seen. I spent a Saturday there. After midday most of the works were stopped and the men allowed a half holiday. I met gentlemen in the streets who, I was informed, were workmen walking with their wives or sweethearts. There was not a man in shirt-sleeves, as is so commonly the case in many American cities. The habit of outside propriety and dignity- is being developed here without any special prescription. It is enough to admit the workmen who wish a comfortable dwell ing to live in this town, built especially to satisfy them. A set of picked families has thus been formed, and they have shown an example to the others, who have followed it.

It has become the custom to doff one s hat when waiting for Mr. Pullman in his Chicago office. That may seem a simple matter to a French reader, but an American, who is not accus-


180 AMERICAN LIFE.

tomed to the habits of the place, stands stupified when he sees all the heads uncovered. Indeed, I have seen plenty people take it more at ease when with President Harrison, and I re member one man who kept his hat on his head when speaking to the Governor of Minnesota in his private-room, without the Governor thinking of telling him of his want of good manners. The introduction of a case of simple honest manners is one good result of Mr. Pullman s action.

On entering his reception-room one is face to face with a man very properly and carefully dressed, and perfectly calm. He willingly gives details and explanations about his work in Pullman City, and seems very anxious that his purpose should not be misunderstood. " People often deceive themselves about the idea which guides me in my work," he said. " For instance, it has been compared with that which your country man, Mr. Godin, started at Guise ; but there is not any relation whatever between his plan and mine. I have no wish to mix all my workmen in a vast community, but only to prove to them that decency, propriety and good manners are not unat tainable luxuries for them ; that it is not necessary to be loosely or carelessly dressed in order to do good work, to save money, and to raise themselves in the social scale. I have been un derstood, as you can easily see ; and owing to the favorable conditions of Pullman City, there is growing up a nucleus of families who are thorough believers in this idea, and who will adhere to those habits of respectability which I have tried to make general. I have been accused of being an autocrat and of shutting up my people in a gilded cage. That is another error, and the first of them you meet can tell you that I have not tried, in the slightest way, to interfere in any of their de cisions. Besides, I should not have gained my end had I forced them to fulfill it, for I wish to grow a reasoned-out convic tion, and not simply to force them to this or that way of con ducting themselves." " But," I said, " do you not wish to part with the ownership of these houses some day or other? Will it not be a great mistake to force your workers to be always tenants in this land where others come to have homes of their own?" " It is truly my intention," he replied, " to form an other town, near this one, where each resident will build a cot-


AMERICAN LIFE. l8l

tage after his own inclination, suited to his own needs, and which will be his own. I have already bought a large area of unoccupied land for this purpose, but I do not think the time has yet come for beginning this enterprise. If I had sold the sites to my workmen at the beginning of the experiment, I should have run the risk of seeing families settle who are not sufficiently accustomed to the habits I wish to develop in the inhabitants of Pullman City, and all the good of my work would have been compromised by their presence. But to-day, after ten years apprenticeship, several families have become confirmed in their habits, recognize the advantages of them, and will see that they are observed wherever they may settle. Such families form the pick, and I hope to sell the building lands near my workshops to some of them, little by little."

Such is Mr. Pullman s idea. Raise the workman whenever he shows any desire to get on, help him as much as possible, but do it in such a way as appeals to him ; that is to say, back up his goodwill, strengthen his resolutions, complete his im perfect capabilities; and when he has progressed enough to be able to go alone, let him develop freely by himself, cut the leading strings that have guided him so far, but which will now hinder his onward march. It is a lofty and just ideal. Here it has taken a particular form which cannot be copied in all its details elsewhere ; but, allowing for the special circumstances which accompanied the creation of Pullman City, it can safely be asserted that it is one of the best examples of true oversight that the great world of industry can exhibit.

I was in Chicago in 1890, just when the strikes had stopped the work in many factories. At Pullman City work went on actively. However, in 1885 an important strike took place there, and, after what Mr. Pullman told me himself, for ten days the men did not come to the works ; but at the end of that time they were tired of this, and, seeing that the Com pany neither made advances nor threats, they returned to work of their own accord.

This quiet, negative way of dealing with things is part of Mr. Pullman s system. He mixes very little with his men, and never concerns himself about their private affairs. The duties of management to which he must attend leave him little time


182 AMERICAN LIFE.

for details ; and the love of independence, which overpowers every other sentiment in the American, would not make the workers take kindly to such protection. When there is any ill feeling between them, he simply waits till it disappears ; but he prevents it as much as possible by altering the wages according to the state of the labor-market. The excellent planning of his works enables him to pay manual labor at a high rate, and statisticians report that its price is a little higher in Mr. Pullman s than in similar workshops. 1

All wages are paid by piecework, and vary greatly with the skill of the worker. True artisans, too, are to be found in Pullman, men who know their trade, which is quite different from the simple handwork which is often met with in manu factories. It is said that not one of these men earns less than about $3.60 a day. This explains how they can afford to pay such rents as are quoted above.

A large proportion of the tradesmen are foreigners. Only half the population of Pullman was born in America ; Sweden and Norway sent a seventh ; Germany an eighth ; then came in order of importance Ireland, Canada, England, Holland, Scot land, Denmark, Switzerland, France and Italy.

A word has yet to be said about the running of this large business. Mr. Pullman is the true and only master, although he does not own all the capital which is engaged. The Pull man Palace Car Company has issued shares of $100, which are sold to-day for $200, and are on the Exchange list ; but these represent only a small portion of the whole stock. The largest amount is in the hands of Mr. Pullman himself, the balance in those of two or three moneyed Chicago men, such as Armour, the great butcher, and Marshall, of the great drygoods store. In spite of appearances, the Pullman Car Company is thus one of the same sort of societies we have already seen at work when discussing railroads^ large ranches, packing-houses, flour-mills and elevators; it is a private undertaking, not an administra tive machine, like our joint-stock companies (soctitfs d action- naires). In fact one man really manages all this enormous amount of manufacture and transport, and he is the man who

I. Report of Commissioners of the State Bureaus of Labor Statistics on the Industrial, Social and Economic Conditions of Pullman ; p. 10.


AMERICAN LIFE. 183

made the business, as he is the man who made Pullman City. After what was told to me, Mr. Pullman must have begun life very moderately. It seems that his first business was that of moving houses ; and when a Chicago citizen wished to make his dwelling journey from one district to another, thirty years ago, Pullman furnished the means of doing this. It soon came into his head to build cars, and in 1867 he started the Pullman Palace Car Company, for the construction of sleeping-cars, copied from those invented by Wagner at Buffalo. The com pany was formed with a capital of $1,000,000, and to-day this amounts to $16,000,000. One can understand how a man who has had such a career, who has raised himself in such a remark able way, should be good at helping his workmen to better themselves. His own experience has taught him, better than any philanthropic theory could have done, how he could man age to exercise that effective oversight which lets the worker gradually do without supervision and really rise in the social scale.

ni. WHY MR. PULLMAN S EXAMPLE is RARELY FOLLOWED IN THE WEST.

The industry formed by Mr. Pullman is a typical Western industry, and in passing through the great cities of the Missis sippi Valey we come across several of the same sort factories for making cars, wagons, street-cars, etc.; but his example of high-principled oversight is rarely followed. I know well enough that everybody has not the means of accomplishing such a feat as building a town for his workmen ; but I must also remark that the industrial chiefs of the West usually con cern themselves very little about their employees, and do not seem to be very anxious either for their material or moral ad vancement.

At St. Louis, I visited a street-car factory where about a hundred men were employed, the majority being Germans, who had left their fatherland to seek work in the States ; some Irish, and a very small number of French and Americans. The manager who showed me over the place is an American of English origin, an excellent, well-meaning man ; but I could not discover that he had any efficient ideas about raising the




184 AMERICAN LIFE.

men to a higher level. True, he deplored the improvidence and agitation of the Irish, and praised the prudent character of the Germans ; but in vague terms, such as the first-come journalist would use. He did not speak to me thus from his own experience among the men, but was content with ex pressing a general opinion on a subject which did not specially concern him. He may be taken as the average type of a Western industrial chief. They are usually entirely taken up with the purely industrial side of their duties, and let their workmen put things to rights as best they can. When plenty orders come in, they give big wages to increase their staff, which they reduce without any scruple the minute they fear over-production. Strikes break out every now and again, but by some arrangement or another work is begun again, until a new strike happens, and so on. In short, it is a most un stable state of affairs, in which the American employees readily take their part, because of the vicissitudes of all sorts to which they have been accustomed, and which the workers can stand better than in Europe, because there are a greater number of trades in which they can be employed, and because it is easier to get work in the Western United States than in our manufacturing centres.

If you wish to embarras any of these masters ask him to bring you into touch with one of his men. Nothing could be more distasteful to him, because he is not in a position to do so, as he does not know them. He will tell you that nine- tenths of the workmen in Chicago live in houses that are their own property; he will give you the figures published by the building societies ; but he does not in the least know how his own workers live.

Whence this ignorance and indifference?

First of all, because Western industries are always found in great cities, where the men at any workshop disappear in a dense population. How could you expect the manager of the street-car factory which I inspected to discover his men scat tered through the suburbs of St. Louis?

Another reason is the uncertainty of custom. Everybody does not manage to develop such an exceptional situation, which defies competition, as that of Mr. Pullman. We have


AMERICAN LIFE. i 5

seen that they not only make palace-cars at Pullman City, but also ordinary passenger and freight-cars ; and they even build street-cars, when there is nothing better to do. But the number of customers and the advantage of a well-established reputation assures them almost constant orders ; and, further, the running of the palace-cars over more than 60,000 miles of road gives them one sure outlet for their goods. The Pull man Company is organized in view of a specialty in which it becomes nearer perfect every day, and of which it practically has the monopoly.

But the man who makes street-cars similar to those of a crowd of competitors is not sure of selling them. He some times makes them for far-off towns, and is obliged to dance attendance on customers, so as to snatch the order out of his rival s hands. The street-cars I saw at St. Louis were being made, some for Chicago, others for Kansas City. The wagons and the agricultural implements, which St. Louis makes in large quantities, are sent to New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and even Minnesota. There are no fixed customers, and not even a fixed area for sales. The lowness of railroad tariffs, due to competition, help that state of things, and the modifi cations that are constantly taking place in the country help to accentuate them. Sometimes, a town will develop all at once and be an unexpected outlet for the most varied indus tries ; then, just when these industries have become accus tomed to supplying it, similar ones are started in the town it self, and thus the market for outside goods is effectively closed. Sometimes a new railroad opens up a country hith erto inaccessible, as happened, for instance, twenty years ago, when the tracks were built across the Rocky Mountains and California united to the Eastern States. Or, again, a simple change of tariffs, or fight between two rival companies, may happen and change the old state of things.

Western industries are particularly susceptible to tariff changes, because of the nature of the things they make. A street-car or a wagon is a very cumberous object, especially considering its value, and the cost of transportation has a great effect on its price to a customer.

The whole of these circumstances, taken together, make cus-


1 86 AMERICAN LIFE.

torn very uncertain, and often bring about crises of overproduc tion, which determine the dismissal of workmen and often the ruin of the masters. Western industrial chiefs usually attribute these crises to an overdevelopment of the towns, and I have heard these complaints made on several occasions, but cannot be lieve they give the true explanation. For, in the first place, the reasons I have given are enough to explain overproduction ; and, secondly, it is impossible to bring about an equilibrium between the cities and country in the West, as neither of them has yet attained its normal development. This adjustment will become stable quite naturally hereafter, and the present oscillations are only helping to bring this about. In fact it is just as easy to support the contradictory opinion and maintain that the Western cities are destined to become industrial in the future, and that the first symptoms of this are beginning to appear.

It is quite certain that the West will not always be depen dent on the Eastern manufacturer ; and factories, which by their location should soon supply the needs of the Mississippi Valley, are being built at present in St. Louis, Chicago, Milwau kee, etc. To-day they are few and far between, and still in the first experimental stage ; and the men who run them are fight ing against the first difficulties of a new concern, and have little time for the higher duties of a master. This is an addi tional reason to those mentioned above.

At St. Louis I visited a shoe-factory where 400 men were employed. If it succeeds it will be three or four times as large in a few years. To do this it is necessary to put it in the best condition for turning out goods cheaply to intro duce every mechanical invention which will da away with handwork. For instance, ingenious machines fix the heel of a shoe in one movement, cut and sew 4,000 buttonholes in a day, shape the soles, stitch, tack, polish, cut the bits of leather given, etc., without the workmen who look after them being shoemakers. It thus happens that very elegant shoes can be bought at very moderate prices about the same as in Europe. Handwork is paid at a higher rate than with us, for girls earn from $ i .00 to $ i .20 a day ; but the machines make things about equal. Thus, with an average salary of about $2.50 for men


AMERICAN LIFE. 187

and $1.00 to $1.20 for women, ladies shoes can be sold for $3.00 and men s for $3.60 to $5.00. True, the leather has been tanned by a process which burns it, and the shoe, which looks well in the showcase, loses its shape when it is worn, lets in water when it rains, or bursts when it becomes too dry. The American does not seek anything durable, however, and this production suits him. It must be added that a real shoemaker charges $12.00 for a pair of ordinary shoes ; for when one must have handwork he must pay dearly for it, which greatly re duces the number of customers.

St. Louis and Milwaukee are famous for their breweries. Anheuser-Busch, one of the best makes in the United States, is a St. Louis beer; and Milwaukee has a well-known trade in table-beers. Here, again, we are dealing with a business closely related to agriculture, because of the large quantities of barley it uses ; but the West is far from having a monopoly of brewing, for there are more breweries in Boston than in St. Louis. If they are less spoken of in Boston, it is mainly because they are lost in the midst of the powerful industrial movement which stirs in both the town and country districts of New England.

The absence of iron industries is a fact which clearly indi cates the embryonic staff of Western manufactures. There was not a single locomotive factory in Chicago in 1890, although it is probably the greatest railroad centre in the world. I was told, as a piece of interesting news and as a sign of considerable progress, that the first factory of this sort was soon to be started. The beds of coal and minerals have hardly been worked yet in the Mississippi Valley, while on the slopes of the Alleghanies there have been enormous quantities of coal and iron mined during the past thirty years. The industry which created Pittsburg and made Philadelphia and New Eng land so important, has developed with prodigious rapidity in this very district ; and there we must go to study this inter esting phase of American life.

This time we definitely say good-bye to the West. Though we may still borrow a few of its features which are character istic of the national genius, we shall no longer consider the part it plays in the productive activity of the United States.


1 88 AMERICAN LIFE.

We practically finished that when we had studied its agricul ture ; for the industrial life, however active it may appear to be there where it does arise, is only a subordinate phase, not an essential element. With a certain measure of truth it may be said that the West is related to the East as certain colonies are to their metropolis. It is the mart whither the East is constantly sending its manufactures in greater quantity, just as India is the great market for Manchester cotton. Of course, I do not mean to compare the two absolutely. This compari son, like every other one, is somewhat lame ; however, it is true enough that the respective situations of the two parts of the United States are at once so different and yet so like, that they offer the most marked contrasts in their economic con ditions, but are animated by the same enterprising spirit, and are beginning to grow more like each other as the progress of colonization reduces the amount of virgin land in the Far West.

When that happens the unity of America will be revealed with surprising distinctness.


CHAPTER X.

THE MANUFACTURERS OF THE EAST. THEIR PREDOMI NANCE. UNITY OF TYPE. ABUNDANCE OF COAL AND NATURAL GAS. SOME EXAMPLES OF LARGE FACTORIES.

I. THEIR PREDOMINANCE.

In passing through Pennsylvania or New England, especially the latter, one is struck by the marked contrast presented by the various districts. Now one passes through a region almost deserted ; now sloven farms alternate with vast areas of terri tory, half forest, half pasturage ; farm-buildings, partly in ruins, testify at once to the former prosperity of the agricultural industry and to its present collapse ; then, all at once, on rounding a hill, one comes upon a busy valley, its slopes dotted with charming cottages, while at the further end rise the immense blocks of buildings and tall chimneys that tell of the factory. A small town has sprung up around there and has drained the neighboring country of its population. The indus trial life has succeeded the homestead life, and the general aspect of the country bears witness to the transformation. In fact, the Eastern States have undergone a profound change during the last thirty years. Manufactures sprang into exist ence in the East as if by magic, owing to various causes arising out of the Civil War, and settling on the Western prairies put an end to Eastern farming. This is easily understood. If in Europe we have suffered from the competition of Dakota and Minnesota in the production of cereals, how much more would this competition make itself felt in a country near at hand and subject to the American law, which forbids the levy ing of duty, and admits no protective tariffs in the interior. More than this, Massachusetts wheat, sowrt by agricultural


IQO AMERICAN LIFE.

laborers paid $20 a month, put into the same market as wheat from the West, found itself at a greater disadvantage than French wheat produced by labor four or five times cheaper. In other words, the virgin soil of the West was pitted against the exhausted land of the East, without any kind of counter balance. The Americans express this in the brief death-pro nouncing sentence : Farming does not pay in the East.

Farming not paying, the Yankees wasted no time in lamen tations. Those who wished to continue on the land went where they could work it with profit ; the others turned to manufactures, and the patrimonial domains of New England disappeared. Here and there some representative of the old Puritan families is still to be found, attached by tradition to the home of his fathers and to their ways of life ; but such exceptions are rare.

Statistics confirm this state of things by proving that the cultivation of wheat has sensibly declined in the East. The States further advanced in the industrial movement, Massa- chussetts, for instance, produce none at all.

The sole remaining agricultural establishments are the market-garden and the dairy, both of them necessary to sup ply the daily wants of the neighboring towns. In the East, then, farming does not give rise to the towns, as we saw was the case in the West ; it is the towns that maintain what little farming is left. The revolution is complete; the Manufactur ing East is opposed to the Agricultural West.

We must not lose sight of the fact, however, that represen tatives of the families of New England and of other Eastern States usually are at the head of Western settlements. It would be a grave error to suppose the inhabitants of Massa- chussetts or New York incapable of interesting themselves in agriculture. The reasons which render its pursuit impossible in this part of the United States are due to economic, not to social conditions. These may disappear any day, and we shall discover certain facts favorable to this transformation, what is already foreshadowed.

Even now one notices in the general habits of the people many evidences of such a tendency. In New York, Boston and Philadelphia, I have often met people engaged in city life


AMERICAN LIFE. IQI

who owned a small farm which they cultivated for pleasure. A physician, for example, was making experiments on a small property which he was cultivating scientifically with fertilizers, regardless of expense.

" It costs me more than it brings in," he confessed, " but it is a luxury I allow myself, because I have great natural taste for farming." A lawyer and an agent made me similar confi dences. All these people would probably turn to farming if it paid.

But the actual situation is altogether in favor of manufac tures. If one were to continue farming in the East, it would be necessary for him to avoid the effects of competition by living frugally on the produce of the land, and be thankful if the year ended without a lack of the necessaries of life. But this does not suit the American. It is all very well for the French-Canadians of the Province of Quebec, in Canada, to whom the price of food is of little moment, and who are con tented with a small and safe fortune. As for the American, he wishes his work to pay, and he quits one calling the moment he sees another that promises to pay better.

This tendency helps to intensify the economic ups and downs. In the present case it explains the complete tri umph of the industrial workshop over rural occupations, of the factory over the farm.

The land being thus out of the question, all American life in the East depends on industry. Everything else is accessory; for the trader, the banker, the lawyer, the doctor, the journal ist, etc., are only parasites. They produce nothing directly, but live by rendering services to those who do. In the West their fortune is founded on the development of agriculture ; in the East it depends on the development of manufactures.

II. UNITY OF TYPE.

The manufacturing industry is not only dominant in the East, but it has only one form the mill or factory. One can readily see this for himself without many inquiry or any spe cial study of the industry. Enter the first store you come to anywhere in the United States to buy anything whatever, and


IQ2 AMERICAN LIFE.

if you wish a highly-finished article, demanding the genuine professional skill of the professional craftsman, you will have much difficulty in finding it ; if you do get it, the price asked will be enough to prove its exceptional character. Uusually it will have been imported from abroad, for the American, rarely an artisan, is still less an artist ; he is a factory-hand, turning out articles by the dozen or the gross.

Many trades, which, with us, are carried on by master tradesmen, who have served a long apprenticeship, are scarcely known in the United States. The processes they employ, de manding much handwork, would be very costly here, owing to the price of hand-labor, and, consequently, they could be applied only to articles of luxury, which it is easier to import from Europe. When speaking of the West I showed how the shoe-factory tended to drive out the shoemaker. It is the same with the saddler, the harnessmaker, the coachbuilder, the sailor, the carpenter, the blacksmith, the plumber, and even the watchmaker, the goldsmith and the jeweller, who might have been expected to escape this fate of absorption. There are harness-factories, buggy-factories, factories for ready- made clothing, where the sewing-machines are driven by steam ; factories for doors, windows, farming-implements, watches, plate, etc.. etc.

Unlike farming, which takes many forms, manufacturing in the United States has but one ; it develops in colossal estab lishments, requiring considerable capital and employing many hands.

This is an important fact. It dominates the whole industrial regime of the United States. It is due to several causes, of which the following are the most salient :

Firstly, the dearness of hand-labor, with the result which I have shown above. Nothing gives a stronger impetus to ma chinery than the necessity for new inventions to answer pro duction at a cheaper rate. This condition, coupled with the restless, inquiring disposition of the American Nation, must end fatally in excess of mechanism, and, as a consequence, we have the enormous factory.

Secondly, the American workmen are chiefly Europeans who have crossed the Atlantic in search of fortune, not knowing


AMERICAN LIFE. 193

how it was to be attained, and possessing no craftsmanship. What such people want is a mechanical tool to direct, some de tail easy to supervise, and not a whole to execute. The great factory, with machines of every construction permitting ex treme division of labor, and reducing apprenticeship to a mini mum, suits them admirably. As to the native Americans, they are equally suited by industrial organization which admits fre quent changes of employment without this perpetual coming and going being followed by disastrous results. This agrees with their conception of life ; they have a horror of a career of which they see the end on entering it. They wish to modify the employment of their activity according to circumstances. Buyers, indeed, might demand finer workmanship and more originality than the factory article offers, but they never dream of such a thing. They are not fastidious ; taste does not come into play ; ostentatious luxury, comfort that makes a show these are what they love, and not discreet and elegant refine ment. Machines can satisfy such tastes, and so they find new allies in the buyers. Finally, the customers are widely spread, which is also favorable to the manufacturing domination. A few miles from Boston I saw boots at $2.00 a pair, manufactured for the negroes of the South and the colonists of the West. A man skillful enough to turn out a similar pair of boots at $1.50 would be almost certain of a rapid sale for his goods, as his factory would have a monopoly of the trade with the South ern negroes and the Western settlers.

Ill THE ABUNDANCE OF COAL AND NATURAL GAS.

The richness of the coal deposits is yet another factor to be considered in accounting for the great leap of the United States into industrial activity. The basin of the Apalaches, which runs along the Western base of the chain and extends through Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama, con tains immense mineral resources, partly unexploited. Until now Pennsylvania almost alone has yielded any of its treasures. Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama are still suffering from the crushing effects of the Civil War ; they are peopled by a less active and less enterprising race, that has not sunk mines, and


194 AMERICAN LIFE.

it would need the capital of New England to render their natural riches available. Doubtless this will be speedily forh- coming.

We must turn to Pennsylvania, then, to get an idea of the influence of abundance of coal in developing manufactures. There are many mining districts which find the great industries of Philadelphia, of New York State and of many other centres, more or less distant. Pittsburg and its environs are the most remarkable of all, for there mining and manufacturing have developed side by side. " The celebrated coal bed of Pitts- burg, " says M. de Lapparent, in his "Treatise on Geology" (page 7/6), " extends uninterruptedly, with a varying thickness of from one to three yards, across a territory not less in area than 226 miles by 100. The outcrop of the bed follows the course of the River Monongahela for a very long way, and so it is specially easy to work. " This explains how the whole country has been transformed within forty years. Not only has Pittsburg increased to 200,000 inhabitants in a few years, but other towns have grown up beside her, all grouped around the same works and depending on them alone for support. Such are the young cities of Alleghany, in reality a suburb of Pitts burg ; Mansfield, Monongahela City, Braddock, Edgar, etc.

I arrived at Pittsburg at night, having come from the East by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and I shall never forget the extraordinary impression this journey made upon me. Especially after Connelsville, the horizon was illuminated every minute by the vivid brightness of long rows of coke-ovens, which gleamed from afar in the surrounding darkness ; while floods of brilliant sparks showering from a foundry produced the illusion of a great fire. The track ran along the bank of the River Youghiogheny, one of the upper affluents of the Ohio, and the reflexion of the fires in its waters increased the weirdness of the scene. At way-stations the little towns were illuminated by great torches, burning with a long yellow flame, which gave a peculiar appearance to neighboring persons and objects. That was my first sight of natural gas, whose recent discovery has so greatly enhanced the prosperity of Pittsburg.

This natural gas is a kind of petroleum in a gaseous state. " We believe," an engineer of the Philadelphia Gas Company


AMERICAN LIFE. 195

said to me, " that natural gas is an exhalation from petroleum ; or, if you prefer it, that petroleum is condensed natural gas."

It is usually found at* a dept of from 1,500 to 3,300 feet be low the surface. Very narrow shafts are drilled by steam- power, and each time the borer has to be renewed the work men carefully examine the adhering sand, and from its nature they infer with certainty whether or not they are near a stratum of gas. The gas, owing to its great lightness, rises to the surface whenever a connection is made to the open air; and nothing more has to be done except to lay the pipes, which will carry it where it is needed. This well is a gas-work pro vided by nature.

Mr. George Westinghouse, universally known as the inven tor of the compressed air-brake used on the railroads, was the first to utilize natural gas in the Pittsburg district. To-day the Philadelphia company of which he is president distributes more than 400,000,000 cubic feet per day convincing proof of the worth of his idea.

At the present moment it is natural gas that supplies all the motive power necessary for the industries of Pittsburg. In the first place, the town has a less sombre aspect ; it is no longer the " Smoky Town," a name well-deserved from its being con stantly shrouded in thick clouds of black smoke belched forth from the numerous chimneys of its works. The combustion of natural gas gives off incomparably finer smoke than pit coal an important point as regards health and cleanliness, and a precious boon to the people of Pittsburg. Secondly, hand- labor is economized. Instead of a dozen men, naked to the waist, continually shovelling coals into the grates, one man can now overlook several. He seats himself near the boilers, leisurely reads his paper, rising only from time to time to reg ulate the consumption of gas, to keep the temperature even. With a little care this can be done to perfection, for by turning a simple key, the quantity of gas and the resultant heat can be lessened or increased at will. With coal only an increase can be made, for one can throw more on, but one cannot take any off. Finally, storage space for coal is not needed. Add to this that when natural gas is used, no important alterations in the construction of the boilers is needed, and you will understand


196 AMERICAN LIFE.

how it has taken the place of coal everywhere when found near enough.

The gas consumed in the Pittsburg works comes about nine teen miles, and is led in cast-iron pipes usually placed on a level with the ground. The Americans do not like useless complications, and they think it is better to run the risk of a few accidents, than to fetter the free exercise of a profitable industry. That was the reason the proprietor of a gas shaft gave me, when I expressed my astonishment at seeing his pipes laid across a field of clover. If a narrow valley has to be crossed, the pipes are sometimes laid on a light wooden frame-work. But this is not from prudential reasons ; but when the wooden frame-work is used it prevents a siphon being formed and saves piping, that is all.

By such cheap and simple means, Westinghouse can supply natural gas to the manufacturers of Pittsburg at five cents per hundred cubic feet. It is calculated that 1,000 cubic feet of gas give a heat equal to that produced by eighty-two pounds of Pittsburg coal. The gas has thus the advantage of being cheap.

The introduction of natural gas has stimulated the already active works of Pittsburg to still greater activity. The ques tion is, how long will this marvelous natural wealth last? Certain shafts that were very productive five or six years ago are now almost exhausted ; the supply from others has dimi nished, owing to the sinking of neighboring shafts which feed at the same source. It is, therefore, impossible to foresee the future of natural gas in the development of American indus tries. In the meantime it brings in handsome profits to the companies that exploit it, and the great manufacturer of Pitts burg, Mr. Andrew Carneggie, for example, has secured the proprietorship of a certain amount of territory in the gas field, in order to supply himself with gas for his works. Should these be quickly exhausted, the coal still remains.

IV. SOME LARGE FACTORIES.

In this favored place factories spring up as by enchant ment ; machinery has reached its highest development, for in


AMERICAN LIFE. IQ7

Pittsburg we find inventors of world-wide reputation. I have already mentioned Mr. Westinghouse ; Edison has one of his principal electrical establishments in Pittsburg. But the king of the town is Mr. Andrew Carneggie, the iron-master and arch-millionaire, who, it is said, landed in the United States twenty years ago with twenty-five dollars in his pocket. In one of his establishments, near Pittsburg, he employs 4,000 workmen and produces 1,400 tons of steel-rails a day.

These industries are sure of a great body of customers in the numerous railroads that cover the surface of the Union, and it is their importance that explains the gigantic Pittsburg shops, as it explains Pullman at Chicago. The rapidity with which they have been constructed explains the rapidity of Pittsburgh growth. They are co-related phenomena. At Philadelphia I visited the immense Baldwin Locomotive Works. They occupy six enormous blocks, and can turn out five complete locomotives daily ; they employ 3,000 persons receiving on an average more than $2.00 a day. Many of the workmen are trained, having worked in these works from boyhood. In going through the work-shops I saw youths of not more than fifteen years who had begun their apprenticeship, and who would subsequently rise to earn large salaries. These boys are paid also, and their earnings are reckoned in the average of $2.13 a day, as was mentioned to me. Owing to the nature of the work most of the handwork is paid by the piece, and certain workmen make as much as $4 a day.

The history of the firm of Baldwin, now managed by three partners, Messrs. Burnham, Parry & Williams, is very curious. Mr. Mathias Baldwin, its founder, a native of New Jersey, was a goldsmith and jeweller in his youth. This did not prevent him from joining a certain David Mason in the manufacture of cylinders for printing calico. As the enterprise developed, steam was introduced as a motive power, and Baldwin, dis satisfied with a steam-engine he had bought, imagined he could construct one better adapted to the purpose. He succeeded perfectly in this attempt, and this success gave him the idea of applying the special aptitude for the construction of steam engines, which he found he possessed, to locomotive building.


198 AMERICAN LIFE.

This is one example among many of the way in which the most celebrated manufacturers of America have begun business. In this respect I believe Europe resembles America. The great works I saw were not started by engineers who had had fifteen years of professional study. Neither Baldwin nor Carneggie nor Westinghouse was destined by his family to become a savant. They did not spend their youth before blackboards, solving scientific problems; but at the age of fif teen or sixteen were placed face to face with the practical problems that arise in business. They have since invented simpler methods to attain some determined end, and have mastered the necessary knowledge as they needed it. What is remarkable in them is that they possess the faculty of or ganization along with the faculty of invention. Mr. Westing- house, for example, has taken out sixty-six patents for the construction of his compressed air-brake. Sixty-six times he has made an improvement sufficiently important to rank as a useful discovery. But he is not a laboratory inventor ; he is the head of a manufacturing-house and manager of his works at Pittsburg, finding time to exploit natural gas, besides being obliged to face all the economic and social difficulties that crop up in such great enterprises.

I visited the works of Mr. Carneggie in the company of a youth of sixteen who was already initiated in the great busi ness of the house and who was serving his apprenticeship to the business. Though a mere boy in appearance, his conver sation gave evidence of precocious maturity. On our way to the works we chatted on a variety of subjects, and he questioned me regarding the habits of young men in France, their tastes and their aspirations. His questions were sensible and weighty, and my patriotism was sometimes hard pressed in replying. When I had satisfied his curiosity, he said : " I see how it is young Frenchmen are like the fellows I met in Washington, an easy going sort of people." He did not long for an easy life, but for activity, and his youthful enthusiasm kindled in the most artless way when I spoke of the wonderful career of his master, Carneggie, or of some other well-known Pittsburg man. Such men are splendid specimens of humanity, heroes in the battle of life, who ennoble their great wealth by the use they


AMERICAN LIFE. 199

make of it ; who never believe that they have earned the right to repose, to enjoy the fruits of their toil ; but who march on till death, as if called to pursue an end always in front, no mat ter how far they advance. Not only do they not amass to en joy, but they show themselves generous and full of solicitude for those of humbler station. At Pittsburg, Mr. Carneggie has recently founded a public library, which he has magnificently endowed to the extent of $350,000, as well as giving it securi ties which bring in a perpetual annual income of $50,000. He wishes that all Pittsburg workmen should find the meanso f in tellectual improvement there; this is, doubtless, indirect pa tronage, but it is very American. No compulsion is exer cised ; one simply places within the reach of those who wish to rise what will aid them in so doing.

At the Baldwin Locomotive Works I was shown a cheap restaurant, established by the " Neighborhood Guild Associa tion," for letting workmen dine in the middle of the day with out going home, thereby saving time and saving them from the mercy of the neighboring cookshops. I copied the bill-of-fare for the day I was there, and I give it here for your information. I may add that the cleanliness was perfect, what you do not generally find in a German restaurant serving the following repast for fifteen cents :

Roast Beef or Roast Lamb ;

Vegetables and Soup ;

Coffee, Tea or Milk;

Bread and Butter.

Those not satisfied with the above could have the following extras:

Soup, 3 cents;

Pastry, 5 cents;

Rice-Pudding, 5 cents;

Coffee, Tea or Milk, 3 cents ;

Coffee, Bread and Butter, 5 cents.

The American employers do not try to advance the material and moral wellbeing of their workmen by institutions of this kind; the men are too jealous of their independence not to


200 AMERICAN LIFE.

resent such direct patronage, and the manufacturers, occupied with grave affairs, rarely descend to such details, although some encourage all efforts in this direction as much as possible. It is so at the Baldwin Works. In their immediate neighborhood rises the establishment of William Sellers & Co., employing only from 500 to 700 workmen. Here the finest iron and steel-work is executed. Almost all the new machines are constructed in these workshops, as well as many delicate instruments of the utmost precision ; and though the stock of tools is excessively complicated, the work of each individual is, nevertheless, of amazing simplicity ; still only experienced workmen are em ployed here. The manager explained that no man is admitted to the works under twenty-one, except as an apprentice. Ob viously, here is a very exceptional industry for the United States. This is not an occupation that one can quit and take up at will ; it is a genuine handicraft. Several workmen, the manager told me, had never worked elsewhere, but remained with the firm because of their specialism.

Alongside the iron industry, which ranks first in Philadel phia, without entirely absorbing it, as at Pittsburg, are the textile industries, manufactures of cloths, carpets, shoes ; sugar- refineries, breweries ; and here reappears the instability so characteristic of the American industrial workman. The Americans themselves recognize it. "The most striking pecu liarity that characterizes the factory workman of Philadelphia," says Mr. Lorin Blodget, the eminent statistician of the town, " is the ease with which he passes from one employment to an other. !

The large number of works in Philadelphia helps to exag gerate this tendency still more ; for, without changing his abode, a man can run through a whole series of diverse indus tries, according to the whim of the moment.

One of the most important factories for textile fabrics in Philadelphia is that of Mr. Dobson, situated near the Schuyl- kill Falls, on the borders of Fairmount Park. He employs 5,000 hands, nearly half of whom are women and children. The wages are very high ; I am told on an average the

I "The Industries of Philadelphia ; " p. 31.


AMERICAN LIFE. 2OI

children receive $I.OO a day, and the less skilful have $4.00 a week ; while the women can earn as much as $2.00 a day. That is about the average pay of the young girls I saw working in the " pattern-room," where the coloring and correctness of carpet designs are tested by comparison with the model, and by the actual counting of threads. After some practice, the girls know the different patterns by heart and get through their work with great rapidity. One sees that even in the case of women, high wages do not always imply special skill. Men make from $3 to $4 a day. They do not have separate workrooms ; everywhere we find them working in the same room along with women and children, without its lead ing to any serious inconvenience from a moral point of view. Accustomed to attend mixed schools, trained from his in fancy to regard woman as a being worthy of every consider ation, the American associates with young girls in the daily contact of the workroom without danger. Besides, the exi gencies of the work make this mixing of the sexes almost inevitable. In France, where it has often evil effects, one can seldom avoid it, except in certain special industries.

I do not wish needlessly to continue the enumeration of the factories I had occasion to visit. It enters neither into my plan, nor is it in my power to give a technical description of them ; but I have merely indicated to the reader the consider able importance which they generally attain. Notwithstanding this, they are mostly the property of a few individuals. I have seen one foundry that paid $200,000 monthly in wages,, implying corresponding outlay for general expenditures, pur chase of raw material, etc., and this, foundry, as well as the mines, the supply of natural gas and other accessories, was in the hands of seven partners.

But it does not follow that corporations are never formed for the promotion of industrial enterprise. They do exist ;; often, however, they are controlled by one large shareholder,, who is practically master of the business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in Massachusetts has published interesting documents on this subject, according to which 924 establish ments in this State were in the hands of private firms and 440 were managed by corporations. The figures of 1889 show a slight increase in the number of the latter.


202 AMERICAN LIFE.

The rise and development of the great manufactures in the East have brought about quite a revolution in the social con dition of the majority of the citizens. Formerly not more than fifty years ago the nation, almost entirely agricultural, numbered chiefly independent proprietors, a few tenants, a few rich men and many farmers. Such was New England in those days. We have seen something analogous in regions of certain Western States. Ownership was the rule.

With the advent of the great industrial system, ownership has become rare; it belongs to the few. One single individual can direct several hundreds, often several thousands of work men, and these are so many lives dependent upon him. That the men may be as certain of their wages as they formerly were of the produce of their lands, demands the concurrence of very many conditions. Foremost among these is the estab lishment of a labor-market ; the rate of wages must be agreed upon by all parties concerned, otherwise the factory system cannot exist ; nor must this arrangement be disturbed, as it involves stoppage of work and precipitates a crisis.

The Labor Question has arisen with its menacing problems. We shall see how they attempt to solve it in the United States.


CHAPTER XI.

THE LABOR QUESTION. SIGNS OF MISERY. SIGNS OF WELLBEING. WHENCE COMES THE CONTRAST ?

Like most human affairs and like all complicated problems, the Labor Question presents varied aspects, according to the different industries that are studied and the workmen that are observed. It is clear, for example, that on returning from Pullman City one is conscious of being favorably impressed ; whereas, in visiting certain quarters of New York, on the East side of the city, the heart is veritably torn with anguish. Time must be given for these emotions to subside ere one can judge calmly; in any case it is essential to guard against forming a dogmatic opinion. For the sake of order and clearness, I have classified my observations under two heads which sum up their opposite character, the one group revealing a great amount of misery among the working-classes, the other evidencing their undoubted prosperity ; and I shall afterwards try to point out how these two opposing elements seem to be distributed and what is their importance ; but, I repeat, I only give mere indi cations to the reader.

I. SIGNS OF MISERY.

There is one that cannot be ignored ; it is the greatest of all : I refer to strikes. There are always frequent disputes between American masters and men in the labor-market, which is indis- pensible to the working of the factory system.

Mr. Carroll D. Wright, Labor Commissioner, shows in statistics published at Washington in 1887, for the period of six years, 1881-86, the enormous number of 22,204 strikes. Twenty-two thousand three hundred and four times workmen



204 AMERICAN LIFE.

combined to stop the works ; on the other hand, 2,2 14 times the masters had recourse to a " lock-out, " making a total of nearly 25,000 crises, when the working classes were deprived of the means of existence at very short notice. That is to say, strikes are of daily occurrence in America ; they have even attained a rare degree of perfection, and they are sometimes complicated by " boycotting" or placing the master in quarantine. No communication is held with him until he has ceded such and such a point ; nothing is bought from the tradesmen who sell his goods, nor is anything bought from those with whom he has contracts; in a word, he is sternly ostracised. A few years ago the Neiv York Tribune had a dispute with its printers. These caused the workmen s " union " to which they belonged to " boycott" the journal; that is to say, all the members were forbidden to buy it. At the same time, the union " boy cotted " several commercial houses that advertised in the Tribune. The pressure was powerful enough to compel the submission of a large ready-made clothing establishment which had been singled out as the first victim ; the Royal Baking Powder Company and several other well-known establishments were also forced to withdraw their announcements from the New York Tribune. I cite these facts to give an idea of the degree of persecution to which well-conducted " boycotting " may attain.

For some years strikes have been fewer, and the difficulties that arise between the masters and men have been settled by arbitration. Most of the workmen s associations act in this spirit, notably the " Knights of Labor," a powerful organization, numbering more than 100,000 members. In several cases the masters have accepted the Executive Council of this society as umpire. 1 The working-class in America is generally more enlightened than the same class in Europe. It has been quick to recognize that " striking" and "boycotting" are injurious to its own interests ; it shows a very sincere desire to secure the representation of its grievances in a manner at once calmer and more efficacious, and the innumerable associations which it forms under different names are simply the manifestation of

i. " The Labor Movement in America," by Richard T. Ely ; New York, Thomas V. Crowell & Co.; p. 85. Also Article 22 of the Statutes of the Knights of Labor.


AMERICAN LIFE. 2O5

this desire. Doubtless, some of them have a socialistic and revolutionary tendency, which misleads public opinion ; but these are exceptions, and they are disappearing. When the Knights of Labor constituted themselves as a secret society at Philadelphia, their growing power spread alarm throughout the whole population ; their badge of five stars was almost an object of terror to many people. The clergy of the Catholic and Protestant churches united to fight this mysterious enemy, when Mr. Powderly, a man of great sense, succeeded in getting himself nominated Grandmaster of the Association and dissi pated all these apprehensions by publishing its aims and its statutes. At the present day, it is not included among secret societies denounced by the Catholic ecclesiastical authority. However that may be, the very fact of the workmen having created an organization to guard against the insecurity of their situation denotes the extent of that insecurity. There was no need for associating themselves to secure a juster dis tribution of the products of labor in the days when the Eastern States were almost exclusively agricultural and peopled by landowners. If demagogic passions come less into play here than in Europe in the matter of strikes and other forms of disputes between masters and men, it is because it is a labor controversy and nothing more, a contest about the contract which unites the two parties, and not any extraneous question brought up by a few agitators. I was in Chicago in 1890, at the time when 50,000 workmen were on strike. No stranger visiting the town would have had the idea that such was the case except from reading the newspapers. There were no street riots, no barricades, no flags flying nor any armed force patroling the thoroughfares, and with good reason. The strikers held meetings to consult about what was to be done, as seriously as clergymen explain the interest of the congrega tion to the members of their flock. Evidently, these men had not " struck" out of mere peevishness or caprice, or to offer opposition to the Government. They had motives for acting thus, and it was a very serious disagreement that had pushed matters to this extremity.

The question of an eight-hour day was then pending. I shall not go into details ; suffice to say that in many industries


206 AMERICAN LIFE.

the working-day is still ten hours long, and it was thus a re duction of two hours that was being demanded.

A claim for reduced hours or for a rise in wages is usually at the bottom of most strikes; but at other times the employers provoke them by the unjustifiable dismissal of a workman who is a member of some powerful association, or by the necessity of limiting their production when trade is dull. Such reasons are frequent enough, as statistics prove, and they are quite beyond the control of any one individual.

In assuming, therefore, that the workmen s unions, and the good sense of those who manage them, are ever striving to place the relations of capital and labor on a more friendly foot ing, it is none the less true that in the course of events num berless difficulties arise which have an opposite tendency. We may seek to weaken these, but it would be childish to deny them.

Now these difficulties make themselves known by suffering. In the large towns of the East, numbers of the destitute fall to the care of public charity; and in Boston and New York espe cially, the misery is as great as in London or Paris. In Phila delphia, which is decidedly the most prosperous of American manufacturing cities, the total number of the paupers and cri minals is one-half per cent of the population, whilst in Massa chusetts, during the disastrous Winter of 18/6-77, one person in nineteen was receiving aid.

There are two main causes which increase the misery of the working-class ; these are extravagant habits and over-education. The American is not thrifty ; he lives well and regards simple habits as mean. " In one generation or two at the most," said Mr. Lorin Blodget to me, " the good thrifty habits which many of our workmen bring from Europe completely disappear ; they are no longer capable of becoming rich, because they no longer know how to save." A foreman in Dobson s factory, a young Englishman, who had recently come over from Norfolk, made a similar remark : " The Yankees are terrible spend-thrifts ; they waste money." "They love ease too much?" "No, it is not exactly that ; but where I spend two or three shillings, they spend a dollar." Everywhere I asked I had these state ments confirmed.


AMERICAN LIFE. 2O/

Not only does the Yankee not save, but he is gradually leav ing manuel trades to seek what are, in his eye, higher situa tions, to become the clerk for which his free schooling naturally prepares him. This is especially true at New York. " When I need a clerk," said a stock-broker of that city, " I am always sure to find twenty to choose from; so we give them very small salaries. While a good artisan, carpenter, mason, plumber, etc., makes $4.00 a day, we give $200 a year to an errand-boy and $500 a year to an ordinary clerk. A first-rate accountant receives only $1,400 to $1,600 a year, no matter what his ex perience may be ; and if a master sometimes does give a man a larger salary, it is because of the great responsibility of the position he fills and in order to keep away too great tempta tions ; but it is as a confidential man, as proxy, and not as bookkeeper that he is paid so highly."

This is a kind of declassing which one who had lived for some time in the West would not expect to find ; but, never theless, it exists, and many people have pointed it out to me in the great cities of the East. A Philadelphia lady, who is president of a society for promoting silk-worm breeding, told me the difficulties she encountered in her patriotic efforts. "Americans know too much, and don t know enough at the same time at least those who do not manage to raise them selves above the laboring-classes. They have had too much learning for the crafts they might follow but despise ; they know nothing about a host of things that would be useful to them, and rebel against the apprenticeship of industries that need some care and skill. Because of this, we rarely find people inclined to second our efforts for breeding silk-worms. Minute precautions have to be taken to ensure success, and despite the large profits that might be made, that does not ex actly lead to fortune. These two conditions are almost insur mountable barriers for our people, at once careless of detail yet ambitious."

In other words, the American is not made in view of the narrow life which is necessarily the lot of the laboring-class. If he does not rise to the top of the tree, he never readily consents to stay on the ground ; he cannot settle in a modest way as a Frenchman, German or Italian. This is a social danger which


208 AMERICAN LIFE.

makes the times of industrial crisis so very hard in the United States. When families accustomed to extravagant expenditure are all at once deprived of their wages, they suffer much more than the thrifty workman of certain European countries.

With all his high aspirations the worker in the East is often as badly housed as those of London or Paris. The sadest-look- ing workmen s dwellings in American cities are to be found in New York and Boston.

The great overcrowding of New York, overflowing into Brooklyn and Jersey City, combined with the squeezing of the city into the narrow limits of Manhattan Island, has raised the price of land to such an extreme height that the workman cannot own his home. Hence the great blocks of dwellings, somewhat like our Parisian barracks, where families are huddled, one above the other, in small rooms, without air and often without light. These tenement-houses, as they are called, are very objectionable to the American, loving liberty and independence of movement ; but they are imposed upon him here for the reason I have given. They suffer in them, but endure.

Sometimes these tenements not only lodge the workers, but are also dressmakers work-shops, cigar-manufactories, etc., in which unhappy creatures usually women work by the piece for the merchants of the city. One can see the women work ing in small rooms of a hundred square feet, hardly ventilated and badly lighted, making elegant mantles, and striving to spin out their work-day to fifteen or sixteen hours, in order to earn scarcely 60 cents a day ; and 60 cents in New York are equal to thirty sous in Paris at the most. The wages is thus the lowest possible, and the unhealthiness of the work-rooms deplorable. The great factories, even those supposed to be unhealthy, are never so bad as these miserable tenement-house work-rooms.

At Boston the evil is not so great, because industry is not so developed there as it is in New York ; but the workman is condemned to live in tenement-houses. Everything is very dear in Boston, building-lots like other things. It is thus impossible to avoid unhealthy crowding unless by paying a very high rent. Even in suburbs far from the centre of the city one sees the six-story tenement where the workmen and


AMERICAN LIFE. 2OQ

their families are packed; and close at hand charming residences, surrounded by little parks, and buried in green. Even three or four miles from Boston a building-lot is expensive. Of course, plenty of capitalists can buy themselves a park by pay ing for it, but the square yards of land they purchase to cover with turf and plant with trees are much too expensive for the workman to buy in order to build himself a modest house.

It is more surprising to find such crowding in much smaller towns. At Fall River, Mass., few of the workmen own their homes, and the houses have the same appearance as certain parts of Boston and New York.

Add to all the various material and moral disadvantages aris ing from this condition of affairs the specially trying nature of the American climate ! Summer is insupportable in New York, and rich people know it well, for they hurry off as often as they can to the nearest mountains the Adirondacks ; or they rush across the Atlantic to enjoy the temperate weather of Western Europe for a few weeks. From June, a moist heat reigns at times which seems to suffocate one much more than the hottest August days in Paris. I have felt this my self in a large-sized room. Imagine what it must be in the narrow lodgings of the workingmen !

These few facts do not show the extent of my inquiries, but they are enough to put the reader on his guard against certain too optimistic views of the condition of American workmen. It is deceiving the public to say that all live at ease ; but it would be just as deceptive to lead people to believe that America does not offer greater opportunities than Europe to those who wish to raise themselves. To prove this, it is enough to visit some great manufacturing cities, and Philadel phia holds the first place among them.

II. SIGNS OF WELLBEING-

Philadelphia, whose population is over a million, deserves its charasteristic name of the " City of Homes." It is also called the " Workingman s Paradise," but American brag is so boundless that such a lauditory term must be taken with a grain of salt. It is necessary to discover the facts on which


210 AMERICAN LIFE.

it is based. A single walk through the streets is enough to draw the stranger s attention to the extraordinary number of little brick-houses. These buildings, which are usually low, make the streets seem broader and make a great contrast to the narrow streets and high houses of old European cities. If you ask a Philadelphian who are the people who live in these houses, he answers, with a proud smile, " Oh ! these are the houses of our workmen ;" and he often cannot resist the pleas ure of adding, u I suppose you have nothing like these in Paris or London?" It must be admitted that there is nothing like it in any great European city. Three-fourths of the workmen of Philadelphia live in houses that belong to them, and almost all live in separate dwellings; those who do not own one rent one. The deplorable tenement-house system is unknown there.

