C. Dean.

The World's fair city and her enterprising sons online

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"In the last number of the Open Court, I
find a formidable criticism by a sympathizer
who reproves me as a would-be reformer.

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" It moved him so strongly that he investi-
gated the evils I denounced. * * * The
first witness offered by him for the defense
is a farmer. * * * Sympathizer went to
the wrong farmer. He should have gone to
one of those grateful farmers who sent a
memorial to the very forestaller I complained
of, thanking him for raising the price of wheat
by a ' corner, ' in which hundreds of men were


'squeezed' into poverty, the prime article of
life bewitched, and the hunger of the poor in-

* ******

" It is a mistake that the farmers' pay is
only eighty-two cents a day. Statistics may
say that, but they cannot prove it because it
is not true. * * * I admit that the farmer
is much poorer than he ought to be ; I admit
that he is the victim of numerous legalized ex-
tortions, but as he seems to enjoy them and
fears that they may be lifted from him, I will
try to bear his poverty with resignation, al-
though I have no patience with my own.

1 ' The next witness is a miller. * * * The
honesty of millers is proverbial, but I think
this testimony will not stand the test of cross-
examination. * * * According to the jour-
nals published in the milling interest, negotia-
tions have been for several months in progress
looking to a combination of the big millers to
freeze out the little ones and abolish that
' fierce competition. ' I have no doubt that the
conspiracy will eventually succeed.

"The next witness was a man who testified
for the Board of Trade. He was one of those



exasperating witnesses who know too much
and hoodoo the side that calls them. * * *
His evidence, however, verified my complaint,
and showed that the price of bread can be ar-
tificially raised by operations on the Board of
Trade. * * * Let Sympathizer bear in
mind that the ' speculator ' spoken of ' oper-
ates ' on the bread of the poor, the staff of
life to the working man, while it is a trifling ele-
ment in the rich man's bill of fare.

"Just think of a man wasting his religion in
praying for a rise in the price of wheat! This,
too, in a prayer sometimes three months' long.
Or, to sell for future delivery, hoping for .a
decline. * * * Is it really true that no
man can prosper unless at the expense of

* * * * * *

1 ' Not only do the ' operators ' pray for these
unnatural prices, but they work for them, and
effect them. * * * What is gambling but
opinions backed by moneyed risk? Step for-
ward, gentlemen, and back your own opinions.

' ' Manufacturing or commercial industry
backed by moneyed risk is a very different
thing to the speculation on the prices of things


which the seller does not own and the buyer
does not want; things which are not now and
never will be in the possession of either party,
and perhaps which are not yet in existence.

* * * In a market subject to artificial de-
rangement, the poor man must always pay for
a speculative margin which the baker must
keep on the price of bread to protect him
from a possible rise in flour. * * *

"The details of the testimony of the wit-
ness reveal commercial business in its most
heartless form, when the measure of one man's
gain is the measure of another man's loss.

* * * I offer the fact that the great 'cor-
ner of three months ago did actually raise the
price of bread in the city of Chicago.

' ' The coal barons of New York, who levied
a tax on all consumers of coal, are well re-
membered still. Answer that if you can.

5f JfC ^C ^JC if* ff> -f*

' ' Sympathizer says that I have no right to
claim an interest in the increase of my coun-
try's wealth. He says that as a wheeler of
earth I can do no more than my predecessor
did a thousand years ago. That is true and I
only ask wages in proportion to the rank of


my wheelbarrow in the scale of productive

' ' The wealth of a country is the product of
all its industrial forces working together. Let
us suppose that of this product the wheelbar-
row contributes one part, the jackplane two
parts, the trowel three, the plough four, the
yardstick five, and so on up to the banker's
ready reckoner, which we represent as ten.
In twenty years the product of them all has
doubled; shall the banker's share be twenty,
the merchant's ten, the jackplane's four, and
the wheelbarrow's only one? * * * If I
did not wheel earth some one else would have
to do it, perhaps the bricklayer, or the clerk,
or the merchant, or the banker, for wheeling
of earth must be done. * * * Without
me to stand on they must have worked upon a
lower plane.

* ******

1 ' While other men grow up with the coun-
try, must I stand still ?