That may be because Philadelphia was the first large town in the United States where the industry developed. From 1849 there has been a question of workmen s dwellings; and by 1865 societies for helping to build them were in full operation. Further, Philadelphia, much less cosmopolitan than New York, especially at that time, was deeply imbued with the old custom of family independence, natural in the colony of William Penn. When the Philadelphia families became urban and manufacturing they preserved somewhat of their rural and agricultural charac ter. They were obliged to sacrifice the freedom of their work room in hiring themselves to some employer, but they did not give up the independence of their home. Add to this first cause the fact that the situation of Philadelphia allows it to spread out in all directions, and you have the key to the prob lem. It is sometimes explained by saying that building asso ciations were formed at a much earlier date in Philadelphia than elsewhere ; but the real problem is to explain the rise and the rapid development of these associations. It is enough to explain their organization to show that every sort of people could not start them.

But, first of all, let me remove a possible misconception. Societies for the amelioration of workmen s dwellings have existed in several industrial centres of France for some years, under different names and with certain differences in detail ;


AMERICAN LIFE. 211

but all have the one common character of being benevolent in stitutions, managed in the usual way, either by large manu facturers interested in their workmen, or by people attracted by this great social question. In the United States in general and in Philadelphia in particular it is quite different. The building societies are business and not charitable concerns, and must pay, like a railroad or farm, or else they are given up ; their success alone determines their existence.

Let us study the ordinary forms of these societies, which are of two main types. The first is managed by three or four peo ple ; for instance, a landowner, a contractor and a capitalist club to build a dozen workmen s houses; then each is paid by taking a certain number of the houses proportional to his share of the capital, and sells or lets them at his own risk. This is the less interesting type, but it has played an important part in the history of workmen s dwellings in Philadelphia, for it has allowed the small contractors to keep on building in slack times ; and the ease of an equitable division among the associates has encouraged the landowners and the capitalists to accept this combination.

The second variety, much more widely spread, is that which has been of greatest service in letting the workingmen become owners of their homes. It is a great attempt to make use of the workmen s savings for building their houses. The name usually taken by societies of this sort is "Loan and Building Association." It is a bank using its funds for a special object, but also a mutual society formed by the people who wish to make use of it. The money comes from workmen s savings, carried there instead of to a savings-bank. When a deposit reaches a sufficiently large sum, which varies with the society but is always a small amount, the depositor can borrow from the society the money needed for buying ground with a house on it, or for building the house after his own taste ; the loan is at once secured by a mortgage on the house and land, and is repaid by annual instalments until the workman becomes the true owner of his home.

These societies have had an undoubted effect in raising the moral and social tone of the working-classes ; but they could not have come into existence had not a picked population


212 AMERICAN LIFE.

been in existence. They have developed in the immigrants of all sorts a taste for home and the sentiment of property which is of so great service to public order. The workman living in his own house is no longer one of the proletary ; he has a new dignity in his own eyes ; he becomes a citizen interested in an orderly progress of affairs, and ceases to be a trouble some factor. A Chicago business man said to me one day : " I believe that the large number of proprietors we have in our cities as well as in the country will be the safeguard of our Republic." It is a just remark.

The building associations have done more than this, for they have not limited themselves to making a man own his home, but have educated him as a proprietor. As Mr. Robert). Payne said at the American Social Science Congress : " They are the best adult schools for teaching men and women business ; they are schools for life. There they are taught how to save, how to lay their savings securely, to see them grow, to watch over them, to discuss their application, to consult and compare the designs of houses, to study their size, price, comfort, and healthiness. Whenever a workman puts some of his savings in that wonderful savings-bank he can bring himself into touch with the ways of business, and he does so." This is one of the great advantages building associations have over savings- banks, which have been founded in several towns in the States to encourage saving among workmen. In the banks the de positor may profit by lucky financial combinations of the directors, but he has no say in the administration of his money ; he does not learn its management. But the aim should not be so much to make a workingman richer as to educate him to be capable of developing his fortune himself by teaching him the art of ownership. It is much more useful to know this art than to gain some 20,000, especially in America, where there are so many opportunities for fortune-making. There is another advantage in the building association, for it holds forth a definite object for the workman s foresight, something fairly easily attained, and always coveted. Man is not born with a strong craving for a savings-bank book or railroad shares ; it is an educated not an innate desire. Just consider how difficult it is for provident parents to train their children to be saving.


AMERICAN LIFE. 213

But everybody longs to have a home of his own, and more ardently in the United States than elsewhere, on account of the independent customs of the country. It is very much easier to develop a provident disposition on this universally- felt desire for a home, than on the fascination of a pocket- book, which few feel ; and these few need no encouragement, for they will save without any stimulus. It is the majority of workers that should be kept in view. The building associa tions reach this class, as their results prove. They give many people, who otherwise would never have felt it, a longing to possess houses of their own.

Philadelphia is not the only city where such societies are to be found. They are very prosperous in Chicago, which pre tends to the second place among industrial cities for well organized workmen s dwellings, and in Pittsburg, St. Paul, etc. Some New Jersey statistics, which I have beside me, give 120 building associations for that State in 1884. They are numer ous throughout New England, where the factories are usually in the country or in the little towns they have created. They have not spread much in the more Western cities nor in the South, where industries have only recently been established for instance at St. Louis or Cincinnati.

The workmen s dwellings in Philadelphia may be divided into three classes, according to their size ; first, two-story houses with four rooms ; secondly, two-story houses with six rooms, and thirdly, three-story houses with eight rooms. All these are brick-houses, built on a stone foundation and having cellars. Their prices very from $1,200 to $4,000, and the cheapest are let for $6.00 to $8.00 a month to families who do not own a house.

It is not enough to know the general facts about the hous ing of workmen in Philadelphia, but one must go into the houses and talk with the men in their own houses before giving a thoroughly accurate account of the matter; for by doing so many facts, untold in statistical accounts, come to light and show the appearance of the working-classes with precision. For this reason I ask the reader s permission to introduce him to my friend Michael S., an Alsacian, who came to America after h e war of 1870. I met him first in the Baldwin Works, where


214 AMERICAN LIFE.

he was pointed out to me as one of the few Frenchmen in the shops. As fellow-countrymen, we quickly began our acquaint ance, and I was invited to spend that same evening at his house. After dinner I took the car which ran to his quarter, and at the end of a long ride I found myself in front of the little flight of three steps which led to my Alsacian friend s home.

At the first glance comfort and ease were revealed by many details. The little entrance lobby is separated from the outside by two doors ; the floor of every room is completely carpeted ; the whole house is heated by a good stove, and lighted from numerous gas-burners ; the furniture of the parlor recalled that in the house of some petty French official a couch, six chairs, an armchair, a marble table and two rockingchairs to give it local color. A marble clock stood on the mantlepiece ; there were two mirrors on the walls, and framed photographs of relatives and friends ; in a word, the usual decorating of a bourgeois interior, with some traces of greater taste added ; for instance, the interior Venetian blinds were of varnished pine and had an elegant air.

I was received in this parlor by my friend s wife, an Alsacian also, florid, somewhat chubby, and slightly nervous about my visit. Her white apron told that she was not American by birth ; and she has preserved something of her European habits in the simplicity of her costume and her modest manners. However, she frankly held out her hand, and soon we were busy talking. Like good Alsacians, my host and hostess thought that we could not spend the evening together without drinking beer, and while talking we emptied a respectable number of bottles of Milwaukee beer. It was no great trial, as Mil waukee beer is excellent, and it had another advantage in the present case, for it put Michael S. and his wife quite at ease ; it was a souvenir of the brasserie of the old country, which brought up comparisons between America and France and stirred up that sympathy which Frenchmen feel for each other in a foreign land. Let me remark, in passing, that nothing is more curious than the influence of drink on social relations. I know it only by hearsay, but I know it surely, that drunkards associate together very rapidly ; while from my own personal experience this time I have proved that one rises in a notice-


AMERICAN LIFE. 215

able degree in the estimation of a Frenchman by knowing how to drink wine, in that of an Englishman by testing tea, and in that of a Yankee by swallowing iced water. It was doubtless the action of this law that made drinking of Milwaukee beer give rise to so interesting a talk in a Philadelphia suburb.

A pretty little girl of nine years came and also had her share in this innocent beuvcrie. She was the eldest of the family, and her five brothers and sisters were in bed, like well brought-up children ; but she had received permission to stay up a little later than usual in my honor, and to tell me that she went to school with the little American boys and girls. She could scarcely talk French, but made up for this by the way in which she could chatter in that special American dialect, which is a sort of English patois. The school she attends is a public unsectarian school, where no religion is taught ; but her father said he was going to send her to a confessional school the next year, so that she might be instructed in her religious duties ; meanwhile she was sent upstairs to bed.

" I see you have a good beginning of a family," I said to Mr. S., who replied, " Ah, sir ! that is nothing at all ; just ask my wife there, who came the last of a dozen and had six follow her. And my brother-in-law, who also lives in Philadelphia, has eleven children." "Is it easy to bring up so many?" " Mon Dien ! Monsieur, there is no need to complain in this country, which is a good one for the workingman. When I first came I spent a few hard months, because I did not know a word of English ; but now that I can make myself understood and work with a good master, I certainly would not return to Europe. I have been some years now in the Baldwin Loco motive Works, where I am paid by the piece and can make from $3.20 to $3.60 per day, which lets me lay aside a good sum; and I am now about to buy a house for $2,000, for which I shall pay cash." " This one, then, is not your own ?" " No, I rent it at $15 per month, and would have to pay $3,000 were I to buy it, because of its situation. By going a little further from the workshops I will be able to get just as good a house, with two rooms on the ground-floor, two on the first floor, kitchen, lumber-room and bath-room, with water and gas. My wife is not obliged to work, thanks to the good wages I get,


2l6 AMERICAN LIFE.

and can spend all her time in looking after the house ; and living is not at all dear here, meat costing about 10 or 12 cents per pound, and only clothing is expensive. Most unmarried workmen board with some family for $3.60 or $4.00 per week, and can save large sums, which help them to set up for them selves. I did that myself once."

I was astonished to hear nothing about the great use of the building associations in this history of Michael S., and I expressed my surprise. " How was it that you did not think of making use of the advantages these societies offer settle as soon as you were married, and free yourself by annual instal ments?" " Ah, sir," he answered, "that way of doing things does not suit me at all. I do not care to run into debt like that ; it is not a French habit. Supposing I had died, how could my wife have paid the annuity? But now I am going to buy a house that will really be my own, and for which I shall pay in full at once, and which will remain in the family should I die. Beside the rate of interest asked by the building socie ties is much too high, and it pays better to do as I have done."

It is quite true that the associations are not of so much use to workers already accustomed to economize, like Michael S., and they were not formed either for or by such as he, for they have no need to be encouraged to lay aside part of their wages ; and besides, the same instinct which has given them a notion for saving warns them against the danger of all financial specula tion ; so they prefer to look after their own affairs. I have noticed among men of this type a similar distrust of building associations, and I hasten to add that not a man of them was an American by birth.

When going to my hotel I thought how difficult it would be to find a simple workman s family which had become so well off in so few years in France. Of course, I have come across a striking example, yet Michael S. s house was sur rounded by others like it, usually kept going by the work of the father alone.

It is characteristic of the American workpeople that the married woman almost never sets her foot inside a workshop. Even a well-educated girl does not think she lowers herself in the least by working in some spinning-mill, in a shoe or cloth-


AMERICAN LIFE. 21 J

factory; but once she becomes mother of a family, she quite expects that her husband will supply the needs of all, until the children are able to earn their living in their turn. In going through the rooms where women were working, at Mr. Dobson s, for instance, I noticed that the majority of them were quite young, and my guide told me that hardly any of them were married. The manager of another factory, who knows a great deal about his workpeople, told me that, as far as he knew, there was only one married woman among the 250 females he employed, and that she had no children as yet. Statistics support these personal observations. Mr. D. Car roll Wright published an important work on female labor in factories. Out of 15,387 women, only 745 were married and 1,038 were widows. 1 Such figures need no comment, for they irrefutably prove that the married men earn wages high enough to supply the needs of themselves and their families. This is an important sign of prosperity to which I recommend the reader s attention. Mr. Jules Simon could not have written " L Ouvriere " in the United States.

III. WHENCE COMES THE CONTRAST ?

We have thus two opposing sets of facts : on the one hand poverty and its sad train of suffering, the pestilent tenement- houses, wherein poor wretches stoop over work both hard and badly paid, where public charity must come to succur these numerous indigent beings; and on the other hand, a well- lodged, well-paid people, rapidly raising themselves to inde pendent positions. Whence this contrast ?

As is always the case, its main source is human inequality,, for in every group of workmen there are some who are able to raise themselves, and others who cannot make both ends meet. But there is an added complexity in the case we are studying, for the working-classes are not homogeneous in America, but are composed of people who have come from all parts of the world, each bringing his own customs and ways of living, which he cannot change the minute he sets foot in the States,

i Fourth Annual Report of the Commissioners of Labor : " Working Women in Large Cities; " p. 64.


2l8 AMERICAN LIFE.

often with a well-planned purpose, which differs entirely from that of another immigrant. Everybody who comes to America is not of the same race, nor does he come with the same end in view. America cannot act in the same way on everybody.

When talking with Eastern capitalists, whose factories I visited, about their men, I found many a proof that they clearly realized these differences. Usually they preferred the German immigrant, who was able, steady, industrious and quiet. The Germans probably remain longer with one master than other immigrants. The Irish, who are almost as numerous as the Germans, are smart, but are constantly giving rise to difficulties, because of their turbulent character. Great care is taken that they are not all placed in the same workroom, otherwise it is impossible to keep order; they effervesce most violently during periods of political agitation ; and further, they have no notion of the value of money, and are noted spendthrifts. The Scandinavians, whom we saw so numerous and prosperous in the Far West, seldom stay East longer than to make enough money or to get some advance to carry them to unoccupied lands, where they intend to settle. The East is only a half-way house for them. If an American begin life as a factory-hand it is only with the idea of raising himself, and he will try a hundred different trades rather than remain in some business which promises no great career.

This short overlook shows us already two very distinct varieties among American workmen : the one more or less fixed to some trade and workshop, the other the temporary workman constantly moving about and changing master and trade at any moment.

Other varieties also exist, notably the " foreign laborers," as the American calls them. The expression needs definition, as it is not etymologically precise. The foreign laborer, in the strict sense of the term, means the German, Irish and Scandi navian, as well as the Italian, Chinese and Hungarian ; but when a Yankee speaks of " foreign laborers " he means work ers who have come to the United States without any idea of becoming American citizens. Nearly all the Chinese, Hun garians and Italians come under this category. They leave their countries in bands, after being brought together by the


AMERICAN LIFE. 219

emigration agents, who engage them for a certain time at a salary agreed upon ; then, when the immigrants have gathered a little hoard, they return to their own country and live on its interest. I find a curious conversation recorded in the report of the Labor Bureau of the State of New York for 1885, with a Hungarian who was going home after a four years stay in the United States, carrying $600 with him, which would make him in easy circumstances in his own country. " I shall in vest them at 16 per cent, on a first mortgage, which gives me an income of $96, three times as much as it costs me to live there." 1 Here, then, is the plan of these emigrants, to go to a country where handwork is dear, find work there by offering to accept the lowest price, live like dogs, so as to save as much as possible in a minimum time; then return home, marry, and tranquilly exist. America is a spring-board for them, not a home. They form a non-assimilable element.

Without pushing further this examination and the different types of immigrants who work in the factories, it is possible to notice the very marked contrasts presented by the modes of life. A westward-bound Scandinavian certainly does not carry his savings to the building associations ; an Italian or Hun garian does not even think of living decently, but to huddle together with his mates in the wretchedest of retreats. These foreign laborers generally form themselves into groups of twenty or thirty, and choose one of their number to act as cook, and the others give him an equivalent share of their daily wages for boiling their potatoes. The same hole serves as kitchen, dining-room and dormitory. The mere sight of these rooms makes one sick. They are common enough, though, in mining districts, especially near the coke-ovens, whose rows of light pierce the darkness of the night near Pittsburg. Wherever a new railroad is being made, the " foreign laborers " are sure to be found. But Eastern cities also contain large numbers of them. They especially the Ital ians often act as masons or hod-men in contractors yards ; they are employed in brick-making, a wide-spread trade in the United States, especially among Pennsylvanian clays ; in fact,

I Bureau of Statistics of Labor, State of New York, 1885; p. 510.


220 AMERICAN LIFE.

they perform most of the heavy work which does not need special craftsmanship but great physical effort.

If care be not taken to keep this element by itself, the results of any inquiry into the condition of the true American workingman will be falsified. For instance, at Philadelphia there are hideous lodgings close to Walnut street, right in the heart of the city, whose dirty bills attract the houseless work man ; the streets are lined with wretched hovels and covered with debris of all sorts. It is the negro quarter. Of course, that proves nothing against the City of Homes ; it only shows that the negroes are very opposed to any example of decency and respectability ; they could also have the trim little brick houses, but the taste for them has not developed yet. Their pov erty will not explain this, for I have seen several of them walk ing about on Sundays, wearing superb pearl-grey gloves which cost at least $2.00 to 2.40 per pair in America, with their black frock-coat open, to show a shining white waistcoat, and an enormous cigar between their thick lips. A couple of steps from this lodging of which I have been speaking, a negro had died and his comrades gathered to his funeral. All of them wore brilliant badges, scarfs with gold fringes, decorations on their buttonhole, etc. ; and nearly everyone had on a silk hat and gloves. The procession would have had quite an impos ing aspect if their faces had not made one somewhat inclined to laugh even in such funeral circumstances.

With this exception of the negroes, Philadelphia shows these contrasts less than any other city. The following seems to me the probable explanation : In the East of the United States, Philadelphia is the greatest industrial centre where workmen of different trades can settle comfortably. New York, where all Europe lands, has not the same material ad vantages, as I have explained above, for its industry is much less extensive and its geographical conditions prevent the building of cheap houses. None of the manufacturing towns of New England have reached the importance of Philadelphia ; as we shall see later, a strong current of Canadian immi grants is directed towards them, and thus European immigration is turned somewhat aside. Hence, Philadelphia attracts large numbers of immigrants and keeps the best of those who are


AMERICAN LIFE. 221

capable of remaining at a trade, who form the stablest elements, who are the picked workmen, because of the number and variety of its manufactures. Philadelphia, thus, is the machine-sorter of European immigrants, separating the good seed from the bad or worthless which it contains ; and the best of the new elements thus get added to the choice nucleus of population descended from the companions of William Penn.

True, Philadelphia contains a certain number of transitory laborers, working for a time at any trade, but they are useful from the point of view of its industrial prosperity. They are necessary in busy times, and are dismissed without scruple when the slack days follow. Any economic disturbance affects them more than any other class ; yet they do not suffer very greatly since instability is their natural condition. Statistics show that any depression has a much more fatal effect on skilled laborers than on unskilled ; but, luckily, they affect a much smaller number of the former. At Philadelphia, in partic ular, this movement of immigrants allows the economic action of industry to go on in an almost automatic manner. The managers at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, of W T illiam Sellers & Co., of Messrs. Dobson, etc., all say that they can find as many laborers as they want whenever they need them in busy times ; and, if they want to get rid of any men, it is easily managed, as a certain number are always willing to go.

But go a little out of Philadelphia, into the mining regions, and " foreign laborers " can be found in plenty. There the sight is very different, and miserable shanties, wretched wood sheds, where miners huddle together amidst the most horrible filth, replace the tidy home which we have so admired. At Pittsburg both exist, because of the double nature of the laborers. Close beside the foundryman, who is like his Phila- delphian craftsman, is the Hungarian or Italian miner or furnaceman. The 150,000 Germans who form half the popu lation of Cincinnati retain many European customs, and have been less affected by their surroundings ; they live in rows of ugly little houses, insanitary and little cared for, although neither air nor space are wanting.

The visitor to the little industrial towns of New England is often astonished to see the workmen s houses piled together


222 AMERICAN LIFE.

without any justification, such as I have noticed for Fall River. That arises from the preponderance of temporary laborers supplied by Canadian immigration. Forty years ago, Ameri cans filled the factories at Lawrence or Lowell, but to-day, most of the laborers are European or Canadian immigrants. The Canadian leaves his parish to earn, in some factory or mine, the money necessary for buying some property; and when he has made enough to make him a proprietor, he goes back to Canada and settles there.

In this way the Franco-Canadians are invading the Province of Quebec little by little, while the English proprietors, vexed at this peaceful revenge, are giving it up more and more. It is clear that such workmen are not anxious to have as comfort able houses as possible in Massachusetts or Connecticut ; they neither live well nor ill, or rather ill than well, in order to get more quickly back to their country. For them, as well as for Italians and Hungarians, it is a bad time to be got over. " I lived four years like a pig," the Hungarian mentioned above avowed to the Labor Commissioner. Canadians do not descend to the same depths, for they are accustomed to home-life, and are not contented with the bad potatoes, black bread and bad rum which Hungarian stomachs can absorb ; but they do not try to form a home.

This rapid glance over the different elements of the wage- earning classes will let the reader understand the very marked differences in the opinions of authors worthy of being trusted, which they publish on the position of labor in America. By noticing building societies or miners shanties, it is possible to draw very emphatic conclusions, and counsel fellow-country, men for or against emigrating to the United States ; the con clusions are false and the advice dangerous. Before sending a workman to the United States, as well as before dissuading him from going, it is necessary to know the man, to know what he wishes, and what he can do once he is there ; for with out considering these things he goes out on chance.

The Foreign-Labor Question has deeply moved the American public during the past few years. The workmen detest these not over-scrupulous laborers who lower the price of handwork. The statesmen are distressed by seeing a non-assimilable element


AMERICAN LIFE. 223

thus introduced into the population ; they consider their pres ence as a danger to American institutions, and so they have enacted laws interdicting the importation of foreign labor under contract. Somebody lately proposed to land all immigrants on the little island in New York Bay, where the Bartholdi Statue of Liberty stands, and there examine them as to their capaci ties and means of existence; those who did not seem apt and likely to get on, ought to be reshipped to their native land. This proposal the reverse of liberal greatly exercised the wit of the comic journals. One represented Liberty furious at the injury done to her, and threatening to leave America for Europe. Another proposed to transform the Statue into a hotel for immigrants. These jokes have a just ground, and the modern Americans will be doing a very bad stroke if they close the door by which some of their best citizens enter. Be sides, the carrying out of such regulations is far too difficult a matter to make them seriously think of putting them into force.

America will cease to be America the day that European immigration ceases. I do not think I need stop to prove this at the end of this chapter on the Labor Question.


CHAPTER XII.

THE ECONOMIC CONDITION OF AMERICAN MANUFACTURES.

HIGH WAGES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES. AMERICAN

INDUSTRIES AND EUROPEAN COMPETITION. THE McKiN-

LEY BILLS. THE DANGERS OF THE PROTECTIVE SYSTEM.

-THE EFFECTS OF A FREE-TRADE REACTION.

I. HIGH WAGES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES.

We have still to discuss another question in connection with American manufactures. We have visited some factories to get an idea of their appearance ; we know the masters who manage and the men \vho work in them ; but all these are lying more or less as scattered scraps of information in our minds. Of course, we know that masters and men are bound together by a contract specifying some particular wage, but we are wholly ignorant of the circumstances that allow the American capitalist to pay the high wages we have mentioned. How can any trade pay when hand-labor is so dear? That is the question.

The most evident answer is to charge the customers propor tionally. By selling goods at high prices, high wages can be paid to the men who make them. But then all the manufac turers in European countries would send over and inundate the country with their cheaper goods, and quickly ruin national in dustry by their competition.

A dike must be built to keep out the inundation, and Ameri can manufacturers must be protected from its disastrous effects. Thus it is that American custom-dues are so strong. If they were not so, it would mean death to industry. The high rate of wages is not phantastic, but the inevitable result of a special economic situation already noted and recapitulated briefly here.


226 AMERICAN LIFE.

The large area of unoccupied land and the facilities offered to the immigrant who will settle on them, allow many people without capital to form homesteads of their own. In order to keep a man from running all risks and trying his luck in the West, it is necessary to offer him considerable advantages to keep him working for some master. This is especially true of the American-born, who are always ready to throw themselves into any adventure, and golden chains are needed to keep them at home. Farmers themselves can give large wages, without any help from protective tariffs.

This condition of things, so favorable to agricultural develop ment, would have cut short the industrial expansion in the East had no protective system been adopted, which artificially kept the price of hand-labor and manufactured goods at a high level. In other words, had the American waited for the normal development of industry, they would have needed to have waited until their agriculture ceased to prosper.

Delay did not suit the Easterners, who were in no ways dis posed to depend on Europe for the manufactures whose ele ments they found in their own land ; they would not consent to be a source of industrial profits to others, under the pretext that they had large sources of agricultural wealth. Conse quently high duties were established many years ago to fur ther their plans.

Thus, it was no economic theory that led American manu facturers into the way of protection. They built this Chinese- wall around them simply because they found it paid. I have often noticed in the United States that a farmer, a manufac turer or a trader is always a strong advocate of free-trade or of protection; and that an economist has very seldom any de cided opinion on the question. One day I asked the Secre tary of a very important Chamber of Commerce what was his opinion, and he replied that it was not possible for him to satisfy me, because he had none ; that every struggle between free-trade and protection was one between conflicting interests. One man was a protectionist because his industry needed pro tection, but he never asked that other industries should be protected, although they had as much need of it as his own, for he was protector of his own interests alone. It was


AMERICAN LIFE. 22/

the same with free-traders ; everybody was a free-trader as far as regarded the objects he did not make himself, because it was clearly advantageous to get things as cheaply as possible. That was why he found all general and philosophic views on the subject so absurd. Customs legislation had no need of the influence of these general views, for it must consult each trade and weigh the interests of each. The best tariff would be that which best met the needs of each branch of business, and it was necessary to try to realize this as nearly as possible. That, he believed, was the only rational way of dealing with so complicated a question.

That man s words were of gold, it seems to me, but his idea of justice has never been held in great favor with Eastern manufacturers, who inherit narrow views. The little colonies formed at the beginning of American history, in New Eng land and Pennsylvania, were strongly founded ; the part they have played and the progress they have made has given evi dence of that fact ; but they were stamped with a terrible narrowness. They possessed the combination of virtues and weaknesses which are usually shown by austere societies who live entirely within themselves, so as to keep from the taint of corruption. They had a distrust of anything foreign to them, and considered that oppressing the Gentiles is a work approved by God, and more especially if that oppression should benefit His servants. There was much of that in the way the North formerly treated the Southern planters during Civil War times, considering them to be without morality or principles. There is still the same feeling in the politics of out and out protec tion, of which the McKinley Bills are the latest manifestation. The manufacturers, who are very powerful in the Republican party, which is at present in power, have profited by the occa sion to get exaggerated advantages for their own interests. So much the worse for the sufferers!

II. AMERICAN INDUSTRIES AND EUROPEAN COMPETITION.

The interests of all industries in the United States are not protectionist. The trades must be classified, and that classifi cation is of considerable importance, for it shows which busi-


228 AMERICAN LIFE.

nesses are normally developed and which could not have existed without protection. The former rest on a natural base, the latter on an artificial one. This fact is well worth noting. Heavy articles form one class of manufactures, almost absolutely free from the competition of similar things made at a distance. For instance, Mr. Pullman has no need to fear that some European maker will send palace-cars, still less freight-cars, over the Atlantic, in order to cut him out. The ocean-transport increases the price too much to let them be brought into the American market. Similarly, the Baldwin Locomotive Works need fear no foreign competition. In the same category can be placed carriage-building, engine-making, agricultural-machine making, etc. All these industries are naturally developed in the United States ; they command the market, no matter whether protective tariffs are suddenly lowered or raised.

It is worth noticing that all Western industry is of this category. We have pointed out that they are closely allied to agriculture and the transportation of produce ; so they share in the exceptionally favorable condition of a new coun try ; and, further, the nature of their products protects them from European competition. Theirs is an excellent situation which assures them a brilliant future, whatever the customs legislation of the United States may be. It also explains why there are so few protectionists in the West. With an agriculture that dreams of invading all European markets and an industry that fears no competition, how can the West be other than free-trade?

Even in the East, certain industries have little need of pro tection. Breweries, for instance, whose importance is consi derable, and also whiskey distilleries, can easily be threatened by European breweries and distilleries. In order that any thing can bear the cost of transport, it must not only be easily transportable, but it must also be much more expensive than the rate of carriage. The price of a bottle of brandy or of champagne is not seriously increased by this travelling ; but that of a bottle of beer is perhaps doubled.

The manufacturers needing protection, then, are those which produce goods which cost much more than any trans-


AMERICAN LIFE. 229

port-dues. In this class are cloths of all sorts, objects of art, of fashion, gloves, porcelain, fine wines, liquors, etc. Iron and steel, despite their weight, can also fight against Pennsyl- vanian iron and steel in the American market. So in Pitts- burg Mr. Carneggie carries high the banner of protection, and certain arrangements of the recently-passed Tariff Bill pro posed by Major McKinley are said to be due to his powerful influence.

There is thus a class of manufacturers that must be pro. tected if they are to live, for their prosperity, and even their very existence, rests on this very artificial base, easily dis turbed and so at the mercy of a legislative majority. When one thinks of the colossal importance of some of these industries, when one compares the enormous production of, say, Mr. Car- neggie s works, with the frail legislative support that keeps it up, one is frightened to think of the crisis that a new customs tariff might bring about.

The heated discussions on tariff questions in the United States, and the exaggerated protective measures which have been adopted, are good proofs that the industrial magnates un derstand this danger. They have never shown their fears so openly, nor made such extravagant pretensions as during the preparation of the McKinley Bill, passed in 1890. I believe it will be useful to briefly analyze these bills. They will show the actual position of the question and the bitterness of the fight between the free trade and protection interests.

in. THE M KINLEY BILLS.

The Democrats, who are usually free-traders, have long de manded a tariff revision by showing that a reduction would remedy the plethora at the Treasury. It is well known that there is an excess of income over expenditure in the United States, which surplus uselessly swells up the Treasury and at the same time is withdrawn from circulation. The Federal revenues mainly come from tariff, and by lowering these, there would be some chance of diminishing the income.

That is the remedy put forward by free-traders, but the manufacturers of the East, who boss the Republican party,


230 AMERICAN LIFE.

thought that their cash-boxes would empty at the same time as the Federal Treasury. They, therefore, opposed the Democratic cure by a Republican one, and succeeded in triumphing. This Republican remedy was none other than the double McKinley Bill, and its inventor demonstrated its efficiency by the following argument : " The more tariffs are lowered the more foreign goods will enter and the higher will the customs receipts mount up, because importation will in crease in much greater proportion than the duties are dimi nished. Instead of this plan, I bring forward a sure means of reducing the imports and of closing the market altogether, if we wish ; and any day we please we shall not have another dollar s receipts."

Major McKinley has really forged two powerful weapons against foreign competition. By the Tariff Bill he raised the entrance-dues, and by the Act of Administration he estab- ished a series of vexations destined to discourage importers and to deliver them, bound hand and feet, to the tender mercies of some officials.

The Tariff Bill is a veritable labyrinth. It contains ninety- eight closely printed pages, establishes a host of detailed dis tinctions and arrangements, but, as in all laybrinths, it is possi ble to get out of it by following the guiding thread, and this clue is the well-known intentions of American legislators. Above all, they wished to stop the importation of goods which were the same as those manufactured or able to be manufac tured in their country ; but they looked much more sharply after each branch of industry than after the application of a general principle. That exposed their policy of outrageous protection, and showed that their real concern was not for the Treasury surplus. But that did not much matter, for once they found a plausible pretext for raising the tariffs, they soon arranged to raise only those they had some interest in increas ing, and they raised them in proportion to that interest. Let us take some example.

The United States still depend on Europe for works of art and purely intellectual productions : the bill suppresses the former duty of 25 per cent, on foreign books, and reduces it to 15 per cent, on paintings and statues. The United States can-


AMERICAN LIFE. 231

not make enough sugar, of which they consume immense quan tities, and sugar enters duty-free, except such as passes a cer tain degree. The making of porcelain is little enough devel oped, especially finer porcelain: the bill does not alter existing duties. On the other hand, tissue-weaving is greatly developed, at least that of low and medium qualities, especially tissue mixed with cotton, a raw material the American has at hand : the bill shows this is so by at once taxing these articles in a marked way. I have before me a table, prepared by the Paris Chamber of Tissue Syndicates, comprising different varieties of stuffs which the old tariff taxed uniformly 50 per cent. ; the bill lowers the rate for certain finer qualities to 30 per cent, and 35 per cent, for rich damasks and fine China crepes, which are scarcely made in America, but it raises 150 per cent, the duty on certain kinds of cotton-velvet of common makes. The same distinction is made with gloves : the duty has not been raised for superior qualities, which are not yet made in America, while they are made practically prohibitive for the commoner kinds, such as are manufactured in the United States. A Grenoble manufacturer, who does a large business with Mil waukee, told me that the bill helped instead of hindered him. " We only make fine gloves at Grenoble, and the heavy duties are on inferior qualities alone, tending to fill up the difference which naturally exists between the two varieties, and we cannot but profit by this." But some German and Italian factories which export cheaper gloves to America are seriously affected.

Samples could be multiplied to infinity, but those cited above are enough to show the spirit of the Tariff Act ; so let us turn to the Administrative Bill.

Major McKinley has been cute enough to give it a most inno cent-looking title: "Act to Simplify the Law Relative to the Recovering of Taxes," but its deceptive appearance hides many a snare. The act establishes a series of inquisitorial and vex atious formalities, opens the door to the arbitrary in official valuations, and hands over importers to the discretion of Cus- tom-House officers. Among the formalities demanded those which raise the greatest objections are the establishment of Consular Agents, certificates of origin, indication of real cost, expenses, etc., etc. The importers complain at their goods


232 AMERICAN LIFE.

being delayed by these numberless details, and further con sider it a great mistake to make them undergo examination as to the origin of their goods.

The worst section, however, is that which gives the exhorbi- tant power of fixing the value of objects imported, when the declarations of the merchants appear to be false, in the hands of nine general valuators nominated by the Federal Govern ment. Rules have been made to guide them in their valua tions, but the elements of which they must take account are too unknown to them for the rules to be of any real use. These regulations form the legal basis for penalties, not true means of valuation. In fact, these surveyors must calculate the cost of raw material, of handwork, the amount of general expenses, the cost of packing and of carriage ; add 8 per cent, to the total, and thus obtain what the bill, with bitter mockery, calls the real wholesale price. I can see only one of these things that the valuators can really know, and that is the cost of trans port ; all the rest is pure imagination, but a fiscal phantasy involving strong penalties and even the prison. Article six, of the act says: " Every person who shall knowingly make false statements, or shall aid in any way in making a false declara tion, shall be, after the establishment of his guilt, punished by a fine not exceeding 5,000, or by imprisonment for two years with hard labor, or the two penalties conjointly, at the discre tion of the Court, and that without prejudice to the confisca tion of his merchandise, for the cause of false declaration or for any other cause determined by law."

These are the chief features of the formidable weapon which the Republican party, representing protection interests, has forged to destroy free-trade, and to add to the profits of the manufacturers of the East.

Now these may raise the prices of their products without fear, and should competition press once more, a sign from them to the general valuators will be sufficient, for they are so armed as to be able to nip it in the bud. Let me add that these val uators, like most civil servants and politicians in America, will probably obey the sign of the manufacturers, if it be backed up by some substantial gratuities.


AMERICAN LIFE. 233


IV. THE DANGERS OF THE PROTECTION SYSTEM.

Let us set aside these moral objections which will lead to a new form of corruption, and let us concern ourselves simply with the situation of American industry brought about by this policy of protection.

It is a false situation. The McKinley Acts have given a sad present to the national manufactures in multiplying and in raising barriers around them. They have acted much as par ents who spoil their children. Every caprice indulged is a future danger, and the stronger the satisfied whims the graver the dangers. American industry has all that it needs to live and develop, for it is a well-formed infant, but its future is being compromised by wishing to hasten its progress. I have already explained that the high scale of wages makes the estab lishment of protective duties necessary for the birth of certain industries, such as textile ones. If these dues were calculated simply to compensate for the dearness of handwork, they would have a natural basis, and allow American manufacturers to prosper, without provoking any serious opposition for con sumers. But this enormous size reveals their less reasonable object, and it is stated that the industrial magnates of the East coin money on the backs of Western farmers by this new customs legislation.

Doubtless, manufacturing has received a push, but it is the outcome of artificial force, and will suddenly cease if once the source of the force be removed. To-day the youth of America is rushing into the industrial current created by the force of legislative acts, and tends to leave aside farming whose nor mal condition seems to it less favorable than this fictitious one. It is neglecting the true source of its wealth, the fruitful and natural source which has made America, and is going off on the wrong track with all the energy that belongs to it.

What a terrible day of awakening it will be when a lowering of the traffic comes to open their eyes ! What ruin of mas ters ! What misery among workmen ! And yet, what is needed to bring about this free-trade reaction? Only a politi cal tacking, the triumph of the Democrats at the polls. By


234 AMERICAN LIFE.

their very extremes the McKinley acts have made this crisis at the same time more terrible and more probable ; more ter rible, because the actual raising of the tariffs accustoms the manufacturer to powerful protection, which is the source of a large proportion of their profits, and more probable because they have made many people very angry, and the Democratic party knows well how to make use of this fact. Indeed, they do not hide it, and have congratulated themselves since 1890 on the unpopularity of the acts. During the debates, when a specially crushing tariff was proposed, it sometimes happened that a less fierce protectionist would introduce a moderating amendment ; and then the Democratic benches gradually be came emptier, some members going to get shaved in the ad joining hairdressing saloon, others descending to the basement for lunch ; in short, many vanished, so that the amendment, supported by a few Republicans and the handful of Demo crats remaining was sure of being rejected. These honest politicians thought it was better for their party to let the odium of excessive measures weigh on their opponents without diminution than to protect actual interests of their constitu ents in a partial way.

What a text the proposals of these bills gave them to excite an audience of farmers, for instance, against the Republican party, the mainstay of protection! What magniloquent orations against the monopolists who oppress the laborer, menace his independence and make him pay so dearly for his great coat or his farm implements! The Western settler does not need to have these facts insisted on in order to be ready to fight, for there is a strong enmity between him and the Eastern manu facturer, which is shown by hearty applause at the first refer ence of the Democratic candidate to the matter. If a Western election turn on the tariff question, the Democrat is sure to win.

But even among protectionist manufacturers the acts have created discontent, which helps to increase the chances of an early crisis. New England burns large quantities of coal, objects to any tax on the bread of industry, and grumbles that it has been sacrificed to the interests of the mines of Pennsylvania and Ohio. The same complaints are made about


AMERICAN LIFE. 235

many other raw materials. Some smelters demand the free entry of ores ; shoe manufacturers, that skins should be duty- free ; carpet-makers claim the free admission of wools, etc., etc.

Free-trade also gains ground among the workmen. They have long been reckoned as supporters of protection, for their masters have gained them by this argument : " You have come here to make big wages, and, in order to pay them to you, we manufacturers must be protected against foreign competition by high tariff ; if not, we will be forced to reduce your wages to the scale of those of European laborers. " The workmen answer nowadays : " Of course, you need tariff to help you pay the wages you do for handwork, but you do not fairly di vide the profits you make owing to the tariff; you swindle us ; you could pay us still higher wages and still have honest profits, and that would be only just, as these high duties weigh heavily upon us ; as workers we may get a partial advantage, but as consumers we bear all the burden. It would be much better to have lower wages and be able to buy what we need cheaper." Such discourses are fatal. Everywhere and always when two people join to spoil a third, there is a quarrel about the booty; for nothing is more difficult than to divide an arti ficial gain in a just way ; and it is about this division that Yankee masters and their workmen differ.

But these are not all the discontents, for some trades are also dissatisfied, notably the shipowners. Boston used to be a large shipping port ; and some years ago it was possible to find firms owning fifteen to twenty vessels of large tonage ; but to-day these houses have almost completely disappeared as a result of the rise in tariff. By artificially raising the price of goods the Americans have put a stop to foreign trade, and as their vessels have nothing to carry when they leave port, the shipping trade has been ruined. At Boston and New York you can see the warehouses of all nations except the American.

Once entered in this path of artificial protection, they have always plunged further along it. The industrial magnates of the United States, protected behind this Chinese-wall, are a little straightened as to outlet for their goods, and cries of over production are common ; for, although the National market is great, it is not large enough to take all that the manufacturers


236 AMERICAN LIFE.

make. There is no use thinking of foreign outlets, for they are stopped up because of the high tariff, and the bounties for exportations granted under the McKinley Act cannot open them. Another plan must be thought out. The Old World is in a different economic condition from the New, and the United States has dreamt to bring about a war in which the two Americas, united under their leadership, would fight against the commercial forces of Europe. That was the idea of the Pan-American Congress, brought about by Mr. Blaine in 1890. By this, the products of New England would have the immense markets of Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chili, etc., where they cannot compete at present. But Mr. Elaine s plan has not succeeded, because it was too obviously advan tageous for the Yankees. The American Republics would not consent to buy in America what they can get cheaper in Europe.

In short, protection does not completely satisfy the manufacturers of the East, and is openly opposed by Western farmers, a large section of the working -classes and many traders. On the other hand, the practical combination of pro tectionist interest and Republican politics binds its future with that of that party ; and it is possible to foresee its fall. With out believing that the United States will admit for a long time the free entry of competing European goods, it is almost certain that tariffs will be lowered. As we have said, there will be a crisis then. Will it be fatal to American indus tries? Is it the sword of Damocles hung over its head ? It is necessary to know this in order to fully understand the present economic situation.

V. THE EFFECTS OF A FREE-TRADE REACTION.

Some industries will not be affected at all. These, we have seen, have developed normally, and are better protected against competition by the nature of their products than by any pro tective tariffs.

There will be a great disturbance in others. The masters will at once have recourse to a lowering of wages, which will bring on conflicts with their men. Several manufactures,


AMERICAN LIFE. 237

bolstered up by duties of 100 per cent, to 150 per cent., will probably disappear. But once the first moment of terror is over, the industries put in normal conditions will advance in their onward march under the powerful stimulus of American initiative and energy.

The lowering of the scale of wages and the prices of manu factures will have a beneficial action on the future of these manufactures, and will tend to put American masters on a level with European ones from this point of view. On the other hand, the American maufacturers will still retain the ad vantage of abundance of raw materials and the well-developed means of transport which exist in their country ; they will make them fruitful by their hard work, their enterprising spirit and inventive genius, and soon will flood Europe with their cloth, iron and steel as they flood it with their meat and grain to-day. Mr. Elaine s efforts to form a Pan-American Customs Union will not be needed ; for all the earth, and not merely a portion of it, will be open to manufactures of the United States.

The longer the protectionist reign lasts the further will this brilliant future be postponed, and the more terrible will be the effects of the reaction on present industries. The luckiest thing that can happen to American industry is to be put on a natural basis without delay, with the measure of protection needed for its support, but with profits coming from natural sources.

Another consequence of lowering the tariffs will be to give agriculture a new and profitable stimulus.

With lowered wages the lands in the East that are allowed to lie waste will be ploughed again, and farming, which will not pay at present in New England, will become a profitable business. The Western settler will pay less for his laborers and for his other purchases, and so see his profits increase. Un occupied territories will be colonized with greater rapidity than to-day, and the purchase of manufactured products will increase at the same time.

However, the question is not so easily settled as one would think ; for it must not be forgotten that the dearness of hand work is not entirely due to high tariffs, but is a conse-


238 AMERICAN LIFE.

quence of the special economic circumstances of the United States, where there are many vacant lands on which it is easy to settle. Free-trade can do nothing against this. The true problem for American statesmen is to protect their manufac tures in the measure that this condition destroys them, to bring them more and more into natural circumstances, so as to assure them a present life without compromising their future. They will need to be very skilful to do this, but they can at least try it by devoting themselves to the great interests with which they are entrusted, instead of the narrow claims of party.


CHAPTER XIII.

THE GREAT CITY OF COMMERCE AND BANKS. THE IN TENSITY OF COMMERCIAL LIFE AND THE COSMOPOLI TANISM OF NEW YORK. THE EMPIRE CITY. How AN AMERICAN CAPITALIST INVESTS His MONEY.

At the beginning of this book we noted that a special feature of American agriculture was that the settler fed cattle or grew grain with the intention of selling them, and not for home consumption, and that this led to the development of great cities where cattle and grain were concentrated. But these great outlet centres need outlets themselves, and we have shown that packing-houses and flour-mills work for an export-trade. Alongside this industrial activity which is sup ported by agriculture, there is another and purely commercial movement which also arises from it. To measure its impor tance it is necessary to go to some of the great Atlantic sea ports, and especially to New York, the Empire City of the States, as its citizens proudly term it. The overplus of the farms is really concentrated there.

On the other hand, the United States manufacturers pro duce goods at a high price, and do not supply every sort of article that is demanded ; so Europe sends over its surplus of industrial products, while the New World ships its overplus of agricultural produce.

New York, at the end of the natural line of transatlantic transport, is the scene of this exchange. It plays the same commercial part towards the whole of the States that the small towns of the West do to the surrounding country, or the large cities to a whole region.


240 AMERICAN LIFE.


I. INTENSITY OF COMMERCIAL LIFE AND COSMOPOLITANISM OF

NEW YORK.

Even on entering New York Bay the traveller from Europe is at once struck with the activity he sees. The great Atlantic liners come and go ; steamers of every shape and size, large transport-ships, active tugs and heavy ferry-boats plough the surface of the water in every direction ; the quays are com pletely covered by the immense sheds where each steamship company and each railroad has its terminus, forming a town whose site has been reclaimed from the sea, the advance post of the great commercial city.

Once landed in lower New York this feelin<r is intensified :

o

one is deafened by the tremendous din ; the endless street cars passing and repassing among the huge drays laden with goods, the smaller vehicles rattling over the wretched paving, while the busy people rush along, and the newspaper-sellers fill the air with their cries. The ground is not enough for the traffic, the streets are not wide enough, and New Yorkers have had to make several layers of roadways. Above my head was the continuous noise of trains coming and going along the " Elevated Railroad ; " the air was darkened by smoke and dust, while the sun could not reach me except through the openings in the scaffolding of wood and iron which support the railroad ; and further lofty wooden-posts carrying thousands of wires, helped to reduce the amount of light still more.

Too cramped in the narrow Island of Manhattan, the city has overflowed into Brooklyn on the one side and New Jersey on the other. To make a closer connection between New York and Brooklyn a gigantic suspension-bridge has been built above East River, at a cost of over $20,000,000, on which carriages, foot passengers, and trains pass at the same time on different roads, while the great ships sail below. A plan for joining New York and New Jersey by a tunnel under the Hudson is now under discussion.

On mounting to the Elevated Railroad one sees advertise ments which announce that over 5,000,000 people use it every


AMERICAN LIFE. 241

day. Reaching the street once more, one notices the telegraph offices at very short distances from each other, always crowded with messenger boys who carry the telegrams, and people of all sorts who are hurrying about. Telegraph and telephone are at hand in hotels, stores, offices and many privates houses. Intense movement is manifest everywhere.

Business buildings are of immense size ; Mills s Building is fifteen stories, and contains a thousand offices, banks, agencies of all sorts, offices of lawyers, stock-brokers, ship-brokers, engin eers, journalists, etc. Four elevators go continually up and down from basement to roof, for there is a vertical circulation as well as the horizontal one of the streets, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Elevated. The Equitable Insurance Company s Build ing, the World Building and a host of others, are rivals in size, the World Building, with its twenty-four stories, being, I imagine, the most daring in height ; but will it not be overtopped also?

Nothing could be more convenient for business purposes than these enormous tenements ; so, at least, say those who are used to them : " In one hour I can call on fifteen people and do fifteen bits of business. Should any difficulty arise it is pos sible to consult a lawyer or get advice from an arbiter without once going outside. It is impossible to estimate how much coming and going these huge business buildings save us ! " What would they do, then, without these blessed business build ings ?

Outside of them, but close at hand in the same quarter of Manhattan Island, which is probably the busiest corner of the whole world, are the various Exchanges, the Cotton, Petroleum, Produce and Stock Exchanges. Cotton, petroleum and agricul tural produce are the true sources of American wealth.

But consider, now, the other side of this exchange trade, the sellers of French and Spanish wines, the importers of porce lain, drygoods, ready-made clothes, gloves, fashionable goods and nick-nacks. All these are not in the lower parts of the city, for the nature of the things they sell tends to make them retail dealers; and so we find the French milliners and dress makers, the English tailors, the picture-sellers, etc., all open their stores in the fashionable quarter of Fifth avenue.


242 AMERICAN LIFE.

Such a mixture of different elements makes New York most markedly cosmopolitan. A man born and bred in New York is less American than many Westerners born on the banks of the Oder or on the shores of some Scandinavian fjord ; and he turns his eyes towards Europe more readily than towards the Far West. I was introduced to an eminent advocate whose family had long been established in New York and who had been brought up in a country-house near where Eighteenth street now is. He has thus seen the city spread over the whole of Manhattan Island ; he has lived through all this pro digious development of New York, and is delighted to talk about it. Impossible, therefore, to find a more genuine New Yorker. Very well ; this man knows nothing about his coun try ; he has never been at Chicago, whose inhabitants he looks on as barbarous, but he comes to Paris fairly often and he stayed a long time during the Exposition of 1889, f which he spoke in most admiring and enthusiastic terms. He would not visit the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876, partly because of the spirit of rivalry that exists between Philadel phia and New York, partly because he thought he would not find the splendor and elegance of European exhibitions. The New Yorkers are ashamed of America at heart, because it is not Europe. They are attracted by our more refined man ners and by the habits of fashionable life which they see at Paris and which they regret to miss when they return home. Hence an infatuation which shows itself in a thousand diffe rent ways, in the intensity of the Anglo-mania which rages among young people, as well as in the fairly numerous mar riages of rich New York girls with ruined noblemen. I went to a theatre one evening where the piece played was orfe of these heavy English farces which are midway between our Revues and our pieces de Varie te s. In this one the people of Chicago were ridiculed, as we used to burlesque our provin cials twenty years ago. If ever I open a New York illustrated paper I am sure to find numberless jokes at the expense of the West. One day I presented a letter of credit to a banker who, as I was French, began to talk to me about the splen dors of Paris and of the Exposition. As he spoke, his eyes sparkled and he warmed up as a gourmand does at the re-


AMERICAN LIFE. 243

membrance of a rich feast. When I asked him what he thought of the future World s Fair at Chicago his counte nance fell, he became silent and shook his head. I had to take my leave after that, for the comparison I had suggested was too desagreeable to him !

In coming from the West it is necessary to lower the scale of praise if you would avoid offending New Yorkers. When you are asked, " How do you like the country ?" at St. Paul, Chicago or Kansas City, you have only to be lavish in super latives, which never reach the height of the questioner s ideals. If he be a journalist come for an interview, he will add what your phrases lack in vigor. Thus I read in a Dakota news paper that in conversation I was supposed to have extolled the Americans for being " so magnanimous !" Such exagger ations would be taken for irony in New York. It is sometimes difficult to make a New Yorker understand what one really admires in America, the marvellous energy^of the Western settlers, their true sense of their dignity and independence, and that superb self-confidence which makes them undertake such astonishing projects.

Europeans who come to New York even those who stay there some years for business purposes without visiting the country carry away a very inaccurate notion of the United States ; and when one reflects that these represent the majority of those who take a trip across the Atlantic, it is easy to under stand the curious and erroneous ideas about Americans that are current in France.

On landing in New York, after having made the passage from Harve, one readily recognizes the marked contrast with Europe, and, therefore, thinks that he has reached the real America. I felt this very strongly, and kept saying to myself at every instant, " How far I am from Paris." Bu t later, after a long journey through the West, I spent a fortnight in New York, and it seemed to me as if I had already said good-bye to America.

This double impression gives an accurate idea of the dual character of the city, the connecting-link between two very different worlds, American on the one side and European on the other.


244 AMERICAN LIFE.

For Europeans New York is America, but for Americans it is the beginning of Europe.

II. THE EMPIRE CITY.

Just as international exchanges are centralized at New York, so there we find the concentration of Amercan finance. It is the great money-market. There are important banks at Phil adelphia, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago, but as soon as they make an important local connection they are forced to open a branch office at New York, which ends by having more busi ness on its books than the parent-house. Thus it is that Drexel, the greatest banker in Philadelphia ; Peabody, of Bos ton, and others, are found in New York.

It is impossible to describe the bustle round Wall Street, where the Stock-Exchange is located. It must be seen to be understood. A stock-broker, to whom I was presented, acted as my guide. From the circular gallery, which runs round an immense hall, I saw the 1,100 members, coming, going, tele graphing, questioning, taking rapid notes, etc. The indicators below bore the names of the various securities which were being exchanged ; here the Railroad Stocks, there the Sugar Trust. The excitement round this Trust is very lively because of the heavy speculations. I asked some details about the way people speculate in New York, and Mr P., who is well up in the customs of the Paris Bourse, pointed out some typical differences between the customs of the two exchanges. " Prop- perly speaking, we have no settling days (marchc a ferme] here, and all business done one day is settled by checks the next morning. " " But how can people speculate, then? " " They are bound to take delivery of the stocks they buy ; or, if they cannot pay for it themselves, find security, as we say ; that is, find somebody who will agree to lend them the securities and accept the stock as a pledge. In this case it is not the specu lator but his creditor who runs the risks of the operation ; that is his own lookout. The stock-broker does not fear that his client should withdraw behind the exception de jcu, as it is with us ; he always finds a responsible party, either in his client or his customer. The shares bought are really paid for. "


AMERICAN LIFE. 245

Another difference is that stock-brokers have no special privileges recognized by law, as with us. They become mem bers of the Exchange without people being obliged to deal with them. There are 1,100 members of the New York Ex change. Mr. P. told me how he became a stock-broker. " When I was twenty," he said, " I was in a house that im ported drygoods. The founder of the house, with whom I had been from the beginning of my career, soon wished to return to Europe, and left me alone in America. Having confidence in me, he entrusted me not only with his commercial schemes, but also with a certain amount of his private capital, which I was to invest for him in America, where he expected to get a higher rate of interest. His expectation was realized, and some of his European friends, encouraged by his example, asked me to invest money for them. After some time I found myself occupied with two businesses, one of dry-goods, the other of banking. I decided to give up the former, and so I am now a stock-broker."

I asked Mr. P. if he still continued to invest his clients money on his own responsibility without receiving precise orders from them. " That is no longer possible," he answered. " Twenty or thirty years ago, when railroads were short and passed through inhabited districts only, they were first-class investmets and perfectly safe. To-day things are quite dif ferent. I cannot be sure, any more than the brokers of Lon don or Paris, about the chances of success of a proposed line through the wilds of Texas, especially if the same company owns as the Santa Fe Railroad, for instance 1,100 miles of track. Of these 1,100 miles there are lines that pay; some are doubtful, while others are bad. How is one to put all that straight? Now we can invest money almost only in railroads. The other businesses in America are usually in the hands of private firms, and are conducted by two or three people, es pecially in manufacturing. You can conceive yourself by looking at the Exchange list."

The quotation list was interesting, for more than half of it was occupied by railroad bonds, which, with the shares, filled three-quarters of the list, but the latter was much less than the former. The makers of a railroad usually wish to remain


246 AMERICAN LIFE.

masters of the line and keep all the shares in their hands, so as to manage the line without any other sharing. Those who do sell part of the capital try to keep the greater part of it in their own hands, so as to have a majority in every division that occurs. That is called " controlling the business." The Vander- bilts own five lines in this way, and Jay Gould controls several. Some curious examples are given of lines which have been almost entirely constructed with the money of bondholders by pushing individuals who ran all the risks of the undertaking, and consequently pocketed the profits if it succeeded. The great Central Pacific was begun in 1860 by four San Francisco storekeepers, whose united capital did not amount to more than $120,000. One of them died in 18/8, leaving a fortune of $40,000,000. The four partners made the Southern Pacific as well as the great Central Pacific, and they own almost all the lines of California and Nevada. At first each stretch of track that was built absorbed every cent of the bonds issued.

The railroad kings, as they are called, are among the great financial powers of the country, and it is well worth remarking that the great mass of capital sunk by the public for working the great network of railroads really serves, in the long run, to increase the power of a few, because these few individuals really direct the companies, and decide as to proposed lines, tariffs, etc. The railroads, despite all appearances to the con trary, have thus the character of private businesses, that character so noticeable in all American undertakings. Mr. P. told me that there was a movement in the other direction now, that syndicates of small English capitalists bought businesses already started and in working order breweries, packing houses, etc. ; but the money they brought only served to launch new schemes under the management of private firms. The creative genius is a personal matter.

Nevertheless, powerful financial corporations really do exist, in the insurance companies, which owe their importance to the individual energy of the race, and to the business system where each man runs all risks. Let me explain : The great majority of fathers of American families, even among the rich and peo ple in easy circumstances, have no patrimony in the true sense of the word. When a man makes enough money to bring up


AMERICAN LIFE. 247


a family, he marries, he works hard, while the wife and chil dren live on the father s earnings, just as happens among our working-classes. If he does not succeed, they suffer, and he at once tries something else, for all money evils are curable ; but should things come to the worst, should he die, he leaves noth ing behind. The American seeks to protect himself against this most serious and unavoidable risk by insuring his life. Hence the great prosperity of insurance companies.

We have such companies in France, and some have yielded splendid returns ; but they are much less developed than in America. Few fathers among our non-working classes who are the sole support of their families ; many of them are civil servants receiving a small but regular income, and having the right to a pension, a part of which is paid to the widow should her husband die. But besides this, the wife usually has a dowry, and also a share in her parents estate, when they die. The death of the head of the family does not, then, generally involve the sudden and complete stoppage of the family resources.

Here, on the contrary, the father alone supports the family; the mother has no dowry, often no inheritance; if the father dies she is without bread. An insurance on his life, which gives her a jointure and enables her to bring up her children until they are able to work for themselves, is necessary to secure her maintenance. Insurance companies have innumerable cus tomers in a society made up of families like these. Every American needs them, and those that do not apply to them are already members of mutual associations which give them similar advantages. Some corporations have different plans for helping their members. For instance, the heirs of a stock broker registered at the Stock-Exchange receive $10,000 at his death ; it is the same at the Produce-Exchange, etc.

Thus the insurance companies have an enormous capital at their command, and the most important of them, such as the Mutual Life, the New York, the Equitable, have more influence on the market than all the banks of New York put to gether. The nature of these companies forbids their run ning any risk whatever ; yet they do a certain amount of bank ing-work, lending on securities for instance. Their offices, in


248 AMERICAN LIFE.

colossal buildings luxuriously fitted up, are a proof of their wealth, and inspire the insured with confidence. This inoffen sive advertisement is pardonable because it is truly justified. The American insurance companies are the whole reserve force of the most active society in the world. They are the most conservative force in an economic system, where production is excessive and risks enormous. They form the grain of wisdom which balances the adventurous nature of the Yankee.


III. HOW THE AMERICAN INVESTS HIS MONEY.

When examining the various branches of American activity we have several times seen the important part that credit plays. The settler who comes to a homestead has to borrow to buy the beasts and implements he needs ; the manufacturer, the trader and the banker borrow to increase their business ; and even the workingman borrows to build his house. The credit system is prodigiously developed. There are many reasons why this should be so, "and I recall some that have been already mentioned : the poverty of most immigrants, the enterprising spirit so widely spread in this society which trusts to its energy and work, and the great confidence it has in the future which explain its wonderful success.

There is one thing which must be clearly understood in order to appreciate the economic condition of America, and that is that money is plentiful in the East but scarce in the West. Mr. James Bryce, in his conscientious work on America, 1 es timates that six-sevenths of the American capital engaged in all the undertakings which exist on the Uuited States territory is held in four or five great Eastern cities.

Thus, there are capitalists in the East and no lack of borrowers in trie West, where many signs show that money is scarce. One of the most noticeable is the frequency of bar gains, of bartering. I asked a Kansas settler, who was driving me in his buggy, how much his team cost. He answered that it would be difficult to tell, as he had exchanged some bad cows for these horses, and added that one had not always

i " The American Commonwealth," by J. Bryce, M. P.; Vol. II., page 518.


AMERICAN LIFE. 249

money in one s pocket out West. An importer of Percheron horses showed me a farm he had taken in payment of a stallion. I copied the following from a Western newspaper :

FOR EXCHANGE.

Exchange. 360 acres good Nebraska farm-land for stock dry goods, boots and shoes or gent s furnishing.

I will trade a good clear lot in South Omaha for piano or horse and buggy.

If you have anything to exchange, call on or address Col. R., 6 Continental Block. Office open evenings 7 to 8.30 P. M.

Such advertisements may be read in all Western news papers every day. When a man gives credit he gets " No Cash Payment " printed in large letters on his sign. Buyers always come, and bargains are often made with payment partly in money, partly in kind, as in the following advertise ment :

Twelve thousand dollars worth of cloth and shoes against one-third cash and two-thirds in farm-land.

This scarcity of cash forced the Westerners to support the recent new Silver Bill with all their strength, whereby the Federal Government is bound to buy 4,500,000 ounces of sil ver from the miners every month. A larger circulation of cash always lowers the rate of interest, and all Westerners are benefited if they can reduce the rate they must pay for their loans.

In this way the West is debtor to the East. It might be imagined that we should find the ordinary bond-holder we know in France, in large cities like Boston, Philadelphia, etc., or the Jewish money-lender of Russia or Hungary. Nothing of the kind. We have already come across Eastern capitalists, such as Mr. A. s rich Boston cousins, who supply most of the capital sunk in his large fattening-ranch in Nebraska ; but we found that they ran all risks, decided how things were to be done, and saw them carried out ; they came West when they were needed at the ranch, and examined as to proposed changes themselves ; in fact, they were Mr. A. s partners, and not his creditors. I described a type of banker-farmer in Dakota, who also came from the East. He really lent money, and so was a creditor; but at the same time he had a farm of


250 AMERICAN LIFE.

his own, and helped the country to prosper instead of sucking it dry. I met professional men in New York and Boston who either farmed themselves or sunk part of their capital in farm ing ; but they knew the affairs their money was helping, which were not usually those of large joint stock corporations, but of private firms. They have to take care not to scatter their invest ments, in order to know exactly how their money is being used, and, unlike the prudent heads of families in France, who do not trust all their eggs in one basket, they are not afraid to do so, because they are sure that the eggs will not be broken be fore they put them in, and see that they will not be likely to suffer any serious jolting. They watch over the use made of their capital instead of trusting to chance, and the probability is that out of a dozen different affairs all will not burst at the same time. Thus American newspapers, which are usually so full of practical information, do not always publish a list of Stock-Exchange transactions, as our French journals do. Plenty of their readers take no interest whatever in their publications ; for if they do have any spare money, they usually can use it in their own business. They start schemes, they work them selves with their capital, instead of sleeping on their dividends. It is their solution of the relationship between capital and labor, and it is one that offers many advantages.

But Eastern newspapers tempt capitalists by such advertise ments as the following :

FOR WA TERTOWN (SOUTH DAKOTA).

A company of business men about to visit Watertovvn (South Dakota), for the purpose of investigating its business and its advantages for investments, extends invitation to others similarly inclined to join the party, which leaves Boston on Satur day evening, June yth.

People who will spend three days in a railroad journey to Watertown and as many to return are evidently not flats who would throw their money away on some vague scheme in Dakota; for in order to justify such a loss of time and so great fatigue they must be prepared to sink a large sum in the busi ness. After personal investigation they will combine in a com pany of five or six to light the town, to supply it with water, or to build a street-car track. The Boston capitalist is thus very different from the European one living on his dividends. He


AMERICAN LIFE. 251

is also quite another type from the money-lending Jew who oppresses poor people, lending to young men of family or to a peasant who is in debt.

A man who spends more than his income and does not work to increase it, is soon forced to ask for credit, but this credit is deceptive, for it only hastens his ruin. When many proprie tors in one country have done this, they naturally form a class of debtors with very bitter feelings against their creditors. This is at the bottom of the anti-Jewish agitation in Russia and Hungary.

But a farmer, a manufacturer or a trader who needs money for his business takes kindly to the banker who lends it, especially if his business succeeds. It is owing to the banker s help that he has been able to make a fortune, and this credit and the man who gave it equally have his gratitude.

In the former case credit accelerates ruin ; in the latter it helps activity to produce wealth. This somewhat invalidates let me say it in passing the general theories of political economy about the credit considered in the abstract.

It is noteworthy that this American credit system excludes investments of greatest security, dear to the French notary ; that investment about which he need never trouble himself. It is not to be found on the other side of the Atlantic, except in some railroad corporations, and even then there are risks to be run, as I before noted.

The only institutions that recall our European way of doing things are the " Trust Companies," a form of deposit banks which relieve shareholders and proprietors of real estate in towns of all the trouble of certain formalities as to interest or rent, renewing the leases, etc. They have been started quite recently, and their origin is easily explained. Many Easterners travel in Europe, going about from place to place, or else settling there ; many women have large settlements, and then certain public institutions have large endowments. These form a special class of dividend-drawers, tending to increase with growing wealth. The Trust Companies meet their de mands and are slowly becoming powerful financial corporations, comparable to the insurance companies.

However, this is a parisitic element; it is the union of capital


252 AMERICAN LIFE.

and labor in the hands of the same people, the fact that a rich man in the United States is not a useless idler but an enter prising and energetic spirit, that makes the American credit system so powerful and so full of good results. Instead of the stockholder being content to enjoy his dividends, the Ameri can capitalist is busy producing something


CHAPTER XIV.

AMERICAN EDUCATION. - - PRIMARY EDUCATION. ALL TRADES ARE RESPECTABLE. THE YOUNG GIRLS.

One need not stay long in the United States before finding out that everybody is not able to make use of its proffered advantages. Every European visitor feels this, and I hope that my readers here also felt it in glancing at the various forms of American activity. The Western settler must be prepared for isolation ; and he who would carry out any project, even in the East, must run great risks and meet the competition of many energetic people. Everywhere a man must know how to change his trade should circumstances demand, to be on the lookout for the lucky chance, to live always with both eyes open, and camp on life s battlefield. Some Europeans can accomplish all this, and we have seen them doing it ; but, generally speaking, the American is victor in this daily struggle, directs all movements, opens all new ter ritories, founds villages, builds railroads, forms factories, and pushes on his country to its high destiny.

How is it that the American can do all this? To this question everybody has a different answer. Some say it is because he is an egoist and values nothing but money. Others think that his energy proceeds from a higher source, and is the outcome of a deep feeling of personal dignity. One blames, another praises, but nobody explains. After all, it is not so much a way of proceeding to be explained as a way of looking at things to be understood. Both result from a combination of circumstances, the influences of environment and of educa tion. To understand them, then, it is needful to observe these surroundings, to study this educational system, to examine the thousand details of daily life, which give the American certain ideas and aptitudes from his earliest days. That is


254 AMERICAN LIFE.

why we shall now enter an American family and study it, just as we have examined the inner-working of farms, workshops, business and banks. We have seen the American at work, and now we must study how his education fits him forhistask.

I. PRIMARY EDUCATION.

An American, five years old, is already very different from a European, as can be seen in a thousand details. Last year, when I was returning from New York to Havre, there were several American families on the steamer. The children, who are usually free from sea-sickness, were one of the greatest sources of interest to me during the voyage. Their ways and talk, which I compared with the ways and the talk of French children, were most instructive and sometimes threw a vivid light on all that I had seen in America. One day, when I was marching up and down the hundred yards of deck, I saw a little girl about four years old climb on the railing and lean half over right above the water. I instinctively drew nearer to save her should she fall, when her mother, happening to pass, said to her, " Well, are you having a good time ?" patted her on the cheek, and then went off to the other end of the vessel to play at skipping ropes with two or three gentlemen who had got up that little game to relieve the tedium of the voyage. I then resumed my interrupted walk, saying to myself that there was no need to be more motherly than a mother, and think ing about my wife and children. What fears a French mother would have had in like circumstances ! This American mother was by no means an unnatural one ; far from it. She considered some things to be natural and salutary which we think foolish and imprudent. Her code is that each one should be able to look after himself, and she naturally applies it to her child, not because she has reasoned the matter out, but because it is customary, and she has rio idea that her action could raise the slightest whisper of criticism.

There are doubtless many objections to this way of doing things which are obvious enough, but the American accepts these, believing that they are not so important as the advan tages ; their children are imprudent, but their youths are bold


AMERICAN LIFE. 255

and enterprising. We, on the other hand, wish our children to be quiet, obedient, under control, and our young people lack- initiative. From the care or a nurse they pass to that of a servant, from that of a school-usher to that of a mess corporal, and when they are given their freedom, they do not know what to do with it.

I also remember a little boy of eight and a half, who walked about alone with his hands in this great-coat pocket and answered to the name of Willie. His father and mother were somewhere on board, but I never saw them, although I often talked with my little friend Willie. This youngster had crossed the ocean several times, told me what he had seen in Europe, wanted to know how the screw worked, and did not mind whether he spoke English or French or Spanish. He could easily have been sent alone from Europe to America without his being put about in the least.

Perhaps you will say that he was a specimen of a cosmopo litan child, developed in this exceptional way by his constant travelling. But go where you will in the United States you will find this type. A friend of mine who lives four miles out of Kansas City, allows his twelve-year-old son to bring his little sister from the school to the house with his horse and carriage. I went to spend one evening in St. Louis with a family, but found only the father and the mother and one of the children at home, the others having gone to the theatre to see " Carmen." The oldest boy, only twenty, and his sisters, eighteen and sixteen, came home at midnight through a very lonely quarter, almost in the country. Another resident of St. Louis said to me, " My daughter, who is sixteen, left for Winnipeg the other day, but she should be there by this time." This young girl travelled alone all the way from St. Louis to Winnipeg, over 1,250 miles.

When Americans come to Europe this independence of their children and young people, and the confidence placed in them, greatly astonishes people. A New York lady, staying in Paris, sent her little boy of ten to cash a check for $1,000. The cashier dared not refuse to hand over the money, but he spoke to the father about this imprudence. "Indeed! Do you really think that my son, who is eleven years old, is not able


356 AMERICAN LIFE.

to do an errand for his mother? " said the father, and he laughed and told me the story as an example of our innate distrust. This same little boy was in Paris during the Exposition of 1889, and went there alone every day, talking German with German exhibitors, English with English and Americans, and French with the others, questioning them, gathering useful in formation and educating himself in the American fashion, wherein books play but little part. His father was not able to get away from New York until near the close of the Exposi tion, but when he came over to see it, his little boy was his guide everywhere.

In a word, the Americans accustom their children to look after themselves from an early age, to have confidence in them selves and to need nobody. When traveling one can see little girls of seven or eight, packing their trunks themselves ; each has her own and is responsible for it ; she orders what she wants at meal-time and knows how to choose. A well-bred child in our country looks at her mother to see if she may ac cept a bit of candy.

They are early taught that life has its painful necessities, and that it is useless to bewail the departure of their father on a long journey, or the reverses of fortune. They are virilely educated.

American parents do not usually do these things from any special reasoning, any more than French parents have a special theory about the education they give their children ; but the tyrany of custom brings it about.

Further, an American father and mother preach mainly by example ; they do not often correct their children and they seldom use force. The reason will be found in that which I have said before to develop initiative it is necessary to let alone. Hence extraordinary patience and requests where we would command. In a village in the West a young mother said before me to her little girl of three years, who had been making a mess in the parlor, " Arabella, please do not do that. I am very sorry, but I must forbid you to do that. Arabella, you will break my heart." That woman s heart would be in many pieces before evening, for Arabella broke it every instant. I have heard many tales like this. A little boy, who had been


AMERICAN LIFE. 257

expelled from several schools in St. Paul, returned home after one of these escapades. The father, without disturbing him self, said, " Well, sir, what college do you intend to go to now?" It is impossible to stretch respect for individual lib erty farther.

Like every educational system, this one has no effect on some natures, but in all it can influence it must awaken a strong sense of responsibility, dignity and manliness. A monk of French origin said to me, " Young Americans are more easily taught than French, provided we take care not to be too brusque with them. Like young blood-horses, they need to be carefully managed, but one can get plenty out of them after wards. The secret is to treat them like grown-up people and to appeal to their high sense of duty. The other day I heard an American deploring that boys of twelve and fifteen years, taught by mistresses in public schools, worked in order to please them. " But don t you think this deference a point in their favor?" " Without a doubt," he answered, "but children should not work to please a woman, but to develop themselves, to become men, to raise themselves to play their part in life. Education cannot be properly based except on this idea; a man becomes a man in no other way." Such is the American idea.

It often happens that a ten-year-old American plays the part of a little man, as is inevitable with such liberty as he has ; but the manifestations of his precocity are serious in spite of their ridiculousness. He does not think himself a man because he smokes, walks with his toes turned out, or speaks of popular actresses. What raises him in his own eyes is to have some responsibility, or to give himself the air of having it; for in stance, to look after his little sister and conduct her to his father s carriage. Above all, he affects absolute independence, and talks of the business he is going to do, about which he is already thinking.

However, in spite of this almost negative education I have just described, in spite of the great liberty which the young American is allowed in everything, there is one exception to this liberty which is carefully taken from him the liberty of doing nothing in the future. The feeling of responsibility is


258 AMERICAN LIFE.

developed to prepare him to be perfectly responsible for the means of his existence as soon as he is old enough. If a youth even of sixteen or seventeen, or of twenty at the oldest, has to ask his father to help him with money, his comrades point their fingers at him. Public opinion is strong on this point, and the fathers of families do not intend to feed the strapping fellows they have brought up ; and so the beardless youth has to shift for himself, and it is for him to prove that he has stuff in him and can manage his own affairs.

I have often met Frenchmen in the United States who were greatly shocked at what they called " the selfishness of American fathers." It seems quite unnatural to them that a rich man should leave his son to earn his own living, and not to support or start him in business. It is certainly opposed to our cus toms, yet it is the strong point in American education. The liberty the children have would be very dangerous if it were not counterbalanced by the necessity of looking after them selves ; and the feeling of responsibility and personal dignity which is developed in them would have no solid base were a young man not really responsible for his conduct ; if he did not suffer the consequences of his faults, and did not profit by the results of his work.

But every society in which riches are increasing has to solve a problem which it is often incapable of doing how to find work for rich young men. Nothing is more difficult than to keep the great energy which has founded the prosperity of a class in its scions, and to preserve them from corruption. The American has truly solved this by the ingenious plan of forcing even a millionaire s son to earn his living by the sweat of his brow. I once visited a brewery near Boston with the proprietor, a very hospitable gentleman, who had entertained me some time before. In going through the coopers shop, Mr. R. asked me if I did not recognize anybody. I looked round, and in a workman who wore a blue pilot-coat I discovered my friend s son, with whom I had dined on Sunday in his father s house, and who had seemed to be a perfect gentleman. I went forward to shake hands, but he laughingly excused himself, showed me his blackened hands and said he had been forging ! Mr. R. explained that this boy was going through every differ-


AMERICAN LIFE. 259

ent workshop, so as to get a practical acquaintance with every thing done in a brewery.

He works like any other man, then goes home at night, dresses and sits down at his father s table ; he is surrounded with every luxury, in an elegant and comfortable villa. Here is a young man who need not be frightened for anything that may happen in future. One of his brothers rises every morning at two o clock to go to the brewery and look after the delivery of hops, barley, etc. He makes up for this by sleeping on Sun days ; and another brother envies his lot, for he says he cannot get a good sleep except in Summer; in Winter his business kept him up late and forced him to rise early. There is a large family (seven children, I believe), and the father has two mil lion dollars ; so each child will have a very fair fortune if it be divided equally among them. But until the father dies they must live, and no money-lender would advance a dollar on their prospects, for they are quite uncertain ; the father may disinherit all or any of his children ; he leaves his fortune as he thinks best, and the law does not interfere with him in the least. One can easily understand what a stimulus society receives from the action of all these youthful energies, and that this so-called selfishness of American fathers explains the development of America fairly well.

However^ there are many signs that this way of doing things has no relation to narrow egotism. A Chicago advocate who has fourteen children, thirteen of whom are boys, told me that he sent them to Europe after they finished their studies and before they began business, because he thought it a most useful supplement to their schooling. This costs him $2,000 and $3,000 each time ; but later, his sons will not be able to make so extended a tour as they must attend to business ; so the father does not hesitate to send them across the Atlantic at this favorable period at such a cost.

The youth brought up from his earliest years to rely on himself and accustomed to see around him men who have made their own fortunes, naturally aspires to do this himself ; and it is a pleasure to watch how he seeks to make the most of himself when the proper moment arrives. He throws him self into the fight with the same eagerness that a young Saint-


260 AMERICAN LIFE.

Cyrien does when summoned to the field, only it rarely hap pens that a student from Saint-Cyr is called on to fight- at twenty, whereas the struggle for life, without truce and with out rest, demands the service of all young Americans for all their lives.

II. EVERY TRADE IS RESPECTABLE.

Never ask a young American what career he is going to fol low, for he will not understand you at all, because there are no careers there, in the proper sense. When he is twenty he does not know that he will have a salary of 4,00x3 francs at thirty, that he will be decorated between forty and fifty, and must retire at sixty. It is difficult to find young men, when in the East and in the great cities of the West, who are pre paring for some profession, such as that of advocate, physican or engineer; but in nine cases out of. ten they have no notion except to start in business; and they begin manufacturing, commercial life, farming, or journalism, whichever happens to turn up and suit them, without attaching much importance to this start. They do not need to commit their lives to the administrative machine that will deliver them on the threshold of old age forty years later; they seek only to make a living for the present and to gain experience. With this necessary income and experience they will one day be able to have a business of their own. This is the American plan.

They do not spend long hours racking their brains to dis cover their calling, nor do they ask their older relatives about what career to follow ; but they believe that the best way of discovering their capabilities is to test them, and trust to being enlightened as to their destiny by trying their luck. It thus happens that boys of sixteen are often engaged in important businesses, such as he who took me round Mr. Carneggie s workshops at Pittsburg and who said, when I offered him a cigar, " No, I thank you, sir; I believe I am still a little too young for smoking." Too young for smoking and not too young to be in business! What think our rhetoricians about it?

The fathers seldom advise their children, because they be-


AMERICAN LIFE. 261

lieve nothing can replace personal experience ; as one said to me : " Let him learn his lesson." A New York banker told me that he happened to receive a few thousand dollars just as he started in life, and as he came in contact with Wall street speculators every day, he thought of risking his money in in vestments, and consulted his father about it. The father said : " Go ahead, and lose it all as soon as possible, for that will teach you, better than any number of lectures from me, that money is made by work and not by speculation." Two months later, after several viscissitudes, the son came and told his father that he had lost every cent. He had learned his lesson.

To learn this lesson well a man must be responsible for his acts, and for this reason an American rarely takes his son into his own business, but lets him go where he wishes. Any in fluence of fatherly authority falsifies the experience. This custom greatly surprises the European. It seems quite natural to let our children profit by a position already made ; a lawyer with good clients, a merchant with plenty customers, or a pros perous manufacturer, is always prepared to take his son into his business, and the son ready to follow this career, provided he will work at all. In America it is quite different. The fathers notice that this easy entrance to life does not suf ficiently temper a character for life s struggles, and their sons, jealous of their independence, are inclined to avoid their father s factory or office. Each one has an ambition to make his own fortune, and this can be noticed even among those whose object is not filthy lucre. I remember one boy who had a passion for study, and who worked at a table beside the elevator, which he manipulated several hours a day, so as to make money to pay for his lessons. Lessons bought in this way are bound to be profitable. This boy will not become a millionaire by growing pale over his books, but neither will he be dependent on anyone for his intellectual satisfaction ; he will not be rich, but he will be independent. That is the main thing.

The same sense of dignity exists among American clergy men. The Superior of the Catholic Seminary at Boston, trained at Saint-Sulpice, pointed out several interesting charac teristics to me. One student of lowly origin, whose parents


262 AMERICAN LIFE.

could not pay for his board, came to him one day and said : " Please let me remain here till the end of the session and con sider it an advance of money which my family are not in a position to give me, and I shall earn it during the vacation and repay you." At the close of the session the young scholar went off to Saratoga, a fashionable Eastern watering-place, and became a waiter in one of the restaurants. He came back to Boston at the end of three months with a sum large enough to repay the money advanced to him. In France we would consider it contrary to ecclesiastical dignity to permit a future priest to wait at table in Vichy, but we are quite content to see them educated by public monies. In America, on the con trary, no trade is dishonorable, while it is a disgrace to be un able to keep oneself. Such are the people who keep up the professions, and among the waiters with whom the seminarist lived, many may be gentlemen to-day. They also may be seeking simply temporary occupation, so that they may make money enough to let them go on with some enterprise in the future.

This explains perfectly that self-respect which everybody has, the independent attitude adopted by people in every rank of life. An American workman has a high idea of himself, and there is not a prouder Iiidalgo in all the world of Spain. He does not dress in a cloak full of holes nor pose theatrically, but such an external garment is of no use to the American. Such pomp is needed to publicly proclaim the noble origin of the hidalgo, while he stretches out a begging hand ; but the Amer ican who works and who really feels himself independent, does not bother himself about what his neighbors think of him ; his sense of dignity is internal, that of the hidalgo external.

There are no irreparable misfortunes for people with such customs, and a father who has been completely ruined by his bad management, may hope to see his sons occupy prominent positions. The mistakes of one generation have not much influence on the succeeding one. All the young people begin life with the same, or very nearly the same, advantages.

This is especially noticeable in the West. An immigrant from Europe with a wife and children, after a reverse of fortune, often finds it difficult not only to be independent, but even


AMERICAN LIFE. 263

to live. However, his sons are brought up in an American atmosphere, without European prejudices or distrust in every thing, and without that bitterness so often found in people who have met adversity ; and then the future is before them. A young man of eighteen who was born in France, and was brought over by his ruined parents when he was three or four years old, told me how he had got on in Kansas. First he was shepherd on a sheep-ranch, and then cowboy on a cattle- ranch, riding from morning until night and gaining a vigorous constitution, which will be of the greatest use, whatever happens to him, by this exercise. After this he tried farming, but soon gave it up for journalism, and now he had taken to commerce with success. He had a speedy horse and a buggy in which he drove the girls during his spare moments, and he declared that he was perfectly happy to be a true American. His older brother only came to the States after his course of studies, when he was seventeen. He makes an excellent bank- clerk, but he will be a clerk all his life. His friends shake their heads in speaking of him, and blame him because he is not enterprising. " He knows his banking business well enough and might start for himself, " said some. " But how can he found a bank if he has no capital? " " What a reason ! Where would we be in the West if we waited till we were rich before trying our schemes?"

The American takes advantage of every opportunity for speculation, to apply his intelligence and energy to any profit able combination ; he considers any occupation which consists in doing the same thing over and over again every day, art in ferior one, which he will accept only temporarily. His aspira tion is to do business, and as far as possible to " try his luck,"

This is so marked that even the Americans themselves some times laugh at it. Here is a little story told by a New York paper which paints to perfection the precocity of every little child. The scene takes place in a Western mining village : " Johnnie," said a prominent financier to his youngest son, " I ll give you a dollar if you ll break up that plot of ground. I wish to make a new garden for your little sister." "All right," answered Johnnie, who suddenly became thoughtful, "but I must ask you to advance me 25 per cent, of the price fixed by


264 AMERICAN LIFE.

the bargain, not that I doubt your word, but I need that sum for working capital." " What do you say, Johnnie?" " Don t you see, father, I shall bury the quarter you give me in the ground, then call the other boys round and tell them a pirate once hid a treasure in this place. After one of them finds the quarter, I guess the others will make the dirt fly. The plot will be dug and I shall get 75 per cent, profit without any trouble ; but in fact - " Well, what more ? " " Oh, if 1

should find the quarter myself that would make them work just as hard and it would pay me better. That would be the same stroke as the one you spoke of to mamma yesterday about that mine." The father shed tears of joy when he thought what a cold day it would be for Jay and Rufus when his son would be of age.

Whether true or false, this story is typical, and shows that an American knows how to make a profitable thing out of some task others are content to do for a given wage. Such a man does not remain a bank-clerk all his life.

But the fortunes they build up are unstable, and they run enormous risks-. A man may go to sleep a millionaire and waken to find himself without a cent. Yet such sudden re verses do not knock them over. They simply mean a return to a known condition, the one from which they started, and that it is necessary to go over an old road once more. Then they courageously do the first work that they can find, with a simplicity of energy altogether admirable. One day a respect able-looking man of about forty called on a Chicago lady, whose family he had formerly known, and told her that the house in which he had been employed had smashed a month previously; that he had no means, and would be most grateful to her if she could get him some work. Mrs. B. told him that her husband would soon be back and would do what he could to find him a situation, but that meanwhile he must consider himself at home and never think twice about coming to them for help. He replied that she misunderstood him, for as he had nothing in the world he was not sure of being able to pay back anything; but if she wished to do him a favor she could give him some work, let him dig the garden or beat the car pets, as he was ready to do whatever human hands could do ;


AMERICAN LIFE. 265

for he was determined to earn the bread he ate. Mrs. B., who told me the story, then went to a neighbor, who was having the house repaired, and that evening she found this gentleman, who had come to ask her for work, lying on his back, painting the underside of a wooden balcony. After some time he was able to find a situation more suited to his abilities ; but he never would take any help from his friends, except their help when seeking for work. That was his code of honor, and truly many a man has a worse one.

Thus it is clear that American education does all it can to develop to the utmost this sense of personal dignity and in dependence in young people, as we have seen in so many cases. I am well enough aware that during the past few years there has been a tendency to form a class of idle youths in New York, Boston, St. Louis, Baltimore and even Chicago, who are ready enough to play with the dollars made by their fathers; but the dislike that is shown to them and the sarcasm that seldom spares them show that they are exceptions. In any case there is no use seeking the reason of the rapid progress of America among them. They are Americans bound to dis appear, to come to Europe and idle in the capitals or watering- places. Their own country has not enough distractions for men of leisure.

III. THE YOUNG GIRLS.

This breath of independence which moves throughout American society stirs in the feeble sex also, and their educa tion is, perhaps, the most original of all. If we Europeans are astonished by the little boys brought up on the other side of the Atlantic, we must be still more surprised at the little girls. This ought to happen at any rate, for we know how much a French woman, for instance, finds herself exiled and ill at ease in the environment we are describing.

The first impression of the stranger is that there are no sexes in the United States. Girls and boys walk to school side by side, they sit on the same benches, they have the same lessons, and go about the streets alone. So much for their earlier years. Girls of twenty are found in the factories, in


266 AMERICAN LIFE.

the halls of great hotels, where they act as clerks to anybody, for they know shorthand and typewriting ; in the primary schools, where they teach ; in the lecture-room, where they study medicine ; in the streets, where they preach ; in chari table institutions, which they manage, and sometimes, as in Kansas, for instance, even in the polling-booths, at the head of municipalities, etc.

How is this strange and complex being brought up? For what ends and duties is she trained ? A moment s reflection is needed before answering.

Perhaps Americans do not know very well themselves, for in reading a newspaper I" came across the notice of a very curious competition : " $20 prize to the person who sends the best answer to the question, What Shall We Do with Our Girls? " The competitors were divided into two groups: some wished girls to be brought up so as to be able to earn their own living, and one quoted a sentence of Mme. de Stael, which I do not know, and which seems to me much too American for her: " Cc ricst pas de mes e crits que je snis fiere ; je suis fie re (T avoir a ma disposition dix famous differentcs de gagner ma vie." (I am not proud of my w r ritings, but I am proud that I am able to make my living in ten different ways). The other insisted more on domestic virtues, on household duties cooking, washing, etc.

These two tendencies are well marked in society, and corre spond to the two different situations a woman may fill. If she remains unmarried she must struggle for life like the men with whom she competes, and the best education for a spinster is a virile, practical training for that struggle. If she marry, her husband assumes all responsibility of supplying daily bread, and her part is to look after and bring up the children and manage the house.

But it is impossible to know which will be the lot of a little girl of ten, and the problem is what sort of a training to give her?

Americans usually act as if their daughters would never have a husband, and bring them up as they do the boys, letting them have as much liberty as possible, for in this difficulty of telling what wi\l be the future they prefer to give them the


AMERICAN LIFE. 267


means of making their way in life alone. If a companion offers to give one of them his arm and walk along with her, so much the better; but it is well to be prepared for the worst in order to avoid disagreeable surprises.

It would seem that there must be equality among the boys and girls, but this equality, of which I have spoken, is balanced by a great inequality which custom determines and the law supports.

In order that a girl may have complete liberty in American society she must be protected by its conventions as much as the strict family supervision does with us. An old French gen tleman said to me : " You can send your daughter from North to South and from East to West of the States without fearing either any unpleasantness or adventure. That is because there are so few women in the West, and in earlier times there were very few everywhere ; so the Americans look up to them as godesses." Since then I have often heard and been much amused by this reason of the old gentleman. Just think of a young woman lost among two hundred Frenchmen ? Do you imagine they would honor her as a divinity? Well, perhaps like some pagan godess. The fewness of the women has little to do with the respect of the people for them. This respect is an outcome of the constitution of their society, and to under stand it we must consider its origin.

However mixed may be the origin of citizens of the Union, we have shown several times that the immigrants from Northern Europe take the first place in American society. They founded the mother-colonies of New England and of Pennsylvania, and they are to be found in the West to-day, coming straight from the plains of Saxony, the British Islands and Scandinavia. There is no need to insist on this idea, which has been ex pounded here several times already.

But we know, for instance in the case of England, that girls of this race are protected by a strong moral and legal barrier, and they are allowed a liberty which seems strange to us and would bring about grave inconveniences in our country.

The Americans are thus predisposed in favor of such an education, but the peculiar nature of the surroundings accen tuates this, and it often happens there that girls settle far away


268 AMERICAN LIFE.

in situations where there are many risks on a ranch lost in the Far West, or in some rising town. It is impossible to be too well prepared for so stirring and uncertain a life ; hence fathers give their daughters much more liberty than in Eng land, and raise a still higher moral barrier around them.

So one sees young people of both sexes living on terms of intimacy without any bad results. I know that everybody does not admit this, and that some French authors consider mixed schools to be sources of great mischief. However, everybody I asked about it unanimously testified to the contrary. A Catholic priest, who had been stationed in the States for many years, said to me : u I live quite close to a high- school, where boys and girls of eighteen both go. I often see them pass the windows when the classes are dismissed, and I can assure you that I have on no occasion noticed the least impropriety of bearing or of conversation." Yet he was right in the middle of a big town.

In addition to this, ask the mothers and they will tell you that their daughters go out at any hour of day or night, either alone or with their friends, and nobody is the least surprised. If you have been presented in any house, you may ask a young lady to go to the theatre with you ; and, if that young lady be hungry at 1 1 o clock at night, you may take her to sup at a restaurant, and then conduct her home. All that is perfectly allowable. Your discretion and good-breeding are trusted ; and should you be indiscrete, the law courts will make you follow the path of duty ; and the courts are by no means tender. An innkeeper in Pittsburg lately surprised a pretty Irish girl by embracing her, and had to pay her $1,000 damages. Another man in the same town was fined $2,000 for kissing the wrinkled skin of an old woman of sixty. Of course, the penalty is proportionate to the position of the offender, rather than to the charms of the victim. Punishments of this sort are needed to remind people who have no sense of propriety nor any respect for woman, that such things are expected from them. Such penalties are enforced only in societies where such sentiments and respect exist. There, as elsewhere, public opinion backs up the law.

Moral mixed schools do not surprise me any more than


AMERICAN LIFE. 269

respectable streets and decent suppers, and, in general, the propriety of the relations between American young men and women left to themselves. The decency of American manners is incontestable, and the best proof is that this liberty given to girls would be disastrous in France, for instance ; everybody feels and understands this. It follows that manners must be better in the United States, otherwise the system would be broken up by the abuses which would result.

As it exists, this state of things brings about two character istic advantages. Unmarried women can get respectable situations ; and the future mothers of families gain experience and are able to choose their husbands with some knowledge of what they are about. Marriage does not wear the aspect of an escape from family subjection, but appears a serious step whose consequences and burdens are realized. Nothing could be less alike than French and American marriages, as we shall now see.


CHAPTER XV.

BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE. HEIRESSES. DOWERLESS DAUGHTERS. FORMS OF MARRIAGE. LARGE FAMILIES AND CHILDLESS MARRIAGES. THE DIVORCE QUESTION.

I. HEIRESSES.

Let us, first of all, get rid of a subject whose importance is immeasurably magnified in European eyes, and which might help to falsify our observation. I mean the matter of Ameri can heiresses.

We know them in France. For several years back an in creasingly large number of young people of good families have been coming to New York and offering for sale titles and coats of arms that would not be bought in the Paris matrimonial market. With a few recommendations, they soon manage to find a purchaser, as there is a great demand for titles in certain American circles. English lords and German princes and barons no longer disdain the heavy dollar-bags which Americans hold out to them ; and quite a number of such exchanges are ar ranged at Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

Nothing excites the American comic papers as these inter national marriages do. One published " The Lamentations of an American Heiress," sighing after a ducal coronet and burn ing to escape from the surroundings of her youth. Another represented girls swimming about distractedly in an ocean of dollars, while a ragged gentleman threw a hook baited with his title among them. Here is the subject of a proposed stained- glass window in a fashionable church : A young Englishman, dressed in a checked jacket, receives the supplications of a group of young American girls, and looks at them through his single eyeglass with that self-satisfied and half-indifferent air which characterizes the race, whilst his adorers show the reality


2/2 AMERICAN LIKE.

of their eagerness by their poses. The subject is treated in a pseudo-archaic way which adds to the burlesque. Another example pictures the official interview of future father-in-law with prospective son-in-law. The former asks the ordinary question in such a case :."Sir, are you in a position to support my daughter properly?" To which the second embarrassedly answers, " Yes, sir, I dare say I can if you support me prop erly." And then, as the last scene of all, the reader is shown a miserable-looking attic, where a man in his shirts-leeves, wearing many brilliant decorations, with an empty bottle at his side, is thrashing the heir to his name, while the princess or countess, his wife, is preparing some food on the stove in the centre. Everything tells of misery and the fact that the large bags full of dowry dollars are now empty.

Such is the cruel lesson from facts drawn by American journalists and put before their young fellow country-women. It is a little too far-fetched -to convince them, and it does not reform them. How can they be changed? Satire never yet cured those it stung. It holds up their whims to public view, gives litterateurs an opportunity for skillful word-painting, and lets the readers have a pleasant moment ; but it has scarcely any other effect. When it attacks some current craze and it is only then it can be amusing this craze has too powerful causes to be cured by sarcasm.

This is true in the present case. Americans with an aristo cratic mania do not come from the West, where we have seen the girls gallopping over the ranches, but are young ladies brought up in Eastern cities, especially in New York, and sub jected to essentially cosmopolitan influences. They have often lived abroad for a long time in Paris, London, Rome, Nice or Biarritz. They have met amiable and elegant idlers, and know how to spend a clay in their company, bringing them a thousand different distractions, and are adepts at arranging an excursion to the Pyrenees, making up a picnic menu, or at rehearsing a drawing-room comedy. They discover with us a whole class who study only how to make life an uninterrupted succession of pleasures, and that this art is the outcome of a long series of efforts, which their American brothers and friends cannot learn all at once, whereas it comes naturallv to


AMERICAN LIFE. 2/3

the descendants of several generations of idlers. They are charmed by our easy life, and willingly buy the right to lead it from whoever will sell it. This is impossible unless they can offer a good round sum into the bargain, for it is useless to offer oneself without a well-filled sack. But American fathers do not usually give their daughters any dowry, and this effect ually limits the exportation we are discussing.

Still, there are some Americans -who have been affected by influences, and think highly enough of the Old World life to wish their daughters to be in it. They are evidently not true Americans, but Americans ready to blush for their fellow- countrymen, disgusted with the work they have to do, and quite ready to take advantage of the first opportunity to settle on the other side of the Atlantic. These people are very well pleased if they can get into society through their daughters position. They have become aware that this world of society is not easily entered by any comer ; he who would live in it must pay at the gate, and the only one at all accessible is that of marriage. Hence they determine to have a son-in-law.

In a word, this is hardly an American luxury ; and then America is not recruited, but deserted by the contractors of such marriages. If we would study American life, we must not look at this aspect of the marriage question, but that of the girls who have no portion.

II. DOWERLESS DAUGHTERS.

The great majority of American girls get no dowry. All fathers who do not work with an export trade in view have no notion of keeping several generations at the same time, and it may even happen that a man who has made a great fortune will let his daughter struggle in the deepest straits without thinking of coming to her aid. I was told of a rich Chicago merchant, spending about $70,000 a year, whose daughter, brought up in his luxurious home, married a teacher who did not earn $60 a month. The young household had a terribly hard time of it, as can be imagined, but the father s purse- strings were never untied. If she married a teacher, she was not forced to do it, but did it because she chose, and so it is


2/4 AMERICAN LIFE.

her own lookout if she must live on $60 a month. Everybody is expected to arrange his life as he wishes, and on his own responsibility.

American girls soon begin to " fish for husbands." This is the classic procedure for all except old-maids. It needs a keen eye to discover the right man amoung the crowd of males they meet. Note that the operation is much more complex than it is in France, where a suitor can be classified whenever his dowry, his career or the fortune and age of his parents are known ; and it is possible to say what women he may aspire to wed by glancing over the list of girls in a corresponding class. But in America the only known factor is the personal worth of a young man. He has no dowry, a career full of uncertainty, and no certainty of any patrimony. The sole guarantee is his record up to date, his greater or less ability and energy; in fact, the opinion that men of forty, able to judge, have formed of him.

For a practical as well as a sentimental point of view an American girl has only one way of being sure of a satisfactory marriage, and that is to study her lover. Custom allows her every liberty to do this, and she takes advantage of it.

As to the young man, he is not guided by the amount of dowry, and, if he be prudent, he will not trust in his father- in-law s fortune ; while in any case he must live until it comes to him. The first qualities he expects to find in his wife are a power of accepting whatever happens without a murmur, and a willingness to help him to make the most of all that turns up. An American wife must be courageous. How can a man struggle if he be bound to a woman who intends to flee the fight.

Thus, it is simply a matter of interest for both parties to seek a companion with certain moral qualities, and, above all, one with a strong character. Hence, another reason why we should find these qualities developed, for this circumstance tends to stimulate them strongly, as can be noticed in many American households. I remember one young wife in a corner of Dakota, who came out there four years before, with her husband and grandmother. She was brought up in New York, and her husband came from Boston. At first they


AMERICAN LIFE. 275

settled in a young growing town ; yet the beginnings, which are always hard in such cases, had left no bitter memories. She told me that her husband was doing well in business, her grandmother lived with them ; she had a little daughter and possessed quite a pleasant home before her husband s partner failed and her grandmother died. This lonely and troubled young wife only occupied part of her elegant wooden-house, but she showed no bitterness in relating her misfortunes ; she had a particular way of telling her story which was both sim ple and strong ; not resigned but reasoned. Her husband had lost his money, but had gained experience. " He had learned his lesson," which consoled her and gave her hope for the future. This gallant little wife had really a very accurate idea of life, and bravely bore its inevitable crosses. Her education had taught her to look at it in the light of day, and not to consider that she should live in some carefully-constructed box, free from all risks. She had stood the test, but then she never knew that awful deception which French parents, who are considered prudent, practice on their children by removing from them every possible trace of the struggle for life, and which a single unexpected accident makes them realize in its fullness without any preparation whatever. An American must marry such a partner.

But fine sentiments are not enough, and it often happens that heroines are nevertheless miserable mistresses of a house. A woman who joins her husband in life s battle must have a number of less high-sounding and more useful virtues for every-day use. Girls who wish to get married carefully show off their domestic capabilities. Here is a curious case which I dedicate to epicures : Six young Ohio girls had fixed their choice on six young men of the same district, and had told their secret to each other, as is customary with good friends in similar circumstances. Things were progressing smoothly enough, but these daughters of Eve became impatient for their victory, and resolved to win it by the bold stroke of proving to the men of their hearts that they were all quite capable of looking after a house. They, first of all, got the loan of a house for a certain day from a friend, and then sent off six invitations to a lunch which they intended to prepare and serve with their own


2/6 AMERICAN LIFE.

fair hands. The day arrived, and at the appointed hour the young men came to this enticing lunch. They were welcomed by the six sprightly cooks, dressed like comedy waiting-maids, with a little knot of ribbons on their heads, symbolic of a cap, with their arms bare, and wearing a low-necked gown with short skirts, and an elegant apron. The men inspected the stoves and superintended the cooking of the beefsteaks, to prove that there was no deceit, and then sat down at a table beautifully layed out with flowers, etc., where they were excellently served. A few weeks later there were six new households in Ohio.