* * *****

' ' Have I no inheritance in the legacy of the
past ? Did the great inventors and discoverers
leave me nothing when they died? As well


tell me that Shakspeare, Goethe, Plato,
Newton, Bacon, left me nothing. I am heir
of -all the men whose genius has multiplied the
moral and material riches of the world.
Every man is co-heir with me in the great in-
heritance and every woman too.

"Sympathizer kindly suggests if my wheel-
barrow wages is too low, I turn my attention
to the bar, the pulpit or the press. This is
like the physician who advertised advice
gratis to the poor, and when they came for it
recommended that they try the waters of
Baden-Baden. Does Sympathizer know of
any wealthy congregation in want of a preacher
of my peculiar faith ?

4 ' Let it not be thought that my censures
were aimed at the Board of Trade as a cor-
poration, or at its members as a class. They
were aimed at certain methods practiced by
certain men with privileges and opportunities
of the board, methods which are confessed
and condemned by Sympathizer and his wit-

"When I demand cheap bread, I do not
wish to deprive the farmer, the miller, or the


Board of Trade man, or anybody who con-
tributes to its production and distribution of
his reward.

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' 'The honest business of the Board of Trade,
as Sypathizer explains, is to equalize the price
of wheat, and facilitate its journey from the
farmer to the laborer in the city. I

think Sympathizer strengthens my position.
I see clearer than ever that ' making bread
dear' is a crime."

Wheelbarrows reply is characteristic; he
has summoned his 'classic inheritance' and rhe-
torical strength, made palatable by good com-
mon sense, and invites his readers to the feast.
Let us see how Sympathizer relishes it. No
doubt he will do it the justice of a connoisseur,
tasting all the dishes.


' ' Accepting Wheelbarrow's formula, may
it not be true that wheelbarrows, as a group,
taken together, do get their portion doubled,
as jackplanes, as a whole, receive their double
portion ? If, therefore, the units com-

posing the wheelbarrow group increased in a
faster ratio than the units composing the


jack-plane group, the share to the units in the
wheelbarrow group would be relatively less
than would fall to the units or individuals
composing the jackplane group. If all men
were wheelers there would be no productivity.
* * * Society can afford to that group, as a
division, only a certain share.

" Statistics seem to prove that the compar-
ative increase seems to favor the lowest class
of workers. * * * Any increase of indus-
trial productivity will benefit all classes, but
the least skilled do comparatively profit most
of all. The question is a large one. It de-
serves serious and continued study. It is a
hopeful sign that modern thought is becoming
engaged with it. Let us hope that through the
intelligence of Wheelbarrow, and the growing
intellectual power evident on every side among
workingmen, the great question of our social
economics will find at last a just and final so-

"It is anomalous that one who has never
owned a bushel of wheat, nor more than one
barrel of flour at any one time, should find
himself defending speculation in breadstuff's.
But as the probability is that Wheelbarrow is


in about the same case, we both have the ad-
vantage of looking at the subject from a com-
paratively disinterested standpoint; and I
think we both desire to find the truth.

"His review of my criticism is keen and
searching; but it appears to be a little disin-
genuous. He says: 'Just think of a man
wasting his religion praying for a rise in wheat.
This, too, in a prayer three months long. ' Per-
haps I ought to have stated in specific terms
that a speculator rarely prays, and if he does,
it is as often that he prays for a decline as for
a rise.

' ' Again, my 'witness' did not defend corners.
* * * But Wheelbarrow scolds my witness
as a defender of these objectionable, though
brief, influences, and that is not quite ingenu-
ous. * * *

" I am ready to join with Wheelbarrow in
denunciation of the kind of 'cornerers' who
resemble pirates. But there remain the ' cor-
nerers ' whose actions my witness likened to
that of a hostile raid in the rear of an army.
It is often excusable. It is frequently patriotic
and praiseworthy.


' ' There is frequently an influence at work
which, if left unchecked, would rob the farmer,
if no one else, of his hard earned reward.
This influence is the 'short seller.' Like the
poor, he is always with us, though more auda-
cious. * * * He will sell for future delivery
if any one will buy.

' ' In former times governments performed
the functions of the Board of Trade equalizing
the price of grain by establishing storehouses,
buying when the price of wheat was low and
selling when it was high. They thereby low-
ered the price of bread in hard times and
raised it in good times, thus favoring now the
farmer and now the consumer. A socialistic
government would have to do the same as did
the old paternal governments. Whether they
would do it as well as the Board of Trade
does it now, remains doubtful.

' ' Now let us suppose a case which has more
than once had real existence. A ' rich ' man
on the Board of Trade discovers that the mar-
ket price of wheat is at a point that does not
bring the farmer his ' deserved reward. ' In
the belief that such a state of things cannot
long continue, this rich man buys largely.


The market declines. He finds that he has
purchased for an early delivery nearly as much
as the total stock in our warehouses, but the
price is falling.

' ' He goes upon ' 'Change. ' A score of voices
are offering to sell, by the thousands, by the
hundreds of thousands of bushels. * * *
He discovers that a planned campaign has been
inaugurated by the ' bears ' to break the market
to the lowest point, and by heavy calls on him
for margins, compel him to let go his holdings,
and sell to them at their own price.

' ' To face such a position requires nerve and
courage of the highest order. If this buyer
has it, and can control the capital necessary,
he will buy all that is offered. He will corner
the market, in order to protect himself. If
he is successful he teaches reckless men, who
have no regard for the farmer's 'deserved
reward ' that there is retribution for their reck-
less disregard of equity. Under these con-
ditions his action is patriotic and praiseworthy
* * * # # '# #

"But when Wheelbarrow demands his
wages doubled, his own, and of course, those
of all wheelers of earth, too, he prays for making


bread dear; for higher wages must increase
the expenses of building railroads, and if any
improportionate increase of wages took place
on a larger scale, it might prevent roads to be
built and thus would necessarily make it im-
possible for many farmers to go West, and
those who live West could not send their wheat

"Wheelbarrow means what is right and
just, but he has one fault, and that is his
rhetoric. What is the use of sentimentality
in economical questions?

' ' There are two aspects of the question of
making bread dear. Labor agitators, as a
rule, demand that the bread they buy must
be cheap, but for the bread we make we
should demand the highest price, and the
short sighted, credulous listeners are apt to
believe him who promises most. They do
not see that agitators preach ' yes and no ' in
one breath, that sour and sweet at the same
time comes out of their mouth. * * *

" Henry George says in Progress and
Poverty, that if but the landlords were taxed
out of existence, we would realize the ideal of



the communist. Everything free. * * *
Who will then work? 'That is just the
advantage of it, ' I am told, ' wages will rise,
they will rise as high as they never have been,
and men will not work at all unless it be for
the pleasure of work. '

"Mr. George has a great folio wership and
whatever be the merit of his ' ideas of land
taxation, ' nobody seems to be aware of the
Utopian scheme of what constitutes Georgism


1 ' There is an untruth in every exaggeration
and every untruth contains poison. Let us
work to produce bread, every one in his way.
But at the same time let us bear in mind that
bread means human labor. Any artificial
combination to make bread dear for the benefit
of a few conspirators is to be condemned. In
that I fully agree with Wheelbarrow. But let
us not demand that bread be too cheap, for
that would necessarily degrade a certain num-
ber of human lives into abject poverty, and
deprive them of their due reward for having
contributed to make bread."


The controversy between ' ' Wheelbarrow "
and Sympathizer, upon making bread dear,
has been skillfully handled on both sides.
However, despite the testimony of Statistics,
that Wheelbarrow condemns, and which
Sympathizer quotes from liberally, Wheelbar-
row has a grievance. But the question is,
Does he make his attack in the right direc-
tion ? ' ' To predict the Future, to manage the
Present, would not be so impossible, had not
the Past been so sacrilegiously mishandled;
effaced, and what is more defaced!"

If Wheelbarrow will only consult Nature's
Laws, he would find that his condition is the
result of artificial laws made by the Past.
Why should he or any one else who is able to
wheel earth, be obliged to buy bread, dear or
cheap? Has not Nature's bountiful dispenser
given him land that he may raise wheat to
make bread? Does he believe that God
created him without rights to his natural in-
heritance ; a slave to others ? His condition is
the effect of a system of depredations com-
mitted by the Past, depriving him of his
birthright. The truth cannot be ignored; the
earth belongs to the living, and not to the


dead, who have been privileged to ' corner ' it
in parcels for idle and arrogant descendents.