Such customs are very different from ours. I can imagine the terrible scandal a like escapade would cause in one of our little provincial towns, where modest girls would certainly not run this risk; whereas Americans thought it a charming adventure, their education making them look at it in that light.

American marriage is a union of two people, and not an alliance between two families. The parents do not support the young household in any way, and do not interfere in the choice of either party. Each one arranges his own marriage. Consequently the United States does not have that interesting class of professional match-makers that we have. There are no old dowagers who seem to have given themselves up to speculation on the happiness of their fellow-beings, and who actively spend their leisure in bringing about chance-meetings of different members of their large connection. Americans have suppressed this intermediary.

Young Americans do not lightly pledge themselves to under take this serious married life, which we enter accompanied by a full family procession and guarded by all its counsel. The least promise is binding, and, if broken, leads to an action for damages. Alongside this liberty that young people have, cus tom and law have fixed the severest penalties for seduction ; alongside the ease of marriage-making, they have placed strong barriers to bethrothal-breaking. Everything tends to make a lover serious, to calm his eagerness. He has apparently every liberty, but he also is made to fully realize the weight of respon sibility he is assuming.

" Dear Mabel," said a young man, who had been too rash to


AMERICAN LIFE. 277

his intended, " I am afraid our engagement must be broken off ; but do not take the thing too much to heart, dear." " Oh, don t trouble yourself, dear Bobby ; I will not take it to heart, but I will take it to the court for $20,000."

Such customs have their inconveniences. They help to develop that coquettishness which woman is naturally inclined to show. When a young lady of five-and-twenty catches mat rimonial fever, she does not forget one single trap that can be set for the stronger sex. If they have offered her a box of candies in a moment of enthusiasm, let them look out ! That is the American equivalent for the classic bouquet of flowers sent in France. Perhaps some judge may see sufficient proof of an engagement in this innocent act ; and should anyone forget himself so far as just to touch her virgin forehead with his lips, the case is clearly proved, and any denial is useless, for the little brother has been behind the curtains with his instanta neous camera and produced a print as damaging evidence.

Marriage, in spite of all these dangers from female coquetry, is a more serious affair than in our society. A man takes every precaution in moving over ground which has so many am bushes ; the thoughtless let themselves in and make a mess of it ; others have the faculty of choosing a wife, prudently get out of the way of the flirt, and know almost exactly what they are doing when they marry.

The girls also gain by this system. They are more respected than in France. The consequences of a lack of respect are so grave that nobody thinks of doing without it and undergoing them ; and then the absence of a dower does away with such harmful calculations as those to which we are accustomed.

The American wife has a very dignified position in a house hold ; she is even exacting, is often willing to reduce her husband to the part of a little boy ; sometimes objects to his smoking in her presence, and knows very well how to make her opinion prevail in any difference. She is a queen. This is true of all grades of society with modifying traits. The workingman s wife does not go to the workshop, as we have seen, for she musUhave a drunken husband if she has to earn her own living; and the honest laborer who works all day for means to support his family does not play the part of patriarch when he comes


278 AMERICAN LIFE.

home, to his own fireside. He may not lose the right to smoke his pipe when he crosses the threshold, but he is always in some measure his wife s guest. It is she who rules.

Her character is not that of an absolute monarch, and she respects her husband s independence in his own proper sphere, as he does her independence in her position. Each has a sphere of interests where he is master or she is mistress ; the husband looks after his business in his own way, the wife directs household affairs as she wishes. Then each of these spheres are completely separated from each other. The American husband does his business outside in his office or workshop, and he does no work at home, whither he comes for rest. The house is the scene of woman s work.

III. MARRIAGE FORMALITIES.

When a young man and a young woman have agreed to wed one another, all they have to do is to get a marriage licence from the probate judge, and then they can be united by the first judge or clergyman who turns up. Nothing can be easier. It is speedy, simple and economical.

A father of a family may easily awake some fine morning and find himself provided with a son-in-law or a daughter-in- law whose name he does not know. A farmer whom I knew was visited one day by a young neighbor who said that he must no more call Mary his daughter, as she was his wife, for he had married her the day before. It is true that this happened in the West, where formality of any kind is rare, but it is hardly possible to imagine anything less formal than this marriage. The most curious thing is that the farmer was not angry with Mary. She had agreed to become that young man s wife, and that was her own affair.

The American State does not ordain any imposing ceremony, and the only formality demanded is the buying of a license. The parents consent is not needed, and no public office is re quired. The ridiculous ceremony of a civil marriage is not forced on them ; and if a couple do get married by a judge, it is because there is no clergyman near, or the two are of dif ferent sects, or of no sect. Americans are wedded with or


AMERICAN LIFE. 279

without ceremony, as they choose. I gave an example of an express marriage above, and I shall now describe a wedding of people less in a hurry, who were united in presence of their relatives and friends.

This marriage took place in the suburbs of Chicago, in a beautiful property dotted with clumps of trees. An Episcopal chapel, with a little pointed spire, was built on the edge of the park. It belonged to an amiable neighbor, who offered it for the occasion, although the marriage was to be celebrated according to Presbyterian rites. However, sectarian differ ences are not so closely examined by Protestants in America. It was Spring, and the usually bare chapel was decorated with plants of every variety, and flowers were distributed to the guests, who fastened them to dresses or in buttonholes, then took their places and waited for the procession. The bride wore an elegant white dress and the traditional veil ; the bridegroom was in afternoon dress. While they knelt before the alter, a small orchestra played very good classical music in a mediocre way, and then the ceremony began. It was con ducted by an old clergyman in a frock-coat, looking exactly like the father of the family one sees in illustrated editions of Berquin ; but in spite of this reminiscence, which evidenly I alone had, I found him venerable-looking and calm, with an expression altogether different from that of the crowd around him, for he was the only one that bore the stamp of some spe cial profession. He did not deliver a discourse, but he read some texts, with a loud voice, and among them I believe I recognized the part of St. Paul s epistle to the Ephesians used by the Catholic liturgy in the Mass for Marriage. Then both bride and bridegroom repeated a long formula after him, of which this is the text :

" I, - , take thee, - , as my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God s holy ordi nance ; and thereto I plight thee my troth."

The Lord s prayer was then repeated, the audience respond ing, and after the solemn u yes," the minister pronounced the nuptial benediction.


280 AMERICAN LIFE.

This ceremony has evidently nothing in common with the hurried and almost clandestine formality which an amorous couple beg a magistrate or clergyman to accomplish for them without giving him any warning. This was a family festival ; and two bridesmaids accompanied the bride, which was very modest, I was told, since many brides have as many as six maids. The chapel was crowded with gay dresses, the orches tra played Mendelsohn s Wedding March as the procession passed out ; and everybody went to the bride s home to pre sent his best wishes to the young couple, take part in the lunch and taste the wedding-cake. The wedding-cake is an archi tectural structure in cake, destined to defy centuries, or at least years. Everybody gets a piece, but there is still a large quantity left over, which is carefully kept to show to the children in after years, and to stand on the table at family an niversaries. Young people keep a small piece of the wedding- cake and put it under their pillow, and whatever they dream of during the night will come to pass. This revealed to me that an American could dream, a feat I should have always doubted had it not been for that wedding-cake; for dreaming does not suit these men who are so busy all day and generally have very little time for sleep.

I had a talk with an American lady who had visited Europe as so many educated American ladies have done when we were returning to dinner in Chicago, in the car reserved for those invited. She asked me if I were not surprised at the customs I came across in America, and added : " We have one very curious, one relating to marriage, for we get married in the evening. Miss C. was married in the afternoon, because all the Chicago people you see here could not have come so easily in the evening. But you know the men in this country are usually so very busy all day that they could not get married at all if this were not the custom, for they could never find time for it otherwise." Of course this is a clear skit, but it is amusing and just, for it exaggerates a real characteristic. The friends who attend an American marriage come empty-handed. The new household has to buy everything needed before it can settle, and presents are usually given with this in view. Silverware holds the first place ; tea and coffee


AMERICAN LIFE. 28 1

services, trays, covers, knives, candy-boxes, sugar-basins, large crystal jugs with silver bands, handles and covers for ice-water of which they drink such prodigious quantities for syrup, etc. There is not much jewelry or articles of value; but chairs, a bed, tables, in fact a whole furniture store. This practical sort of present becomes more common further West. At New York such gifts as bracelets, rings, etc., are going to daughters of Vanderbilts or Astors, and at one recent mar riage in this class of society the bride was said to have re ceived $200,000 worth of diamonds ; but then these are the Americans for exportation of whom I have just been speak ing. At a recent marriage in high society in Dakota I noticed a silver toothpick was mentioned among the wedding-presents. It is impossible to push the liking for silver and the desire for utility any further.

The custom of decorating the rooms with a prodigious quan tity of flowers is the principal element of elegance at an American wedding. When the religious ceremony is in the house, as is usual with Protestants, a great crown is made above the heads of the happy pair, and sometimes even a very dome of flowers of the most graceful appearance. Even in the extreme West, where flowers are very rare, rich people order them on these occasions at great expense. Everybody seems to have a passion for this kind of luxury, which does not demand a refined taste, such as artistic decoration or a col lection of curios, and it has the additional advantage of being expensive just such reasons as would explain its reign in America.

LARGE FAMILIES AND CHILDLESS FAMILIES.

When the newly-married couple has shaken hands with a great many people, and the bride has changed her white dress for a simpler travelling one, they start off on their wedding- tour ; some good friend throws an old slipper after the depart ing carriage to bring them good luck, and their married life begins.

We are much too discrete to follow the young people through the various phases of their honeymoon, and I suppose that


282 AMERICAN LIFE.

nothing is so like an American honeymoon as a French one. The subject is not interesting enough to justify crossing the Atlantic to study it. It is more interesting to note what the young wife understands as the duties of her new position, which brings us to a new and delicate question, but a very important one for the future of America the question of children.

Few families are fertile in Eastern cities, except among the Irish and Germans ; the others who have been in America for some generations seem stricken with sterility. I well remember the unstopable laughter of a young wife in Brooklyn when I told her how many children and nephews I had. It seemed the most extraordinary thing in the world to her to have a numerous family ; and she confessed that no family she knew had more than two, and that most people were contented with one. Her husband protested against this statement, but she silenced him by asking him to name any of his friends who had three children.

It is only in Brooklyn and New York that this barrenness is very marked, but it is found in various degrees in all the large cities. A Philadelphia manufacturer confessed to me that when a child did come it was a mistake. A German workingman in the same city pointed out to me his numerous and con stantly-growing family and said : "You cannot find so many children as these among true-born Americans, for their wives poison themselves so as not to have any infants. "

But even in great cities I came across some notable excep tions, even among American families of long standing; for instance, a Chicago advocate with fourteen children, a St. Louis manufacturer with eight, a St. Paul banker who had seven alive. I quote these cases so as not to unduly exag gerate this evil, which, as is well known, is spreading in Eastern cities.

What is the probable cause? Is it as a Yankee economist said one day : " A French lesson too easily learned by his countrymen?" I do not believe that the sterility in France has any but the most remote connection with American barrenness.

Both are voluntary, it is true. Those wishing to excuse the


AMERICAN LIFE. 283

Americans have pleaded the physical and physiological conse quence of habitual overwork, climatic influences, the abuse of chewing tobacco ; what more shall I add? After each census the Academy of Medicine in France publishes reports on the general effects of certain elements of modern life on which they try to fix the responsibility for such a state of affairs. But in spite of these general considerations there are families, both in France and America, which undergo the same influences, and of which some are barren, some fertile. Sterility, therefore, is not inevitable.

In France fathers with some property usually wish to limit the number of their children, some because they do not wish it divided at their death, the majority because they must give dowries to the living. Every infant is a new creditor. Twenty or thirty years after his birth, after we have fed, lodged ^and brought him up, we must hand over a portion of our property to him. Such a prospect makes many parents think seriously. Ask them, and they will confess that it is so.

In America nobody thinks much of giving his children a ready-made position ; and there are no dowries, save the few exceptional ones I have mentioned ; so there is no need for considering how to suppress them. The education of children does not cost a father much money; but the mother has all the cares of the little ones from their earliest years, as well as having to bear the suffering of motherhood and the different compli cations that babies bring into a household. But Eastern girls are not educated so as to be able to deal with such cares and pains, while the lack of efficient service and the smallness of many town homes help to aggravate matters. The responsi bility for the scarcity of children rests on the women.

Just recall how the American gdrl is trained, with every lib erty and never a trace of restraint, and a considerable experience of life. Her great energy and " go " are more easily exhibited on a Western ranch than in a narrow room. Imagine such a girl cooped up in some large city say New York with an incon venient house, often without servants, or in any case with un trustworthy ones, left all alone for a dozen hours every day, and tell me if these are favorable conditions for bringing up a large family ? Certainly not, if the girl has been accustomed to


284 AMERICAN LIFE.

a high standard of comfort ; certainly, if she be the wife of a workingman.

The former recoils from the prospect of washing, combing and cooking for half a dozen children, for as a girl she has had nothing to do but to look after herself, and this transformation is far too abrupt. The latter is set free from her work in the factory when she marries, and readily accepts the cares of motherhood, which she finds lighter than her former task. This picture is not true for any place except New York and a few Eastern cities. The young couple easily find a house of their own in the West, which may not be large, but is sufficient, and is easily enlarged as the family increases. This is one favor able condition. Another is the simplicity of their customs, which allows girls of every class to do housework without repugnance. The household may be in the country, and the duties therefore complicated. For instance, on a farm there are laborers to feed and farm-yard animals to look after; and it may happen that even the girls are called on to help in the farm-work on some sudden emergency, for example, to guide the horse-rake at hay-time or bring back strayed cattle to their proper places. Such occupations give quite a different train ing to that of the regular attender of a high-school, who lazily promenades the streets of a great city. When these Western girls have to undertake the duties of a mother they do not refuse them.

To sum up: Voluntary sterility is confined to great cities, and is prevalent mainly among the rich. It is a phase of moral corruption aided by city life and by an external rather than a domestic education, and fostered by the inconvenience of the houses. We shall be able to understand it better when we enter the American home and see how it is organized ; but before doing so we must study another plague of American society.

V. THE DIVORCE QUESTION.

No exact idea is to be had of American marriage customs, if only their making and celebration is to be considered, for too often they are broken with remarkable facility.


AMERICAN LIFE. 285

Divorce laws differ in every State of the Union. Unfaith fulness must be proved in New York. In New Jersey divorce is obtained if either man or woman has been cruel to the other; in Chicago and throughout the West, even incompatability of temper need not be proved ; for instance, husband and wife have lived separate for two years : this constitutes the right to divorce in Illinois.

Thus, any American or European, tired of married life, can settle in bachelor quarters in Chicago, become a citizen at the end of the first year, and, if he can prove that his wife has never come to seek him, he is free to try new matrimonial experiments, if he so desire, at the end of the second year. Many people profit by such facilities, and as the riches of Chicago attract crowds, hoping to make brilliant speculations it has become a great place for people dissatisfied with their married condition. If a New York, Boston or Philadelphia husband wants to break the bonds of wedlock, he jumps on the cars for Chicago. Hence, there are many jokes about the divorce court, which is called the " divorce mill," about the lawyers and the customs generally. Yankees are always ready to chuckle about this subject. They often have good cause, for alongside the sad consequences of such extreme looseness of marriage bonds, there are often some grotesque results as well. I have explained how common bargains are in the West, and it sometimes happens that a man will exchange his wife, as land or horses are exchanged. I saw a lady of respect able age on an Iowa farm, of whom the following tale was told : In her youth she was the wife of a cowboy who lived on a lonely ranch. The owner of this ranch was affected by her charms, but, reasonably enough, feared the rage of the cow-boy. One fine day he sent him off to a distant market with a large herd of cattle, and then telegraphed to him, "George, keep the herd and I ll keep your wife." "All right," replied the un scrupulous George; and to-day Mrs. X. is a prominent lady. A little divorce case and a prompt marriage sufficed to set matters straight.

It is possible to cite other examples of the same sort, for with such easy divorcing, much prostitution assumes the as pect of legal marriage. It is recognized concubinage. A


286 AMERICAN LIFE.

young Frenchman in the West told me that he was forced, at the muzzle of a revolver, to marry a St. Louis girl who had lead him into a trap, but the day they were united he left her, and hoped to get a divorce soon. Under these conditions one asks himself what is the worth of such amends of honor. The ease of divorce makes it positively illusory.

On the other hand, American morals must not be too severely judged by basing the estimate of them on divorce statistics. They tell of an enormous number of unhappy households; but how many have we in France that are included in no statistics, but which can be pointed out by everybody? In America conjugal infidelity is seldom tolerated ; no civil law tends to keep two people who have mutually ceased to please each other in apparent harmony, and only the Catholics among all the sects refuse to recognize divorces. All Protestant de nominations admit the principle. One clergyman here and there may refuse to unite people legally divorced, but he never does so in the name of his creed ; his refusal is based on a con sideration of this special case. High Church clergymen are more punctilious in this respect than Methodist ministers, and they must be satisfied that there were the highest reasons for divorce ; but none of them teach that marriage bonds are in dissoluble.

A series of moral disorders, which are hidden vices in France, tend to increase the number of divorces. Secret households may be avoided, but a man gets a divorce in order to live with a woman he would make his mistress in other cir cumstances. This is a less complicated plan than the three some life (vie & trois], and it is much more prudent, for it must not be forgotten that illegal concubinage has many serious dangers in America.

But along with such sad facts it is necessary to remark that the same portion of society preserves its respect for marriage. I know an advocate who never once pleaded in a divorce case during a long career, for it seemed to him to be beneath his dignity, although his religion imposed no conscience scruples on him. A divorced woman is not received in certain circles, even in Chicago. In fact, a large number of families regard divorce with the same aversion as our best French families,


AMERICAN LIFE. 287

whether from a high standard of moral propriety or from re ligious principle. The absolute opposition of the Catholic Church to the undoing of marriage has helped to raise the high moral position she occupies in the eye of the most re spectable dissenters, who feel that there is a necessary safe guard in her doctrine. Certainly, the solemn form repeated by the clergyman becomes absolutely ridiculous. Why say, with a grave voice, " Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder," if facts contradict this dogmatic affirmation, and if the same clergyman unite the same individual with five or six women ? I remember the painful impression, which I felt in spite of myself, on leaving the venerable-looking white- haired Presbyterian minister blessing the young couple in front of me, and reading with, a loud voice these simple and beautiful words. I said to myself that doubtless he often ad dressed them to people who had already been wedded, and the dignity with which he bore himself, and the conviction in this accent, seemed to make the anomaly still more obvious.

There is only one remedy for this scourge of divorce, and it is a religious one, for the law is not sufficient. American Catholics keep the Christian marriage in its purity and per manence without any law texts. Despite their laws the evils we have described will continue under other names.

We must now enter those American households we have seen founded and dissolved. We shall be able to know them better in this way by living their life and examining the vari ous types into which they may be proved.


CHAPTER XVI.

THE AMERICANS AT HOME AND ABROAD. FAMILIAL HOMES. NEW YORK AND BOARDING-HOUSES. THE DOMESTIC- SERVANT DIFFICULTY. TRAVELLING. THE LAST JOUR NEY AND THE LAST RESTING-PLACE.

I. FAMILIAL HOMES. 1

The love of independence which the American reveals by so many traits is strikingly shown in a special way in every home. The man who has worked hard all day, so that neither he nor his family are dependent on anybody, wishes to get peace or quietness once his daily task is done. His home is a little sanctuary where no intruder is admitted.

There is no need for artificial isolation on Western ranch or farms to avoid promiscuous crowding together ; but it is quite different in the towns. Everything tends to bring people to gether, to favor a social life ; yet Americans resist this as much as possible, and settle in a town very much as Parisians do in the country. If you desire some sort of idea of the resident- quarter of an American city without leaving France, go to Montmorency, to Maison-Lafitte or to Bellevue, and you will see houses that are much more like Chicago residences than Parisian flats.

Americans do not live in the centres of great cities, but only do business there, while their families live elsewhere. This is true for all American cities. In Philadelphia, St. Louis or Chicago there is the same well-marked separation between business and residential quarters. Every morning the street cars coming from the latter are packed with passengers, and

i Readers will kindly notice that only town households are dealt with. The others, on ranch and farm, and in little growing towns in the West, have been described in the chapters dealing with these subjects.


2QO AMERICAN LIKE.

this occurs again in the evening when there is an exodus from the centre of the city. The traveller who is knocking about and leaves his hotel in the morning in order to have a look at the pretty surburban residences and parks, is sure to find a street-car all to himself going in that direction. On a fine Spring morning it is a very pleasant sensation to breathe freely in the shady avenues along which some trim residence is built every here and there ; and while he is congratulating himself on getting out of a sickly atmosphere, every minute he passes cars filled with unfortunates who are rushing to spend the whole day in it.

They at least know the advantages of healthy air, and see that their wives and children can enjoy it. " Buy your houses on Long Island ; fresh air, quick trains, etc.," I read on a trans parency one evening in New York. That laconic advertise ment puts prominently forward the three desiderata of an American seeking a house. First of all it must be his own ; it is not enough to rent rooms, but he must have a home which is his own property. If, in addition to this, breatheable air is to be had, and a means of rapid transit to and from business, then a most suitable residence has been found.

The newspapers are full of such advertisements, which are pasted up opposite the passengers in street cars and stuck on the walls in the streets. They offer the most enticing induce ments, as well as philosophic reflections on the joys of home, its dignity, comforts, etc. The desire to own a house is so com mon that everybody is influenced by such considerations.

The dearness of land is the greatest difficulty in the way, but people will go far from the town if it can be bought at a reasonable price there. It is quite common for a man to live four or five miles from his office and the suburbs often extend much further near the railroad tracks. It is impossible to know where the town ends. I hired a buggy one day in Omaha to take a drive with my travelling companion. We rapidly passed along avenues planted with cottonwoods and bordered by pic turesque villas, without caring where we went ; and as we got further away from the Missouri river the road became rougher, and sometimes we had to turn back to avoid a too-deep rut or a street under construction. Nevertheless, we always saw


AMERICAN LIFE. 2QI

houses in front of us, even when our light carriage brought us to the still uncut forest, where there were many small cottages, some of them quite new and elegant. Every now and then a sign-post told us we were driving along some street, but in reality the buggy was knocking against the great trunks of trees, cut above the ground, at every turn of the wheel. We tried to get back the way we had come, without success ; and at last we asked a passer-by to show us the way, and found out from him that our hotel was about four miles away, and that we had been driving outside Omaha for more than an hour.

Houses occupied, by the comfortable classes are not so uniform as workmen s dwellings, especially in their external appearance, where the unexpected and fantastic rule ; but the interior of the house of a beginner in business and of a rich manufacturer is always arranged in much the same way.

All houses are planned to suit family life and not receptions, and form a sharp contrast to our Parisian houses. There are usually two salons the front and back parlors, but they are small, while the other rooms are large and habitable. Here is the arrangement of a very common type of two-story cottage : the kitchen, dining-room, parlor and lobby are on the ground floor, four rooms on the first floor, and three on the second. Only the basement is built of stone, the rest being of wood. Such a house can be erected for $1,200. It is not a palace, but it certainly is a home where children can be brought up. Of course, there are no gilded ceilings in such houses, and not even special ceilings. The same arrangement of rooms will be found in stone or brick houses that cost twenty times as much, and which are much larger and more magnificent.

The small, narrow and dark hotels that may be found in New York or Boston have the same plan. Land is dear there, and the houses are built side by side ; yet each has its own en trance and is a minimum home ; still it is a home. The street frontage is only twenty-five feet, just enough for a narrow pas sage and a front parlor. A room behind is used as the back parlor, sometimes as dining-room, while a narrow staircase rises from the very back of the corridor and leads to the upper floors, which are entirely occupied by bed-rooms. The kitchen and its auxiliaries, and sometimes even the dining-room, are on


292 AMERICAN LIFE.

the basement floor; and there is a small court at the back of the house where all washing is done and the linen hung up to dry on ropes stretched in every direction. This long row of courts has not a pleasant look when seen from the opposite windows ; but, as they are placed between the rows of houses which line the streets, they do not destroy the look of the town, and they are greatly appreciated by housewives, who can do all their work at home and manage without the Chinese laundry, where linen is destroyed.

But the houses are not arranged for receptions or balls. The suits of apartments which we value so highly are not to be found here, except in the houses of certain rich citizens in the East, who are anxious to imitate European customs. The long, narrow lobby does not charm the eye, but it is as convenient in daily life as it is ugly. At any rate, social functions are scarcely possible here. The ladies have no reception days. Owing to this custom of having detached houses, friends live far from each other, and although rrieans of communication are not lacking, they are not pleasant for a lady going to make calls. People jump on to the street-cars in any order, whether there are places or not, and crush against each other, sitting or stand ing, as long as there is room of any kind remaining. A new gown fares badly in such a crowd. You may object that a lady may take a carriage, or that she may have her own turn out ; but there are either none to hire or they are too expen sive ; these are very exceptional, much more so than in France. In short the scourge of " days " and visits has not yet crossed the ocean, and if ever it does, the Americans will find their houses very inconvenient for such customs.

The plan of the houses corresponds to the arrangement of American life. It is individualistic. It is made to suit those who live in them and not those who call in passing. Just con trast them with the Italian palaces, where there are large re ception-rooms that must be filled with a crowd of people before they are animated ; where family life seems sad and out of pro portion in such immense salons, but where magnificent feasts are easily arranged. In America the houses look their best when peopled by father, mother and children.

Americans usually go to the country when they lose their


AMERICAN LIFE. 293

idea of a home confined to the family and wish a house for en tertaining. The Yankee millionaire likes to show off his splen dors in a country seat, except in the palaces on Fifth avenue, New York, which are a European phenomenon. Round Phila delphia are many such establishments, but all are at least twenty or thirty miles from the city. The rich American seeks isola tion even when he is showing off his magnificent possessions, and to do this he must go far beyond the suburbs. For in stance, the charming residence of George W. Childs, the well- known proprietor of the Public Ledger, is situated in Delaware County, far enough from Philadelphia to be away from the in fluence of its factories. It is one of the most elegant mansions to be found anywhere, built in the English Queen Anne style, and having a rustic appearance that increases its uniqueness. The magnificence of the interior is in happy contrast with this apparent simplicity. Imagine a princely chalet near the sea shore !

Even in New York the tendency to-day is to have a small house in town and the principal residence in the country. This is a reflection of English society life. The suburbs are left to shop-keepers clerks and the middle-class in general. A rich New Yorker would never think of building a villa on the pleasant slopes of Hoboken, overlooking the bay, for the Ger mans have invaded them and prevented them becoming fash ionable. Even Brooklyn is not fashionable, in spite of Prospect Park and the pretty views at Greenwood. Thirty miles from town there is no degradation in spending a hundred thousand dollars on a country-seat.

This is quite the thing to do. We French people have no objections to the chateau life in Touraine in Autumn, with its hunting and dining in red habits; but the elegant millionaire contented with a small house in Paris is a rare bird. We are too eager for the society of our fellow-beings to accept such customs. Even the peasants collect into villages in France, while the fund-holders settle in towns. In America the laborer, the smaller master, and the rich banker vie with each other in fleeing from all avoidable intercourse.


294 . AMERICAN LIFE.


II. NEW YORK BOARDING-HOUSES.

The enormous development of New York and of its exten sions, Brooklyn and Jersey City, during the past fifty years, has made the difficulties of realizing this longing for isolation almost insurmountable, so that many families have been com pelled to resign their independence and live in the same house. This has resulted in the development of a particular style of living that in boarding-houses.

The small hotels, separate from each other, that are common from Thirty-sixth street onward, are rented for about 3,000 to $4,000. They do not cost so much to build, but the price of the site is enormous. Three, four, five and six hundred dol lars are ordinarily paid for every square yard. Of course this price is realized only near one of the great avenues ; but ground at a reasonable rate is to be bought only far off. It is almost impossible to find people who can pay the large rents result ing from this condition of affairs; and, of course, still more difficult to find a purchaser for a house in the center of New York, which must cost, at the very least, $80,000. Hence the development of a kind of pension called the boarding-house.

The boarding-house looks exactly like the private hotels of which I have just spoken. The frontage is narrow, and the flight of four or five steps leads to a double-leaved door, which opens into a small lobby. It is a private house which has altered its function. The first time I entered a boarding-house I was not aware of it until fully an hour afterwards. It was in Brooklyn. I had been walking about the city all day and at the sight of these little houses built closely together, yet all carefully separated, I had been imagining beautiful pictures of family idylls. I saw in each a loved and jealously-guarded home, beautified by the presence of the wife and enlivened by many children playing with each other, until I became quite affected by my dream. I thought of the pure and well- earned joy of the husband when he came home and spent the evening hours in happiness with those he supported, and I said to myself that a house in Brooklyn and an office in lower Broadway were the scenes of a married felicity which had its


AMERICAN LIFE. 295

poetic aspect. Meanwhile it came into my head to seek out a young Brooklyn householder to whom I had introductions. It was an opportunity of continuing my dream in the reality itself, and soon I was ringing the bell at the address given. I was shown into the parlor, and a few minutes later a charming young lady came to receive me. " My husband* has not come back yet, but there is one way that you cannot miss him, and that is by staying to dinner." With an indiscretion -common to travellers, I accepted this invitation, thinking to seat myself at the family table ; but we went down stairs to a room in the basement, where a dozen people were eating. I was in a board ing-house ! Alas, my dream ! my poor dream ! That dining- room had every horror of a pension bourgeoise, that make- believe of family dinner which places you beside a stranger and takes away the liberty of a restaurant. I felt too much restraint to converse freely with the amiable American who had so graciously drawn me into the trap, for the presence of all these indifferent people, most of whom silently devoured the boarding-house pittance at this common table, both embar- assed and bored me. I was forced to talk about such subjects as are discussed at the table d hote in some watering-place the Paris Exposition, the steamers of the Transatlantic Com pany, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.; in short, I passed that half-hour, needed for the absorbtion of oyster soup and some other American dishes, as best I could, inwardly raging but out wardly smiling. When we had gone upstairs Mrs. R. asked me if this was my first experience of a boarding-house. I answered yes, and then she began to tell me the inconvenience of this mode of life.

" All the day my husband is running about his business, and I am left here alone, with no housekeeping to do and with nothing to occupy me. As I learned a little French when I was young, I sometimes amuse myself by trying some trans lation." In fact a number of L? Illustration was lying on the table, with a dictionary beside it, proving that she had been trying to read the story. I learned that she had read "Tarta- rin de Tarascon " in this way, and asked her if she found it very humorous. She confessed that she had not been very much interested in it ; but, then, she had to do something to kill time.


296 AMERICAN LIFE.

Compare this life, crushed by a weight of idleness, to that of the active Western woman ; this scanty home, to the modest and even broken-down log-house, but where they are really at home ! What a contrast ! Evidently, he who sees Americans only in boarding-houses must judge them unjustly, and must have a very inaccurate idea of the parts they really play in the onward march of society. They are the same Americans in both cases if you will. Transfer them from Brooklyn to Dakota or vice versa, and you will see a transformation which is brought about, not by the antecedents of the race, but by different conditions of life, and which makes them unrecognizable.

This idleness I have spoken of is almost without a remedy ; this young lady cannot find the needed occupation in the education of her children ; for, as she said to me, " It is a dreadful thing to board with children ! " So they have none, or as few as possible. The voluntary barrenness of which I wrote in the last chapter, is most markedly prevalent here ; and I am not at all astonished that statisticians report that it is increasing in all the great cities of the East, especially in New York and Brooklyn, where the whole middle-class is condemned to boarding-house life. In the first place, where could the poor children be kept? There is nowhere, for the neighbors would complain of the noise, and many boarding- house proprietors proscribe children with a petty tyranny of which the Parisian concierge gives a very poor idea. Then, how are they to be looked after? The ordinary boarding-house is not suited for children, the servant embellished by the name of cook, who prepares the food, has no longing to have the trouble of a special kind of guest. In sum, the boarding-house is not the place for them, but for bachelors.

Besides this hateful boarding-house there is another sort, much more family-like, with which it must not be confounded. A young man, and often a young couple, live with a private family, which lodges and boards them. They are guests, in a measure, an expansion of their family. This is "boarding in a private family," advertised in every newspaper:

A young man would like to find a home in a good family, where there are young people.


AMERICAN LIFE. 297

A gentleman in business here, age forty, best habits, desires home in an excep tionable family (no boarding-house) ; is absent half time, but pays well while here.

Board by two young men, with American family who have tennis-grounds.

Gentleman and wife, willing to pay for superior accommodation, desire rooms, with board, in a private family.

Board and room, by gentleman, in private family of social standing; will pay well, but must have comforts of a home. References given and required ; state fully all details in answer.

This sort of boarding is exactly the opposite of the other from one point of view ; for commonness is replaced by a special form of adoption into the family, which shows the per sistence of individualistic and family spirit, even in the midst of the fatal huddling together in great cities.

It is doomed to disappear from New York, because of the increasing rarity of middle-class establishments. The rich Yankee, who has a home of his own, will not take in boarders ; and the ordinary middle-class family, which would be happy to share the cost of common housekeeping with one or two others, cannot find a suitable house, as the growth of the city and the resulting dearness of land, have made it out of the question.

The commonplace boarding-house, managed by somebody who makes a trade of it, reigns supreme in New York. No doubt this explains the origin of the myth that Americans live in hotels. There is a semblance of truth in the East for such a legend, which is retailed by many Europeans who do not take the trouble to go and find out what takes place outside New York.

I once imagined that I had discovered the American who lives with his family in an immense hotel, of whom we talk in France. I went to see a gentleman in Boston, to whom I car ried an introduction ; and when I came to the address given me I found myself in front of a great building, very unlike an American residence, and read on the door, X Hotel. There was no doubt about it, this gentleman lived in a hotel. I soon was in the elevator, and carried up to an upper floor, where his door was shown me. I rang a bell and a servant answered it. I was in a Parisian flat, and my host told me that he lived in this way in order to please his wife, who was used to French customs. His apartments consisted of a salon, a dining-room, a billiard-room, several bedrooms, a kitchen and its offices ; he


298 AMERICAN LIFE.

had servants and lived as he would in Paris. It was a trans plantation. Houses which can be let in flats are hardly to be found in Boston, and the type of house built for this purpose that we know in France does not exist at all. That is the reason he had to go to a hotel to find rooms such as we occupy.

The cosmopolitan invasion of New York has led to the building of several houses like those in Paris during the past few years ; but these flats are mainly occupied by Europeans. Twenty years ago they were called French-flats, and they have not been naturalized yet. Of course, they clash with the American feeling of independence to a less extent than the boarding-houses, but the latter have the advantage of settling the difficulty about domestic servants, which is a formidable one in the United States.

" If I could find a girl to work for me I should leave the boarding-house this very day," said my Brooklyn friend al ready mentioned. This excessive difficulty of finding servants is a special feature of American life. Those who are lucky enough to keep a very so-so one, or are able to do without one, can have a home of their own, and they go far from the centre of the city to find one at a reasonable price. But those who cannot find a servant and cannot do their own work are fatally forced to go to a boarding-house.

So the question of domestic servants is a capital one, and de termines whether housekeeping can be indulged in or not. This is, therefore, the place to study it.

III. THE DOMESTIC SERVANT DIFFICULTY.

There is no need for any long discussion of the reason why servants are rare in the States. We have seen already many a time that in this vast country, where so much wealth is yet untouched, everybody is naturally tempted to work for him self and profit by the exceptional advantages of a new land. The American character is suited to such enterprises ; the credit system favors them, and public spirit encourages them. An enterprising man, even should he fail, is much more esteemed than a prudent, timorous one, who dare not attempt to rise lest he should fall.


AMERICAN LIFE. 299

Hence, nobody cares to become a servant for life, but takes the position only for a certain time ; in order to make some needed money. Nobody entertains the idea of living and dying a servant. There are better things in life than that.

Nothing seems more ridiculous to French eyes than the hired servants w.ho are to be found even in the most elegant hotels. I remember the strange impression they gave me the morning I left the steamer, when I compared them with the dignified chief stewards who superintended the tables on board ship, and who seemed to be as impressed with the gravity of his duties as the most solemn president of any court of assizes. The waiters wore no impenetrable mask, that wonderfully im passive countenance we wish our servants to have. No special sign told their occupation after they had taken off their ortho dox black coats and white ties ; some wore moustaches, others were clean-shaven and looked like everybody else, which, in plain English, is saying they did not look well at all.

I have already told how girls who wait at table in the hotels of small Western towns often marry and become prominent ladies. Even before finally giving up service in this way, they leave it and take it up again with great ease. This waiting is a temporary occupation for them, an additional way of ma king a living, to which they resort when other means fail.

An American in St. Louis told me a very curious case of this. He had a German cook who worked for him during the six Winter months, and who returned to her father s farm every Spring. He had tried to keep her by offering her very high wages ; he had threatened not to take her back again the following Winter, but in vain. This young German left St. Louis whenever she was needed on the farm, and spent the Summer at home, so as to help in the farm-work. This girl was not a servant at heart, but a farmer. She sought a situa tion during the bad season, as there was nothing for her to do, and she did not wish to be a burden at home ; or perhaps to help her father to pay his mortgages, which I suppose this Missourri farmer must have had over his farm, to get the money needed for working it efficiently.

The most remarkable part of the story is that, as this St. Louis family could not find a servant who would stay all the


300 AMERICAN LIFE.

year, it was arranged that the wife and daughters should take turns at cooking during the Summer, and that this farm-girl should come back in Winter.

It would not be half so bad if these servants were reasonable; if one could ring the bell and give them an order without being continually exposed to the chances of a refusal of obedience. One must think twice before giving an order to an American servant. She does not understand that she is at your service to do whatever you ask ; but she has come on certain condi tions, to do certain definite work, and before obeying your commands she aluays asks herself if they conform to the con tract. This complicates matters still more, for it is always possible to interpret a contract about the thousand details of service in two ways. So it may be a serious thing to say to a servant in the Umted States, " Nicole, give me my slippers and bring my night-cap." A young lady in Kansas one day asked her girl to clean her husband s rubbers ; but she indignantly refused, and demanded her wages. She had never been told she was to clean gentlemen s rubbers !

It is impossible to get even a cup of tea in hotels after a cer tain hour. The servants have left when their work was finished, and have all gone home. Those who wait up to receive visitors do it as their work ; they never enter the pantry, but politely inform any who may ask for the slightest refreshment that there are night restaurants in town. That was the reception I got at Pittsburg, after a long voyage, complicated by a railroad smash. We were stopped for three or four hours, because the track was blocked in front of us by a freight train which had run off the rails ; so that instead of arriving at 8 o clock, it was nearly midnight when we drew up at the depot in Pitts- burg. The dinner hour had long passed when I reached the hotel, and that was exactly the reason I was dying of hunger, in spite of frequent attacks on bananas and oranges, which are always sold on board the cars. So I have never forgotten the peremptory refusal of the clerk to let me have any food, and his polite request to go and seek a night restaurant.

American servants work by the piece, are completely inde pendent, and do nothing for the master except the work agreed upon ; and it seems quite improper to them that he should


AMERICAN LIFE. 3<DI

watch over their action or give them counsel. If you have a young chambermaid, she will receive her lover, go out when it suits her, and generally act exactly as she pleases outside the work hours fixed in the agreement. Note, however, that she would do much the same if she were living with her mother. Girls brought up as we have described will not agree to be strictly kept in, and these customs of the servants are only those of the whole nation. The smallness of their numbers in creases their fastidiousness, and it is not enough to say that one is badly served in America, for the truth is one is not served at all.

While in the West I three or four times made the mistake of going to a house with a letter of introduction, giving it to the person who opened the door and asking her to give it to her master, when that person opened it in my presence and I sud denly realized she was mistress of the house. Each time I bitterly reproached myself for not having imagined this to be probable, but appearances are sometimes deceitful, and I was really excusable ; especially on one occasion, when the young woman who answered the bell wore a pretty little white apron trimmed with embroidery, and led a child by the hand. Ho\\ was I to know that she was not a nurse ? I petted the child to repair my mistake and went into ecstasies about his pretti- ness an innocent little manoeuvre that a mother never can re sist. I must add that throughout the States of the extreme West servants are so rare that nobody is the least put out by having to open the door oneself.

Sometimes there are no servants in the East, even in houses of the rich. I have dined in very elegant houses where there was no butler, no valet nor footman of any sort. I know a Bostonian who has an income of about $80,000 a year, all of which he spends, in whose house I once had a dinner, with fourteen other guests, which was served by one girl who crossed the dining-room every now and then. The dishes were passed from hand to hand ; the plates were not changed ; the mistress of the house made tea. A hard-up official in France dare not ask any stranger to dine with him so very informally.

There are many Americans in Eastern towns who realize this, and blush to offer a European the hospitality of their


302 AMERICAN LIFE.

comfortable and well-appointed homes, yet without any of that service to which we are accustomed. They are simpler and more hospitable in the West. The difference is great enough for Americans to notice and make fun of it. They tell a story of a stranger received with open arms in the West, who arrived in Boston and was astonished at the cold welcome he had. Houses were closed to him, and nobody asked him to his table ; only one old Puritan said to him : " I hope you will sit in my pew next Sunday."

The joke is just.

You may ask, why do not rich Easterners bring servants from Europe by offering them large wages. There are plenty of people in the Paris streets who are capable of becoming proper valets and to whom $60 a month would not be disagreeable. But here in New York it is difficult to find servants.

Europe does not refuse to send poor immigrants to America, for a large number come every year from Ireland and Germany, who engage themselves as domestic servants when they arrive ; but they, also, imbibe the desire for independence so common in the United States, and take their leave whenever they have saved enough to invest in some undertaking or another. French cooks become restaurateurs ; Germans keep small hotels. The more they are paid, the quicker comes the moment they think of starting for themselves. Of course, plenty of them are incapable of doing this, and drink whiskey as long as they have a dollar left ; but such people are very bad servants, as can easily be imagined ; and do not lose a place of their own free will, but are shown the door, which does not settle the question.

The steady, quiet servant, who only aspires to retire in old age with some carefully-gathered savings, is too prudent to cross the Atlantic. A man with such a temperament does not forsake his country, and so the only people who could remain valets never cross the ocean.

Willing or unwilling, it is necessary to learn how to manage without them. A large number of rich Americans in New York, refined in their manners, imitate Mahomet s example, and go to the mountain, which will not come to them. Hence, the American invasion of the Champs-Elysees. Others are


AMERICAN LIFE. 303

constantly changing their servants, travel frequently, and go to dine at Delmonico s when their cook leaves them. The ma jority find shelter in boarding-houses.

True Americans do not flee this evil, but endure it and try to obviate it. The women resolutely work in the house and simplify things as much as possible, while the world goes on as usual. As many things can be done by machinery in this age of steam, mechanical contrivances of all sorts are introduced as much as possible.

Nothing is more curious than the basement of an American house, which looks like the lower part of a theatre. There is an infinity of lead pipes and metal wires for the water, gas, steam and electricity, which come from outside, and the connections of the steam-heater or some other warming apparatus neces sary to combat the cold climate of America. The use of all these pipes, etc., can be seen upstairs. Electric light or gas, often both, are led into every corner; a dressing-room opens out of each bedroom and has taps for hot and cold water; the bathroom is complete in every respect. All the house is heated and lighted from cellar to garret for the comfort of its occupiers, and ease of washing, drying, ironing, cooking, etc., without counting the telephone and telegraph, indispensible accompaniments of American life. In the same houses, where you are waited on by a newly-landed German or Irish girl, you will find this luxury of contrivances and of expensive lighting, which seems exaggerated to many French people who have numerous servants.

This mechanism is still more complex in hotels. There is a disc of copper on the walls of rooms in the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago, by means of which an order can be sent to the office without disturbing anyone. Twenty-four different orders are printed round the disc. Here are some examples : Iced-water, letters and parcels, hotel bill, send up my baggage, take down my baggage, writing materials, and carriage, wine- list, etc. One turns a moveable needle to the words u hotel- bill " when he wants to settle, and then presses the button of the electric-bell in the centre of the disc. Immediately after wards the needle sways back to its normal position, and shows that your order has been received at the office. It takes a lot


304 AMERICAN LIFE.

of money to fit up things like this, but it pays the hotel- managers better than to keep servants to answer the bell.

IV. TRAVELLING.

It is necessary to study the Americans abroad, as well as at home, in order to understand their ways of living. They seem to be consumed with a restless desire of moving about, which makes them constant travellers. The well-to-do classes, espe cially, spend a large part of the year on the cars, on board ship, in Florida Winter resorts or Adirondack Summer stations, in Europe anywhere except at home. Those who are chained to their work by too modest means, always manage to break their bonds sometime or other, so widely spread is the desire for going about.

A New York business man brings discredit on himself if he does not goto breathe the fresh air of the mountains at the times of great heat, and warm himself in the Florida sunshine during cold periods; for it proves that he has not been getting on well. There is no need of making a prolonged stay in either of the places ; for the further he goes the shorter time need he stay, the more must he spend, and the more will he be noticed. All these things show that his time is precious and that he is worth money.

The climate of America justifies this fashion of taking a change of air. The climate of New York is deplorable ; one freezes in Winter, for the polar currents are strong enough to cause the temperature to fall very low, and the humidity of Manhattan Island gives the cold an intense bitterness and pen etration. Yet New York is fairly near the equator, about as near as Naples, so it is the scene of constant struggles in Sum mer between cold polar elements and the great heat of the sun. I have seen a June day begin with a leaden sky and a heat like that of an oven, and end in a violent squall which suddenly chilled the air. In Winter one shivers at 30 C. below zero, and in the middle of Summer one drags himself along, flabby and worn out, at 30 or 40 C. above zero.

The best climate is to be found on the East coast, south of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington ; but in


AMERICAN LIFE. 305

the Northwest the difference between extremes of tempera ture is much more marked. The immense plain of the Missis sippi Valley, open to every wind and far" removed from oceanic influences, except in the South, suffers from the most violent storms, cyclones and blizzards. Louisville was lately devastated by a terrible cyclone ; while in Chicago, during the Summer of 1890, fifty people died of sunstroke in one day, horses fell down in the streets, struck down by the terrible heat of the sun, and even dogs did not escape. That happened in the month of July, yet they had had ice a few weeks before, early in May.

Americans do not travel only to avoid the inconvenience of climate, but also to escape from business and get a rest. To go abroad, to break his fetters, what a dream for a man who works all day ! The fatigues of travel are nothing to the ease of mind he obtains. A Chicago advocate said to me one day : " Well, now, there is only one place in the world where I really am sure of a rest, and that is on the Ocean. There I know neither letter nor telegram will reach me, and I thor oughly enjoy being allowed to live at ease. After the trans atlantic steamers, the most healthful rest I get is in Europe, especially in France. Everybody in Paris seems to be holy- daying, and the mere sight of the Champs-Elysees or of a Boulevard eases my nerves. When I am utterly worn out I do not consult my physician, but jump on board the first steamer sailing for Europe, and return cured a month later."

These voyages in search of health explain the purely vege tative life Americans lead during a vacation. In Florida they swing themselves in a rockingchair for hours on end, with dreamy eyes, their head hung down and their feet on the highest object they can reach in the neighborhood. There must be a great need of rest before this monotonous exercise can be agreeable. This is not the most favorable moment for judging a Yankee; it is a passive phase, a stopping-time in their life. Even during the passage across the ocean many never talk or do anything except walk mechanically to and fro on deck. While Brazilians and the South-Americans smoke enormous cigars and play heavily, and the French commercial traveller organizes a concert or makes bad puns, the true Yan-




306 AMERICAN LIFE.

kee seems indifferent to all around, and yawns with open mouth. The great sight of nature appears to have little effect on him, and when the setting sun sinks below the horizon of limitless sea and its dying rays light up the waves with a thousand glorious colors, he does not seem to pay the slightest attention. You may be inclined to think him stupid, but it is well to suspend your judgment till you see him in his proper element.

In fact, everybody looks rather stupid on board. Nothing reveals the man of worth during that chance meeting-time, when idleness is unavoidable and every faculty, usually active, is perforce asleep. The most prominent man is he who helps you to pass the time, who sings a song, for instance. He is usually a dawdler by profession, and Americans do not follow that trade, but are only occasionally idle, or rather never are idle, for their rest is a preparation for work.

The American finds another advantage in voyages, a new opportunity of using his eyes. He does not usually draw his knowledge from books, but educates himself in the school of life. He is neither a learned man nor a dainty one, but he is an observer. He makes a note of everything he sees, because he has been trained to do so, and he has a special curiosity to examine into the details of everything. Though he may not be affected by a grand sunset in mid-ocean, yet he never neglects to visit the ship s engines, to get the machinery explained and to admire its power. He learns these many facts and stores them in his memory, lest they should be useful some day. He visits museums abroad to learn what is in them, without being greatly interested in the things themselves ; he inspects the gas-burners to find out whether they give more or less light than those at home ; inquires about statistics, examines the resources of the country, and finds out how the peasants, labor ers and clerks live. Many Americans have astonished me when relating what they noticed about such things in France. Travel is considered a necessary supplement to instruction by them* as a means of comparing men and things, in different circum. stances; as a way of gaining experience. So, for one reason or another, they develop a habit of going around on every occa sion, and then their business keeps them moving about, so that it is easy to explain their perpetual motion.


AMERICAN LIFE. 307

One consequence is that hotels, cars and steamers are excellently arranged. In the halls of all rather important hotels, you can buy your railroad ticket, hire a seat in the theatre, take out an insurance policy, find a notary public to authen ticate any contracts, or a shorthand writer to take down and print your letters with a typewriter ; a bookseller to sell you stamps ; and then there is always a letter-box, telegraph and telephone. The hotel-porter gets your baggage taken away by an express company, which forwards them to your desti nation, where you will find them on arrival. In short, every thing is arranged to make travelling easy and, above all, to prevent any loss of time.

The railroad companies are able to issue tickets at very reasonable rates, because of the large number of passengers, and they are forced to do so by competition. A first-class ticket (the only class) from New York to Chicago costs $20.80, somewhat less than from Paris to Marseilles, for a much greater distance (920 in place of 536 miles). That is the official rate, but competition often lowers it, so that railroad travelling in America costs just about half what it does in France for the same distance.