Mr. Gage converses in very friendly terms
with socialistic agitators of all schools. They
meet together, at his residence, and converse
freely concerning the means of relieving the
difficulties of the laborers. He says that he
stands intermediate between an absolute In-
dividualism and complete State Socialism.
"A believer in the freedom of the individual"
he says, ' ' I believe in the value of the freest
and fullest voluntary co-operation, industrial
and otherwise."

In a course of economic conferences between
business men and working men, Mr. Gage de-
livered an address in 1888, on Banking and
the Social System. He handled his subject
adroitly, speaking first of the character of
man, his history and his environments.
Whether his authority is from Statistics or Ob-
servation, he states that ' 'with the mechanical
inventions, we have witnessed growing econom-
ics in the distribution of the products of in-
dustry and a corresponding improvement in the
actual reward to the class, that the division of
labor has developed, known as wage earners. "


In a flight of fancy he described in relief of
the dark background the wonderful growth
of civilization promoted by an elastic political
constitution, which gives us freedom and
prosperity. The organization of labor, and
the combinations known as " Trusts " he be-
lieves are the same in spirit, and will soon be
brought face to face, like hostile forces.
"They are against the natural order, "he
says, ' ' and the natural order is more powerful
than man's devices. But this new movement
of labor combination and capital combination
must go on until the experiment has been fully
tried and its results practically determined.
The hopeful sign of the present, and the best
promise for the future lie in the fact that society
is becoming awake with redemptive zeal. In
the development of two principles, self-re-
straint and self-control in the individual, and
a broader humaneness, a more generous sym-
pathy pervading society, lies the hope of the

The subject of this sketch was born in Mad-
ison county, New York. His father, Eli A.
Gage, was a hatter by trade, earning small
compensation, and supporting his family in a


frugal manner. His son, Lyman, had the ad-
vantages of a common school until he entered
the Oneida Central Bank, at Rome, New
York. Two years later, 1855, he came to Chi-
cago and started in business for himself with
a planing mill. At th end of a year he found
himself without means and $300 in debt, so he
gave back the planing mill to the man from
whom he had bought it, and agreed to pay the
$300 as soon as possible. He then secured a
position at $50 a month, and arranged with his
creditors to pay $25 a month on the debt.
About this time he was engaged as cashier by
the Merchants' Loan and Trust Company,
and has been in the banking business ever
since. "The secrets of Mr. Gage's success
are, in addition to honesty and uniform cour-
tesy, his infinite tact and absolute fairness.
These made him a model World's Fair Presi-
dent, and have endeared him to the laboring
people as well as the entire public," says a
prominent citizen of Chicago.

When Mr. Gage resigned his position as
President of the World's Fair Directory, he
was presented with a book designed especially
for him. It is illuminated throughout in the


style of the ancient prayer books. It has fine
hand paintings of the Exposition buildings,
and allegorical representations of the different
industries. Every part of the work was done
in Chicago. The motto opposite his portrait is:

"Honor and fame from no condition rise,
Act well thy part, there all the honor lies."

The title page is announced as follows: "Tes-
timonial and resolutions unanimously adopted
by the Board of Directors of the World's Co-
lumbian Exposition on the retirement of its
President, Lyman J. Gage."

Mr. Gage's resignation was greatly regretted
by the Directory and by the public, for his
comprehensive intelligence, and his untiring
loyalty of purpose as presiding officer, made
his services almost indispensable.




" An infinitude of tenderness is the chief gift of all truly great
men." Ruskin.