By paying $2.00 a day and $2.00 a night more, you can travel in a Pullmann car, which offers many conveniences. During the day you have a seat twice as large as in the ordinary cars ; a smoking-room and lavatory for men are at one end of each car, and a ladies room at the other ; and you can always walk back into a dining-car. During the night, your seat is changed to a comfortable bed, much better than that of European sleeping-cars. A negro, who has become most polite under Mr. Pullman s influence, brushes your clothes, blackens your boots and receives your "tip * with a smile.

That is not the only convenience. By paying a little more you may have a state-room, special rooms like cabins de luxe of an Atlantic liner, where you can be quite alone. The fore seeing companies who own certain much-frequented lines supply all materials for doing correspondence, taking a bath, getting shaved, etc. Here is a list of the advantages offered by the Pennsylvania Railroad on its New York and Chicago route :


308 AMERICAN LIFE.

"At 10 A. M. the New York and Chicago Limited leaves, composed exclusively of vestibuled Pullman cars communicat ing with each other, parlor-cars and state-rooms, dining-car and smoking-room, and observatory-cars for viewing the country. Financial intelligence, stenographers, typewriters, bath-rooms for both sexes, chamber-maids, barber, library and every con venience of a home and an office. Steam-heated, electric-light from fixed or movable lamps. Arrives in Chicago at 9:45 the next morning."

It is evidently possible to live in such a house on wheels for several days without being annoyed or fatigued. When a journey has to be made between two towns a hundred leagues apart, the best way is to make it by night. You go to bed in the evening and the negro wakes you the next morning in time to dress before arriving at your destination. By doing this you have spent only your sleeping hours in travel, and you can do your business during the day, a hundred leagues from where you worked the day before. Everything is ar ranged to suit those who have no time to lose, because such people form the mass of the population. In France, they are found as exceptions, among manufacturers and traders; for the proprietor, the fund-holder or the official have no need of such haste ; and instead of spending the hours of travel in writing business letters, they rest during their journey and leave all serious work for a new day.


V. THE LAST JOURNKY AND THE LAST RESTING-PLACE.

Even after he is dead, an American travels quickly, and the hearse carries him to the cemetery at a trot ; for his relatives and friends doubtless cannot accompany him except on this condition. The first time I saw a funeral procession move past at a rapid rate I frankly confess I was shocked. The majesty of death seemed to me to fit badly with the burning haste of the long line of carriages. There is more solemnity and dig nity in the funeral processions we have in France.

I do not believe that this precipitancy to get rid of their friends arises from any lack of respect on the part of Amer icans, for many little things prove just the contrary.


AMERICAN LIFE. 309

First of all, the rest of the funeral rites. The coffins are sometimes magnificent and often cost immense sums. I was told in a little Kansas town that the cheapest there were $30 or $40.

In early times, before the days of railroads, people had to be contented with four planks nailed together, or some pack ing case. These were the heroic days, when the brave pioneer who died far from home was buried on the battlefield. No doubt this happens to-day in some regions of the Far West, where there is no railroad ; but everywhere else the greatest importance is attached to this material mark of respect.

A still higher moral and religious care is shown, and every where there is some thought often very obscure, but always serious of the world beyond. In a small Kansas village I met an old settler who had come out before any clergymen, and, being better educated than most of his neighbors, was always asked by them to conduct the funeral services. He used to read several prayers at the side of the grave from a prayer-book he had brought from Europe, in the little bundle of an immigrant ; and this little ceremony testified at least to a sincere belief in a future life.

In lower Broadway, in the busiest part of New York, a couple of steps from Wall street and the immense Equitable Building, stands St. Paul s Church, surrounded by its parish graveyard, as was the universal custom in olden days. The most recent gravestones are dated 1840, and no burials take place there now ; while dates as far back as 1630 are perfectly legible. It is piously cared for, and I do not think that any Yankee ever had the idea of expressing dissatisfaction with this ground remaining as it is, in spite of its enormous value. An other graveyard surrounds the old South Church, in Washing ton street, Boston, and I could give many other examples of the same thing. It is impossible not to be struck by the re markable contrast which exists between the extraordinary bustle of the streets, and the eternal repose of the tomb ; and it is also an instinctive contrast, for it shows a great respect for the dead. None of our large towns in France show anything like the activity of New York ; and not one of them has pre served a cemetery inside its bounds. Barracks, theatres, large


310 AMERICAN LIFE.

flats have been built on such ground without any thought about the profanation of the deed. In this, Young America has shown itself less utilitarian and more respectful than some of its elders.

It would be a very great mistake to represent Americans as enemies of tradition. In their case, desire for novelty goes well enough along with a worship of the past, for historical and social reasons I believe I can explain. They never have had any idea of breaking with the past, as we in France have, because their rulers have never interfered with their natural development, no heavy hand has stayed their flight, no abso lute power has attempted to enslave them. Everybody in France still feels he belongs to past or to present, because of his birth and opinions. Many narrow ideas shield themselves behind the expression, " I am a man of olden times ;" many hatreds and jealousies are summed up in this one, " I am a man of to-day." It may be said that the two parties camp face to face in the battlefield of the nineteenth century. Instead of working together for future good, they retard it by discussing the past with present day passions. It is a sad heritage, left us by ancient civil discords, born of ancient social wrongs. At one period of our history one class abused another in our nation, to the great detriment of both, and we still suffer for that fault. Here there are neither ancient animosities nor old sympathies in connection with the past, and so the common right to everybody s respect has been preserved.

The need for forming cemeteries outside grew with the development of great cities. Many of these are well worth a visit.

Forest Hill Cemetery at Boston and Greenwood Cemetery at Brooklyn are among the most remarkable and fashionable. One cannot enter them without being struck by their resem blance to the fashionable quarter of American cities. Just imagine an immense park with a splendid view, especially at Greenwood, and a few tombs, scattered about the park almost at random. It is a triumph of custom and is the last expression of the liking for independence.

In place of the solemn compact rows of Pere-Lachaise, the pretty walks follow the natural slope of the hill and wind


AMERICAN LIFE. 311

round beautiful little lakes. Here and there are beds of flowers, masses of shrubs, some huge forest trees, making the most of the salient points and harmonizing with the architec ture of the monuments. It is the fantastic English garden contrasted with the spacious symmetrical French gardens ; the independence of a picturesque family home compared with the promiscuity of the magnificent Parisian barracks. It is curious to note how the profound differences which exist between American society and our own are shown by these details seemingly so unimportant.


CHAPTER XVII.

DAILY LIFE. MEDALS. DRUNKENNESS. -- TEMPERANCE.

SOCIETIES AND PROHIBITION. DRESS. AMERICAN

AMUSEMENTS.

I have tried to describe the frame of an American s life. I have lead my readers into the home or the boarding-house in which he lives ; I have taken them on board the Pullman cars in which he travels, and brought them to the tomb where he rests; and now I must describe for them the various acts which make up his daily life.

Perhaps this anxiety to see and examine everything may seem childish, but just think how we pass our life, judging our fellow-mortals by their manners of eating, of dressing, of amus ing themselves ; and that the different peoples of the world are most easily distinguished by the thousand details of customs which they have, rather than by the noble sentiments which stir the heart of all humanity ! I trust I shall, therefore, be par doned for giving so much prominence to these traits of custom which form the peculiarity of a race. Some of them will help us to understand the Yankee spirit much better than the most learned discourse on the Federal Constitution ; and so, with your permission, we shall seat ourselves at an American table.

MEALS.

One evening in New York I saw a pantomine representing the morning toilet of a gentleman. The actor came on the stage with his eyes heavy with sleep and his hair all dishevelled, rapidly passed some water over his face, bathed his hands in the basin of water, and, addressing his wife, cried, with a voice like thunder, " Breakfast ready ?" The audience applauded enthusiastically, showing how true to life the acting was. The


314 AMERICAN LIFE.

first thing an American does is to bolt his breakfast, then jump on to the platform of a street-car or climb on to the steps of a car on the Elevated, so as to reach his office by 8 o clock at the latest.

His breakfast is not a simple cup of tea or chocolate, but something more substantial, that will allow him to keep up until his evening dinner, with the help of a rapid lunch, which he eats during the afternoon.

He takes a serious breakfast : beefsteak, cutlets, bacon are the common dishes, along with eggs and oatmeal porridge. He swallows all these with the greatest rapidity, because it is getting late; so, in order to save time he outrageously breaks the laws of gastronomy. The minute he seats himself in a restaurant the waiter sets down a plate with oranges or bananas on the table, and he eats his dessert while the meat ordered is being cooked, after which he passes to the second course in the form of porridge, because it can be served in a few minutes ; and then he eats his beefsteak, since it requires more time to cook. "Eat to live and do not live to eat " should be written in American restaurants, as in Harpagon s dining-room, only it is not a fear of wasting food that brings about these crimes against gas tronomy, but a dread of wasting time.

This is also the first thought at lunch, only it is more marked. One must have entered some bar in business quarters between i and 3 o clock in order to understand it. Gentlemen, with their hats on, stand in a long line beside the counter, on which are cold meats, piles of sandwiches, cakes, beer, iced-water, all within arm s length. In five minutes they manage to gulp down a certain amount of food, pay and go. An intelligent bar keeper attracts customers by the facilities he can offer for rapid feeding. " Try our quick lunch " is stuck up in the streets. Its quality does not much matter; what is most desired is something that will not hinder business, that does not cut the day in two. Sometimes, in order to be surer of this result, a man sends out for sandwiches and devours them in his office. The great business buildings I have described always contain a restaurant, where the tenants can lunch without going outside.

Lunch is served very rapidly, even in the most fashionable clubs. Of course, one sits down at a table for a real meal


AMERICAN LIFE. 315

there, but the courses are quickly changed, and nobody lingers to slowly smoke while sipping his coffee.

The Yankee has not time to eat until he comes home after his work is over; and even then, he too often retains that in veterate bad habit I have described of bolting his food. His stomach protests energetically. Dyspepsia, which is about to be naturalized in France, reigns supreme in the United States, as the numerous remedies that are advertised for it plainly show. It has become in a measure constitutional.

The cooking probably also helps to bring this about. Not only do people eat quickly, but they feed badly; they do not know how to eat. A young Frenchman, exiled in the West, said tome: " My sister-in-law, an American, opens seven or eight boxes of preserves to entertain me when I call on her. It is the only idea she has of a good meal. The contents of one of these boxes, decently prepared, would be more accept able." There is the American character! Buy a stock of groceries as nourishment, and not take the trouble necessary to eat well; just as in the packing-houses, animals thoroughly fattened on maize are brought in, yet go out as badly-cut and often tough meat. Waste and carelessness everywhere prove the abundance of all things and the scarcity of handwork ; for, mark you, American cooking, or rather absence of cooking, has no other cause. It is worse in the West than in the East, as these causes are more pronounced. Meat costs eight cents a pound in Kansas, while a French cook can make $100 a month in the smallest hotel. The great majority of respectable peo ple do without servants, and the mother, forced to bring up her children and sweep the house, has no time to look after the oven. Compare her circumstances with those of a French mother of the same class the wife of a petty official. The latter pays ten times more to the butcher, grocer and baker than she gives to her girl for doing everything. If she is a good housekeeper she manages to spend as little as possible in purchases, and economizes provisions by using her own and her servant s time in making the most of them in the cooking. In the one case the husband earns plenty money, and his wife cannot help him ; in the other the husband has a small salary, but his wife has time to help him by making it go further or by seeing that her cook does so.


316 AMERICAN LIFE.

The cooks in hotels are always French, and one would be able to eat in a supportable way were it not for the American custom of serving meals, which spoils them. Their custom is to set everything ordered, and some other dishes as well, on the table at once, forming a circle of small plates, where the meats grow cold. They concede you one empty plate, surrounded by this semi-circle of smaller plain plates, or rather small, hollow oval objects, something like a bird s bath. The real Yankee does not use this plate much, but plunges his fork at random into the little baths, fishes out something from the confused heap, or makes the most formidably-seasoned mixtures of a thousand different ingredients, after which he imagines he has dined.

It is impossible to make the negroes of an hotel-on-the- American-plan understand that one wants to dine on three or four of the dishes detailed in the lengthy menu which they give you, and to eat only one thing at a time. One must either resign himself to the usual custom, or die of hunger. Hence the embarrassment of a Frenchman in face of a bill of fare such as this one, which I came across in my notes :

DINNER.

Blue Point Oysters.

Water Cresses. Cream of Lettuce. Consomme Macedoine.

Planked Shad, Roe Sauce. Sliced Tomatoes. Potatoes Parisienne.

Devilled Crabs.

Roast Ribs of Beef. Roast Capon.

Spring Lamb and Mint Sauce.

Filet of Beef, Larded, Truffle Sauce. Chicken Croquettes, French String Beans.

Omelet a la Celestine,

New Potatoes ; Tomatoes ; Onions ; Oyster Plant ; Rice ;

Cream Spinach ; Pies; Beets;

Spaghetti, with Cheese.

Roman Punch.

Mallard Duck.

Chicken. Lobsters. Lettuce.

Bota Pudding. Mince Pie. Apple Pie.

Fancy Cake. Call s Foot Jelly.

Ice Cream. Confectionery.

Fruits, Nuts, Ci ackers and Cheese.

Coffee. Sunday, March 23, 1890.


AMERICAN LIFE. 317

The wasteful character I noted above is easily seen in this menu, and the way it is arranged shows the desire to eat quickly without having to wait for one s neighbor, as at a table d hote ; without being forced to any order of service, as in a restaurant. Of fifteen dishes served, five will remain untouched, the rest tasted, but only two or three really eaten.

French cooks protest against these barbarous customs, whereby the results of their skill are spoiled. One of them once said : " It is a pity, sir, to give such good things to such a blackguard (goujat) \ " Some, paid the salary of a General of Division by some rich American, impose our customs as much as possible, and prepare reasonable menus in which French names get badly mangled in a most amusing way, as in this example one among a thousand :

Potage. Consomme Alphabet.

Hors d Noeurves. Celery. Raves. Olives.

Poisson.

Poummie de Terre Dauphin. Colete d Agneau a la Mirabeau.

Petit Pois Vert. Sorbet a la Neapolitain.

Rotis.

Jeune Poulet au Cresson. Asperges en Salade.

Entrements Fraizes.

Creme a la Glace. Gateau.

Cafe Noir.

It is easily seen that gastronomy has not become a National art in the United States.

When a New York millionaire wishes to give a great dinner, it often happens that he asks his guests to come to Delmon- ico s, the best and most fashionable of American restaurateurs. When this is the case, he arranges to have something extraor dinary to offer his friends, something that will be noticed and spoken about ; for the subtle charm of company of guests, specially chosen by him, and a well-served dinner, are not enough. One of my French friends in New York told me that he had been at a dinner of this sort where each cover cost


318 AMERICAN LIFE.

$80. There was a pool of water in the middle of the table in which an unlucky swan floated after its wings had been removed. Every lady found a bouquet of rare flowers at her place, and each guest received the menu engraved on metal. Such extrava gances are disgusting to European tastes ; but they cost many dollars and do not need the complex and educated taste of a gourmet of high standing to value them at their worth ; so they suit rich Yankees wonderfully well.

Except at such feasts where champagne flows in streams, iced-water is the only drink used during dinner. At breakfast tea, coffee or milk are often drunk, but no intoxicating liquor appears on the table. A man must be German or French to ask for beer or wine. Is all America sober? Not at all; but the subject is so important that I must enlarge on it a little.

I. DRUNKENNESS, TEMPERANCE SOCIETIES AND PROHIBITION.

Americans may be divided into two classes water-drinkers and drunkards. The American who knows how to use alcohol in a reasonable way does not yet exist.

I knew a genuine Yankee of old Puritan stock and of high social standing who, at the age of sixty, had never tasted wine, spirits, tea nor coffee. One day, when he had to speak on a very important question, he was unfortunately suffering from a sick headache. His friends persuaded him to drink a cup of coffee as a medicine. He did so, but even to-day he still seems to regret this infraction of his principles.

I know another Yankee, also a genuine specimen, but of German origin, a member of the House of Representatives. This amiable legislator one day offered to introduce me to the various drinks used in the bars. As it was an experience which had its interests, I accepted his offer, and I must say that it would have been difficult to find a more experienced guide. I was not spared a single cocktail, those skilled combinations of whiskey, ice, sherry, seltzer-water and champagne, which the barkeeper, standing behind the counter, stirs with a trained hand. I had a severe headache that evening, but about 8 o clock my guide became somewhat uncertain, while still ex perimenting; so I returned to my hotel and dined alone with a glass of iced-water in front of me.


AMERICAN LIFE. 319

Since then these two people have often come into my mind as types of the two varieties of Americans I have mentioned above. The first consists of many Puritans, clergymen and women ; all who aspire to a certain respectability of manners or who pride themselves on the inflexibility of their principles join this class, so that it includes all sorts of people, from the Catholic bishop, inspired with a high sense of his mission and saddened by some deplorable cases in his flock, to the stiff gentleman, somewhat of a Pharisee, who will tell you with great gravity, * I never smoke, I never drink, I never chew and I never swear." The one does it for conscientious reasons, the other as a matter of form and a declaration, signifying in plain English, " I am a perfectly well-bred gentleman."

The second class is recruited from the Irish and German immigrants and the native-born American with a craving for alcohol. The immigrants come from a poor country, where the vine does not grow ; they cannot stand strong liquor, and easily get tipsy in a land where they are well paid for their work. The others have been brought up to consider the drinking of a single glass of claret a manifestation of vice, so they go to the very extreme of disgrace and are to be seen at I o clock in the morning, reeling along the street, waiting " till their house comes past." They probably drank nothing but iced-water at dinner; yet the devil lost nothing by that.

There is a small, modest-looking bar on Pennsylvania avenue, in Washington, where the best first-class drinks are to be had. Hancock s bar is entered with respect, and is a place of pilgrim age for certain members of Congress, because of the number of their predecessors who come there to seek inspiration for their eloquence. Right around the long room, narrow and dark, historic souvenirs tell of the past glories of Hancock s: auto graphs of Washington and of Jefferson, old hats, rusty swords, which formerly belonged to different famous citizens of the Union quite a museum of bric-a-brac is found in that bar. Hancock s is a sort of National monument for some Americans, while for others it is only a disreputable place.

This profound division is shown by other facts of greater practical moment. The degrading sight of drunkenness ; the legitimate desire to save one fellow-being from its shameful


320 AMERICAN LIFE.

effects, have raised a generous reaction against it in some souls, and given rise to a crowd of temperance societies. Addresses, tracts, meetings, congresses, all the ordinary apparatus of charitable institutions, had been employed by them without great success, when they decided to try compulsion and initiated the prohibition movement.

Prohibition is an absolute interdiction of the public sale of any kind of fermented liquor, harmless light beers, as well as the terrible whisky. It is actually enforced in five States of the Union Maine, Kansas, Iowa and the two Dakotas. Tem perance societies advocate it in every local Legislature, but as yet they have won over the Governments of only five States.

Of course, everybody who is not a Prohibitionist grumbles loudly: "What is the use of boasting of American liberty when we are deprived of wine like ordinary Mussulmen ?" It is easy to imagine innumerable variations of this theme. The few Frenchmen subjected to this law are among the bitterest op ponents to prohibition, and drink confusion to the Government in good wine every time they meet. The Irish get drunk in their houses on bad whisky, bought from some retailer of smuggled liquor. Only the quiet traveller, who stays in a hotel and would be glad to comfort himself at dinner-time with a half-bottle of honest California wine, is forced to drink water.

Prohibition, like other coercive laws, does not cure the abuse it is intended to combat. A drunkard cannot be kept from drinking any more than a gourmand from eating; but in cer tain conditions it is possible to teach people how to drink and eat without becoming drunk or victims to indigestion. The proof is that the great majority of French manage this.

Unfortunately, temperance societies composed of water- drinkers know nothing about this art. If their members could only realize what exasperation they create in a large number of perfectly sober individuals, perhaps they would renounce their prohibition campaign and direct their efforts in another direction. As for me, I can see scarcely any sensible way of reducing the ravages of drunkenness and the craving for whisky except by planting vines. It is not a difficult cure to try, for grapes ripen almost everywhere in the States. If the use of wine were to spread among the people, they would soon be-


AMERICAN LIFE. 321

come accustomed to drink reasonably. It is not prohibition laws that America needs, but vine-growers.

Temperance societies, the outcome of a praiseworthy under taking, would find in this new movement a sphere of activity worthy of their zeal, and more in accordance with the Amer ican spirit than the measures of compulsion they have adopted. They would escape the charge of hypocrisy which they barely escape ; for if only one of their members be surprised in a tipsy condition by an anti-prohibitionist and it sometimes does happen it destroys all effective impression of their ser mons and compromises their prestige in an irreparable man ner. They would be pardoned such weakness if they did not impose such a ridiculous tyranny on people more sober than they are.

in. DRESS.

I believe it is impossible to find in any part of the Globe a country of such a size as the United States where the unifor mity in dress, as well as its commonplaceness, are comparable to what exist there. Everybody from New York to San Francisco, from Chicago to New Orleans, has the look of hav ing bought their dresses in La Belle-Jardiniere or the Bon Marche. Except, if you like, the cowboyswith their immense hats and leather breeches, in order to get at the absolute truth ; and all the rest of the folks you meet are clad in the same way.

Of course some are genteel and many are shabby ; some show signs of elegance, and many are content if they are covered ; but no social distinction is shown by the kind of clothes that are worn.

Clearly picturesque costumes, to which the whole population remains attached because of old local traditions, cannot exist in the United States, as among the peasants of Brittany or the Pyrenean guides. A Dakota settler has not the same reasons for dressing in any particular way. The matter seems simple, but it is not altogether explained by saying America is a new country without a past, without a history. It really is not any newer at Boston than at Rio de Janeiro or at La Plata;


322 AMERICAN LIFE.

and yet in Brazil, in the Argentine Republic and in Mexico the costumes are very varied and of startling hues. A rich haciendado would never consent to jump on a street-car in a suit of dark color. He never leaves home except on a superb horse, magnificently harnessed, and followed by his major- domo; his saddle, his spurs, his cloak, his hat proclaim his riches and his rank. So there is something beyond the mere newness of America needed to explain the slight attention paid to dress by the Yankee.

The first reason is the general absence of formality in the United States. Nobody has either time or taste to consider the details of dress in a society where everybody is trying to make an independent place for himself. They cannot be bothered with such trifles and think little of them, because they think very highly of other things. A young Spaniard preoccupies himself a great deal about the impression he will make by his appearance, and thinks very little about how to earn the money himself that must pay the tailor. If his father is good enough to satisfy his creditors it will be all the easier to order magnificent robes, and his friends will hold him in still higher esteem. The young Yankee finds his glory else where, and finds more sympathy if he wears the flannel-shirt his work demands than an elegantly-cut coat paid by his parents. With such ideas, distinctions based on costume disappears, and the plumed one loses his prestige.

Another manifestation of uniformity has been noted already that nobody s profession can be told from dress or look. This is true for servants as well as for judges, merchants, farmers, teachers, etc.

That being settled and explained, I am now ready to confess that nothing could be more deplorable from an artistic point of view. Nothing can be uglier than a crowd of Americans in a Western village, from which an artist would fly after a single glance, and in which an ordinary mortal can find nothing to charm the eye. I once saw two farmers wives in the market at Kansas City who wore hats with many-colored feathers of the most eccentric style ; their ruddy faces and dirty, ungloved hands were a great contrast to their wonderful head-dress, while their petticoats, well supplied with embroidery, hung


AMERICAN LIFE. 323

below their skirts, trailing in the dust. They would have been taken for barmaids had it not been for their honest looks and coarse country complexions. Ladies in Eastern cities dress themselves more skilfully and carry their clothes more grace fully, yet there is a certain want of taste in the way they dress. Even in the cars, one sometimes comes across ladies so gor geously arrayed that they would attract attention in Paris on the day of the Grand Prix, while in the evening you will see people sitting in the best places of a theatre, clad in sombre gown, such as a Parisian wears when going to early morning mass in her parish church. The gentlemen are always dressed in black, as is the English custom, and it needs no explanation. It is understood that a man is in full dress when he has put on this funeral suit, just as it is with us ; so it is easy to be proper in this respect. But for the ladies the question is much more complex, and American women I speak of the natives and not those we see in Paris do not know how to disentangle themselves from this confusion.

They are dependent on French fashions. All the dress makers and milliners on Fifth avenue proclaim themselves of our nation, as the best recommendation they can give to their customers. They never return from or go to Paris without announcing, " Just arrived from Paris," " Before sailing to Paris," in their advertisements or on their shop fronts. It is comforting to their customers to know that they often visit Paris to find out what is going on and to keep their hand in.

But there is neither picturesqueness of dress nor art in wear ing our European gowns. When a man wishes to impress you that he is elegant, he puts diamond studs in his shirt-front in the full blaze of day, like a dentist or a rastaquouere.

Ought we to congratulate ourselves beyond measure on an incontestible superiority over the Yankee from this point of view? I do not think so. One evening in the Casino of New York I saw the various scenes of a comedy called " Braziliana" succeed each other, with an elegance and variety of costume rejoicing the eye wearied by American uniformity. Warm- toned velvets, glowed and embroidery flashed in the glare of the footlights, and I asked myself if people who dress gor geously and have splendid festivals were only of use in afford-


324 AMERICAN LIFE.

ing an evening s amusement to those who put their trust in laborious activity after their day s toil was over. Certainly we French work harder than Brazilians, yet we appear to the American much as Brazilians do to us.


AMERICAN AMUSEMENTS.

" America is not amusing, is it?" Such is the ordinary Parisian s idea of American life, and he is right in one sense, for he is terribly bored when he gets to the United States. Yet that is not the same thing as saying the Yankee also is. If he arranges his life in a certain way, surely it is because that way suits him, and pleasure is not absent, only it takes a diffe rent form and trend from those it has in France.

Just go some fine Saturday afternoon to any of the parks in a great city, and you will see crowds of people who are amusing themselves to their hearts content. Every kind of equipage, elegant and plain, nearly all very swift, and often driven by girls, fly along the winding roads, while people of every age and sex gallop about on horseback alone or in small groups. Streams of bicycles and tricycles pass and repass. You will soon reach the lake, ploughed by light sailing boats, in which are many happy boys and girls ; and lastly, the immense stretch of green lawn is hidden here and there where the bright spots of costumes tell of lawn-tennis and baseball players.

Baseball, the chief National American game, has some simi larities with English cricket, and, like it demands plenty mus cular force as well as skill. Boys begin to play it when six or seven years old, bending back to throw the ball with the greatest vigor, and bending forward to receive it ; or at other times holding a bat in both hands so as to hit the ball into their opponents field. A boy must be twelve at least before he is able to play in a serious match or become a member of a baseball team.

At Harvard, Yale and other colleges the greatest importance is attached to having a first-rate baseball team, which is one of the features of an educational institution that will most effec tively recommend it to parents. There are many matches


AMERICAN LIFE. 325

every year, for which the opponents have undergone a long course of training, and in which young America shows its skill in this kind of sport, while the whole Nation testifies to the enormous interest it takes in the game. The newspapers describe the nature of the teams, and telegrams are published giving the latest intelligence about the matches, which are ended by triumphal processions.

Americans, especially Westerners, are interested in still more athletic sports, the favorite being boxing. There is an association of young men in Denver who meet every now and then to devote themselves to real prize-fighting. The police have tried to put a stop to these dangerous encounters, but it is easy to give the authorities the slip. On a given day, which is kept secret, each man leaves the town in his own way on horseback, driving, on the cars and then all assemble on some private property turned into the lists. Stripped to the waist and without boxing-gloves, the opponents, who have been chosen as equal as possible, distribute their blows with much warmth and liberality. Judges count the number of points made by each fighter, which, after a certain time, or when a given number of points has been made, decide who is victor. It is not sufficient simply to touch an adversary to gain a mark, but he must have received some definite serious injury. Thus, the first to draw blood scores a point. A boxer usually tries to reach the nose or the corner of the mouth to do this. Another point is given if the opponent is knocked over and lies fifteen or thirty seconds on the ground, according to the rules adopted. This is usually brought about by the follow ing adroit manoeuvre : A blow of the fist, let out straight at the heart, stops respiration ; another following it immediately while the opponent is still breathless, and hitting one of the veins on the side of the neck, turns the man over. This is the swinging blow.

Such pleasures seem very savage to us, but they are part of the general tone of the coarse, rough and powerful West. The fellows who indulge in it can settle on a ranch or a farm much more readily than any of our young people, as there is occupa tion for their muscular force and the skill they have acquired in using it. It is useful to them in making a place for them-



326 AMERICAN LIFE.

selves to have a great physical development, just as we French must pass examinations before becoming officials. Hence their athletic training and our classical instruction. Then those who excell in any exercise end by liking it, and so young people form themselves into boxing societies, just as we have associa tions for discussing tests in our law-schools and debating socie ties in our literature departments.

The taste for pugilism is general throughout the nation. Physical powers are admired and valued even by those who pass their days within the four walls of an office. One even ing, when I was sauntering along Michigan avenue, Chicago, I saw a crowd near the Exposition Building. I drew near and learned that two famous prize-fighters were giving an exhibi tion, that a reserved place cost $2, and that it was a great at traction. I paid the $2 and took a place beside other gentle men, who, like me, had come in late and were obliged to re main standing. None of them complained about this curious reserved place, for the pleasure of seeing Jackson, one of the princes of boxing, made them forget everything else. The fighters stepped on to the central platform in pairs, where the impresario presented them to the public and regulated the fight.

The audience loudly expressed its approbation of each telling strokes and every skillful parry, and cried out at every fault. I felt that the 2,500 people packed in that place took the greatest interest in the spectacle. They howled, yelled and whistled shrilly ; but he who would have an idea of the extraordinarily great excitement that took possession of every body, must visit a Spanish bull-fight. The boxers who wore simple bathing-drawers and had on huge boxing-gloves, seemed convinced of their importance, and after each round they took a mouthful of water, gargled it an instant, then threw back their heads with a gymnastic gesture, and gra ciously spat on the floor. Boxing stars are treated with the greatest care, and every little act is stamped with a ridiculous majesty. The two who were what we call in Paris le clou de la soirde (the nail of the evening) the two leading stars came on, attended by two body-guards, evidently impressed with the gravity of their office, who carried buckets of water


AMERICAN LIFE. 327

with vinegar in it, huge sponges and piles of towels. When the fight stopped for a moment the boxing gentlemen were sponged and rubbed down like race-horses, and even fanned by the towels being waved, after which they faced each other once more. The negro champion had on white drawers and the white champion black ones, so that the incidents of the fight might be seen better ; their sweating skin shone in the electric-light, whose brilliant reflexions showed off the superb muscles, while the whole hall stamped its applause. I felt terribly cold in the midst of this tumult The skill of the boxers seemed very great, but it was too brutal a sight for a Frenchman of the nineteenth century, so I went home pro mising myself never to go to see Jackson another time, while the folks around me evidently were anxious to renew their pleasure the very next opportunity.

People with such strong tastes for physical exercise are sure to have horse-races. One or two well-arranged race-courses are always to be found near every important town, and blood- horses of European origin often gallop on them.

But the real National races are trotting ones, especially buggy races. I have seen a pair of horses running on a course and make a record of 2 minutes 22 seconds per mile. How per fect everything must have been for a team to go at such a rate round the turns of the track without capsizing the light buggy it drew ! The trot that made a record of 2:22, of course, is quite disunited, and is a sort of very rapid amble. The United States produces a special race of ambling horses, pacers, and the racers are the pick of these. The racer is carefully pre served and selected by some special breeders, who often make great profits. During my stay in St. Paul, Mr. Meriam, Governor of Minnesota, paid the enormous sum of $15,000 for a one-year-old colt. This detail will give some idea of the strength of the American s passion for trotting races.

Outside the people who race or help race-meetings, many others take pleasure in horses. There are an infinity of clubs for training, keeping and breeding prize-horses. Such societies have much less of that fashionable character of their European analogues which make the man of the world belong to them there ; but they yield better results, because they are wholly


328 AMERICAN LIFE.

composed of people interested in their object ; who become members because they love the horse, and not because they belong to a certain class or occupy a certain position. Some times this sympathy is not accompanied by a perfect training in horsemanship. I have seen young clubmen shamelessly trying to boldly ride a badly broken-in horse. Horse and rider seem equally to lack experience in the art, and the shades of the Count d Aure or of Mr. Baucher would have groaned at this sight. A hundred such young fellows can form a club, make a race-course, found race-prizes, or improve a breed. Riding is learned by practice, and there is nothing ridiculous in a man mounting a horse because he has a liking for it ; the art will be mastered in time, as skill grows, and it is useless to wait on its coming before beginning.

I believe Americans enjoy these pleasures more than we do, because of their simplicity. Young girls and ladies ride with out a habit, drive their carriage without being accompanied by any servant, and go out whenever they please. In this, as in other things, they retain their independence and set aside a number of formal conventions The spanning of a team is not an affair all regulated before hand, as in Paris, for a woman does not want a coachman and a footman, and because the horses are harnessed simply. They may be less elegant, but they have much more liberty in everything.

There is the same simplicity about social relations, at least in the West. New York balls are rather exhibitions of flowers, diamonds and dresses a show rather than a pleasure ; but, as I have several times remarked, New York is not America, anymore than Nice is France, for there is too much imitation of Europe there. If you wish to know how real Americans amuse themselves you must go where such people are to be found. It is less gorgeous, but truer.

I was at a ball in Fremont, a little town in Nebraska. It was held in a large hall hired by some young people, who had got up the ball and made each person invited pay a dollar. A so-so orchestra, conducted by a dancing-master, who showed how the figures should be done, like some village fiddler, played almost without interruption ; and indefatigable couples whirled round, keeping time to its airs all out of tune. It


AMERICAN LIFE. 329

needed a very strong love for dancing to sustain such an exercise ; but the people there seemed to have no idea that folks ever come to balls except to dance ; and so they did dance correctly and conscientiously, as if they had some duty to do. The appearance of the ball-room was varied. Many ladies wore light dresses, some of which fitted closely to the neck, others were low-cut ; while a few appeared in ordinary walking costume. Two or three men were in evening dress, others in frock-coats, short coats or jackets. The dancers danced in whatever costume they owned, instead of coming to yawn in a correct ball-room suit.

The impressions of a European are naturally affected by such details, which do not shock the citizens of Nebraska. The company did not seem to me to be at all select, but they did not trouble themselves about that. I believe I recognized the young girl who stammered the list of meats in my ear every morning among the dancers ; and probably she was waltzing with one of her ordinary customers. It must be confessed that this absence of selectness, shown by a thousand details, did not result in any bad manners. Some youths chewed while their arms were about the girls waists, but they never allowed themselves the slightest doubtful joke. They were common, but honest. I was told that the balls were usually held every fortnight during the Winter. What else would you have? People are not housed so as to be able to give large entertain ments, and have no intentions of being deprived of dancing until they are ready. And, after all, what does the opinion of the Old World matter?

Surprise-parties are a form of pleasure dear to the inhabitants of small Western towns. A whole crowd comes to the house of some friend one fine evening without any warning, rifles the cupboards to get a supper of some sort, and dances, plays, and, above all, amuses itself. Such impromptu affairs could not be carried out were there not a strong love of fun and a great simplicity of manners. Just think what insupportable confusion these invasions would cause in a well-furnished and well-kept house ! Broken glass, dented silver, disorder from garret to cellar, enough to irritate all the nerves of the calmest housekeeper !


330 AMERICAN LIFE.

Hospitality is common where such customs reign. I never visited a farm near the middle of the day without receiving a cordial invitation to dinner. In young Western towns it is quite the thing to have neighboring wives and daughters come in and help to do the cooking, or to set the table when there is to be a party in the evening ; and even if they wait at table, one must not be astonished nor imagine that they are not ladies. It is very rustic, but it is not much more lively than a $80 a head dinner at Delmonico s. However, surprise suppers at home and swell dinners at fashionable restaurants arise from similar causes the scarcity of servants and the difficulty of getting up a formal feast at home. Westerners are content to have the feast and sacrifice the formality ; Easterners sacrifice the home.

Both in East and West, American recreations have a general air of honesty and decency rather foreign to our European customs. Pleasure is not synonymous with gallantry in the United States; and honest people try to enjoy themselves honestly when they have any time for enjoyment. The cater ers of amusements respect this feeling, because it is that of the majority of their customers, and they keep a strict super- vision of all that goes on in their places of entertainment, which the general behavior renders a very easy task. It is common to see notices like this one, copied one day when taking a walk in Denver :

NOTICE.

This Lake and Park

is private property. It is our intention to make it

A Family Resort. The management reserves the right to forbid all improper

or obnoxious characters. No liquor sold on the grounds.

Even in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, cities with over a million inhabitants, theatres, circuses and pleasure re sorts of all kinds open in the evening; into them respectable men can enter, and they do not show that objectionable promis cuity which they have in France. In the Eden Museum, New York, I saw a lady enter with her child and nurse ; the gentle-


AMERICAN LIFE. 331

men quietly read the papers during the intervals, and not a single doubtful dame walked in the galleries above. People had come there to rest themselves, while they listened to good music that was neither very difficult to understand nor very passionate a soft prelude to sleep, not a thing of ex citement. I know young Frenchmen, used to Parisian eve nings, who declare that New York is awfully flat, and revenge themselves by charging the people with being hypo crites. The details they give prove that vice has its nu merous and showy temples in that staid city, but it needs no philosopher to discover that this great, rich, and cosmopolitan conglomeration is not an immaculate sanctuary of virtue. Good Heavens ! I do not doubt it for an instant. But it is wonderful that the native population should have imposed its habits of external respectability, such as perfect decency on the pavements, on such a mixed multitude. Every hypocrisy, of which they told me the trick, proved only the strength of public opinion on this subject. It is a great gain when de bauchery is a vice, and a secret vice, instead of the fashionable world, and that of gallantry, marching hand in hand as with us.

There are other differences which probably cause those already mentioned. Coarse debauchery needs no long in trigue ; superfine gallantry, worldly and dainty, demands a whole life-time ; so how could it find any place in the existence of one overworked Yankee ? The first may go on unnoticed and with less risk, because of the ruin of reputation and credit in the practice a very serious matter in a country where per sonal worth is the main factor in advance to fortune, and the first thing asked about before any man finds employment. The second is the talk of the town in many cases long before there is anything in it. The laws against seduction so strongly protect any woman reputed honest that this danger is escaped by the lady-killer lost in America ; and there is left only the prostitute living on her vice. Thus, American hypocrisy is not a simple matter of taste and character, but the outcome of a set of circumstances involved in every-day American life. If we are tempted to harshly condemn it, let us at least remember what Joubert has said, with so much good


332 AMERICAN LIFE.

sense : " It is a homage paid to virtue." This does not excuse hypocrites, but it commends the environment where they are obliged to practice hypocrisy.

My readers would have a very incomplete idea of American recreations if I did not say a word about the commonest, the most popular, the one that may be enjoyed amidst the most absorbing business chewing.

One is not a couple of hours in New York before being struck by the astonishing number of spittoons, of all kinds and sizes, placed everywhere. Immense dishes of brown earthen ware, vessels of shining copper, bowls of pottery or crystal, are met at every step, in the halls of hotels, in the cars, in offices, in bedrooms ; and the negro who brushes boots puts one near his customer. It seems as if a spittoon were the first need of man. One cannot say that there are more in the West, but the reason for them becomes very evident, and the jets of black ened saliva aimed at them tell of the chewing which is their origin.

If the stronger sex jealously preserved the disgusting privil ege of chewing tobacco, it would not be half so bad ; but the fair sex also chew, with serious effect on their charms. Few women chew tobacco, but most of them in the West chew a gum expressly made for the purpose. Their teeth are in constant motion, and an apparent swelling appears, mov ing about and deforming their cheeks. No pretty girl can stand such disfiguring. The fashionable women of New York and even Chicago soon gave up a practice so fatal to their em pire ; but their sisters in the Far West, less coquettish, or else ruling over less fastidious subjects, have given themselves up to it without remorse. One day in a railroad restaurant, a young woman came and sat down at the next table to mine, then gracefully introduced her thumb and forefinger to extract a quid of gum, which she carefully put down on the edge of the napkin. When the meal was over, she put back her quid and jumped on the cars. This is an extreme case, but it would be easy to multiply disgusting details.

When Americans are asked why they chew, each gives a dif ferent reason, some thinking that it wastes less time than smoking, others invoking the most absurd of hygienic reasons.


AMERICAN LIFE. 333

The only one that is at all serious is that the dryness of the old prairie, that is the whole West, parches the throat and gives rise to the need for artificial salivation. It is possible, and it seems necessary to believe that some general cause gave rise to a common custom so very objectionable.

After this sketch of the daily life of Americans, I hope my readers have an idea of the curious differences in detail between their practices and ours, and also the reason for their existence. Now we must study some general characteristics of their organization.

Up to this point we have examined different types of Amer icans by themselves ; breeders, farmers, manufacturers, traders, bankers, have been studied in the midst of their work and also at their homes. How are such scattered elements grouped out side their trades and families for the great concerns of public interest? That is what we shall now study.


CHAPTER XVIII.

AMERICAN ARISTOCRACY. THE VIRGINIAN ARISTOCRACY IN EARLIER TIMES AND TO-DAY. A DEVELOPING ARIS TOCRACY.

A celebrated book, about which everybody speaks and which scarcely anybody reads now-a-days, has given French people the idea that affairs in the United States are entirely managed by the democracy. M. de Tocqueville was the less excusable for forming such an opinion, as the Southern aristo- tocrats still played an important part in public affairs at the time he wrote. Even in New England, which he specially studied, an aristocracy of labor was arising, among the elite of eminent citizens whose special influence on the progress of so ciety has been very marked.

The American Republic is not a whit more a union of men absolutely equal among themselves to-day ; from one point of view they are more unequal than anywhere else, and I have given the reason for this in showing how circumstances permit the full development of everybody s faculties to a greater ex tent than in Europe, and these faculties are very much un evenly distributed among human beings.

So there are superior and there are inferior elements in American society which are constantly being separated from each other in life s battle, some becoming leaders, others falling into the ranks. Every branch of activity has its hierarchy. Thus the position of each man is determined in the workshop of labor.

Outside this workshop all ranks seem abolished, and at first sight there seems to be no great differences among the various citizens of the Union which somewhat confirms M. de Toe- queville s idea but they do not play equal parts ; and when ever one leaves off considering individual interests and studies


336 AMERICAN LIFE.

general questions, elements of very varied worth are found in the latter as well as in the former. No closed class, no hereditary caste has a monopoly of public spirit ; but some people devote most of their time and their money to the public good, supplying a series of needs common to the whole people.

Such individuals, no matter what be their origin, are really aristocrats in the widest, highest and truest sense. They give their services gratuitously, and use all their faculties, which have helped them to succeed in their private affairs, to the public service. The oldest European nobility is based on service rendered, and wherever a man devotes himself to in crease the wellbeing of his fellow-citizens, public opinion all over the world ranks him in a special class. He is differen tiated from the great mass of human beings by this simple fact, for they are all busy trying to solve the problem proposed to every one of how to get their daily bread.

A nation owes much to such true aristocrats. They not only help its less endowed members to accomplish their task, but they also direct certain higher interests requiring the exer cise of great ability, which without this guidance would be in the greatest danger. The American people has been fortunate enough to produce men of such a stamp ; it is indebted to them for its National independence, and they prepare it to-day for its future. A glance at the past will show us the part they played in its formation ; and some contemporary notes will tell the actual role they fill in its development.

I. THE VIRGINIAN ARISTOCRACY IN EARLIER TIMES AND TO-DAY.

At the close of the last century, after the United States had ruptured their connection with the mother-country, they found their earliest statesmen among the Virginian aristocracy. Washington, to speak only of the most famous, embodied, in a remarkable way, the qualities of that race. He learned to govern a large body of men and to look after considerable un dertakings on his paternal estate at Mount Vernon. He had the same right to be called an employer of labor as the owners of immense ranches or large farms who are to be found in the


AMERICAN LIFE. 337

West today, or as the great manufacturers of the East whom we have studied at work. At that time the West was still occupied by the Indians, industry could scarcely be said to exist in the East, and farming, which was the life of New Eng- landers, was of very modest extent. There were small family homesteads on which a future energetic race was growing up, but nobody could acquire the habit of commanding or gain experience in directing complex affairs. There were some large farms in New York State and Pennsylvania, but not many. The true nursery of the large employers of labor was in the South.

There the planters lived on their large estates, and person ally superintended their cultivation, as is easily verified by visiting Mount Vernon,full of souvenirs of Washington, which the grateful Americans have preserved with pious care. The dwelling-house is simple and built entirely of wood, while many out-buildings surround it. It is a real country residence in the midst of the fields ; the home of a master, although not exactly a castle. It occupies a wonderful situation. One side overlooks the superb sheet of water of the Potomac from the height of a steep hill covered with tall trees ; the other forms the boundary of a court, beyond which stretches a vast culti vated plain.

These planters did not limit their activity to looking after their own interests ; they managed public affairs also, and really governed the colonies with whom the mother-country very seldom interfered.

After they rose up against an oppressive custom-house regulation and broke the bonds that held them to the mother- country, the same men continued to govern as before ; only they had to forge a new link to replace the one that had been broken, which resulted in their forming the Federal Con stitution. There were many difficulties in the way. They had to resist English armies, to compel European powers to recognize the existence of the United States and enter into diplomatic relations with them. In home affairs, they had to unite independent States in common action without encroaching on their independence, without making them feel any centra lization yoke, without profiting by any temporary dictatorship


338 AMERICAN LIFE.

which some grave crisis put into the hands of the chiefs. These men were great enough for all these duties, and it is impossible to admire sufficiently the magnificent part played by Southern aristocrats, the disinterestedness, wisdom and calm serenity of Washington, the loftiness of his views, the justness of his conceptions, the combination of qualities that made him a statesman of the highest order.

For a long time after the Declaration of Independence the Virginian aristocracy supplied the majority of Presidents to the Union, and was a veritable nursery of governors of men, be cause the management of large plantations was constantly training the important proprietors in the oversight of large interests. Although they had no political privileges guaran teeing them the supreme offices, they usually filled them be cause they were the fittest men for them. The large agri culturists helped the American colonies to endure their separation from the mother-country, and their efforts formed the United States and helped them to prosper.

Such historical souvenirs tempt one to search for the natural heads of the Nation among the descendants of this aristocracy ; but they will not be found there. The sceptre has passed into other hands.

Politically they lost their position through causes we shall afterwards consider, when we study public life in the United States. Socially they are also well-nigh effaced. There has been a great revolution in American labor. The great agricultural interests of the West and the great manufacturing interests of the East are governed to-day by eminent men in West and East, while the cultivation of plantations has greatly declined. The South produces masters of men no more ; all come from East or West. The causes which created Southern influence have disappeared, or, rather, seem to have turned against it. Not only has ancient Southern chivalry been replaced by a new aristocracy of labor, but its present representatives seem to be sinking more and more into mediocrity.

Many still live on their divided or diminished plantations without making any effort to take the place for which their education fitted them. They are generally respected, because they cling to the refined and generous traditions of their


AMERICAN LIFE. 339

ancestors ; but they owe this much more to these souvenirs than to their actual position. They are a vanishing race. Some who are too poor to bring up their children in the old way, and too proud or too indolent to set them to work in some business, keep them at home vegetating on a very moderate income. In one or two generations these descendants of great planters will be fatally absorbed in the laboring classes, for no artificial conditions preserve them in a country where pre rogatives or privileges have nothing to do with birth, and where a crowd of capable men are constantly rising from the common people.

How has this decline been so rapid ? The Civil War and its disastrous effects on the South have had something to do with it. The freeing of slaves without any compensation to their owners broke up most plantations, and was a cruel blow to the landed aristocracy. But although these causes suffice to explain the crises, they do not justify the incapacity to recover from it. A Catholic Archbishop of Virginia, who sympathizes with the descendants of the old planters, said to me : " There are some who try to get on ; but New England Yankees would try ten times harder to gain their aim. The Southerners are men able to command, but not able to help themselves alone."

This judgment, certainly free from all ill-will to the Virginian aristocracy, clearly shows the double character of its best re presentatives. They were made to command in this sense, that they were formerly in the habit of exercising power around them, and that they still retain certain qualities and a certain prestige without knowing how to obtain posts of command. Their capabilities and prestige find no employ ment unless some situation is offered them by circumstances.

Their great misfortune is that the slave system habituated them to positions where they had nothing to do but to com mand. The planter inherited an estate already in working order, with slaves on it whom he could command and who could not leave him ; consequently he enjoyed the privileges of a large agriculturalist even when he ceased to do any of the duties. The negroes, with the utmost consideration, were condemned to perpetual slavery ; and if any were freed, their social position was hardly altered, for they remained inferior in reality if not


340 AMERICAN LIFE.

in theory. Nothing was done to improve them. The planters, usually of gentle disposition, whose managers were not brutal, treated them well, but treated them as slaves. A great gulf was fixed between the two classes; for the one commanded and the other obeyed ; nor was it possible for any of the one class to pass over into the other.

What was inevitable in such circumstances came to pass. The superior class became less and less capable of command ing, and the inferior class less and less reconciled to its bonds. It is a very difficult thing for an aristocracy to keep always on the same level for a series of generations. If some isolated families are successful, the majority see their offspring grow feebler as they are further removed from the parent source, and finally disappear. That is the history of many a famous house. For an aristocracy to play a part in the government of a nation it must constantly renew itself by infusions of new blood, and assimilate the best elements of the nation. In such conditions it remains a body of eminent men, resulting from a constant selection. In slave-owning conditions the aristocracy inevitably becomes a closed body, a caste ; hence its downfall.

When the Civil War broke out the cultivation of the great plantations was in a deplorable condition. Successive crops of tobacco had exhausted the richest of soils, and the planters were more given to spending money in feastings and cock- fightings than to buying fertilizers to bring back the primitive fertility of their land. The general custom was to take no in terest in the working of the estates which encouraged the rapacity of their managers, led to idleness of the negroes and introduced the most detestable methods of cultivation. In short, a crisis of some sort was inevitable. The money lost in the war precipitated it ; the abolition of slaves without com pensation made it harder to bear; but there were deeper reasons of quite another kind. The proof is that the crisis still exists to-day.

II. THE BEGINNINGS OF AN ARISTOCRACY.

Besides these ancient but declining families of the South, a class of great employers of labor is being formed almost all over


AMERICAN LIFE. 341

the United States, whose devotion to public good and efficient action on society are such as to make them the members of a new aristocracy. Of course, if we mean by an aristocracy that collection of families hereditarily supplied with large estates and hereditarily occupying high office, such a thing cannot be found in the Union. But if we understand aristocracy to mean the groups of people who play a noble and disinterested part, consecrating a large share of the advantages they have been able to gain to public works a selection of eminent and de voted men that exists to a remarkable extent in the land of the Yankee.

The distinctive characteristic of this American aristocracy is its anxiety to raise to its own level the social elements capable of rising. Every man who has reached the top of the ladder and generously holds out a helping hand to those who are struggling to climb to the summit, is a member of this aristo cracy ; and such men are not rare in the States. In the course of this work we have often seen that the American laborer is always anxious to get on, and that many masters are constantly planning how to help them in their endeavors. Pullman, Pillsbury and many others are remarkable examples. The secret jealousy of all successful people which is noticeable in some classes of Europeans otherwise perfectly honorable, is never found in America, for the causes which produce it in the Old World do not exist in the New.

A man of high social standing in France easily becomes convinced that his neighbor is doing him an injury by suc ceeding, but that is because our country is, in a way, a theatre of fixed size, where all the best places have been taken for a long time ; their number cannot be increased indefinitely, and, therefore, must be competed for ; while those who hold them already do not gladly see a growing number of competitors menace their tranquil possession. On the other hand, America is a vast amphitheatre, where there is no lack of seats, but which has not yet been put in order. Only a few people have as yet built themselves magnificient boxes here and there ; and when a new box is added to those already formed, there it forms a new beauty in the place, without giving anybody a dread of dispossession. So these people are sincerely desirous


342 AMERICAN LIFE.

to cordially welcome, and even to help, anybody wishing to build a box.

Further, there is no opposition between the working classes and those who own and enjoy the world s goods. Except in the South, hardly anybody leads a leisured life. There are few or none of those people inheriting moderate means who are always ready to practise petty vengeance against energetic men who rise from nothing and at last surpass them. So among the rich there is a general disposition of kindliness and esteem for the laborers. Many Virginian planters had the same feeling for their slaves, no matter what folk say; but it was not shown in the same way. The difference is quite appreciable to-day.

One day I visited a very distinguished lady, who was a descendant of an old Virginian family. In her presence I felt myself surrounded by an atmosphere charged with an aristocratic perfume such as is very rare in America. Her house was large and comfortable, full of many European re finements. Her servant was an Italian, and Mrs. B. always spoke to him in French, so completing the illusion. For a time I imagined myself in France. While this careless Italian was helping his mistress into her carriage, he was awkward enough to crush her finger when closing the door. Mrs. B. did not utter a word of reproach, but at once got out and had the wound attended to, and when the poor man, looking somewhat shame-faced, came about an hour afterwards to hear how she was feeling and to apologize, she said, " It is all right, and really it was somewhat my own fault !" After he had gone she turned to me and added, " It is so rude to make the servants apologize for those things !" Such delicate feelings could not exist, I believe, in the coarse breast of a Western woman. In order to arrive at such purity of taste, long custom in com manding and a certain refinement of heart and spirit are essential, and these could not be found among ladies and gentlemen who are the first of their race to be ladies and gentlemen.

With these latter people benevolence is less graceful but more effective. They do not study the charitable art of mak ing their servants feel their dependent position as little


AMERICAN LIFE. 343

as possible ; but they try to raise them from that con dition, A manufacturer whom I knew kept a boy of seven teen, an orphan, who came from France, where he was brought up by charity. He is a respectable lad, polished and quiet, but without order or energy. Nothing is more curious than the sermons his master gives him : " Look here, George, you must not stick forever in my service ; you must try to grow a man, my good fellow. Save your wages and look about you a little, to see if there is nothing you can do. If you like, I shall give you some hints and help you, too ; but try to get on yourself." Like a well-bred Frenchman, George politely thanks his master for his kind offers, and says he will think about them. Perhaps he would prefer not to receive these encouragements to strive for a thing he does not care about, and would prefer to remain just where he is; but his master does all he can to inspire him with a desire to better himself.

Besides this interest in individuals which many rich Amer icans willingly take in their inferiors, there is a more general one they also develop. At every turn there are proofs of their munificence and devotion to the public good. I shall mention a few to give some idea of their importance.

I shall pass by all purely charitable institutions, such as hos pitals and asylums, a large number of which are due to the gen erosity of some rich citizen, as for instance, the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Drexel Hospital in Philadel phia. They are a very great credit to their founders, but are not so characteristic of the American spirit, because their aim is to assist the unfortunate alone. The American is much more given to helping the capable to rise than to save the incapable from dying of hunger. He is interested in the former, but he does the latter as a work of duty without any attractions.

One of the most remarkable of these men who show this anxiety to raise everybody around them is certainly Andrew Carnegie, the great Pittsburg ironfounder. He has risen from the humblest ranks of the working-classes ; his parents were weavers in Dunfermline, a town in Scotland, and he began life with a few cents in his pocket. To-day his fortune is estimated at $40,000,000, and he makes a most liberal use of it. He lately gave Pittsburg almost $400,000 to found a public library, to


344 AMERICAN LIFE.

which every inhabitant should be admitted free. Some time afterwards, wishing to complete his work, he resolved to build a picture gallery and a large concert hall at the side of the library. The picture gallery is endowed perpetually with an income of $50,000 a year, and soon every Pittsburg workman will be able. to find every facility for choice reading, popular concerts and good works of art.

Such liberality is by no means rare. I visited the Newberry Library in Chicago, another public library certain of a great development. A citizen left all his fortune, estimated at from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 to found it. At present it has only 45,000 volumes and occupies temporary premises. It has been decided to raise a permanent building capable of future ex tensions.

An institution of this sort is not formed simply by the necessary money being furnished. It must be organized, and private enterprise is also capable of this difficult task in the United States. I may note the intelligent way in which this library is arranged at present. Some specialist is responsible director of each department a physician of the medical de partment, an artist of the Fine Arts, etc. Instead of bringing all the readers into one large hall, as in the Bibliotheque Na- tionale in Paris, they are distributed according to the nature of their studies. In this way each is sure of finding help and ad vice from a competent authority, and in this way each can also go and take the books he needs without any loss of time. Mr. Pooles, the director, thinks that the books are not injured so much by giving readers this liberty than they are by our plan of carrying them to a distant reading-room and back again. This is a very American opinion that I am sure will startle all our librarians. Many other things will startle them. For instance, the library is not regularly open every evening. Will they never open it, then? That depends on the wishes of the people of Chicago. In the meantime, if anybody whatever telephones or writes during the day that he has the intention of coming to consult certain books mentioned in the evening, the door is opened for him, and he finds the books wanted set out on a table. That is what is known as under standing the public needs. The idea is that administrations


AMERICAN LIFE. 345

are made to serve and not to tyrannize, which is not ex actly our French idea. But why compare departments organ ized by an omnipotent state with those formed by private en terprise.

The Newberry Library is in the north of Chicago. A citizen devoted to the interests of the southern part of the city be queathed $3,000,000 to establish another in that quarter. It is not organized yet, the legacy having been received only eighteen months ago, but it may soon rival the older founda tion. That is not at all bad for a city forty years old, which was totally destroyed by fire in 1871.

Sometimes very small towns benefit by the generous inten tions of their residents and possess splendid libraries. Welles- ley, in Massachusetts, with about i, 600 inhabitants, has near it a kind of English castle, surrounded by grand trees and wide lawns, which holds its public library. A crowd of other col lections of ordinary size are due to such causes. American generosity is largely sympathetic with this work.

The study of books does not suffice for intellectual develop ment. Oral instruction is needed for awakening intelligence and directing its efforts. The Maecenas of the United States have founded a large number of educational institutions, colleges and universities, without counting the public evening lectures established for people already in business in order to let them supplement their intellectual knowledge.

The earliest of the foundations occurs far back in American history. In 1638, eighteen years after the landing of the Pil grim fathers, a Puritan minister, John Harvard, bequeathed half of his fortune to found a college near Boston, which has since become the most famous in the Union. To-day Harvard University is very wealthy, and grateful pupils are making it richer every day. Sometimes the money presents are so large as to enable it to build a splendid Memorial Hall, sometimes gifts of land help to increase its income ; so that it now rivals the ancient English Universities on which it was modelled.

Other younger universities are also due to private bene ficence. For instance, the Johns Hopkins University, Balti more, founded by the same Hopkins who erected the hospital of that name ; the Catholic University of Washington, for


346 AMERICAN LIVE.

which Miss Caldwell gave over $500,000 ; and an infinity of smaller colleges ; some, like Girard College, Philadelphia, in tended for the free education of orphans without means ; others, simply educational institutions receiving paying pupils. Some of these foundations are very wealthy. Girard College has an income of about $1,000,000, and cares for 1,400 orphans. A Philadelphia merchant of French origin founded it in 1631.

But it would need thousands of examples to give even an approximate idea of the important part which donations and legacies play in the organization of universities, colleges and schools of all kinds. All that can be said is that about every where the origin of such establishments is due to some generous intention. I visited a Jesuit college at Denver, magnificently situated in the midst of a property of fifty acres. " How did you manage to buy this ground so near the town ?" I asked the Father who took me over it. " The proprietor presented us with it," was his reply. I inspected a Methodist college for girls in Baltimore. Several blocks bore the name of the build ers, but I noticed a new one whose front was ready for an inscription. The director confessed that they were waiting until some one would be willing to earn the right of having their name carved on it by paying for its construction. Add to all these the enormous number of primary schools kept up by private individuals, that no clergyman in the States receives the least help from the Government, that churches and meet ing-houses are built without its aid, and you must realize that the love of public good inspires many a gift for general use in the moral and intellectual development of the people.

There are other witnesses. Public museums have begun to be enriched during the past few years by legacies of private collections ; and in half a century, if this movement continues, some of them will be of real interest to artists and educated people from Europe. Already those of New York and Boston own most valuable canvasses, most of which have been pre sented by generous citizens. In the Metropolitan Museum of New York the most notable collection is that of Miss Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, consisting of 143 pictures, some of which are signed by Rosa Bonheur, Horace Vernet, Meissonnier, Troyon, Theodore Rousseau, Corot, Bouguereau, Detaille, Henner


AMERICAN LIFE. 347

Formentin, Jules Breton, etc. Miss Wolfe has also left the Museum $200,000, the interest on which is to be spent in keep ing up and increasing this collection. Another collection of old masters, consisting of forty-three canvasses, was given by Mr. H. G. Marquand. It includes four Velasquez, three Rubens, three Rembrandts, three Teniers, two Van-Eycks, a Vandyck, a Leonardo da Vinci, etc. Besides these large col lections there are many single pictures presented to the Mu seum. In looking over the catalogue one comes across all the best known names in New York Cornelius Vanderbilt, Stewart, Havemeyer, etc.

At Boston, also, the majority of valuable canvasses which are in the Museum of Fine Arts have been supplied by rich Bostonians. The towns need scarcely tax themselves at all to found Museums.

Lastly, it is not at all rare to find public parks also due to private munificence. I was shown a large piece of ground bequeathed for that purpose in Pittsburg. I noticed a public garden planted with trees, but very badly arranged, right in the most fashionable part of Boston, which I was informed had been left to the town on condition that nothing was to be changed. The testator wished his, fellow-citizens to enjoy it freely, and if grass which covered it had lost its freshness, it served indiscriminately for the childrens games, the siesta of the idler and the open-air preaching of well-meaning apostles. The intention expressed in the will is respected so scrupu lously that the municipality permits the passers-by to jostle each other in the neighboring street rather than take the ground needed for widening it from the garden. That would change something and so violate the formal request of the donor.

This is not an isolated case, but an example of the general feeling in the United States. The intentions of the founders, whose works I have just been describing, are most scrupulously observed, as if to encourage others in future by the exact manner in which the wishes of those in the past are executed.

Nothing is easier that to found a university, a library, a hospital, a museum. Nothing is easier than to organize in an efficient way the institution created, for all that is necessary


348 AMERICAN LIFE.

is to name a "board of trustees" in the will, hand over the administration to them, giving them powers to elect a new member every time a vacancy occurs. Suppose, for instance, some library is being formed, and the will appoints three or four people of special competence scientists, advocates, men of letters and gives them all powers to buy books, to construct and look after a building, to engage the librarians, and, in a general way, to take every necessary measure. Should one of them die, the others appoint his successor, and thus the board nominated by the founder never disappears.

There are no legal difficulties, for every respectable institu tion receives recognition by means of a charter from the State it: which it is formed. For instance, the Newberry Library can acquire, alienate or compound like any private individual ; its board of trustees has every liberty of action ; there are none of those official obstacles which check the progress and development of similar institutions so much in France ; but it is no more tied down than a father of a family in the full en joyment of his civil rights. That permits it to make common- sense calculations, and to try experiments that are quite im possible where the slightest decision has to be certified by formalities without number. For instance, when The Johns Hopkins University was founded there were two possible places for erecting the buildings. Some people spoke strongly in favor of Clifton Park, the old residence of John Hopkins, a vast property situated in the immediate neighborhood of Bal timore ; others inclined to the centre of the city. The board of trustees unanimously adopted the advice of a member,who wisely proposed the following temporary solution : " Let us begin very modestly in the town, in an ordinary house ; ex perience will show us how that will work, and we can decide afterwards what is best. That will not compromise us in the least, for the house we shall buy at first can easily be sold again." Since then this experiment in the centre of the city seems to have suceeded. The proximity of the magnificent Peabody Library also a private foundation ; the custom of holding sessions in the evening, and many other circum stances, have weighed down this side of the balance. The University has built a series of other blocks behind the original


AMERICAN LIFE. 349

house, not very imposing, but thoroughly suited to their uses.

Boards of trustees have the great advantage of giving in dependence and perpetuity to the institutions they govern ; and they render the other appreciable service of giving em ployment to the directive faculties of certain individuals. It is no light task to administer unconditionally a fortune of $4,000,000 and to make it efficiently serve the needs of a university. The trustees must be thoroughly devoted to the public good to accomplish this, and they must have many eminent qualities in addition to a high personal standing ; in fact, they must be very superior men. Were they to be en tirely absorbed in their own business, any feeling of social responsibility would soon become atrophied, but the boards of trustees are excellent means of utilizing and developing it in them. They are first-rate schools of aristocratic government, for they teach their pupils to look after large interests gratui tously.

Consequently, it is a very grave mistake to see nothing but vague generosity in these foundations of all sorts. It is one thing to put some money into a collection box, it is quite another to fully organize a permanent institution ; it is one thing to sign the accounts of a charity society prepared by some collector and certified by a prefect, and quite another thing to look after an independent organism on one s own re sponsibility. A true aristocracy is asserting itself and is grow ing up in the United States, because of the real services it ren ders to the whole of the Nation.

We Europeans cannot recognize it at first sight, that is be cause we usually have too narrow a view of what an aristocracy is, and look on it more as an ornament than as a rank of society ; and it is also because we are accustomed to see it everywhere having a hereditary character which is wanting here.

But there is another very simple reason why we should not recognize it. America is still a society in the course of form ation, a point on which I need not insist, as it is already ad mitted. Hence there are as yet no definite situation, neither in the working-classes nor in the higher classes. We have


350 AMERICAN LIFE.

seen that nobody willingly condemns himself to follow one profession all his life ; and for a still stronger reason nobody has any idea of making his position hereditary ; and this will endure as long as the abundance of land allows everybody to settle easily, as long as new towns are being formed and con sequently new industries growing up and new speculations created.

But it will end the day America, fully peopled and culti vated, resembles the old countries of Europe. Then certain people will find themselves in advantageous circumstances im possible to be created elsewhere. A large proprietor will keep a stretch of land whose equivalent cannot be had in the West any longer, and it will be divided up among several families of farmers really settled on the soil of his domain, owing to the difficulty of getting any other; and this will form a condition of things to be transmitted. When this day dawns he will easily leave it intact, for his children will not consider that they have any special claims on it, and they will do as the English do to-day, in their thickly peopled country, where they preserve the custom of looking after their affairs themselves, and go to make place for themselves where there is room, analogous to that which one of their number re ceived where there is now no room left. On that day the American aristocracy, will probably have some resemblance to the English aristocracy, and we shall recognize it as aris tocratic. To-day it exists in a latent state, and is in course of formation, like society itself ; but it is easy to discover its con stituent elements, to see them born, act and develop.

From this period onward these elements will play an effective part in the social organization, and round off in a useful way the American democracy. They provide for the administra tion of a crowd of common interests in proportion as these show themselves, without the public powers being troubled to look after them. This is no slight service, as will be confessed by any who know the corruption of American Governments. In fact, it is due to this action of theirs that the United States are able to move on in the path of progress in spite of the ob- jectionableness of their politicians, who spoil everything they touch ; but happily they touch but little. The spontaneous


AMERICAN LIFE. 351

and gratuitous government of the natural aristocracy narrows the sphere and limits their influence.

Other general interests also escape them, such as all those the citizens voluntarily organize. Now the spirit of free asso ciation is widespread in the United States and produces results of surprising efficiency. We shall examine it at work in the most varied conditions.


CHAPTER XIX.

ASSOCIATIONS FOR PRIVATE AND PUBLIC BENEFIT. ASSO CIATIONS FOR COMMON INTERESTS. ASSOCIATIONS FOR PUBLIC WEAL.

Americans, as a rule, very seldom have recourse to corporate bodies, as we have pointed out several times. In farming, in dustry, commerce and banking they have a marked propensity for carrying on business for themselves, and not grouping them selves into a company when one individual can succeed well enough.

Yet they do not object to association for all that, but employ it with much success whenever they deem it necessary, and with all the greater success, because they seldom resort to it for their individual interests.

The need of co-operation in everything arises from a con sciousness of weakness or laziness. A French proprietor who would not risk a thousand francs in improving his land, en trusts much larger sums to a shaky loan society, or to an association of light-fingered gentlemen, because he has more confidence in other people s work than in his own. Another who is a member of all the societies for the material and moral improvement of the lower classes, does nothing for the people in his own employment or for such folks as he might person ally influence. When such people co-operate, they unite their incapacities, and this explains the sudden stoppage of so many societies started with a great flourish of trumpets.

But, on the other hand, men who are used to doing every thing they can for themselves without trusting to their neigh bors, co-operate when they are all face to face with some com mon difficulty to be overcome or some general interest to be furthered, not because they have failed in personal entreprise. They unite their capacities, they form a powerful union of


354 AMERICAN LIFE.

efficient people, the only sort that is worth anything. Hence the success of American societies.

We have already noticed a number of them, such as the Farmers Alliance, the Knights of Labor and a crowd of other workingmen s associations, the trusts monopolizing sugar and petroleum, the temperance societies that have organized the prohibition movement, the building associations whose great importance we showed in the matter of workmen s dwellings. Associations of all sorts may arise under a regime of complete freedom, when a charter is easily obtained recognizing the liberty of the society to act like a person.

I. ASSOCIATIONS FOR MUTUAL INTERESTS.

An American citizen always belongs to at least one mutual aid society for the same reason that makes him take out a life or an accident insurance policy, when his circumstances are easy enough. In a society of workers, the most dreaded disas ter is to be unfit for work. So the number of these societies is prodigious, and their results considerable. The subscriptions paid by members are very high, but the aid given is effective. One such association, founded ten years ago and numbering 3,000 members to-day, possesses a reserve fund of 160,000 after having paid $1,000 to the heirs of every member who had died, and having built an asylum where the orphans are brought up and educated gratuitously. A photographer, who is a member of the Odd Fellows Society, told me that this association gives $4 to $5 a day to any of its members who are ill. Similarly with the Knights of Father Mathew, a Catholic society founded by a very popular priest ; the Knights of the Legion of Honor, the Knights of the Temple, and a crowd of other associations with chivalric names, are organized chiefly for helping their members in certain circumstances detailed in their statutes.

Most of these societies have very strict conditions which must be fulfilled by a would-be member. For instance, Knights of Father Mathew must be practical Catholics, abstainers from all fermented liquors, and even ready to act as apostles of tem perance on occasion (Law II., Section 2). Further they must


AMERICAN LIFE. 355

be able to make their own living, be over sixteen and less than fifty years old. Other societies, more or less affiliated with the Free Masons, bind their members to religious indifference. In a word, an attempt has been made in the United States to use the great powers of mutual aid societies for the furtherance of some religious or anti-religious end. This is a new proof of their power. People group themselves also by nationalities to keep up old associations in the new land ; by professions for the discussion of subjects of interest to all those following the same calling. The need for mutual aid has taken almost every possible form. The only one that is almost unknown in the United States is that to which we are most accustomed in France and which is hidden in y our family orga nization. There we rely on our moneyed relatives father, mother or uncle to help us in case of need. Here it is neces sary to create an artificial family that will render the same services as our French ones do when an accident happens or illness comes. This explains why the upper-classes in America take out accident insurance policies, for which we, in France, see no use, except for working-people. But everybody in America is a workman in a sense, for everybody lives by his labors and expects nothing from his family.

Accident Insurance Companies always keep an eye on people, and you will be offered an accident policy at the ticket- office in the depot, or at the hotel, lest the cars should run off the track. The paper you buy often promises a certain num ber of dollars should any accident befall you while reading it. Advertisements like this are stuck up in the streets :

" Buy your accident insurance of the Commonwealth Casualty Company of Missouri. Time is money ; the loss of time is the loss of money; we insure against the loss. Fifteen dollars will keep a policy in force one year with the following benefits : Loss of one eye, $650 ; permanent total disability, $2,500. From accidental injury, $52 per week.

Then follows a tariff for the loss of a hand, a leg, etc.

Besides the societies for insurance of material life, there are many others among people having similar tastes, who form themselves into clubs for boxing, rowing, baseball, riding, cycling, book-buying, reading, etc., etc. The number and


356 AMERICAN LIFE.

variety of such associations, founded simply to make it easier to procure some pleasure or another, is extraordinary.

The Athletic Club in New York, composed of amateurs, has just built itself a club-house. There is a swimming-bath, 150 feet by 50 feet, in the basement ; on the first floor are several rooms, one of which, intended for receptions, is large enough to hold 1,200 people ; a fencing-room, very com pletely furnished ; a gymnasium with every conceivable appar atus; then an asphalted track for cyclists and a sanded one for walking and running ; and there is quite a terraced garden on the roof. The club has 1,500 members.

In rising Western towns, of course, such clubs cannot be found, but there are usually societies for sports of some kind or another. Similarly, when no public library has been founded, people club together and start a circulating one ; or they unite to build a theatre, to bring a company of actors, etc. Two young men, in a little Kansas town one a bank clerk, the other in business told me that they had got " La Mascotte " played by forming a committee of all people interested in the piece, who guaranteed the company a minimum drawing for the per formance. People are always found ready to undertake the responsibility of organizing an affair, no matter what it maybe. In such circumstances it is always easy to get any plan ex ecuted.

I visited the Mercantile Library at St. Louis, a very pros perous circulating library, kept up entirely by the subscriptions of its members. It contains 90,000 volumes and buys four or five thousand new ones every year It is in a large building of its own, which it built some years ago, in the expectation of future growth ; it occupies only the fifth floor, the four others being let to a drapery store for $40,000. It is easy to imagine its future from these figures. The majority of its members is composed of ladies and girls. I saw a number coming to change their books, asking information, consulting various works. They have more time than have the men to spend in culture.

The men often arrange to spend all the evenings, when they are free from business, in educating themselves ; and many societies provide a series of lectures for their members, and


AMERICAN LIFE. 357

even evening schools. I have before me the programme of a Philadelphia Workingmen s Association, which engages com petent professors to give instruction in American History, English Literature, Physiology, Political Economy, Freehand- Drawing, etc.

Willing people often undertake to deliver these lectures, and give this new proof of their interest in the working-classes. We are going to see, too, that certain disinterested and gener ous souls have formed a special class of societies for looking after higher things. A sort of collective manifestation of the lofty sentiment of social responsibility which has given rise to those great institutions we have already considered.

II. ASSOCIATIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVICE.

I shall not try to review the innumerable societies which set themselves a special mission to accomplish some reform, to develop some practice, to soothe some misery temperance societies, societies for the protection of children, of women, of animals, benevolent and charitable societies, etc., etc. I shall simply mention a few I came across, which will serve to indicate the powerfulness and activity of such societies.

They probably owe part of their efficiency to the liberal- mindedness that exists in America. When some general inter est is at stake, they do not hesitate to combine and come to the rescue without any thought of narrow rivalry. This is all the more remarkable because some of them are closely connected with some sect or other, as I have already pointed out in the case of Mutual Aid Societies. In spite of the differences from this point of view, they organize congresses to study the ques tions that are of interest to all. A Conference of Charities and Corrections was held in Baltimore in 1890, owing to the initia tive of some citizens. I take the following names from the list of signatures to the letter of invitation, and their juxtaposition will inspire the French Republic: Cardinal Gib bons, Archbishop of Baltimore ; William Paret, Bishop (Prot estant) of Maryland; Thos. J. Shryock, Grand Master of the Maryland Free Masons ; Theo. Rothschild, Secretary of the Orphan Jews Asylum ; Mrs. A. Fuller Crane, President of the


358 AMERICAN LIFE.

Impartial Humanitarian Society for the Relief of the Aged ; J. Pembroke Thorn, M. D., President of the Maryland Insane Asylum and of the Church of Christ Orphan Asylum; F. W. Dammann, President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; Philip Herzberg, President of the Jewish Benevolent Society, etc., etc. The end must be charitable, and nothing but chari table, for people belonging to such very different societies use fully to confer together. With so well defined an aim, added to the efficiency of American activity, it mubt have led to ex cellent results.

I visited the studio of a young artist, who paints portraits with very considerable talent, and who recently settled in the States. At first she was unknown, and so had no orders and hard times ; but one day she went to the Young Women s Christian Association, told her case, and asked how she could get some work. She told me that some rich, influential people immediately interested themselves in trying to find her com missions ; that she obtained several of her sitters in this way. She added : " I have always found an inexhaustible good-will to aid girls and young women who .must earn their own living, no matter to what class they belong ordinary working-women or ruined millionaires, governesses, artists, etc." Very rich ladies usually put themselves at the head of such institutions, so we are no longer dealing with mutual-aid but well-directed beneficence, intelligent charity. The Ladies Exchange organ izes a permanent exhibition of needle-work, fancy work, and porcelain painting, dainty articles of every kind, which a woman can do without leaving home, and which other richer women love to own without giving themselves the trouble of making them. In this way the Ladies Exchange helps many an un known misery.

Societies whose principal aim is the moral improvement of their adherents do not neglect other advantages which may help to attract or to retain members. One of the most power ful of such societies is the Young Men s Christian Associa tion, which has branches almost all over the United States. In some cities its premises are superb, and are at once recog nized by the four initials, Y. M. C. A. Its double nature, moral and practical, is best shown by the two advertisements


AMERICAN LIFE. 359

which I came across one day in Baltimore, within an hour or two of each other. The first could affect only very virtuous souls, heedless of the world s opinion. It announced that a lecture on charity would be delivered, and few French people will avoid a smile at the title, " Joseph, a Pure Man." A cler gyman of some sect or another was to relate to members of the Y. M. C. A., and all who cared to come and listen, the story of the exemplary conduct of Joseph and the wicked ways of Potiphar s wife. It was to be a sermon, pure and simple. The second bill was occupied with more positive mat ters. It read :

Every young man in East Baltimore should know that the Young Men s Christian Association offers for $5 a year: ist, Gymnasium with latest apparatus appliances and experienced instructor. 2d, Bath shower, hot or cold water. 3d, Parlors, games, reading-rooms, social meeting for young men, and good companionship ; entertain ments by the best talents. Educational Classes Book-keeping, writ ing, short-hand, typewriting, German, music and drawing. For prospectus and full particulars apply to the Y. M. C. A. Office. Mem bers received at any time.

This powerful Association has 195,000 members in the United States and Canada, although it does not include any young men except Protestants. It does not deliberately ex clude Catholics, but the free interpretation of the Bible, the only thing common to all Protestants, is the basis of the re ligious teaching it gives to its members in various ways, so that young Catholics are prevented from joining it. To re medy this they have organized similar associations ; for in stance, the Young Catholic s Friend Society ; and they also zealously support the St. Vincent de Paul Societies, several of which are very flourishing in America.

Among associations of a like nature may be mentioned the Christian Endeavor Society, Order of the King s Daughters, and many others, the last named counting 100,000 members, who promise to spend part of their time in charitable works, to the material improvement and moral elevation of the lower classes.

These different societies are far from absorbing all the avail able energy of Americans, who have plenty left for a crowd of


360 AMERICAN LIFE.

special objects. I was introduced to a fashionable lady in Philapelphia who had organized a Women s Silk Culture As sociation. This is a matter of moment in view of the fact that American manufacturers depend on France, Italy and China for the large quantities of silk they use. The climate of the Southern States is marvellously adapted to silk-worm breeding, and these regions which have been suffering so severely during the past twenty years may find a most useful resource in this industry. Mrs. Lucas and several ladies in Philadelphia belonging to the highest society, have turned their attention to this matter, and are making most praise worthy efforts to encourage the planting of mulberry trees and the forming of silk-worm nurseries. Until now they have not obtained any great results, but they are not discouraged. It is a decidedly American spectacle to see women of the world trying to form a new branch of national industry with the dis interestedness of true statesmen.

I was admiring the vast extent of Fairmount Park in this same city of Philadelphia one day, and calculating the enormous sums its maintenance must cost the town in a country where all handwork is so very expensive ; but a young physician to whom I confided my thoughts answered, " Do not distress yourself; the city does not bear the whole expense, for we have a so ciety for keeping up and improving the public parks, and it gives a large grant, and even does part of the work itself. Every member pays a subscription of 5, and we number about 6,000 ; so we have $30,00x3 to spend every year, and our num bers are increasing."

Most of the statues which adorn the public promenades have been given by private individuals; and this explains the extraordinary variety of people they represent. One day, when I was walking in Central Park, New York, I sat down near a bust on whose pedestal was carved Mazzini. I did not expect to come across this name, but the crowd of Italian immi grants in New York explains its presence. Statues of cele brated men of every nationality and opinion can be seen, the Park Committee willingly giving them a site, without trou bling themselves about the strange comparisons suggested by the proximity of certain people.


AMERICAN LIFE. 361

The same freedom is granted to political associations. Every body is free to express his sentiments as he pleases, and to try to educate opinion by any means he thinks fit to adopt. For instance, the old Southerners and Northerners celebrate anni versaries of their respective victories during the Civil War, in the same town, and make speeches in praise of their own gen erals, have fireworks, etc. Of course, I know that the memo ries of the war do not stir any practical rivalries, which, in fact, are almost objectless now-a-days, for no Southerner would go back to the old slave system. But, nevertheless, the permit ting of all these demonstrations is a proof of a very tolerant spirit.

The free association of citizens showed itself in all its power at the time when that terrible crisis arose which seriously im perilled the existence of the American Union. Union leagues were formed, composed of citizens loyal to the Union in every city, which equipped regiments at their own cost, bought can nons and took under their personal charge a part of the war ex penditure. When the war was ended the object of the leagues had vanished, but they usually became the nucleus of fashion able clubs which have preserved the name of Union League Clubs, but they have nothing to do with politics except the memories of their past.

This exhibits a very curious fact characteristic of the Amer ican disposition. The healthy, active part of the population, which does not live by politics, knows how to take in hand pub lic affairs when a grave crisis demands their help ; then they come with their practical spirit, their habits of initiative and prompt decision, and when the crisis is past they go back again to their own business.

For long, the essential characteristic of politics in the United States was that they were managed by honest men in the rare hours of leisure they could find in their busy lives, and never by people who made them a profession. The Government, democratic in its form, was shared by the majority of citizens accustomed to freely unite themselves for the administration of a number of interests, inspired by a sincere desire for public welfare, and thoroughly qualified for their task. This dem ocracy was daily educated in the thousand associations which


362 AMERICAN LIFE.

supplied a number of needs without any legal restraint, and the citizen who came from private to public life was fitted to play his part therein. This education still exists. We have just seen the vitality of association in America ; but the ele ments thus trained for public life are but little used. Other elements supplant them in present-day politics, under what circumstances we shall presently see.


CHAPTER XX.

POLITICS. THE CORRUPTION OF PUBLIC BODIES AND OF POLITICIANS. How PUBLIC ACTION is SUBSTITUTED WHEN PRIVATE INTEREST REQUIRES IT. THE RE STRICTED NATURE OF PUBLIC AUTHORITY.

I. THE CORRUPTION OF PUBLIC BODIES AND OF POLITICIANS.

The most remarkable fact about present-day politics in America is that honest men seem to have abandoned them to professional politicians, and to interest themselves only in private enterprises. A man who respects himself will not can vass and will hardly accept any public office. There are some men entitled to the highest consideration, who occupy seats in the Supreme Court and in the Senate ; but very few of them are to be found in the House of Representatives, and still fewer among the magistrates or civil servants.

This has become especially marked since the Civil War. At the end of that struggle, in which both North and South ex hausted their resources, there was great need of recuperation. For five years men had spent their time and money for the general good, thousands of lives and millions of dollars had been sacrificed, and a need of profiting by victory and peace, in order to heal their wounds, was felt by all.

Further, the main cause of the war was an economic one. The agricultural South wished to avoid the sudden abolition of slavery and to freely import European goods. The manu facturing North wished to raise a protecting wall around the American market, and retain the exclusive right of trading in it. When victory made it possible the North hastened to take every advantage of it, to manufacture, to build new workshops, to lay railroad tracks over the entire country, and to make the


364 AMERICAN LIFE.

whole of the magnificent territory it possessed profitable. We have seen what gigantic results have been gained since then ; the West transformed, the cultivation of new lands progressing with unheard of rapidity, Eastern manufactures developing in like manner, and even beginning to spread to the Mississippi Valley; mines opened up, etc., etc. All the active forces of the nation were absorbed in such enormous undertakings that one is amazed they sufficed to bring them to a successful issue.

But politics were abandoned. Men felt as if they had entered on an era of great security after the terrible shock of a long and cruel civil war ; they saw an almost limitless field of activity in front of them, where public action had no place, and where free and independent individual initiative was all powerful. It seemed, therefore, useless, harmful and dangerous to waste time on politics, when that time was so urgently needed for other affairs. They had not to govern, but to make a country. Their land had nothing to fear from its neighbors, but it needed every effort of all its children to help its development. All the current flow of energy and activity which had been employed for five years in preserving the Union was now diverted into another channel.

Moreover, it is very difficult to look after private interests and public affairs at the same time ; if the former are absorbing, the latter are equally so. But elections give only short-lived powers, usually one or two years. The commission must constantly be renewed ; a member must keep his constituents in working order by meetings ; he must continually be edu cating them, and never let himself out of touch with them for an instant. In fact there is no truce to the electoral campaign. Then the political centres are not the industrial nor the com mercial ones. Washington, the seat of the Federal Chambers, is a dead city ; and in most States the political capital is not one of their great cities : New York Assemblymen and Senators meet at Albany, not at New York city ; those of Pennsylvania at Harrisburg and not at Philadelphia; those of Illinois at Sprinfield and not at Chicago. Men who have their business in these large cities would be obliged to give them up in order to take part in public affairs. They quietly decide between


AMERICAN LIFE. 365

profession and politics, when they are at all successful in their professions.

When the men who are eminent in private life are thus brought to neglect their public duties, into whose hands shall they fall? Quite naturally into the hands of those who have not been able or who have not wished to get on into the hands of politicians.

An American politician is a refuse (un raid) of private life. He is the outcast from agriculture, from industry and from commerce the man unable or not anxious to earn his living by work, incapable or not wishing to make a business for him self; his calling, his business becomes politics. He carries on this business just as others run a grocery store, or breed cattle in order to make a living.

Politics are worthless when reduced to the role of bread- winning, except when they pay well, as all businesses should do. In the townships the politicians cannot pay expenses, and honest men can look after the simple interests which affect them very closely without any loss of time. In a county the judgeships have their little profits, but not usually enough for a man to live on ; so that these can only be accessory employ ments. The State Legislatures, and the offices they offer, are more attractive. With due skill, for instance, in getting rail road companies to buy his votes in the case of questions that interest them, a politician may make a desirable income. The revenues are large enough not only to feed Senators and Assem blymen, but also that interesting class of lobbyists middlemen who put the venal legislator into communication with a buyer, and who prowl about the houses in search of some good stroke to be done, seeking the little dirty jobs that appertain to their disgusting specialty.

Congressmen are also surrounded by lobbyists, as is very necessary when a tariff question, such as the recent McKinley Bill, or a money measure, such as the Silver Bill, are being discussed. As great financial interests are concerned, and a vote can be sold at a high figure, there are many important transactions which the skilled intrigue of lobbyists may con trive to the great profit of the Congressmen and their own.

In the drama of city administration the politician finds his


366 AMERICAN LIFE.

most profitable part. The complexity of the municipal busi ness of a rich and populous city, and the time it de mands, fatally prevent men occupied with private business from taking part in it. The execution of public works affords opportunities for numerous money-jobbings, and their import ance permits embezzlement on a large scale. Here is the para dise of politicians. Then, all the judicial posts become lucra tive, for many rich people are able to buy up those who fill them. The great efforts of politicians are all put forth in the large cities.

They must have a large connection among electors, in what ever field of activity they may choose, before they can attain power. In the South they find it in the negro element. At the close of the Civil War Yankee " carpet-baggers," who settled for a time among the conquered expressly to oppress them, made use of the resentment of the late slaves against their former masters in the most objectionable way, and made a weapon for themselves out of the antagonism which they were careful to maintain and to stir up. The Legislature of South Carolina, in particular, became a veritable den of thieves un der the rule of "carpet-baggers "and negroes. Those of Missouri, Virginia and Maryland were scarcely behind it, and even to day, although there is an improvement on the whole, that of Louisiana is said to closely imitate these fine models. In the mining States, California, for instance, the " carpet-baggers " lean on the great mass of adventurers, attracted by a hope of rapid fortune-making ; while in purely agricultural States, where rural influences have not been smothered by a great city, they have very much less power. It is possible to hope that time will partly cure this condition of affairs in the South and in Cali fornia. In the South the sad souvenirs of the war will vanish ; the great development of agriculture in California will help to balance that of the mines.

But the evil seems more incurable, less accidental and more chronic in the Eastern States which contain large cities, such as New York. We must study the system of corruption there in order to appreciate its true nature. The unconscious accomplice of the politician his instrument if you will, is no longer the negro, but the immigrant newly landed ; who be comes a member of a democracy at one bound after leaving the


AMERICAN LIFE. 367

aristocratic countries of the Old World. Such accomplices have been legion during the past forty years. About the middle of this century European immigration began to develop at an enormous rate. The United States received more than 14,000,000 immigrants from 1845 to 1889 inclusive. All these soon became American citizens, owing to the extraordinary ease of naturalization, which can be had after five years residence. The majority of immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, England and Scandinavia. The Germans divide themselves between town and country, the Irish gather in cities, the English and Scandinavians disperse on farms. The great urban centres of the East are thus invaded by a crowd of Irish and Germans, very badly prepared for the exercise of the political rights which they enjoy the minute they become American citizens.

The Irish, driven from their island by profound misery, char acteristically improvident, and without training for any kind of trade, form a class of perfectly incompetent electors. They are children to whom serious interests have been entrusted ; they are even worse than children, for they are men of full age without experience and incapable of getting it in the sub sidiary positions they usually fill. These evicted farmers, dis gusted with agriculture, usually become servants, second-rate clerks, etc.; they fill inferior places willingly abandoned by native-born Americans. Their transplantation from Ireland to America does not raise them, although it sensibly improves their natural condition. Such electors are a danger in them selves. The Irish are dangerous, not only because of this al most incurable incapacity, but also because they are accustomed to the utmost perfection of a certain kind of organization, and consequently easily lend themselves to concerted action. They are capable of forming a powerful league of incapables. Everything prepares them for this part, and first of all their family constitution, a kind of communal patriarchate the sept the jealously exclusive clan, where each one counts on the force of his group rather than on his individual energy ; then their history, a long series of revolts against an oppressor of centuries standing, which has led them to draw closer to gether in secret societies or in openly acknowledged leagues, according as they estimated their chances of success ; and


368 AMERICAN LIFE.

lastly their arrival in crowds in a strange land gives them a new reason for union, while their settling in towns yields a new facility for doing so. Note that the kind of association they have been used to in Ireland is nothing but a political organization, and must be, since all their efforts are directed towards ridding themselves of a conqueror and regaining their National independence. These immigrants are sure to form themselves into a compact political body.

They have* very great influence in public, but very little in private affairs. My readers must have noticed that I have been able to describe many farms, manufactories, banks, etc., without saying much about the Irish. They are very numer ous in the workshops but as workmen, and only rarely as managers. In studying political life, it is necessary to recog nize the important place they hold, no matter what their situa tion may be ; for where there is majority-law, \vorker or vaga bond counts for as much as a Mr. Pullman.

The first time I visited New York I landed on St. Patrick s Day. The green flag of the Emerald Isle waved over the City Hall, Irish societies marched through the streets with banners flying ; the newspaper I bought the World was printed on green paper, and its columns overflowed with enthusiasm about the processions, the orations, the banquets, the toasts, which occur on St. Patrick s Day. I have never been in Ireland, but I imagine that this national festival could not be better celebrated in Dublin. The Irish seem to have become masters of New York.

They have conquered, politically, and occupy an important place among the group of politicians that oppress it ; they con stitute the great body of the army which these lead to the fight, and by means of this rank and file assure their victory.

Everybody has heard of the " Tammany Ring," famous for the extraordinary peculations of its members. The Ring origi nated in an Irish society, and its way of working is to make use of the votes of ignorant electors ; so that its development has been parallel to the increase of immigration, especially of Irish immigration. ]

i A detailed history of the origin and organization of the Tammany Ring will be found in Mr. Rryce s work : " The American Commonwealths; " Vol. II. , Ch.

Lxxxvnr.


AMERICAN LIFE. 369

The Tammany Society, at its foundation in 1805, was the meeting-place of New York Democrats; after 1822 it was appointed a managing electoral committee at a meeting of Democrats, and soon became despotic under the leadership of a few politicians. Its power grew with the enormous increase of immigration between 1855 and 1860; and in 1863, under the presidency of William Tw r eed, a typical politician, it became still more powerful and entered on the stage of public life. The honest*folks of these days first dubbed it the Tammany Ring. Tammany politicians were enclosed in a " ring," as in a fortress, and no citizen could hold any public appoint ment without being inside it. It was a clan of .limited mem bership, which had seized upon political power and made use of it for its own profit.

First of all the ring seized the judgeships, so that those who were in office might wink at the thefts they proposed to com mit ; then, little by little, they got hold of the municipal offices in New York, and commenced operations, each member quickly and shamelessly filling his pockets. As the city was grow ing rapidly, those operations became all the more profitable, for improvements had to be undertaken, which meant huge bribes ; and the increase of city expenditure permitted the ring to job on a large scale. European immigrants continued to crowd into New York and swell the ranks of ignorant electors, who supported the Ring at the same time that its field of action was widening.

But there was one serious obstacle which restricted the free dom of official brigandage dreamed of by the Ring. The city and State of New York had always been opposed to each other, and the city charter was not a very liberal one. The majority in the State was Republican, which party constantly tried to diminish the autonomy of the city, where the Demo crats were more numerous. The Ring felt its action crippled by this species of guardianship ; but it got rid of it in 1869, when the State majority became Democratic. New York was at once granted a new charter, expressly framed to favor this official plundering. Then followed the golden age of the Tammany Ring.

The bribes of this period are still famous, the most cele-


3/0 AMERICAN LIFE.

brated being those given and received during the building of the County Court-House. The estimated maximum cost was $250,000. Accounts for over eight millions had been passed, when the manoeuvres of the Ring were stopped before the building was finished. Every contractor was constantly asked to artificially increase his bill and the difference was lost in the depths of the Councilmen s pockets. The widening of Broad way resulted in another similar scandal. The compensation given to proprietors varied from one to three, according to their sympathy with the Ring ; the officials bought strips of ground bordering the street, in places they were sure would be bought by the city. Broadway was a den of thieves. At the same time city affairs were sacrificed for private ones, and its debt was increasing $28,500,000 yearly, and the financial statements of the City Comptroller showed that almost a half of the acknowledged expenditure was for " general purposes."

The discovery of such startling abuses was only a matter of time. One day, in 1871, a minor official, not in league with the Tammany Ring, came across some damaging documents, carefully copied them, and carried them to the New York Times. An enormous commotion was caused by this dis covery; and, after a number of meetings, a vigilance committee, chosen from honest citizens, was deputed to examine the city accounts. In the end, the officials mainly involved were obliged to resign. Some fled to foreign lands, while others, like Tweed, did not manage to escape in time. New York, for several years after this, had no more of the rule that had ruined her.

But the vigilance committee, " the seventy," as they were called, could not remain in orifice forever. It was made up of business men with little leisure, most of whom had no con nection with political organizations, and was more fitted to crush the power of the Tammany Ring during a crisis than to take the government of the city in hand. So, little by little, the activity of honest people was less and less stimulated, the memories of these frauds were dying out, and constant immi gration was giving the politicians a new lease of power by adding a crowd of ignorant and foreign people to the electorate, and Tammany began to lift its head once again. It was fatal.


AMERICAN LIFE. 371

The power of these politicians was not the result of an accident or of chance. Another crisis happened which the growth of the city made but more intense. New scandals were revealed in 1890.

This time a committee of the Senate of New York State dis covered the frauds. The administration of the Sheriff of New York was tainted with grave irregularities ; in plain language, the Sheriff had stolen. The committee followed up the clue, and found that this had been going on for several years. So, instead of one Sheriff, half a dozen were brought before the Court of Common Pleas. The occupant for the timebeing had very opportunely crossed the Atlantic to seek health in Baden, but the others, who did not expect a retrospective review of their administration, were forced to put in an ap pearance. Interesting revelations followed. For instance, it was told how Grant, the Mayor of New York, had pocketed over $20,000 when he was Sheriff, from fees which the official valuer, entrusted with the sale of the property of insolvents, had illegally charged.

Ludlow^Street Prison was the scene of numberless frauds. It was in the Sheriff s keeping, and the director was also in league with Tammany, both of which honorable officials make excel lent profits by not disdaining on occasion to let a prisoner out on bail, and always forgeting to pay it up.

During the agitation about the site for the World s Fair, to celebrate the fourth centenary of the discovery of America, the whole Tammany clan worked with might and main to get it for New York, and to place the direction of the exposition in the hands of mayor Grant, who had the advantage, in the eyes of his accomplices, of being both rich and rapacious. His riches made him less liable to be suspected. His rapacity would lead him to exploit those under his jurisdiction with as much ardor as the most starving politician. Unluckily for Tammany, Chicago was the city chosen for the World s Fair, and shortly afterwards the embezzlement of the sheriffs of New York were found out, and instead of a new chance of jobbery, they had an opportunity of disbursing.

The Government of New York has not ceased to be profitable to its administrators. Every now and then this or that credit


3/2 AMERICAN LIFE.

is exhausted, without anybody knowing what has become of it. In March, 1890, a snowstorm raged over the city; the streets were in the filthiest condition, and passengers had to wade ankle-deep through the slush to reach a street-car. Even Broadway, the great artery of the city, was in this wretched state. All the same, $50,000 appeared in the estimates for clearing away snow, but the worthy officials had hoped that they would not be visited by another snowstorm that season, and the S5> oo na d taken another direction.

The result of such proceedings is that this rich city is as badly cared for as a poor village. It is badly paved, defect ively drained, muddy in winter, dusty in summer. The traveller finds this out for himself, and soon learns the cause if he hap pens to talk with an American, for everybody, except those in the Tammany net, cries out against corruption.

In spite of this outcry matters have not grown better, for at the next election the great body of voters were led to the polls like a docile herd, and honest men, disgusted at this outcome of the fight, are retiring from public life. Some great scandal, such as that of 1871, when the Committee of Seventy was formed, must happen e er they can be aroused from this pas sive attitude. Then the discredited politicians will disappear from the scene for an instant, but will soon be brought back again by the mass of ignorant voters.

Corruption exists outside the great cities, but not to such an extent ; in the federal government, in the local government, and in the law courts. I have already explained that the evil is in direct proportion to two elements; the magnitude of the possible underhand transactions which tempt the politicians, and the number of electors who will support these men. Since the Civil War these two causes have received new strength with deplorable results. The first fruit of Northern victory was an outrageous protection system which prodigiously increased the drawings of the custom-houses, the most im portant source of Federal revenue. With this surplus the State has been able to rapidly lessen its debt, but it has also made it a duty to use part of it for paying services rendered to the North during the Civil War by granting a multitude of pensions to old soldiers. This, legitimate enough in principle,


AMERICAN LIFE. 373

soon gave rise to startling abuses, when the politicians found out that it was a simple and easy way of making friends, and soon every soldier s widow, mother and children were benefit ing by this governmental liberality. Owing to a voluntary neg ligence, pensions are drawn to-day for holders who have been in their graves several years. This helps to increase the voters for the party in power and the growing customs revenue al lows the United States Treasury to pay for the current year $i6o,coo,oco for what is called the Union Defence Fund with out imposing taxes.

Of course there is no lack of protest. The Democrats, who are usually free-traders, and consequently opponents of the high tariffs which augment the customs revenue, very strongly denounce this wasting of public monies in great pub lic meetings ; all the same they may be more exercised to see how this waste helps to strengthen the protectionist Repub licans, consisting largely of the old Northern party, than to see the squandering itself. The Republicans, noticing the bad effects of their liberality on the majority of consumers who suffer from the effects of a high tariff and without receiving any return in the shape of a soldier s pension, have recently invented a remarkable piece of machinery for quieting public opinion. When Major McKinley introduced his first bill, any one who heard him would have thought that his main desire was to reduce, and even to completely stop the receipts of the custom-house. He stated that he would absolutely close the American market to foreign products ; that the Federal Treasury would soon be empty, and that he was anxious, by stopping the source of these military pensions, to bring about a reign of Puritan virtue. Of course, foreign produce con tinues to pour into the United States, and the Treasury is overflowing. For whose profit? The future will show.