Every man is a law unto himself, and, de-
spite all sentiment in the matter, is subject to
the discussions and criticisms of the world.
The idea inferred from the statement made by
Emerson, that every spirit makes its house,
but afterwards the house confines the spirit,
apparently shirks the responsibility of the in-
dividual, and throws the blame, or credit, as
the case may be, on Fate ; but the transcen-
dentalist defines fate as an expense of ends
to means, or organization tyrannizing over

" If you please to plant yourself on the side
of Fate, and say, Fate is all; then we say a
part of Fate is the freedom of man. Forever
wells up the impulse of choosing and acting
in the soul. Intellect annuls Fate. So far as

a man thinks, he is free. And though nothing




is more disgusting than the crowing about
liberty by slaves, as most men are, and the flip-
pant mistaking for freedom of some paper pre-
ambles like a ' Declaration of Independence, '
or the statute right to vote, by those who have
never dared to think or to act, yet it is whole-
some to man to look not at Fate, but the
other way; the practical view is the other,
His sound relation to these facts is to use and
command, not to cringe to them. ' Look not
on nature, for her name is fatal, ' said the ora-
cle. The too much contemplation of these
limits induces meanness. They who talk
much of destiny, their birth, star, etc., are in
a lower dangerous plane, and invite the evils
they fear."

What a wholesome lesson for contemplation
Emerson has given in his essay on Fate! He
has opened a window and let in the light of
intellectual freedom, for those who are in
darkness, regarding nature's limitations. He
rouses you to activity, and by a new. direction
of your thought you are born again ; a heavy
weight is removed; you see clearer; the chains
of bondage to Fate are broken, and you find
yourself a free man. Let us hear him further:


"Every jet of chaos which threatens to ex-
terminate us, is convertible by intellect into
wholesome force. Fate is impenetrated causes.
The water drowns ship and sailor, like a grain
of dust. But learn to swim, trim your bark,
and the wave which drowned it will be cloven
by it, and carry it, like its own foam, a plume
and a power. The cold is inconsiderate of per-
sons, tingles your blood, freezes a man like a
dew-drop. But learn to skate, and the ice
will give you a graceful, sweet and poetic mo-
tion. The cold will brace your limbs and brain
to genius, and make you foremost men of
time. Cold and sea will train an imperial
Saxon race, which nature cannot bear to lose,
and, after cooping it up for a thousand years
in yonder England, gives a hundred Englands,
a hundred Mexicos, the secrets of water and
steam, the spasms of electricity, the ductility
of metals, the chariot of the air, ruddered the
balloon, are awaiting you."

Herman H. Kohlsaat, one of the foremost
business men of the World's Fair city, pos-
sesses a character which has demonstrated the
power of Mind over Fate. On account of the
keen insight he has manifested in business


transactions, combined with an eminently fine
conception of justice, and the tenderness of
feeling that has always characterized the true
philanthropist, he represents a type of human-
ity that is interesting to the public. Born
without a fortune to place him in environments
that would have directed his course otherwise,
he has, at an early age, succeeded in gaining
wealth, and is not accused of monopoly, nor
of unfairness in his dealings. He is the pro-
prietor of the Chicago Inter Ocean, one of the
oldest newspapers of the city, and is the
owner of considerable real estate, besides sev-
eral restaurants, located in different parts of
the city.

Nature did not endow Mr. Kohlsaat with a
robust constitution, but he inherited a mental
force which has directed his efforts, effecting
successful results. He used his mental force.
His biographer says: "Herman H. Kohlsaat
was born near Albion, Edwards county, Illi-
nois, March 22, 1853. When one year of age
his parents moved to Galena, Illinois, where
he grew up to the age of twelve years, doing
farm work and attending the public school in
the meantime. In November, 1865, he came


with his parents to Chicago, and at once en-
tered the public schools. In 1868, when his
father died, he left school, and gradually
worked up from cash boy in Carson, Pirie &
Co. 's dry goods store, to his present enviable
position. When his business ventures began
to prosper he turned his attention to real es-
tate, and his excellent judgment in making
investments is matter of record. Mr. Kohl-
saat is benevolent to a fault, yearly spending
thousands of dollars in relieving want; and
there is probably not a charitable institution
in the city that has not partaken of his bounty.
Indeed, he considers himself the steward of
his large income. He is the founder of the
Colored Men's Library, and there are few
men who stand closer to, or are more trusted
by the laboring men at large in this city than

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Online LibraryC. DeanThe World's fair city and her enterprising sons → online text (page 15 of 27)