Such facts as I have just cited explain the very unfavorable estimates often given of American society. People who judge a nation by its government cannot have any confidence in the future of the United States, but those who know what mar vellous energy America shows every day in a thousand differ ent ways, who have seen it at work and realized its worth, will never dream of looking on it as a broken-down society, not at


374 AMERICAN LIFE.

all it is a developing organism which gets some hard knocks as it grows, but which is big enough to bear them. Readers who have been good enough to follow me through the past chapters will doubtless have great difficulty in admitting that this ever-growing people, so diligent and active, will let itself be ruined by vagabond politicians. It is true there is a strik ing contrast between the healthy vigor of their private life and the corruption in public affairs. But the contrast can be ex plained. First of all, we must discover what parts of the nation resist such a state of affairs, and how they act in a grave crisis.

We know these elements already, for we have come across the men turning their attention to matters of universal interest left untouched by the authorities, and furthering them by or ganizing special foundations or associations. These men we must now study in a new role.

II. HOW PUBLIC ACTION IS SUBSTITUTED WHEN PRIVATE INTEREST

REQUIRES IT.

The Americans are in almost the same situation as the cap tain of a vessel who discovers, in the midst of a raging storm, that the cook is a thief. The captain evidently cannot leave the bridge to examine the accounts, he has other duties to at tend to, and as long as the storm lasts the cook may go on with impunity. When one says to Americans that the poli ticians are thieves they usually answer, " Well, I guess they are."

As long as business prospers and politicians do not interfere with its progress they easily escape the punishment they de serve ; but whenever their action affects private affairs they are got rid of with wonderful ease.

To men who \vork, respect for property is as useful as re spect for discipline to sailors. A settler who has broken the prairies to sow wheat cannot succeed if his idle neighbor comes and carries off his crops at harvest time. A ranchman who imports breeding animals at a great cost, loses his money if anybody can steal them ; but the farmer or ranchman energetic enough to settle in some out of the way wild of the West, will


AMERICAN LIFE. 375

not allow laws to be made by scoundrels, and if nobody else protects them they protect themselves.

In the town the banker, trader, or manufacturer who puts up with having to wade through mud on the way to business, be cause they get there all the same, will not let the rabble break open their safes. Should the police not arrest evil-doers, should a fortunate or bribed judge not be severe enough, they turn themselves into police, judge, and execute their sentence. Before liberty even, to work is their first demand, and this is much the most sacred of all liberties.

But American judges have more than one sort of weakness. They may be frightened by threats of not being re-elected, they may be bought, there are several ways of getting hold of them, some of^them very effective ; and, then, several half- settled countries have not any judges yet. Order would be difficult to keep did private action not step in and revise the judgments of corrupt judges and supply a judge s place where magistrates do not exist.

This happens often enough for Americans to have a special term for it " lynching." Judge Lynch, represented by a group of honest neighbors, steps in when there is no other, and hangs any convicted criminal on the nearest tree.

I know that lynch law is usually considered a sign of bar barism in France. Magistrates have not a sufficient number of defamatory expressions to stigmatize a law which sets itself above laws ; but if honest Europeans think thus, honest Amer icans think otherwise.

In the first place, they are not governed with the idea that a man should never take justice into his own hands ; for, to their thinking, not only has society, as a whole, the right to keep order and punish criminals, but every honest member also. Order is the first need of everybody and also of each person. If repressive powers are given to magistrates by them, it is on the tacit condition that they will do justly, and so nothing seems more natural than that they should resume them them selves \\hen this is abused.

In the second place, their usual promptness of action makes the American set aside all the slow and complicated formalities of European justice. When a man has clearly killed some-


376 AMERICAN LIFE.

body or stolen something, they think it only reasonable that he should be hung without delay. Further, their custom of doing things on their own initiative helps them to come to a grave decision and assume all responsibility. They fearlessly do what they think just.

Lastly, necessity often forces them to act in this way. Nobody needs philosophic arguments to realize that everybody in Western wilds has the right of seeing that order reigns around him. In a great city, when the police are not enough for their duties, people have the same impression, but lynch- law does not act in the same way when it is applied in the prairie and in populous centres.

Prairie sentences are usually summary. The ranchman, who has had some horses stolen, jumps on his horse and gallops off, accompanied by two or three neighbors, and hunts the thief. The peaceful traveller they come across, must look out ! If appearances are against him ; if he cannot justify his presence; if he is confused in his replies, the improvised tribunal cites him to its bar and condemns him without mercy. That awkward mistakes have been made cannot be denied, and the regrets the repentant lynchers sometimes present to the widow of their victim are not enough to repair matters. But how can this be helped ? It is impossible to have perfect justice in half desert places.

In cities, on the other hand, lynch-law is surrounded by serious guarantees. No improvised jury pronounces the death sentence, but a vigilance committee, composed of honorable citizens, judge in equity criminals of undoubted guilt. They not only punish evil-doers, but they revise the judgments of official justice when it seems tainted with grave error. The vigilance committee thus takes the place of a veritable juris diction, unacknowledged de jure but admitted de facto, and good citizens put their trust in it because it will not let itself be corrupted.

Life would be impossible without it in some Western mining centres and in some Southern seaports. The San Francisco Vigilance Committee had much to do to assure a minimum of necessary order. At Denver it has been able to make the town decent, which formerly used to be the meeting-place of the


AMERICAN LIFE. 377

worst type of villains. At New Orleans it is just about to put down the growing power of the Sicilian Maffia. This last is quite recent, so we shall stop a moment to examine it.

Everybody knows that Italy in general and Sicily in parti cular is the bandit s promised-land. Bandits of Abruzzes, of Naples, of Palermo, have founded a number of secret societies "Camorra," "Mala Vita," " Maffia," etc., whose main object is to get their members a living at the expense of the working portion of the population. They are very successful, in spite of official justice and King Humbert s constabulary. A large number of Sicilians having emigrated to New Orleans, an im portant branch of the Maffia was started there some years ago. Owing to the slowness of justice, it began to prosper as in the mother-country until Mr. Hennessy, an energetic superin tendent of police, took on hand to put a stop to its misdeeds. This was enough for the grand council of the Maffia to con demn him to death, and a few days afterwards the chosen members put it in execution. The assassins were seized and dragged before a jury and acquitted.

The jurymen, fearing the terrible vengeance of the Maffia after this example of their revenge on Mr. Hennessy, failed to do their duty, and acquitted the guilty to save their own lives. The situation was grave. The Maffia could commit crimes with impunity in New Orleans as in Palermo. Luckily the Vigilance Committee was not so weak as the jury, and, owing to it, Mr. Hennessy s assassins were arrested and hung, to the satisfaction of every honest man. Of course, such summary justice, so different from our European customs, was not to the liking of Italian diplomatists in Washington. Hence the Italo- American Question, which my readers no doubt remember, whose curious history we need not follow any further here.

Vigilance committees are usually supported by the press. Sometimes they find it a great aid, and work in combination with it. The press publicly denounces the abettors of mischief, who are always able to have their reply published in the accus ing newspaper.

It thus publishes a preliminary statement which eases the work of the committee. This happens especially in times of serious trouble, and normally in young mining villages always


3/8 AMERICAN LIFE.

infested by all kinds of adventurers. I have already told how some years ago, at Denver, the printers of the Rocky Mountain Neu s worked with their revolvers beside them, and the editor never went down the street without having bullets whistling around him. No constable or examining-magistrate was ever subjected to a more intense intimidation. They really were acting like policemen and judges, with this difference, that they were personally greatly interested in the outcome of their pursuit. They had to discover and punish evil-doers or quit a place which had become uninhabitable. No official action could have been more efficacious than theirs.

We must remember that vigilance committees may be useful, although they do not hang people. The New York Seventy, which examined the city accounts in 1871, pronounced no capital sentence, but it did great service to the city, which again has great need of its action against politicians who are sucking it dry.

Americans guard themselves against possible failures of pub lic action by private interference, not only in matters of justice, but also by making officials of all ranks personally responsible for the acts of their administration, and liable to be sued for any fault. Every functionary is sacred in France. When he acts in an official capacity he is responsible only to his superiors, and not to the public, which is looked upon as his inferior. Should he overstep his powers and break the law, an official court judges him. Any special case of law-breaking has little chance of being repaired, for numerous and expensive formali ties have to be observed before it can be done, and in the long run the case usually breaks down by the official proving that he acted within the limits of official right, even though he may have done an acknowledged injury. This " official guar antee" does not exist in America. The official is, first of all, a man; and if that man causes any damage whatever, he must pay for it like everybody else. As an official he is likely to damage private interests oftener. That is all his privilege.

Official tyranny becomes very difficult under such conditions. A politician may not be hindered from pillaging the public purse, but if a police officer arrests you without sufficient cause, he is treated like a pickpocket by the law. In short,


AMERICAN LIFE. 379

private life is well protected against any invasion of public life, and this is one of the reasons why America continues to de velop in spite of its corrupt politicians.

Another reason is that the sphere of action of public powers is carefully determined and also restricted. The individual gives up to the township or county as few political rights as possible ; the township and the county do the same with the State, and the State acts in a like way to the Federal Govern ment. In this society the individual takes the lead, and the powers that be grow less important as they recede from him. It is exactly the opposite in France.

III. THE LIMITED NATURE OF AUTHORITY.

I shall not inflict a discourse on American administrative law on my readers, for it has been discussed often and with many details by several authors. It is, therefore, well enough known, and, moreover, we are too inclined to over-estimate its importance.

One cannot live long in America without being astonished at the almost, complete absence of authoritative interference in anything. It is rare to find the Government objecting to any private plan, and still more seldom is it appealed to for help. Were all public authority in the United States to disappear a great majority of institutions would go on without knowing this happened, because they are really independent of the State. I should be giving a false idea of this American life we are studying were I to make a long digression about its political organization. Further, there is not much interest in knowing the details of administrative forms in the United States, be cause there is a most marked tendency to pay little attention to formalities. Instead of studying governmental machinery in legal tests, it is much better to examine its outward manifesta tions, which will give us a living idea of the limited nature of authority in America, and help us to understand it much better. Such observations are easily made, for America has one city consecrated to government. Washington has no industry and no commerce, except a local retail trade. It is not the Capital of politics, commerce, finance and literature as Paris is, but simply the political Capital.


380 AMERICAN LIFE.

Its artificial and official nature is noticed at once, and recalls Versailles in some ways; the immoderately wide avenues lined with houses usually not very high, increasing still more the seeming breadth of the streets ; no great stir, which gives one an impression of solitude after coming from New York or Philadelphia ; a profusion of statues in memory of American generals and statesmen ; and lastly the Capitol, the mathemati cal centre of the city, occupying the summit of a hill above which it raises its lofty dome between two long marble wings. It is almost the only imposing monument. The other govern ment buildings seem shabby to European eyes accustomed to a liberal display of the purple. The White House, the resi dence of the President of the United States, is a large-sized villa, the home of a rich bourgeois rather than a palace. It has a pleasant-looking exterior, especially that facing the Potomac, owing to the large public square in front of it. There is nothing extraordinary inside except the bad taste shown in the decoration of several rooms. The blue-room, where Presi dent Cleveland was recently married, is specially objection able, owing to the startling vulgarity of the gilding. The green-room is scarcely less ugly, and one has to turn and look out of the window to rest the eyes on the flowery lawns of the garden.

A member of the House of Representatives, who offered to present me to President Harrison, was my guide to the White House. \Ve mounted from the ground floor by a narrow stair case to his private room, an unostentatious apartment sur rounded by libraries. The President spoke with us a few minutes longer than a busy man would have done; asked me my reasons for coming to the United States, with the air of a man who made it his business to put such questions to people who were presented to him ; then shook hands with us, and we took our leave. There is thus no difficulty in reaching the presence of the head of the States.

After seeing the White House we visited the different De partments of State. The buildings seemed much smaller than our corresponding European ones, yet I was looking on all the offices of the central administration of an immense country, twice as populous as France and thirty or forty times as large.


AMERICAN LIFE. 381

Some business buildings in New York, Philadelphia and Chi cago are as large as these government offices. Each depart ment has not a separate house. The Home, War and Navy offices are in one large building west of the White House, and are the counterpart of the Treasury Department. The Agri cultural Department stands by itself in the middle of experi mental gardens, and does nothing but statistical work and ac climation experiments ; in reality it is only a bureau of informa tion. The Office of Education also simply collects documents abont public instruction, which is organized by each State in its own manner. But there are two immense buildings standing face to face, the Post Office and the Patent Office. It is easy to understand how the former is so great in an immense country like the United States. The Patent Office is simply a place for registering inventions, and its size does not prove the power of the Government ; only the immensity of private enter prise and the inventive genius of Americans. The Patent Office publishes nearly every fortnight a fairly large volume of closely- printed two-columned pages, describing specifications of inven tions. In one year there were twenty-three different patents taken out for improvements on seats.

The Officers of State, like the President, are quite accessi ble. I met four in the course of one morning, under the guidance of my Congressman friend. Of course I had no favor to ask them, which may explain their readiness to receive me. The absence of formalities is astonishing. I went to a meeting of the Senate. The square room in which the eighty-four Sen ators meet is somewhat like our college lecture-room. The Presi dent sits on a chair, on a low platform ; everybody speaks from his place and there is no special show. Instead of the ushers wearing a chain as we are accustomed to see in France, little boys, from ten to fourteen years old, run about with letters, and telegrams for the Senators, who crack their fingers when they want one of them, and a boy immediately runs like a young rabbit right into the middle of the hall, without any respect for the High Chamber, while his companions are squatted on the steps of the President s platform, and roll about and play when they are not needed. The public places are almost empty, both here and in the House of Representatives, for peo-


382 AMERICAN LIFE.

pie are not interested in their proceedings, except when some question is being discussed which affects everybody, such as tariffs and monetary matters. The centre of life is elsewhere. The New York and Chicago papers do not take the trouble of reporting debates in Congress. When a citizen of those places has any time except for business, he is too much concerned about local affairs to trouble about federal matters. He pays taxes to the municipality, and its members are the men who most need looking after. There is, of course, a considerable stir all over the country at the time of Congressional or Presi dential elections; but this is easily explained, first of all by the passions with which the candidates carry on a fight that is a question of subsistence with them ; and secondly, owing to the interest everybody takes in tariff legislation about the only point of difference between the Republican and Demo cratic platforms.

The weakness of the army is one of the most marked signs of the limitation of State authority. Our Governments rightly imagine that they cannot keep order even at home, if they are not backed up by a strong public force of policemen or soldiers, which will enforce their decrees. They ask too much from the country for it to willingly obey them. But in America the State seldom interferes with the citizen, and so there is little need for agents of repression. The citizen there wishes, above all things, to be perfectly free in his movements, and becomes anxious when the central authority is able to manipulate a great military force, fearing lest it may become a dangerous instrument of tyranny in the hands of unscrupulous politicians, and seeing in it a serious menace to liberty. Such Federal Army as exists cannot either strongly back up any govern ment or cause anxiety to any American elector. It consists of 25,000 men, who are employed mainly on the Indian Reserves, sometimes to protect them against the illegal invasions of settlers, as at Oklahoma ; sometimes to put down risings of the Redskins, as in the year 1891. The Secretary of War showed me a large map in his room, which indicated the distribution of the forces throughout the States. Not a single squadron of cavalry was stationed in the East ; only a few handfuls of infantry here and there along the Atlantic coast. Of course,


AMERICAN LIFE. 383

recruiting is voluntary. Any vacancies are advertised just as they are in business. Witness this bill I came across in the Post Office at Cincinnati :

U. S. ARMY

RECRUITING SERVICE.

Wanted for the U. S. Army, able-bodied men of good character, be tween the age of twenty-one and thirty-five.

Then followed the size and weight necessary, the advantages offered, etc. It was signed " Captain James M. Roper, Eighth Cavalry. Apply at 2 19 West Fourth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio."

Some may argue that it is dangerous for so large a country to be contented with so small an army, which, although it may do for internal affairs, is not strong enough to oppose the attack of an enemy. The United States are not absolutely shielded from war, for they have neighbors who do not always agree with them, as recent discussions with Great Britain about the Behring Sea Fisheries show. But people have confidence in their own energy, and know that they can quickly organize themselves in an emergency, as was proved during the Civil War. Then they are not alone in thinking themselves formi dable opponents. Just consider how Italy had to moderate its demands in the New Orleans lynching case, after having crowed loudly enough at the beginning. Do you imagine it would have done the same in the case of Guatemala or the Argentine Republic ? The day after the lynching some Italian men-of-war would have been floating in their waters, and a rupture would have been made to bring about a more emphatic reparation. They dared not play this game with Uncle Sam, and with reason, for his rage is terrible. Though he employs all his active forces in peaceful occupations, it does not follow that he does not know how to effectively turn them against anybody who may trouble him, should the occasion arise.

Besides the regular army, there are State militias, intended to keep a certain knowledge of military affairs among the citizens. They are organized in a more or less serious way, without being controlled by the Federal Government in the slightest degree. They furnish the pretext for the great num ber of titles of colonels and generals, so numerous in America.


384 AMERICAN LIFE.

I went to South Farmingham, near Boston, to see the annual exercises of the Massachusetts militia, said to be one of the best organized corps. About 2,000 men were .encamped for a dozen days on a vast plain belonging to the State. The eye of one of our generals would not have been favorably impressed. The officers were not very trimly dressed and rode clumsily on badly-groomed horses, grotesquely harnessed with yellow leather straps badly cared for. The movements lacked unison and precision. I noticed one small squad of cavalry which was being taught sabre drill, of which it had much need, for at each command every horseman described the most unexpected curves with his arm, and had the men not been separated by good distances, they would have hacked each other to pieces. The infantry executed the various movements without regu larity or speed, it was impossible to say that they marched as one man, for each man seemed to go from one place to another, as if he were alone.

On the other hand, if one talked to a soldier standing beside his tent-door he seemed intelligent and zealous. I asked one to show me his gun. He explained its mechanism and ad vantages, and told what wonderful scores could be made at shooting-ranges, and that the Americans were the best shots in the world as usual. On asking for particulars I learned that twenty-four men chosen from the Massachusetts militia went to a shooting-match in England and brought back the prize. There is thus some truth in the young militiaman s exaggeration.

I met young women going about the camp who had come to see husband, sweetheart or brother. Not a soldier indulged in the least coarseness, for Americans, and not troops, were encamped there. While the drilling is inferior and there is a lack of unity, the individual man is superior to the trooper we know in France. He is treated as a man. During my two hours stay in the camp I never heard any oath or coarse expression. The officers commanded without getting into a rage. I men tioned this to an American who was with me, and he replied that if it were otherwise, the camp would be deserted ; that young men came to be drilled and not to be sworn at. They are volunteers with a due sense of dignity, who would quickly take the road home if they were not respected. The men will


AMERICAN LIFE. 385

not stand violent officers, and officers will have nothing to do with insubordinate soldiers. If any such come they are packed off at once. I noticed a small log-hut at the camp-gate, which served as a police-station, and had room for four prisoners, although there were 2,000 men. Two cells were occupied by civilians who had broken the peace in the camp, and whom the military authorities, masters in their own sphere, as becomes an American authority, had put under lock and key.

Such things reconciled me to the Massachusetts militia. Here, as everywhere else in the States, I saw that each organ ization, each individual, remained as independent as possible, and that public powers have but a restricted and special action, and are left with very little to do. It doubtless injures those effects of united action to which we are accustomed, and we are apt to think that nothing but chaos can come out of such liberty. Yet individual efforts are more energetic, and when directed by the spontaneous desire of every will towards one end their power is incalculable, and it is this that makes America so formidable.


CHAPTER XXI.

THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE OF THE UNITED STATES. THE EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG. THE LIBERAL PROFES SIONS. NEWSPAPERS AND REVIEWS. AMERICAN AU THORS. THE TASTE FOR ART.

The impression which remains after our rapid examination of the various branches of American activity is that mental labors must be a good deal neglected among a nation so eager in its pursuit of material advantages. We do not expect to find much culture among all these ranchmen, husbandmen and traders, and, in fact, hardly any exists. Except at Boston, where a society, old in settlement and wealth, prides itself upon its cultured refinement, few people are to be found wholly devoted to science, art or literature.

But this is not the same assaying that all intellectual activity is banished from the United States. In the first place, com merce and banking, together with business in general, stand in need of mental design even more than of material efforts. It is not the ablest-bodied, but the most acute, who succeed. Further, a certain amount of knowledge is extremely useful, if not indispensable, to the man of business, so soon as he attains a certain level. Lastly, the industrial applications of science are so numerous at the present day as to make the sciences the true handmaids of labor.

Thus, a considerable impetus has been given to public in struction by the Americans, who are extremely desirous at once of advancing the whole Nation on the. line of progress, and of giving themselves the best possible arms to be used in the struggle for existence.


388 AMERICAN LIFE.


I. THE EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG.

Their attention has been specially concentrated upon the primary schools, and the explanation is obvious, for their de sign is in effect to provide everyone with a certain quantity of learning, sufficient to put him in a position to develop himself afterwards in accordance with his circumstances. The ques tion is not one of forming specialists, but of providing that no man of ability shall be hindered in his later career by lack of primary instruction ; this, above all, is the guiding idea un derlying the study programme.

These programmes vary in the public schools of each State, and similarly in the other schools, but the basis is everywhere the same ; reading, writing, drawing, arithmetic, geography and American history are always taught, with the addition of very numerous object-lessons. In some towns, where the German element is strong, German is added as a compulsory modern language ; elsewhere other additions are made, such as English history or elementary physics.

There is no overpressure in these primary schools. In gen eral the classes only take up seven or eight months of the year, and attendance is not usually compulsory for more than three. In this way legal constraint robs no father of a child useful to him on the farm ; there is no farmer who cannot spare the help of his sons and daughters during three months of the year, for the duration of the dead season is never less than this. Thus the labor of the land is not fettered, as often happens in Eu rope, and most of all in France, by an abuse of the educational system.

Besides this, the public primary schools are in the hands of the parents. These appoint a committee which choose the masters and mistresses ; no general regulation could be so effectually a safeguard against scholastic tyranny. And this means also helps to keep the school in its normal accessory or auxiliary function. Everyone agrees in recognizing the usefulness of this auxiliary; but no one dreams of allowing it to assume an attitude of invasion.

When a boy succeeds well in one of our French schools, we


AMERICAN LIFE. 389

immediately think of exploiting the memory or quick intelli gence which he may possess, in order to make him pass ex aminations, and so to obtain one of the numerous public offices thrown open to competition by the French State. His intel lectual ability suffices in itself to give him a means of exis tence, without his having to employ it in pursuit of a prac tical object. In the United States it is not so, but the pupil of recognized ability is merely prepared by the school to set it to work himself later on. There is not, as with us, a great number of posts obtained by examination, and there is a great number of aspirants for these posts. All situations are gained inde pendently. The boy knows, in consequence, that if he develops certain of his faculties at school he will have to find employ ment for them in life, otherwise these developed faculties will be of no service to him.

Thus, instruction is given by master and received by pupil in the healthy view that it is a useful instrument put in the hands of industrious youth, with which to do productive work, not a mystic talisman designed to open the portal of a ready- made career, for there are no ready-made careers in America, and so instruction there is a means and not an end. In con sequence of this it produces no over-education, for nobody ex pects his learning to be a means of livelihood, but all hasten into useful occupations. Some aid themselves by what they have learnt at school to climb to independence, while others put less confidence in the preparation they have been given.

By the side of the ordinary primary schools are the high schools, a kind of higher primary school, attended by large numbers of boys and girls, especially in towns. Here the programmes are fuller, but always conceived in a practical spirit. In place of giving their pupils lessons in elementary subjects, these high schools give these lessons in more ad vanced subjects, such as natural history, chemistry, physics ; add to these a little history and literature, and you will have a fairly full idea of the studies pursued there.

Such is the system of primary instruction. If you com pare two average pupils of the American and French primary schools, you will find the American pupil the superior, espe cially in the rural districts. He knows very much the same


390 AMERICAN LIFE.

things, but knows them better than the French boy. Is this an admission that the educational methods are remarkable in the United States? I doubt it ; on the contrary, instruction is very often given by chance teachers who have no method ; but the material of the class is more promising. The children of a settler in the Far West have opener minds than a little French peasant ; they are wider awake. The education they get and the examples they see around them give them far more readiness ; so it is not surprising that they generally make the best pupils. Further, the life for which they are destined will give them many opportunities for utilizing the knowledge they have acquired at school ; so that instead of forgeting it, they will be led to develop it and will profit by it more. My per sonal experience of French rural districts has put me in a posi tion to declare that young men who have covered pages with magnificent writing at the primary school of their village are found incapable of signing their names when conscription calls them at twenty-one ; accustomed to handle the spade or hold the plow, their fingers have forgotten how to guide the pen. Here there are no peasants, properly speaking ; the settler writes to his family, reads the papers, corresponds with his tradesman, keeps books after a fashion. He runs no risk of losing the benefit of his education.

If fortune smiles on him, if he ventures upon undertakings of any size, he will thus be able to increase his knowledge in proportion as it is useful to him. For instance, he may take lessons in book-keeping and short-hand in one of the innumer able business colleges where such subjects are taught ; he will be able to attend the courses of an evening school ; and we have already seen that there are many such institutions at the service of the United States public. Many people make use of them in their upward journey, " to improve themselves," as the typical phrase has it. I know a St. Louis miller, now rich, whose modest beginning was not based on a very large amount of education. One day, as I was visiting the Mercantile Library with him, he said to me : " Look there, that was where I learnt nearly all I know. When I was twenty-five, I had an iron constitution ; my business was looking up, and I felt my ignorance ; so after the day s work was over, I used to come


AMERICAN LIFE. 39!

and sit down at one of these tables and read." He had profited by his reading, for you might have talked to him long enough without suspecting that he had not been through the university. A New York banker tells me that one of his clerks attended a free school of arts and industries the Peter Cooper Institute in his spare time. He had a strong taste for drawing, but no means to enter upon the serious study of art. By passing his evenings at the Peter Cooper Institute he succeeded in getting lucrative employment as a draughtsman on wood, and said farewell to his accounts.

It is in this way that many of the self-made men of America have acquired their intellectual knowledge. Forced to throw themselves into some industry as a means of livelihood at the age of fourteen or fifteen years, they have been unable to com plete their education on the school-benches, but have used every later opportunity to supply this want.

It must be remembered that in most cases they only supply it imperfectly, so that we do not find in men of a certain stand ing that general mental culture which we are accustomed to meet with in France in the same circumstances. While the Western farmer is at a higher educational level than the French artisan, the tradesman or banker remains at the same level as the farmer, and only the " university men " rise above this plane.

I do not wish here to produce the impression that an im mense variety of knowledge is acquired in an American Uni versity, which is far from being the case. But their students intellectual powers are developed. The course of study lasts three or four years, and is interspersed with a great deal of physical exercise, as in the English university. I have seen baseball matches at Harvard which showed that the players were thoroughly skilled in the game. They cultivate many others with equal success, and have acquired a healthy, vigorous ap pearance truly delightful to the eye.

The universities are not attended by mere boys. The age of entrance is from eighteen to twenty-one years, and the de gree of Bachelor of Arts is taken between twenty-one and twenty-five years a degree which carries no special privileges with it, but simply proclaims its possessor to be a well-bred and educated gentleman.


392 AMERICAN LIFE.

Under these conditions it is not surprising that the number of students is limited. At the age of eighteen or even sixteen, we have already noticed on several occasions that most Ameri cans are already in business ; indeed the general rule is to start in business before twenty-one. Who, then, are the people who form the body of the universities, and sometimes wait till the age of twenty-five before entering on any profession ? They fall into two distinct classes.

In the first come those who are preparing for a profession which requires a certain literary culture, especially law, medi cine and divinity. These need the university to supply this culture; and, when their relatives are not able to support them, they give private lessons, compete for scholarship, or work in an office in the long vacations ; in one way or another they succeed in keeping themselves In many universities, half the undergraduates thus work, in order to have the means of study ing, and are naturally students in right earnest.

The second class consists of young men of means, whose fathers consider three or four years at the university a useful equipment for life. A Chicago advocate, himself a graduate of Yale and full of love for his university, told me that he sends all his boys there when they are seventeen or eighteen. " What ever profession they decide upon, this will be useful to them later; nor am I alone in thinking thus. Many practical men recognize that a university man will probably outstrip men who entered business without such a preparation by the time he is twenty-five or thirty. No doubt they lack experience at first, but then they soon gain it, and later they usually fill the most important situations. The demand for them is all the keener because the supply is limited." Even in this class we find few idle students, for the good reason that an American father soon cuts off supplies if his son does not profit by the sacrifices made for him. Mr. M., the advocate of whom I have just spoken, was careful to tell me that if his sons did badly at the university, he would set them to look after their own inter ests by making them go to business at seventeen or eighteen. Here no prejudice forces a rich man s son to spend a certain number of years on college-benches. One can have confidence in the power of a liberal education to form a gentleman, but


AMERICAN LIFE. 393

no one is ever snobbish enough to think himself disgraced by not having breathed the college air for ten years.

Besides, we know from all we have seen that there are many other roads to success. u University men " are the ex ception in America, although their number is tending to in crease. Even in the liberal professions, they do not fill all situations, and they enter them in quite a different way from thatto which we are used to in France. There is no use in show ing their diploma at the gate, for it is open to everyone, and it is their business to profit by the real advantages which a superior education assures them, in order to outstrip their com petitors. They are not established by law as the only advo cates, doctors, clergymen, engineers, etc.; but other things being equal, they are better prepared to make good advocates, doctors, clergymen or engineers.

II. THE LIBERAL PROFESSIONS.

One of Mr. M. s sons decided to follow the paternal pro fession. He graduated Bachelor of Arts at Yale last year, had six months of European travel, returned to Chicago, and is now going through his apprenticeship to the law. Forthis purpose his father has placed him at a desk in his office, as an ordinary clerk. (In the United States advocates are also solicitors.) There he does practical office work an indispensible prepara tion, according to Mr. M., for the useful attendance at law lec tures and performs it in sufficient earnest, for he takes the place of a clerk, and is employed and paid like one, being al lowed away only two hours daily to attend the theoretical in struction of the law-school ; in the evening he works at home. Next year the law-school will take up nearly all his time, but at the end of this period he will pass his examinations and be called to the Bar. The total is two years study, one of them almost entirely given up to practical work. I surprised Mr. M. a good deal by telling him that our future advocates have three to five years of theory before pleading the smallest case. I told him that I myself had listened for three years to famous professors, without ever defending the tiniest cause, and could not now unravel any brief ; all of which struck him as being


394 AMERICAN LIFE.

extremely odd. " Yet there is no Lick of folks in my position in France," said I. " But, why then do you study law at all ?" " My good sir, I have not the slightest idea. We look upon law as a supplement to education, or at least as a means of collect ing diplomas, and when we have got all these diplomas, we are quite contented, and do no more."

This conversation embarrassed me a little, but it throws a good deal of light upon the different views an American and a Frenchman take of education. Where they see only a tool which must be mastered in order to be used, we see a dignity which it is an advantage to have gained, because it gives us a higher intrinsic value. This is the essence of snobbishness.

Among them theory is only valued in proportion as it is an aid to practice, and this idea guides all their methods and shows itself in the most curious ways, in those exact sciences in which some Americans have won a universal reputation. No one, for instance, denies the progress which acoustics and electricity owe to Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, microphone, etc. In the application of science to industry they are far ahead of any nation in the world. I have pointed out several times how economical conditions spurred on Americans to develop machinery ; but we must also recognize that they are eminently capable of responding to this spur ring. They are perpetually inventing, hitting upon a thousand ingenious devices, and enriching the wondrous stores of scientific discovery by their unremitting energy. It seems as though the United States ought to contain a wonderful nursery of engineers ; and yet, if you question a French engineer on this subject, he usually answers that they are extremely inferior to the graduates of our polytechnic school. The latter invent nothing as a rule, but it would be unjust to deny them the title of erudite men of science. They learn an enormous mass of subjects, retain a great deal in spite of all that they forget, and have a remarkable faculty of seiz ing all new discoveries due to other men s initiative.

From this point of view, American engineers are really in ferior to ours. They know little outside their own special branches. An electrician, for instance, or a mining engineer, usually understands electricity or mines. But they have each


AMERICAN LIFE. 395

a profound knowledge of their special branch, and, above all, they are always seeking to effect improvements. They are not omniscient, like the polytechnican, but they take their revenge by advancing science to a much greater extent.

In short, they differ greatly from French engineers, because they are produced in a quite different manner. With us, an engineer is a man who has been crammed with all possible knowledge up to the age of twenty-five. His skill in assimi lating has been marvellously developed, and he has been made an admirable assistant ; but, nourished on abstractions, he usually lacks practical sense and cannot personally direct a great concern ; his main use is to second the efforts of others actions, he being superior in certain technical details.

The American, engineer on the other hand, is a young man who has been trained from youth in workshops, having a hand in their practical direction, and knowing just as much science as is needful to understand the action and be thoroughly acquainted with the construction of the machines under his charge. As he has no diploma which will insure him a situa tion, he is forced to keep continually abreast of all new inven tions ; tor like every American, he wishes to have a business of his own, and is obliged to start one in which he may make his fortune. Thus, all the great engineers, like Edison and Westinghouse, are industrial chiefs, inventors and creators. The crown of a man s career is precisely to be his own engineer, himself to put in action the outcome of his experience and science.

In other words, an American does not work all his youth with the idea of becoming an engineer, but he works all Jiis life to become independent, and in this aim acquires, when necessary, the engineer s knowledge. He does not seek to gain a dignity, but to practice an industry.

Besides, if his profession of engineer does not pay, he will turn to another. " Last year I was an engineer," a young fellow said to me in Brooklyn ; " this year I am a journalist./ In America you must always be prepared for these sudden changes, and young men destined for the liberal professions often take the precaution of learning some handicraft to fall back on in case of necessity. They do not wish to be left


396 AMERICAN LIFE.

without a means of gaining their bread if clients desert their office or surgery ; accordingly, they learn type-setting or short hand, sometimes even carpentery or smith-work. Mr. M., who sends all his sons to Yale, has thus made each of them go through an apprenticeship to some handicraft ; it is the best assurance one can have against possible checks and disasters. In this way, whatever happens there is still a considerable chance of falling on one s feet.

American doctors have a certain likeness to Dr. Sangrado in " Gil Bias ; " as far as possible it is well to avoid having recourse to them. I have already had occasion to describe, in my chap ter on small Western cities, how a young woman could in six months become a doctress at Chicago, and this instance is not an exception. The explanation, indeed, is readily afforded by what we know already of American education and the unstable nature of their professions.

In fact, medicine consists of two parts an art and a science. The art is quickness of insight, decision, clearness of view, based upon personal experience and observation ; individual skill aided by presence of mind all qualities that may be found in simple empirics. The science consists in a profound knowl edge of the human organism, a reasoned study of the curative properties of the numerous substances provided by nature or discovered by chemists. This can only be acquired by time and study, by a lengthy and serious technical education. This is what the American physicians lack, nor need I say the reason : it does not pay quickly enough. From this springs the high reputation which French doctors have in America. Two or three are. always to be found in the large centres.

On the other hand, the Americans are distinguished in certain special branches of medical art. A Parisian with any self- respect has an American dentist. The same is true even in the Provinces; they are found in England and Germany. In fact, it is here only a question of manual skill and of mechanism, not of theoretical science. Further, a particular circumstance has developed dental art in the United States. All American jaws are rapidly destroyed by the effect of animal food and iced drinks, so that it is necessary to repair and replace them even more than with us ; whence the progress of this special line.


AMERICAN LIFE. 397

Whatever branch of the liberal professions you examine in America, the same dominant features are always to be found ; the practitioners of it are given to practice rather than to theory, more interested in their profession than in science. The Americans shine but little in the abstract and speculative science, of pure mathematics; in the sciences based on ob servation they have a considerable place ; in the illustrative applications of science, they are easily first. Their lawyers are not philosophers, but men of business ; their doctors scarcely rise above the level of simple empirics ; and the energy of the country is almost wholly absorbed by works of immediate use fulness and of a rapid profit.

What can be the character of the literary production in such a society ? It is dominated by the same circumstances and shows the same effects ; it is made for the use and often the pleasure of its public, and thus is peculiarly obvious in the periodical literature, the most highly developed of all.

III. NEWSPAPERS AVD REVIEWS.

I believe that no country in the world possesses more daily papers than the United States. At first sight, you would be inclined to think that the journalists were the rulers of the country, but nothing is more false; they are simply the ser vants and intermediaries of the public.

Certain of the American journals have a great influence. The Chicago Tribune, the New York Tribune, the World, the Sun, enjoy an incontestable authority ; but the journalists who direct them are far from being known and appreciated by their subscribers as our Paris journalists are. The reason is that the Press has quite a different character from ours, which is pedan tic and dogmatic ; it is not a priesthood, as our publicists are sometimes fond of affirming; it is an agency of information. If this is full, precise and interesting, the public care little enough to know what author writes the articles.

Yon will see proofs of this if you will open a great American journal and glance through it. The articles are not signed, and the only name which appears is that of the publisher of the journal, the person responsible for publicity, who in general


398 AMERICAN LIFE.

does not write. Sometimes this publisher, proprietor of the journal, anxious to make it boom by all possible means, organ izes a vigorous system of puffing around his name, but with the same commercial object as a large tradesman. He does not seek to persuade his fellow-citizens that he is the bulwark of the social edifice, the champion of downtrodden liberties ; he tries to prove to them that his business and he are pros perous, that he is anxious for the general good, that he is an enlightened philanthropist, in short, that he possesses the material position and moral qualities of an eminent American.

In fact, it is necessary to give this impression to the sub scribers and purchasers. In order to keep ahead of their demands, the paper must have a powerful reporting organi zation and a considerable number of contributors ; it must, in consequence, be a great concern. It is needful to show that it is such a great concern ; that is why the proprietor of a great journal is anxious the public should know that his country seat is a marvel of elegance, that his collections are precious and his generosity unlimited. For the same reason, the important journals go in for enormous buildings, usually flanked by a tower or crowned by a dome whose prodigious elevation draws the attention of the passer-by. Like the banks and the great insurance companies, they do not usually occupy the whole of these buildings, but let them as separate offices to men of business. They are " business buildings," but the journal s name shines in vast letters on the front, or surrounds the monumental entrance, so that no one can ignore it.

In reading an American paper, we begin to understand this method of business. It is justified by the variety of subjects treated, the abundance of news telegrams, advertisements, in formation of every kind. The journal s position is not deter mined by the personal merit of a writer who weaves out of his head considerations upon religion and politics, but by the value of the information it gives. Henceforth it is no longer possi ble for a journal to be supported by a man of talent, surrounded by five or six writers of any kind, who do their composing with scissors, as we often see it in France. There is nothing in the United States answering to \htlntransigeant of M. Rochefort, the Autoritt of M. Paul de Cassagnac, or the Rcpubliquc Fran-


AMERICAN LIFE. 399

gaise in the time of Gambetta. The French journal which comes nearest to the America type is probably Le Temps, but still with a profound difference.

In order to have an exact idea of the American press, it is necessary to choose a newspaper which has at once a great cir culation and a wide popularity, a journal which reaches the masses. The New York Herald, the best known in France of all American papers, does not meet these requirements well; it is too cosmopolitan, too New Yorkist. You will find it in the hands of all the Americans who live in Europe and of many Europeans who live in America ; on the other hand, it has no readers in Philadelphia, Chicago or St. Louis. The Chicago Tribune is perhaps the paper of greatest authority in the West, but its public is generally restricted to people of education. The Philadelphia Public Ledger has not the same position of weight among the best class of readers, but it goes everywhere, it is read alike by masters and workmen, and so it represents an excellent average type ; in addition, its circula tion is considerable, so that it fulfils all the necessary condi tions for an example. I take a number of it at hazard, and this is what I see.

First comes the latest news local and foreign events ; out of the paper s eight large pages this takes up about three. They are not merely simple telegrams, for when the subject requires it we find the detailed account of a European event. Here, for instance, is a long column analyzing a debate in the English House of Commons; a Washington article, giving a summary of the sittings of the Federal Chambers ; then the announcement of an important failure, with a history of the business-house which has suffered, etc., etc. I turn the page, and find a long report on the School for the Blind supported by the State of Pennsylvania. It seems that abuses have crept into this institution which is not surprising when an es tablishment under public control is in question and an in quiry is being carried on ; the reader is kept informed of all its phases. Everywhere the same eagerness to furnish complete information, without any criticism on the part of the journal, is attested by the concise and unornamental style, and the abundance of facts. This is documentary literature. A


400 AMERICAN LIFE.

banquet has been given to a foreign diplomatist at the Union League Club on the occasion of his departure from the United States : the dining-hall is described with care, the names of the guests are inscribed in full, the different speeches repro duced from beginning to end. A baseball match has been played, and nothing has been omitted the names of the win ners, the varying fortunes of the game, the advance of some well-known champion, the signs of fatigue visible in another all is there. And so on for all subjects, whether it is a question of the last criminal under sentence of death, the fashionable actress last come from Europe, the latest millionaire, their acts, words, gestures, costumes, features, health everything is reported and in the fullest detail.

Besides, we are here in the land of reporting. Reporters hide all the news they have from one another with the greatest care, as a precious treasure ; for, in fact, people who want, above all, to be kept informed of what is passing, require recent and unpublished news. Thus, the fortune of a journal is based on the excellent activity and success of its reporting system.

Articles written in the office have the same documentary character. They are little different from news properly so called. I read one of them, entitled 4< Socialism in Germany. The recent attempts made by the young Emperor to get pos session of this movement of opinion are simply related. As to the causes of socialism, the writer does not try to discover them. He is content to indicate that opinions on this point differ greatly, but that the reason oftenest given and most probable in his eyes is found in the crushing burden of military service. Give him another likelier reason, he will readily adopt it. If this strikes him particularly, it is on account of the great contrast existing between the absence of conscription which he is used to, and the exaggerated militaryism which victorious Prussia imposes on Germany.

Other articles do not even lend themselves to the philoso phic or pseudo-philosophic reflexions which this one would have brought to the pen of a French journalist. Their sub ject is the question of fires and organization of the fire-service, or the production of coal in the mines of Pennsylvania. An American reader is capable in this way of absorbing an im-


AMERICAN LIFE. 4OI

mense quantity of facts without flinching. A French reader would throw the journal away in disgust, or go to sleep in fatigue after ten minutes of it. And note that I have pur posely taken, as example, a popular and widely-circulated paper, not one addressing itself to a special public. The read ing population must be very different here from what it is in France.

Indeed, it is entirely different. An average Philadelphian artisan would quite willingly read the technical part of the Economiste Fran^ais. With us, serious and settled artisans get the length of the Petit Journal, and even that they often buy for the sake of the stories. Most of them have more taste for the vitriol of polemics. The reason is that the American arti san (and this is specially true in Philadelphia) has the idea of rising above his present condition. All around him he sees men spring like himself from the humblest class, arriving at a lofty position by their own energy, assisted by favorable oppor tunities ; and so he is anxious to know the favorable occasions which may arise for him also; with which future in view, noth ing is any longer indifferent to him. Ambition to rise enlarges his intellect and makes him earnest, capable of reflexion and ideas. The examples which surround him give him confidence in the powers of labor. When he comes home at night, the day s work done and his wages earned, he seeks in the reading of a newspaper that practical knowledge and useful informa tion which may enable him to attain his desire.

Such workmen are to be found in France ; they certainly exist, for there also many manufacturers have begun by living on day-wages; but the number is too small to form a public. That is why we have no paper able to furnish their intelligence with the food it needs to instruct them.

I have said above that the American Press has not the dog matic turn of ours ; it is somewhat curious that it should suc ceed better than ours in instructing. Yet the explanation is easy. It is only a most extraordinary journalist who can daily renew his stock of intellectual ideas ; and even supposing that he succeeds in this, these ideas put in daily circulation would be accepted or rejected by his readers, without much benefit to them in either case. For an idea taken ready-made from


402 AMERICAN LIFE.

another man s brain hardly benefits the receiver ; the only real fertile ideas are those drawn from a man s self, from his own observation.

Now, the American Press spends its time in furnishing its reader with matter for his personal observation. It tells him what is invented, what is disappearing, what is growing. This is infinitely simpler for the Press and infinitely more profitable for the public. I admit that many people lose their way in this mass of undigested news. I admit that the reading of an American journal involves a certain amount of brain-work to which everyone will not submit ; but, after all, to what does this amount? That it is possible to read a newspaper without deriving any mental profit from it? Does not that happen, even in France ?

For this lower class of readers the American journal still has a certain practical use, for it acts as intermediary between the different classes of the public. Every number contains an inconceivable list of situations vacant or wanted, of commer cial, financial or agricultural announcements. We have seen elsewhere how people advertise to find a boarding-house, to effect exchanges, to find a partner, etc. The curious thing is the enormous development of this custom. In the large eight- page journals at least half the copy is furnished by advertise ments. At New York, the New York Herald has several offices throughout the town, where five or six clerks are con tinually receiving advertisements. It is important that the means of publicity should be within reach of the customer. I passed one of these offices in Broadway at midnight ; people were to be seen going in and out, approaching the wickets and handing in their advertisements. It was busy enough for mid day.

There is yet another fashion in which the newspaper serves as intermediary. I have had occasion to speak of a competition opened by the World on the question of the education of girls ; problems of the same kind are often submitted to the public, this for instance: " How to Keep Husbands Home Nights?" and again questions are offered on poetical subjects. At the time of the last Tammany scandal, this line was to be seen twenty times repeated in the Herald : "What would you do if


AMERICAN LIFE. 403

you were the Mayor of New York? Our answer will be pub lished in next Sunday s Herald."

You see, the public is not only charged with the interpreta tion of its own account of the pieces of information supplied by the newspaper ; it is also charged in part with making the newspaper.

In the small Western cities, this correspondence of the sub scribers is the great resource and almost the only interest of the very moderate papers which appear there. The settlers tell their story with an earnest simplicity, of which this is a specimen, borrowed from a paper of Fargo, Dakota: " I came here in July, 1871, and located on my present homestead at that time. In 1872 I broke about 15 acres. Prior to that 5 acres had been broken, and so in the Spring of 1872 I seeded 20 acres, mostly to potatoes and oats ; the grasshoppers took the most of the potatoes, and practically all the oats. In 1873 I raised a crop without any rains after seeding a fair crop. I kept on breaking and seeding, and in 1887 I had about 180 acres of wheat, averaging 27^ bushels per acre. I was offered a dollar a bushel for it before cutting. What I did not sell at a dollar I sold for a dollar and ten cents. In 1879! commenced opening a farm near Hunter. (Details of the crops follow.) This year my crop at Hunter, on half a section, has been 8,500 bushels of wheat. I am quite familiar with lands in every por tion of the county and valley, and will take pleasure in answer ing any inquiries made. I am not much of a writer, but will try and give such information as can be relied on."

Besides these letters, which are amusing from their style, but essentially documentary, the newspapers of the small towns confine themselves to registering a few local statistics, and to echoing the local gossip. You see information like this: " H. J. Brewers has gone to Omaha on Business. E. S. Zoller has returned from his journey to Iowa. Charley Winship is enter taining his friend, H. J. Hendrix, of Oconee, Nebraska, etc., etc." Thus is the mania for news driven to the infinitely small by the impossibility of having the important. A small paper is not rich enough to have an organized staff of reporters; it is forced to be content with the news which its solitary writer picks up here and there, at the station, in the hotels, at the


404 AMERICAN LIFE.

bank, wherever men congregate. There is even more difference between the newspapers of large and small towns in the United States, than between a Paris journal and that of a country parish in France. The first is better, the second worse, if pos sible. The American newspaper is either a great concern or non-existent.

The reviews and magazines share this nature. These also do not endure mediocrity ; they endure it still less perhaps than the newspaper, for the reason that their public has not the same limits as the latter s. At St. Louis, only a St. Louis paper can be read for news, which is transmitted by telegraph to the local Press ; while the papers of New York, Chicago or Philadelphia bring it by railway thirty-six or forty-eight hours too late. Thus every journal has a strictly limited sphere of expansion, while the reviews and magazines of New York are read everywhere. I have seen Harper s Magazine, Scribncr s and the Century among the settlers of the West and the miners of the Rocky Mountains; and the table of every important club contains the North American Review.

The last mentioned is par excellence the type of the great American review. It has, so to speak, no definite staff of writers, but it appeals to all the competent notabilities, accor ding to the class of questions which public opinion puts upon the order of the day. Andrew Carneggie expounds the duties of wealth, as one of the men who have been most rapidly enriched in the United States within the last few years ; on the same subject, the Protestant Bishop of New York gives the opinion of a churchman, and the Hon. J. Phelps, the representative of New Jersey and one of Mr. Elaine s lieu tenants, the opinion of a stateman. As the question of unsec- tarian schools specially interests the Catholics, it is treated by Professor Egan, of the Notre Dame University. The question of tariffs successively calls up Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Blaine, Major McKinley and others less celebrated ; on that of divorce, an article is published by Cardinal Gibbons, the highest represen tative of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States ; and he is followed by Mr. Gladstone, Bishop Potter, a Judge of the Supreme Court, etc. ; Edison, Westinghouse and Thomson expound the progress of electric lighting. The Irish question is


AMERICAN LIFE. 405

discussed by Mr. Balfour, the late Mr. Parnell, Dr. James Bryce, Mr. John Morley ; the claims of labor are presented by Powderly, Grand-Master of the Knights of Labor ; the system of Henry George by its inventor. The Marquis of Lome, a former Governor of Canada, treats the Canadian question. Finally, I have the satisfaction of finding in the North American Review an article by Mr. Taine on Napoleon s religious ideas, which recently appeared in the Revue des Deux- Mondes. The North American Review, it appears, is a tribune from which men of note expound their opinions.

The magazines in general are devoted to less serious ques tions. Accounts of travel, novels and stories form their chief resource. Abundant and elaborate illustrations make their perusal attractive, and the large amount of information which they contain often gives them a real interest. Furthermore, the Americans, who are indefatigable travellers and very eager for facts of all kinds, form a first-rate public for this sort of publication.

Besides these magazines, in which very different subjects are met with, there is a swarm of more specialized ones, from Good Housekeeping, designed for housewives, up to the learned journals. At St. Paul a very interesting illustrated periodical, the Northwest Magazine, keeps its readers abreast of the pro gress being accomplished in the Northwest. Whenever a new city is founded, a great mining exploitation created or a rail way constructed in Montana, Washington, Dakota, Utah, Oregon, etc., the Northwest Magazine immediately gives a de tailed description of it, accompanied with plans, maps, photo graphs and drawings. In order to perform his continual investigations, the editor, Mr. E. V. Smalley, passes part of his existence in an immense railway carriage, built from his designs and specially adapted for himself and his family. This carriage, a real house on wheels, includes several bed-rooms, a dining-room, drawing-room and kitchen. A photographer and one or two draughtsmen travel in it with Mr. Smalley, often for six weeks at a time, stopping wherever an important novelty calls for attention, moving on again as soon as they have col lected the necessary documents. This certainly is a very modern, very American fashion of editing a review. It cor-


406 AMERICAN LIFE.

responds well enough to the object of the serious press of the United States to give the reader material for observation in the form of precise and useful knowledge.

By the side of this serious Press there is also the satirical Press, represented by a few illustrated papers, usually very wittily edited. Two of these, Judge and Puck, have a dis tinct political coloring: Republican Judge turns the Demo crats into ridicule, while Democratic Puck does as much for the Republicans. Some of their caricatures are really very amusing. Life and Light, also humorous, are less occupied with politics and more with properly so-called American man ners ; the small devices of flirtation are one of their chief resources. On the other hand, there are neither risky jokes nor doubtful illustrations. This indeed is an image of such a society as we have described ; they do not display their vices but hide them.

IV. AMERICAN AUTHORS.

It does not enter into my plan to offer a complete study of American literature. I shall content myself with showing that it exists, and in indicating its features, so as not to leave the im pression that no work of importance has yet been produced in the United States. Perhaps without this, a French reader might think that the Americans are entirely given up to the production of wheat or the making of locomotives, and the in habitants of Boston would not forgive me for allowing my silence to lend credit to such a supposition.

Certain American authors have indeed gained a reputation which needs no puffing. Among their historians, four at least Washington Irving, Prescott, Bancroft and Parkman are known and read throughout Europe. Washington Irving is the first in date of American authors whose works have gained the right of citizenship in the libraries of the Old World. He published lengthy works upon the discovery of the New World, remarkable for the clearness of their exposition and the accuracy of their facts; his travels in the Far West, at a time when Indians alone inhabited there, furnish circumstantial de tails of their social organism, and at the same time form a charming story, full of life and color.


AMERICAN LIFE. 407

Prescott s "Conquest of Mexico" is already a classic, and is the most complete work we possess upon this interesting subject. Bancroft has devoted his whole existence to a " History of the United States," a conscientious work, written with a gravity which is perhaps a little cold, but possessing a clear and con cise style, which is admirably suited to the exposition of a great history.

As to Francis Parkman, he has unravelled the origin of colonization from the relations of the first travellers and mis sionaries who visited Canada and the Northeast of the United States. His works are of great assistance for acquiring a knowledge of the indigenous populations which occupied these countries before the arrival of the Europeans, especially of the celebrated nation of Iroquis, the most formidable of all. It is sufficiently curious to see how Parkman, a bigoted Pro testant, does justice to the efforts of the Jesuits for the evan gelization of the Indians. In reading him we acquire an en thusiastic admiration for these heroic martyrs who, like Pere Yogues, to mention only one, paid for their generous endeavor with the most horrible tortures.

Further, the American is more readily impartial than sec tarian, more given to observing than to dogmatizing. This tendency is explained by the practical direction of his life, and the active energy that he displays in it. This is very clearly shown in the periodical literature of the United States, and ^ensures the Americans a place of honor in historical research.

It seems that another branch of production ought also to be open to them namely, that of economic and social science, which is founded, like history, upon the observation of facts, but observes facts present in reality and not in written docu ments. And in fact their intellectual activity has a great deal of play in that direction; investigations and statistics abound, and in many States labor bureaus are charged with collecting information upon the situation of manufactures, the life of the workmen, strikes and immigration, and publish yearly volumes crowded with figures. As yet, however, these considerable labors have given rise to no general work. The analysis which they offer of numerous and important social facts is guided by no method, it is sincere but not scientific, and can result in no


408 AMERICAN LIFE.

comparison or classification. It is to be wished that so great an effort were better guided.

America has, however, produced Henry George, an economist whose reputation is extremely notorious, and who cannot be reproached with the lack of general views. But he proceeds quite differently from the makers of statistics, for he is a maker of systems. In his hands observation becomes a weapon, for he is struggling for the triumph of a particular idea. At present he is rallying a following round this idea, and is playing the part of a party leader in the United States, so that it becomes necessary to say a few words about him.

Henry George is usually looked on as a Socialist, and in fact he is one on certain sides of his doctrines, and by certain de clarations. But the application of his system, far from protect ing the weak and incapable, would quickly result in stamping them out. His most celebrated work, " Progress and Poverty," is dedicated " To those who, seeing vice and misery born from the unequal distribution of wealth and privileges, feel the pos sibility of a better state and are willing to struggle to reach it." Thus he addresses himself to the discontented, especially to such of them as are struck by the inequality of human condi tions; in consequence, the Socialist public finds him favorably disposed to listen to it. This sympathy changes to enthu siasm on reading chapters like those whose subjects are given here: " The Injustice of Private Property in Land," "How Equal Rights to Land May be Affirmed and Assured," "The Enslavement of the Laborers is the Final Result of Property in Land."

Allured by these theories, many more or less disorganized Irish, Germans and Poles have come to Henry George and support with all their might the reform that he proposes, with out seeing that it favors the enterprising and energetic at the expense of the idle and incapable, the humble and mediocre. What Henry George desires is in fact to replace all taxes by a single one, calculated upon the selling value of the bare land. For instance, a town lot will be subjected to an equal contribu tion, whether it remains in the state of waste land or carries an edifice of white marble. The building is the work of man, and


AMERICAN LIFE.


409


Henry George teaches that every man has a right to all the fruits of his toil, so that every tax bearing upon these fruits is unjust and should be suppressed. On the other hand, the land on which it is raised belongs to all the world after him ; it is the element of success furnished by nature to all her children. Private individuals are only tenants, and owe rent to the community of citizens.

Now, this leads directly to the expropriation of all proprie tors who are not either large farmers, large manufacturers or large bankers, who are readily able to pay the tax demanded of them. But the artisan who owns his dwelling in a great town and the settler commencing loaded with debt in a Western State, will continually find themselves unable to pay it. Thus the land will be constantly set up to competition among all producers, and whoever weakens in the struggle will be imme diately ousted. On the other hand, as Henry George pro claims elsewhere, " All the charges, which now weigh upon in dustry and fetter commerce, once destroyed, the production of wealth would make advances hitherto unknown."

Yes, this would certainly be the result of such a reform. The capable would rise faster and higher, the incapable would descend faster and lower; independence would in future be the lot of a very few. It is sufficiently curious to see what social ism has become in the hands of Henry George ; it is no longer " socialism of the tribal state," as he calls it, but American socialism, still exaggerating the characters that we have noticed in American society an enforced amelioration, an enforced suc cess, or death.

Born in the United States, this maker of systems could not sacrifice the development of wealth and the advance of activity to the general good; he could not be a Socialist after the man ner of the German school or of the Russian Nihilists. On the other hand, the actual social condition of America could not satisfy him, because, in spite of the remarkable intellectual gifts that he possesses, George has never been able to attain an absolutely independent position. We find him successively Inspector of Lighting in San Francisco, then a clerk in the em ployment of the city of New York. He is a kind of politician, a social failure, who judges society ill-constructed because he


410 AMERICAN LIFE.

has not come to the top of the ladder. That is why he attracts to his following the usual discontented public, while all who succeed and they are numerous in the United States remain foreign to his propaganda.

Thus, Henry George does not represent a sound normal type; his name will not live in economic science, which probably has a great future before it in the United States. His original conceptions will sink into forgetfulness, as have sunk those of Saint Simon, Fourier and many others ; whilst the faithful observations contained in the statistics and investigations of the labor bureaus will still have their documentary value.

Evidently it is in the direction of observation that American authors seem to produce their best work. Historians and economists, they are also humorists, because humor is in brief only witty observation, seasoned with unexpected relations. Mark Twain at present holds the first place among these humorists, and every speech he makes is always reproduced /;/ extenso by the American papers. Here is a short fragment of one of them, which may give an idea of the class ; it relates to a toast : " I love the sex, I love all women, irrespective of distinction, of age or color (laughter). Intelligence cannot estimate what we owe to woman. She sews on our buttons, mends our clothes ; she ropes us in at the church fairs, she confides in us, she tells us whatever she can find out about the little private affairs of the neighbors (laughter). She gives us advice and plenty of it. Wherever you place a woman, she is an ornament to the place which she occupies, and a treasure to the world. (Here the speaker posed and looked round upon his auditors inquiringly). Applause ought to come at this point (great laughter). Look at Cleopatra ; look at Florence Nightingale ; look at Lucretia Borgia (several voices : " No, No.") Well, suppose you let Lucretia slide (laughter). Look at Mother Eve (cries of " Oh ! Oh ! " and laughter). You need not look at her unless you want to, but Eve was an ornament, gentlemen, particularly before the fashion changed," etc., etc.

With observation and humor, American dramatic authors ought to produce some character comedies, but as yet there are no true dramatic authors in the United States. As a rule,


AMERICAN LIFE. 41 I

the theatres offer French pieces adapted and spoiled, or else coarse farces, in which the actors horseplay, kicks given and received, and practical joking, make up for everything else that is wanting. This forms a field still unworked by men of talent. The dramatic art requires a public of taste and culti vation, and this public does not yet exist in the United States. Poetry, which can do without a public and springs up spon taneously without solicitation, has, on the contrary, represen tatives in the United States Longfellow, Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Russell Lowell, Whittier, Bryant, O. W. Holmes, and others less celebrated. Longfellow, the most famous of all, is also, I believe, the most American. No one has sung with a more ardent soul or a more convinced enthusiasm the active and persevering energy, the irresistible " go-aheadness " which characterize the race. No one either has evoked with more grace or fidelity the memories of the Indian epoch, and of the earliest American colonists; his two great masterpieces, " Hia watha " and " Evangeline," are the proof of it. This is a truly national poet.

V. THE TASTE FOR ART.

I must not end this chapter without saying a word about the fine arts, and their place in the intellectual life of the United States.

Two apparently contradictory opinions exist upon this sub ject. Talking one day to a great Paris picture-dealer who had been established in New York for some years, I ventured to say that artistic sentiment was scarcely developed in America. " You are wrong," he answered, " there are as many people here as with us able to appreciate a good picture." On an other occasion, a painter, American by birth but usually resi_ dent at Paris, told me that it was " absolutely discouraging " to exhibit work in the United States, for nobody there took an interest in it, and an artist would succumb under the weight of this indifference, and so on.

Where is the truth in all this? As a part, both the picture- dealer and the painter were right, from their different points of view. The dealer looks for critical experts who can decide


412 AMERICAN LIFE.

the value of a picture ; he would find five or six of these at Paris, he finds five or six at New York, and declares that it is the same thing. On the other hand, the painter fastens on the difference between the general ignorance of the American public in art matters and the ready interest which the inquiring and art-loving French public take in the sight of a good picture or the hearing of a symphony or an opera ; it is ready to talk of sculpture, architecture, painting or music without excessive knowledge, but with a very real pleasure in them.

We find this double character in America in every branch of art. There are a few real connoisseurs, but the great mass of the people know nothing about it.

In the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston you will find galle ries devoted to the early Italians, a collection of Dutch mas. ters, another of French, all bearing witness to the judicious choice of an experienced criticism. At New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago there are remarkable private galleries, still in the hands of their purchasers or already handed over to the public museums. I have had occasion to mention some of these already. We know also how the Americans have laid violent hands on the work of some of our Paris artists, such as Meissonnier, not to speak of Millet s famous Angelus. Nor do they only buy the pictures of renowned artist, but they also aid those who are beginning, and willingly play the part of Maecenas to such of their young compatriots as are anxious to perfect their talent by the study of the great masters. A certain Mr. Chanler is at present engaged, with the help of private subscriptions, in founding a school of art at Paris, similar to our school at Rome, which seems a clear indication of an enlightened care for the fine arts.

In respect to music, you may occasionally encounter a well- conducted orchestra in the United States. I have heard the Boston Symphony Orchestra interpret Wagner, Saint-Saens and Mendelssohn in a very pleasing manner. So that artistic enjoyment is not altogether impossible in the land of Uncle Sam.

Yet it is but a small public who has a taste for such enjoy ments. The audience at a concert usually remains cold ; there is no establishment of sympathy between it and the


AMERICAN LIFE. 413

performers. If it seems to warm for a moment, the cause is some powerful bit in which the stentorian brasses and thunder ing drums join with the deep-toned organ to produce an im pression of terror. This tumult of sound awakens and touches the audience ; it thinks that wonderful ! Criticism is written from the same point of view. I extract the following an nouncement from a St. Paul paper, which is endeavoring to sing the praises of the Boston Symphony Orchestra : " Next Tuesday the Boston Symphony Orchestra will give a concert at Saint Paul. Not since Thomas was here has the city had an opportunity to hear a large, well-trained body of artists ; but when one considers that the largest number Thomas ever travelled with was forty-five, while the Boston Symphony Or chestra numbers seventy, some idea of the grandeur of the effects produced by the latter can be obtained."

Painting is appreciated in much the same way. In the Saint Nicholas Hotel at Cincinnati a portrait by Devouge of Pauline Bonaparte occupies the place of honor and advertisement in the writing-room. Artistic and historical notices of this pic ture are freely distributed to the guests; one of them gives me this precious piece of information : " It appears from this portrait that Pauline Bonaparte weighed 150 pounds, or a little more." How obvious the ranchman s experienced eye is here ! This is criticism by scale and yard-measure a grocer s criticism : the model weighs so much, the musicians are so many ; now form your judgment of picture and orchestra !

A still safer criterion for the ordinary American is the price of a work of art. Most of them look no further. A wealthy American, visiting Paris, ordered a portrait of one of our best known painters. When the work was finished, the artist re ceived from his model a check for $10,000.

" Excuse me," he said ; " my price is only half that."

" You will oblige me," said the American," by accepting $IO,OOO, for I do not wish to tell an untruth, and if I go home with a picture that only cost $5,000, all my friends will laugh at me."

With such views, a work of art very easily sinks to the level of advertisement; that is how we find high-priced pictures in the saloons and bars of the United States, with a statement of


414 AMERICAN LIFE.

their price annexed. Thus the graceful nymphs of Bou- guereau are exposed in the Hoffman House bar at New York, where Yankees examine them while engaged in the silent ab sorption of their cocktails. A true artist would prefer to see them elsewhere than in the atmosphere of a bar loaded with tobacco and alcohol; but the majority of Americans do not experience this sentiment. They think that it is fine to be able to pay 15,000 for two square yards of painted canvas, which is the precise effect sought by the owner of the bar.

To sum up, the fine arts are as a rule little appreciated in the United States ; and the taste for painting, which has been showing itself of late years especially, tends to assume the character of a costly luxury. There is nothing in this surpris ing to any one acquanted with the Yankee s life of overstrain. Absorbed by constant preoccupations of a material nature, he cannot have that free and untroubled mind which is needed by a seeker after the beautiful. Leisure is wanting, nor has his early education prepared him to appreciate the delicate refine ments of art.


CHAPTER XXII.

THE RELIGIOUS CONDITION. ARE AMERICANS RELIGIOUS? -THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES.

I. ARE AMERICANS RELIGIOUS.

Everybody knows that there is an extraordinary number of sects in the United States. Without counting Mormons, Shakers and other bodies whose peculiarities have given them a world-wide reputation, an innumerable number of independent churches exist, all founded on a free interpretation of the Bible ; some adding certain special practices to this common basis, but most binding their members together by bonds of reason rather than by religious links. In fact, many of them have much more the character of a philosophic school than a church.

In spite of that the majority of Americans find the discipline and creeds of these purely intellectual religions still too narrow, and are not members of any church, either from independence or indifference. Nine times out of ten an American speaking of religious topics says, with great simplicity. " I belong to no church." Even the majority of people who attend service regularly are not, properly speaking, members of the church, but simply hearers of the minister who preaches there. For instance, Bostonians go to hear Phillip Brooks in Trinity Church, because Phillip Brooks is an eloquent orator ; and Brook lyn people used to crowd to listen to Henry Ward Beecher. A St. Paul minister, feeling his popularity increasing, had a huge church built, which he called the People s Church. He preaches in it on certain days, and at other times the church is let for a concert or a lecture. It is not a sacred edifice, but a public hall. Protestant sermons at any rate are more moral discourses addressed to everybody than religious guidance


416 AMERICAN LIFE.

adapted to the adherents of a special sect. Hence a Congre- gationalist can follow the sermons of Presbyterian and Episco palian ministers with the greatest ease.

This also explains the special features of Protestant churches, which often resemble clubs. Libraries, lecture and reception rooms are often found alongside the church where prayer and praise are wont to be made. Charity fetes and social meetings of all kinds are organized, at which the tea cup plays an im portant part; in fact, audiences are attracted by every possible means. The church itself is a large well-heated and well-ven tilated apartment, furnished with comfortable chairs, standing on a carpet-covered floor; in short a perfectly fitted-up lecture room. I remember one Methodist chapel in Baltimore in par ticular. It had been built quite recently, and every detail was of the newest and most perfect sort.

Four electric bell buttons were fixed to one of the arms of the minister s seat, which enabled him to give certain orders to in crease or diminish the amount of heat, to regulate the aeration of the hall, to give alarm in case of fire, etc. Every listener was seated on a chair, something like the orchestra stalls of a theatre, under which some wire was fitted up for holding his hat. There was a rack for his book and another for coat and umbrella, all being arranged as conveniently as possible. A zealous Methodist solicited my admiration of these improve ments and ingenious contrivances, without missing a single one. When we had seen everything, I felt very tempted to ask him: "And what do you make of God Almighty here?" After leaving such a place the idea arises that it would be pleasant enough to come and sit for an hour on Sunday, when the north wind was blowing outside or when a burning sun made walking unbearable ; but no religious impression could be carried away.

The bulk of Americans are usually indifferent, and church goers show a spirit of curiosity rather than a profound faith. These are the first impressions, and one exclaims, " Bah ! these Americans are all so busy dollar-hunting that they have not time to concern themselves with their souls, because it won t pay !"

But we cannot live long in the States without finding this premature judgment upset by many undeniable facts.


AMERICAN LIFE. 417

First of all, an American never considers religion childish ; he regards it as a serious and respectable manifestation of a noble sentiment, and even though he be attached to no sect, he will be found thinking a good deal about the future life. A Catholic priest said to me one day : "I rarely go on a journey of any length without one of my travelling companions recogniz ing my profession by my dress and coming over beside me to discuss religion." Others go still further and give their money to institutions connected with churches without benefiting themselves thereby. Thus it happens that Protestants often help to a considerable extent the building of Catholic churches and schools. In their eyes religion is a public service which overweighs any sectarian differences.

Everybody seems to have a certain minimum of Christian faith. For instance, nobody takes offense at any public ser vices to Divine Providence in the name of the American people in specially solemn circumstances. I read this inscription in the office of the Speaker of the Town Council in the City Chambers at St. Paul : " Sicut patribus, sit Deus nobis" Lastly, the Bible is looked on as a book of Divine origin by most people. If the most fervent Protestants permit everyone to interpret it for himself, its supernatural origin is allowed and considered beyond dispute, even by people who are indifferent.

I was particularly struck by one incident which revealed how widespread this feeling is in America, and accordingly I shall describe it.

My readers have already heard of Girard College, Philadel phia, which I once visited. When I was there I was asked if I were a clergyman, which so astonished me that I had the ques tion repeated. After my denial I was admitted, and when I told the incident to the director, he said : " These are the orders, for Girard left instructions in his will that no minister of any religion was ever to cross the threshold of the college." "Then, what is the meaning of that chapel I see ? " " It is for religious services. Prayers are said there morning and evening, and two lectures explaining the Bible are delivered on Sundays." "And do you imagine the shade of Girard rejoices in these Bible readings?" "Oh, you know, the Bible is quite unsectarian." So the Managing Board of Trustees have not considered these


41 8 AMERICAN LIFE.

Bible explanations any violation of the founder s intentions, despite the proofs of anti-religious fanaticism he gave in his will. It is truly an American way of interpreting them. In fact, Girard was an Eighteenth Century Frenchman, and wished to proscribe every religious idea from his educational system ; but the Americans have interpreted his intentions by their own. To those who know their absolute respect for the terms of a founder s will, this proves how much the Holy Scriptures are considered by them the common inheritance of all men, no matter what their religion or unreligion may be. Americans who fight against the belief of a church do not deny revelation, and in this sense are more religious than we.

They are also more concerned about certain observances, at least one in particular that of resting on the seventh day. It is not because of its good effects on workers that it is now so generally kept, but it is looked on as a religious principle. Any reaction against Sunday rest is due to certain sects having oppressively and somewhat ridiculously exaggerated it. My travelling companion was sharply admonished by a policeman for setting up his camera in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, one Sun day. Taking photographs is forbidden on the Lord s Day, most museums are shut, etc., etc. In any case such exagger ations testify to the religious nature of their respect for Sun day, because photographing and walking through museums are not forbidden to prevent any dangerous overworking of pro ductive effort.

The religious sentiment of the mass of Americans may be summarized as follows: Everyone adopts a religion for his own requirements, based on a universally admitted belief in Reve lation. Those who do not concern themselves about a future life are grouped among the largest class the indifferents. Others make a little creed of their own and believe in it with all that ardor which Americans put into everything, become fanatics, and preach at street corners to convert their erring brethern. I came across several such well-meaning apostles during my travels. Their discourses always interested me, but I learned more from the seriousness and imperturbability of their listeners than from the preaching itself.

The paraphernalia of the Salvation Army, which we all


AMERICAN LIFE. 419

know, is even more burlesque in America ; yet nobody laughs at it. I came across a fairly compact crowd one evening in Washington, and saw fifteen or twenty people in strange gar ments in the middle of it. They were shouting some chorus, the only words of which I could hear were : " Oh, it is so won derful ! so wonderful ! so wonderful ! " Indeed it was wonder ful to see young women, men of all ages, negroes, yelling this Salvation Army hymn in chorus under an electric-light lamp ; but soon they showed me something still more wonder ful. When the song was finished, a girl about twenty, dressed in black, wearing a small oil-cloth hat, stepped into the middle of the group and said : " My dear brethern, a man cannot be moral, keep his marriage sacred or preserve his virgin purity if he is not sober, if he does not come out from among the drunkards and the licentious. To do this he must give himself to God. Perhaps you think it strange, my dear brethern, that a young girl of my age should speak to you about such sub jects, but God commanded me to do so." She said all this in a loud, piercing voice, but as the evening grew colder she was at last forced to stop the torrent of her eloquence.

After she had ended, a great hulk of a man, with a most powerful voice, shouted that we would all be damned if we did not get converted that very instant. Next, a young, well- dressed convert spoke very timidly, and an old man, in fairly bad toggery, declared that he regretted every day that he was so old before he first saw the light. Then other girls lacerated our ears with their desperate appeals to grace. A negro, somewhat lacking inspiration, played on the key-bugle to ac company the refrain he sang wherever words failed him, while the young women frantically beat their tamborines to add to the general effect and incite the audience to repentance.

I could hardly keep back a fit of wild laughter, especially when a second negro sang to us twanging his banjo all the time of his interview with God and the conversion that occur red. However, the rest of the audience, gathered from chance passers-by, listened seriously without any interruption or jest, except, perhaps, a few smiles. No policeman seemed to trouble himself about this open-air meeting, knowing before hand that there would be no disturbance. The most curious


420 AMERICAN LIFE.

thing is that the Salvation Army has only sixty members in Washington, as one of them told me himself ; but none of them is either astonished or hindered by the smallness of their num bers. That does not affect the strength of their belief, and those who do not share in it find it quite natural and legiti mate that Salvationists should seem to inspire it by every known means of proselytism. This is only a new manifestation very exceptional and odd, if you will of the American national tendency. Anyone with an idea or desire pushes it as far as possible, without troubling himself as to his neighbor s opinion. Everyone acts in this way, and toleration is an immediate consequence.

But it is not necessary for an American man or woman to be a member of a compact body, like the Salvation Army, before beginning a religious propaganda. I met a young Pennsylvania!! girl at the Russian Menonite minister s 1 who used to travel on business, as she called it, and lose no opportunity of converting her fellow-beings. Half a dozen of us, Americans, Germans and French, were seated round the hospitable table of Father V. and under the pretext of serving us with a salad of sour plums and eggs, this young girl made us all undergo a cross-examination about our reli. gion. When I frankly confessed I was a Catholic she did not try to convert me ; but an American journalist who was with me, having told her that he did no t belong to any church, was vigorously rebuked by her, despite all laws of hospitality. In my turn I became curious to find out the religious belief of this visionary, whose eyes were feverish, and whose consuming desire was to use every opportunity of making converts. She told me she was born among the Brethren in Christ, but that the example of the Menonites had induced her to join that body, and that Father V. was teaching her at present. " How did you come to know the Menonites ? " " Oh I came to Kansas on my business, which is to bring up four children. I do not know enough to keep school, but my school is every where in the kitchen, in the fields, wherever I can do any good. When I was at Hillsboro I heard, people talking about the Menonites, and the Lord inspired me to embrace their re-

i See Chapter V.


AMERICAN LIFE. 421

ligion." I asked if she would permit me to take her photo graph, but she replied, " The Lord did not raise my spirit to do so." Evidently, all the religious enthusiasts in the States do not play the tambourine and sing in the Salvation Army ; for some are able to reach that condition of soul without any artificial excitation.

This is a kind of reaction against the invasions of business and material preoccupations, and may be found everywhere to a slight degree, in some form or another. I listened to one of the open-air preachers in a public garden one Sunday evening in Boston. One of them worked himself into a fury of despair at the sight of the general hardness of heart of his brethern in Christ, true tears ran down his cheeks, and his figure was contorted with emotion. I imagined every minute that he would fall off the chair on which he stood in order to make himself heard and which he clutched frantically. Quite another kind of apostle was speaking close by. He was a grey-haired old gentleman, with the steady and calm appearance of an honest bourgeois who had got on well ; he wore a black frock- coat and a black velvet skull-cap, and stood with his Bible in his hand explaining the parable of the Prodigal Son. " I also have known a prodigal son," he said, " who was in a large business concern, but his bad conduct brought him to utter destitution. His old companions turned their backs on him when they met him in the street, and although he was without money, without clothes, without food a terrible thing to think of, my friends ! he could not find anyone to say to him : Here is a check for $5, or even, Come and dine with me for a man loses his friends when his money is gone. One day I came across him seeking for some wretched food in a dust- heap, just as the Prodigal Son would fain have eaten of the husks along with the swine. I put my arm in his and brought him home with me ; I made him sit down in the cosiest easy- chair, and asked him to dine with me ; after that we prayed together to God, whose grace touched him. He began to work again, and has since become a prominent citizen," etc. etc. This is a very naive expression of the theory of virtue rewarded and vice punished, which, however, is very generally held as is easily proved. Each one acts himself on his own responsi-


422 AMERICAN LIFE.

bility, and each receives the full price of his labor; therefore, energy based on rectitude is a condition of success which pays better than intrigue.

It is interesting to notice the place occupied by the Catholic Church, with its precise dogmas and positive discipline, among such a variety of Protestant sects, in the midst of a people where each one seems to make his own religion just as he makes a situation for himself.

II. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES.

Catholics are not nearly so numerous in America as all the Protestants combined, but there are many more of them than of any single Protestant sect. The number of Catholics in the States is estimated at 10,000,000 souls, about a seventh of the population, but they are very unequally distributed over the Union.

In the great manufacturing cities of the East the Catholics are increasing every day, owing to the number of Irish, South ern Germans, and also French-Canadians. Certain Catholic writers take hold of this fact and sing this song of triumph : " Just look at Boston, the fortress of Puritanism : the majority of its inhabitants will soon be Catholic ! So imagine what the rest of the country is ! "

In Western States, Scandinavians, Anglo-Saxon and Eastern American immigrants bring their Protestantism with them, and the adversaries of Catholicism are not slow to point out that this new America seems incapable of being affected by Romish influences. Unfortunately, it is only too true that there are Catholic apostacies as well as Catholic conversions. These facts lead to conclusions exactly opposed to those given above.

It is, therefore, very difficult to form an exact idea of the true position of the Catholic Church in the United States without personal inquiry. I have made such an investigation with all the interest of a believer and the sincerity of an ob server, and have tried to give an accurate account of the state of affairs. Among the complex phenomena I have come across, some have seemed to me to be serious obstacles to the spread of Catholicism ; some, on the other hand, show how it is sup-


AMERICAN LIFE. 423

ported by the genius of the race, and others clearly indicate that no matter what its present power in the United States may be, the Catholic Church enjoys a freedom of action such as she has never had before in any society. These three sets of phenomena are three important elements of information ; although the future of Catholicism in America cannot be ex actly foreseen, yet the route it is taking is lit up by knowing these difficulties and advantages which it encounters. My end has been to understand these.

Let us first examine the special obstacles which impede the progress of Catholicism in the United States. What is called " Romanism " is probably the greatest. This is not a question of the sovereignty of the Roman Pope in dogma, but a matter of temporal power. Catholicism, having reigned until now principally in European countries with strong centralized governments, is connected in many minds with these systems of government which they spurn. They think of it as a poli tical as well as a religious doctrine, and readily imagine that an American Catholic dreams of an " imperialism " contrary to the spirit of the institutions of his country. The most bi goted Protestants do all they can to keep up this confusion, and the most intelligent Catholics work their hardest to dispel it ; the higher clergy, especially, affirming their personal devotion to the Constitution of the United States on every possible occasion, as well as the universal nature of the Catholic Church, which prevents it allying itself closely with any particular tem poral power. This prejudice has still great power.

The ordinary members of the Catholic Church in America are another barrier to its expansion. The Irish do not usually fill positions most highly esteemed in the United States, for reasons I have already given. They have less of that benefi cent self-help than native Americans and Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon immigrants, for they have had no training in it in their old country. They do not mount so high ; then, do not succeed so well, and oftener remain in dependent situa tions. So the body of Catholics does not represent a group of picked citizens, but just the reverse. This gives rise to an im pression that the Catholic religion weighs down the will by ac customing the spirit to bear the burden of its doctrine. A


424 AMERICAN LIFE.

purely social cause is thus explained as a religious one, and the personal inferiority of the members of the Catholic Church damages the good report of their faith in a most unfortunate way. Further, certain Catholic priests, affected by the influence of their flocks, and also being of similar origin, willingly exalt the benefits obtained by common action, and oppose the dangers of individual initiative to it. In fact, they are not at all dis pleased with a slight suspicion of socialism. But socialism, even in its most innocent and diluted forms, is the absolute negation of the individualist spirit of an American. Even the man who is least a Yankee instinctively feels that it is so, and his prejudices against Romanism are further increased.

The temporal power of the Church in Europe in the past and the nature of its adherents in America at present are the two great obstacles which the Catholic religion finds in its way ; and they are the more formidable because they are in a measure internal.

Less important hindrances are the effect of external circum stances; one, for instance, is the unsectarian public schools. It is evident that children educated in schools where no religion is taught run the risk of losing any germs of faith they may have had, and in any case become less disposed to make them bring forth fruit. The Baltimore Council has decided that as far as possible every Catholic parish should have its Catholic schools. But means which are plentiful in the East are often lacking in the Western prairies, so that many Catholic children go to public schools and are thus exposed to an atmosphere of indifference while they are yet quite young. It must be distinctly understood that an unsectarian school is not a school hostile to religion. The Bible used to be read and explained in all schools, and it followed that a Catholic child could not learn the Protestant lessons which were given without some detriment to his faith. Further, Protestants, narrowly bound by the dogmas of their own sect, feared the religious instruction given by masters belonging to a different one. The unsectarian school was brought about by these difficulties, not by a general scepticism, and is, therefore, more sincerely neuter than our French schools. Hence every family at home, and every sect in its Sunday schools, may complete the work of the public


AMERICAN LIFE. 425

school without having to contend against it. But the impres sion of indifference received by children from their earliest youth remains, and is deep-seated in those of a family of no strong religious bias, although it is quickly effaced in others. However, the selection which naturally takes place between real believers and luke-warm adherents operates rather to the advantage of the Catholic Church.

This selection goes on outside the schools, owing to analogous causes. Nobody in the States is bound to maintain a certain religious attitude in which he does not believe. Nobody is in the habit of going to mass as part of a social system, nor will anybody receive the visit of a priest in order to conciliate con ventionality. There are no appearances to be kept up, because people round about belong to all sorts of sects or to none. In such surroundings only those who really believe gather under a religious banner. This explains the losses of Catholicism in the United States, as well as the gaining of new adherents. Nominal Catholics, coming across the Atlantic, soon lose their convictions and join the mass of indifferents. In one little colony of about a dozen French families in the West, I saw three divorced people who had been remarried before some judge or another. By birth and baptism they were Catholics, but by their matrimonial entanglements they were outside the Church, which they had left without much compunction, as the following story, related of one of them by a Parisian exile out there, proves: " When he wished to marry little T., after his divorce, the lady asked him to go to the Catholic church. We marched in procession to the vicarage, but when the priest learned that H. had been divorced, he refused to marry the two. We then went to the Probate Judge s, but he was not at home ; we sought out the Mayor s house, but did not find him in. At last we discovered a clergyman of some sort or an other, who tied the knot. I can tell you, sir, I never was at such a wedding as that before ; but then, you see, America is quite different from other places !"

Thus relieved of all elements which encumber it without profit, the Catholic Church is truly itself, is a union of true be lievers, which aids it in a marked way. I heard a very original proof of this in the same Western town where that marriage


426 AMERICAN LIFE.

took place : " If the Catholic priest asks the loan of a hun dred dollars from the bank he gets it at once ; but they won t give a Methodist minister the same credit. The priest s is better because his flock is compact and much more united." But respect of this kind is not always payable.in current coin, even in Amer ica, and there are other means of revealing it. One is the universal habit, even among Protestants, of calling every Catholic priest " Father." An American ecclesiastic laugh ingly told me how he had caused an Italian lady much distress during his stay in Rome, because two young American girls always addressed him in this way.

In spite of obstacles, Catholicism is, therefore, making an honored place for itself in the land of Uncle Sam, and begins to recruit itself by conversions in truly American districts, where it finds a field carefully prepared for its seed to grow. For Catholicism demands something other than mere adhesion to this or that dogma from its members ; it makes them exert themselves ; it proclaims that " faith without works is dead," and desires the Christian to work out his own salvation ; it expects him to make a personal effort. Americans are very apt at this individual action, which is in fact their dominant characteristic ; and an apostle has only to direct this action and illumine it by faith. When one of these energetic and resolute men reaches the truth, the victory is sure. This is a condition very favorable to the expansion of Catholicism in the United States. It is quite easy to make an American Catholic understand the necessity for advancing in the path of virtue. Here is the summary of a typical sermon preached one Sunday in Denver about a mission that was soon to be begun in the parish : " This mission," said the priest to his hearers, " is a grace sent to you by God, which you must seize. You often see men in the best positions because they have profited by some favorable opportunity, by some lucky chance that they encountered. Every man has such good chances sometime or another in this world, but only those who take the trouble to profit by them succeed in life. This is the law of the temporal world, and it is also that of the spiritual world. Here is a good opportunity for bettering yourselves morally. Do not let it escape you." There was no need of rousing the audience out


AMERICAN LIFE. 427

of their indifference ; all that was needed was to point out to them that they advanced in the spiritual life just as they did in the temporal : by clearsighted and energetic individual effort and not simply by prudent conduct and well-regulated habits.

The Catholic Church thus finds precious material in Ameri can society for its spiritual work. The difficulties we have noticed are hone the less formidable, but they will tend to disappear as Catholicism takes a firmer hold in the United States. The charge of Romanism will gradually appear less and less justified when the clergy consists of Americans ; and nobody will sincerely believe any longer that Catholicism deadens the will when its members also are all true Ameri cans. The spiritual future of the Catholic Church seems assured.

From the very first the Catholic Church has found every thing that best conduces to its free development, temporally, in the United States. It is completely independent of the temporal po\\er, is freed from any State control, and is recog nized as a most valuable public service. This permits it to live in broad daylight. On this broad and simple basis it sets up its ancient organization.

When a bishop has to be chosen, the clergy meet and draw up a list of three candidates with digmts, dignior, or dignissimus before each name, to indicate the assembly s idea of their rela tive order of merit. The Holy See usually endorses this judg ment by appointing him whom they name dignissimus; and that is all. The Government does not bother itself about the matter in the least, as it thinks the Catholics the only people concerned in it. Is this the result of special religious politics? Not at all. In a country where every private establishment can freely develop, the Catholic Church has just the same rights as any other society not opposed to good manners. It develops as a self-governing body among other autonomous associations, none of which try to enslave it because none pre tend to universal domination.

When a diocese or parish has to be formed or a church built, the matter is settled by the ecclesiastical authorities according to the needs of the Church in the district. The Church receives a charter giving it a civil status, which allows it to


428 AMERICAN LIFE.

own, transfer and dispose of property. This is the United States system for all foundations hospitals, libraries, univer sities and other associations.

The Church not only enjoys perfect liberty, but the authori ties do not ignore it on pretext of its receiving no delegation from the temporal power. . A Church dignitary, when he ap pears at any public ceremony, is treated according to the situa tion he occupies de facto. Any Government official, addressing a bishop, uses his title in so doing. Americans have no notion that every social hierarchy must be consecrated by government before it can stand upright. This is a very different condition of affairs from that in the great centralized States of Europe, where a public body cannot be brought into existence or sup ported without a certain amount of power being delegated to it, and where no title is valid without an official stamp. Americans have an idea that powers in juxtaposition should live on friendly terms with and yet be independent of each other. In France we can conceive only of superposed authori ties, and the Catholic Church has had to accommodate itself to this conception in several European countries by accepting for its members positions somewhat analagous to that of civil servants. It has not such burdens to bear in the United States. Hence its many advantages.

First of all, the great external gain for the Catholic Church being freed from all connection with the State does not incur the hatred of dissenters, and does not hurt the belief of any body, because it demands no forced homage.

Then it becomes absolute mistress of its own actions, and has no need of any concordat, fixing laws submitted to rather than accepted in addition to canon law. Ecclesiastical dis cipline is not interfered with, and the Church administration is untrammelled.

Hence, the American Catholic Church is both very national and very orthodox. There is no fear that an ill-inspired patriot ism will make it recognize any right of State interference with its spiritual interests, which never happens here, as the State is not organized for doing so. There is no obstacle between the conscience of an American and Papal authority, so that Pope Gregory XVI. could justly claim that "he did


AMERICAN LIFE. 429

not feel himself more Pope anywhere than in the United States." Yet the American Catholic Church, in its features, its autonomous situation, its enterprising spirit and its sincere attractions to the institutions of the country has a well- marked national character.

Its American spirit is shown by a thousand details. The clergy go about more among the people and are more humane than in other countries. The benefices they own are due to the generosity of the faithful, and their material interests are thus the same as those of other citizens ; they rejoice in a boom which raises the value of property, and help it as much as they can. They are not officials drawing a fixed but modest salary. This enables them to develop certain practical directing quali ties, which they use for the furtherance of their spiritual mis sion, by freely advising any who come to them, without dis tinction of creed. The priest of one large parish once said to me : " Every day my home is full of people who wish to con sult me, and I can assure you that all do not lay before me matters of conscience. But that matters little. We serve the highest interests of religion by acting thus, for we must show our brethren by every possible means that we really love them, that we share their difficulties, applaud their successes, and seek to raise them when they have fallen. We must win our way to their hearts."

The most eminent priests, inspired by this pregnant idea, ob tain a very high place in the esteem of their fellow-citizens. For instance, Archbishop Ireland is the most marked individu ality in St. Paul. Both Catholics and Protestants call him a " splendid man," as they term it ; that is, one possessing Ameri can characteristics in a marked degree, energy and powerful initiative, shown by a sincere and enlightened love for public good. He is at the head of colonizing and educational enter prises. He is rebuilding his Cathedral at present in a quarter which has a great future before it, and is thus giving a stimulus to the expansion of the town, accomplishing at the same time the work of a bishop and a good citizen.

In order to understand the sovereign efficacy for moral progress or personal worth, united with a disinterested life, one must see a man of this stamp at work. The example of such


430 AMERICAN LIFE.

bishops does more to break down the barriers in the way of the Catholic propaganda than any amount of argument. Note carefully, too, that the American Church has all that is needed for the formation of such men. Doubtless great natural gifts are everywhere, but some environments prevent their develop ment while others favor their expansion. In such favorable surroundings individual responsibility is developed as much as possible, and the superior man finds his proper place. The American Church is certainly one of these environments, for it relies on no outside support, because it is used to walking alone.

The American priest is not always growling about the wicked ness of the times, the difficulty of being good and many other subjects usually in the mouths of French ecclesiastics. He accepts the present as it is, looks on it as a problem to be solved, and thinks only of a future he feels responsible for ; as Monsignor Ireland said in Baltimore Cathedral at the Cente nary of the American Church :

" A century closes, a century opens ; the next century of the life of the Church in America will be what we make it ; it will be our own, the fruit of our labors. Brothers, bishops, priests and laymen, in what words shall I tell the responsibility which weighs upon us ! ... Do not imagine that I lose sight of the absolute necessity of the divine act.... God always does his part ; man s part is not always done.. . . We too often seem to wish that God do all. . . . Our work is in the present and not in the past. The world has entered into an entirely new phase ; the past cannot be recalled ; reaction is the dream of men who see not and hear not ; who sit at the gates of ceme teries, weeping over tombs that shall not be reopened, in utter oblivion of the living world back of them."

Such words give the impression of a young and vigorous organism, full of practical ardor, efficient and healthy, and makes us feel confident in the future of the American Church. Their effect may perhaps be felt even far away from the United States. This youngest of Catholic nations may play a still more important part in the future.

I was speaking with an American Archbishop one day about Monsignor Ireland, when he remarked : " He is the man we


AMERICAN LIFE. 431

most desire to see Pope." The proposal took me by surprise ; but as I heard the same idea expressed on several occasions, I came to ask myself if this example of American boasting had not some real insight into the future, although somewhat premature. It is very unlikely that Archbishop Ireland will ever occupy the Papal throne ; but it is quite possible that an American may be Pope before the end of the twentieth cen tury. An Italian Pope, in a united and centralized Italy, will soon be as inconvenient as a French, German or Spanish one ; for there will arise diplomatic difficulties, owing to his being the subject of a powerful and authoritative State. The Con clave will probably turn its eyes towards America, the only nation with a numerous body of Catholics, where the Church is quite independent of the State.

What could be better than an American Pope to aid the Church to ride through the stormy times approaching? Every throne in Europe is tottering. Even Governments the most stable in appearance, whether Monarchical or Republican, are really shaky. None of them can give the Church any effective support, even when they are devoted to her interests. She must sustain herself by her own efforts, must live her own life, must be completely autonomous. This is the happy necessity of these newer times. The American Church has no evolution to accomplish to come abreast of the times. She has out stripped her elders in this new way, because she has grown up in a new country. She may serve as a model when transfor mation time comes.


CHAPTER XXIII.


CONCLUSION.

We have studied every phase of American life. We have seen how it takes advantage of the different resources of the vast continent on which it has planted its power. We have sat by the hearth and examined its public life and religious belief. We are, therefore, acquainted with the essentials of its social constitution and can answer with some real knowledge the ordinary Yankee query, " How do you like this country?"

It is very difficult to pass a general judgment on a nation, to praise or blame it in the lump. A thousand criticisms are readily raised against any expression of complete sympathy or antipathy ; and there is always a chance of facts being distorted when this sympathy or antipathy comes into play.

But after an impartial examination of the various elements which compose a society, it is impossible to refrain from asking what are the causes of its feebleness or its force ; from seeing if signs of deterioration overpower signs of prosperity ; from in quiring if the society is raising itself or falling. Everyone has a general impression after doing this.

The result of the impression in the case of the United States is quite obvious.

There are many serious disorders in the United States, as we have had occasion to point out. Strikes are frequent in the labor world; engagements are unstable; many masters are utterly indifferent to the fate of their men ; trusts have arisen and speculation is excessive. In family life we found divorce shielding a legalized prostitution, voluntary barrenness raging in large Eastern cities, and drunkenness brutalizing people. Unscrupulous politicians fill most government situations, and justice is more a danger than a protection to the honest man.


434 AMERICAN LIFE.

Lastly, we discovered that, although religion was respected, indifference was almost universal.

America has its sores, like every European nation, like every human society ; yet we must not estimate the work of a society by its evils, but rather by the force with which it opposes them. Every society would soon vanish if the ills that attack it were powerful enough to destroy it. History tells how some have been able to develop and prosper in spite of crises, while others disappeared when these crises arose.

Now, one of the most marked characteristics of American society is its wonderful power of weathering storms. This it owes to the individual energy of its members who never seem to know that there is such a thing as discouragement. It ap pears as if no fall was fatal and irreparable to an American, for no fall ever destroys his will. When a man is completely ruined, he begins to work again with the same earnestness as before, and public opinion does not think the worse of him for his failure, as long as he works energetically. But if he does not try to rise up again it immediately ostracises him.

This great curative power, distributed throughout the nation, is only a special manifestation of that impulsive force which pushes him onwards. People would not rise up so quickly were there no goal to be gained. This makes the vitality of America ; this is the guarantee of its great future.

Perhaps you have sometimes asked yourselves how a people, born but yesterday and composed of so many elements, has become so homogeneous that it is possible to recognize the faults and the virtues presented by a distinct type ?

If the American race has no common ethnic origin, it has one which results from selection. It borrows elements from every kind of environment, and keeps only those endowed with sufficient energy to take advantage of the natural means of success offered by the immense territory of the Union.

It affords an Italian or a Hungarian a temporary shelter, but becomes the country of the Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon. Not only does it attract Europeans capable of living in the American fashion, but it constantly sends away Americans wishing to escape from it. Hence the American colony of the Champs-Elysees in Paris. He who would become or remain


AMERICAN LIFE. 435

an American must look on life as a struggle and not as a pleasure; he must count victorious effort and energetic arid efficient action more than ease, more than that leisure adorned by artistic and refined culture which is sought after in other societies.

Everything we saw on ranches and farms, in mines, in in dustry and commerce, in the organization of the family or pub lic affairs, led us to conclude that moral worth and personal, active, creative energy explain the American s success, create the types, and make the sum of good outvalue the sum of evil.

His creative energy is so fruitful that if you glance over the immense continent, which was almost a desert a hundred years ago, peopled with Indians and bisons, you will find it covered with railroads, flourishing towns and rich harvests to-day. Its crops, industry and commerce have become a menace to Europe ; so that the Old World, though armed to the teeth, respects and fears this country without soldiers.

What has brought about this transformation ? Is it a power ful capital? a sovereign of genius?

Not at all ; but a handlul of farmers and merchants.

They have done more than this. After having opened up the country they organized it, and have formed a Government which is their servant and which can be improved without a violent revolution. In fact, they have done everything; and in spite of the evils we have pointed out, their work is develop ing every day.

Individual energy formed American society and still pre serves it. Why? How has this quality developed so mar vellously ?

A comparison of the extent of the United States with the actual population will give the answer. Available land abounds; numerous industries are constantly developing; every man willing to use his arms and his will can easily find employment. With energy, perseverance and strong charac ter, nothing is impossible. Audacity becomes wisdom.

This favorable condition is so helpful in raising individual effort to its maximum intensity and efficiency, that it attracts people who are the most predisposed to make this effort, and causes them to prosper.


43 6 AMERICAN LIFE.

This is what happens. America is open to the whole world, and hands over some of her land to anybody who wishes it. Then, after a certain time, it gives him the American nation ality ; and although it attracts immigrants of every sort, yet those at the head of affairs are always members of a race moulded by individual effort. They alone can fully profit by American advantages. Those from European nations adopt ing the system of collective effort, excessive militarism, and vigorous government, and glorying in it all, seeing in it the one condition of safety, of power and of progress, are placed among such advantages without being able to make use of them.

The world seems divided into two very distinct classes at present. One trusts in individual effort, and only unites its forces for concerted action when necessary, and does so in ways that differ according to circumstances. It defeats individual initiative to do all, and dreads any impediments to its action. The other puts its confidence in collective effort, in permanent administrative groups, difficult to transform ; it expects all things to be done by authority, and fears, above all else, the action of individual effort.

Which of these is the force of the future ? Which one will kill the other? At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century the answer will seem no longer doubtful.

We live in an epoch of quick transformations, when modern inventions are turning the labor world upside down at every instant. The law of work is more than ever the law of progress. This demands that men must be capable of acting alone or of combining according to the needs of the hour with prompt ness, and not in old stiff forms made in other days for other needs. No definite permanent situations can exist among these inevitable and constant changes ; and every effort made to preserve them artificially is doomed to be destroyed by the force of circumstances. The only plan to adopt is to be armed for the fight, to be ready to turn about untrammelled in every movement, and not chained to a post, waiting for orders. Initiative, and not docility, is wanted in the future.

The coming race will be that one whose men, freed from every unnecessary yoke, have reduced government to a mini-


AMERICAN LIFE. 437

mum, wherein man formed by his own effort realizes the maxi mum intensity of that effort.

This is true, morally as well as materially. Individual en deavor is the only efficacious morality in all times and places. This is the working out of our own salvation, recommended by ancient philosophy, prescribed by religion and honored and fruitful everywhere. This is the text of the poet Long fellow, in the splendid stanzas of his u Psalm on Life," which is a truly inspired American lyric :

Not enjoyment and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way ; But to act, that each to-morrow

Finds us farther than to-day.

Trust no Future, howe er pleasant !

Let the dead past bury its dead ! Act act in the living Present !

Heart within, and God o erhead.



RETURN CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT TO* 202 Main Library


LOAN PERIOD 1 HOME USE


2


3


4


5


6


ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS

Renewals and Recharges may be made 4 days prior to the due date.

Books may be Renewed by calling 642-3405.


DUE AS STAMPED BELOW


IBTODlSCAUGOn


1






MAR16ZOM































FORM NO. DD6


UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY BERKELEY, CA 94720


216994


YD 12228


BERKELEY LIBRARIES



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "La Vie américaine" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools