Ratcliffe Hicks.

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securities. Some of them are going to fail, —
human foresight cannot prevent it ; and if only
one in ten of such investments fail, it reduces the
income of the total investments below five per
cent,

286



REDUCTION OF INTEREST

6. A Savings Bank needs prosperous and healthy
borrowers as much as it needs depositors. Re-
member that a vast majority of the borrowers
invested their money in real estate, which has
shrunk one hundred per cent in value, while the
present amount of their loan remains the same. A
reduction in the rate of interest would enhance the
value of real estate, and so enable Savings Banks to
unload much of the real estate on their hands.

7. Savings Banks in this State, not knowing
what to do, have invested largely in Government
bonds, which net them only about three per cent.
The Savings Banks have to-day a million of money
on deposit which they do not know what to do
with. If the rate was made five per cent, it would
be loaned at home. The true policy is to encour-
age people to borrow money from Savings Banks,
build homes, and add to the wealth of the State.
Why should not the honest, hard-working people
of Connecticut borrow the money from Savings
Banks at five per cent, instead of investing the
deposits in New York bank-stock, in Western
railroad and in Government bonds? Is it policy
to drive all the money we can out of the State ?

It seems as if the true policy ought to be to keep
in our own State all the money that we can, and to
give the people of Connecticut the use of the
money at as low a rate as we loan out of the State.

8. Most Savings Banks are declining deposits
for the very reason that they cannot invest them.
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RATCLIFFE HICKS

By so doing, they are defeating the object for
which they were created ; namely, to provide a
safe place where poor and ignorant people can
invest their small earnings. If this state of affairs
lasts much longer, the government ought to, and
will, establish a postal savings-bank for the benefit
of poor people.

9. Many Savings Banks are contemplating low-
ering the rate to five per cent ; but they are afraid
to do so for fear that they may lose temporarily
some of their depositors. If it is made uniform,
then no bank will have any advantage over another
on account of its location or size. Small banks
located in growing places have great advantages
over some of our older and wealthy Savings Banks.

10. It should be a law that Savings Banks shall
not pay more than four per cent on all deposits
over $2,000. They then could easily pay five per
cent on all deposits less than that sum. Large
deposits are made by wealthy people to escape
taxation ; and this is all wrong.

11. No man can afford to borrow money of a
Savings Bank to-day and invest it in business. The
laws of business have set a limit to the avarice of
the capitalist ; and if the Legislature of this State
overrides those laws, and exacts a rate of interest
above the amount that the borrower can afford to
pay, it only exhausts the security of the bank, and
finally swamps in one common misfortune borrower
and lender.



REDUCTION OF INTEREST

12. This question comes properly before your
body. You are the custodians and managers of
the Savings Banks of this State, and the sole man-
ager of the School Fund. You have said in the
past, and you must say in the future, how they shall
be managed. The safety of the bank, the security
of the depositor, the welfare of the borrower, the
good name of the State are all at stake, and in
your hands for keeping. You are the final arbiter
between the borrower and the lender ; and it is for
you to say what, under all circumstances, is the fair
rate of savings-bank interest in this State. The
poor people of Connecticut, who have mortgaged
their homes and their very lives to the Savings
Banks, can only look to you for justice. They
cannot pay off their loans, they cannot change
them, they are tied hand and foot ; and they ask
that they shall be compelled to pay only that rate
of interest which, with the taxes, insurance, and
repairs, is a fair and just remuneration to the
borrower. They do not expect to borrow money
as cheap as the millionaire can ; but, like the Land
League of Ireland, they believe in the motto " Live
and let live."

The reports of the Bank and School Fund Com-
missioners this year point out the necessity for this
proposed reduction in the rate of interest.



19 289



LETTER OPPOSING JURY
TRIALS

From the ''MericUn Republican."

I REGRET to see that an effort is being made to
take away from a prisoner the privilege of being
tried by the court. The Legislature of 1878 may
turn back a little the wheels of progress, but some
succeeding Legislature will certainly re -enact the
law with still greater privileges to the accused.
Every thoughtful, conscientious citizen glories in
the fact that Connecticut gives to every accused
man all reasonable opportunities to prove his inno-
cence. It permits him to tell his own story in
court ; it furnishes him with counsel, and gives him
the closing argument. It is better that ten guilty
men should escape than that one innocent man
should suffer.

A case that cannot stand a fair investigation
before an unprejudiced and intelligent court ought
never to be tried. Now, it is proposed to give to
every man who has a civil suit, which involves the
honesty of a horse-trade, the right to elect whether
he shall be tried by a judge or a jury ; but when a
man's life or liberty is at stake he is to have no
290



LETTER OPPOSING JURY TRIALS

choice. If there is any force in the argument
against the right of election, it is as good in one
case as in the other. It only illustrates again what
history so thoroughly teaches, — the inhumanity of
man to man.

A trial by jury is a bequest of the Middle Ages,
and was the invention of a people who were ground
to earth by despotic rulers and unprincipled judges,
the lackeys and appointees of those rulers. It was
then a bulwark of protection to the people ; but
in a free government, where the judges are above
suspicion and are appointed by the people, a jury
trial is a wart on the body politic, which the good
sense and experience of the American people will
soon cauterize and eradicate.

Every argument is in favor of a trial before a court
made up of intelligent and unprejudiced lawyers, who
carefully note all the evidence, conscientiously weigh
every point, intelligently consider all the legal ques-
tions involved, and coolly state the reasons for the
conclusion to which they have come. The jury can
carry in their minds the evidence in a case lasting
several days. Oftentimes some witness who hap-
pens to make a bad appearance, and some prejudice
that the jury may have against the party or their
counsel, are the turning points in the case. Jury
lawyers are not generally selected for their great
learning or known probity, but because they are
consummate blackguards, and can keep a court-
room in a titter; because they are prominent
291



RATCLIFFE HICKS

politicians in the country, and are supposed to
have friends in the panel ; because they possess
attractive manners, and know the thousand and
one little points practised in the court-room and
out to win the favorable opinion of the jury.
Everybody knows that a railroad company, an
insurance company, a municipal corporation, a
man against a winsome woman, stands no chance
before a jury, twelve butchers of the law, and the
evidence. It is provided that they are not bound
to submit to a jury trial; but is the question of
man's life or liberty of less consequence?

Instead, then, of repealing this wise provision, the
Legislature of 1878 ought to take steps to wipe from
the laws of the State every provision for preserving
a trial by jury ; for it is a relic of the feudal ages,
for which we have no use in these modern times.
It is a legal snare, and it is gambling for justice at
a sacrifice of the rights and liberties of the citizen.
It is of the earth, earthy, and belongs to the age of

the javelin and the bow.

Ratcliffe Hicks.



292



A TAX-PAYER ON CONSOLI-
DATION

From the " Meriden Republican.'"

To THE Editor of the " Republican " :

Let us make a last appeal to all voters to come
out on Monday to vote for consolidation. The
ballot-box will be open from 8 a. m. until 5 p. m.,
at the Town Hall. The friends of the measure are
in a large majority, and will prove it if they will
only come out to vote. The great danger is that
the friends of the measure will not take the pains
to vote. Therefore we urge every man who has
the best interests of Meriden at heart to vote for
consolidation. It will result in a great saving to
the town. It will put the management of our
schools into the hands of a permanent board of
our best citizens. It will improve the character of
our schools. It is doing just what the Legislature
will compel every town in the State to do within
ten years.

A well-developed system of public schools is
worth everything to Meriden. You have no system
now. They say that it means a high school. We
do not expect to see a high school in our day, but
it is just what Meriden needs. The boys and girls
293



RATCLIFFE HTCKS

of Meriden need just as good public schools as any
city, unless you expect your children will only dig
roads, build cellar-walls, and do housework. The
only way to give your children a good start in Hfe
is to give them a good education. Not all your
churches, not all your factories, will do one-half as
much to attract men of enterprise and wealth to
your city as would a first-class school. Men are
working to-day in Meriden and living in New
Haven and Hartford, because they want to give
their children the best school advantages. Every
poor man should vote for consolidation, for he
cannot afford to send children to Hartford to
school. And still voters are howling round the
streets that if you vote for consolidation it will
result in having one or two schools of a high grade
and dispensing with the great number of depart-
ments in the smaller schools. That is just what
ought to be done. The smaller schools are graded
to death. The men who bring up such arguments
belong to the past generations. Consolidation has
worked well wherever adopted. The few men
who desire to defeat it are circulating a lot of
foolish stories of what will be done if this law is
passed. All these stories are false, and they know
it. They have more fears and foolish imaginations
than any woman ever had at childbirth.

Tax-payers of Meriden, friends of poor men and
patrons of schools, vote for consolidation next
Monday ! A Tax-payer.

294



NEW HAVEN COUNTY COM-
MISSIONERS

From the " Meriden Republican"

The report of the majority of the Committee
appointed to investigate the affairs of New Haven
County, as a specimen of political prejudice and
perversion, is without parallel in the history of this
State, Failing to prove the surreptitious appro-
priation of a single dollar of the county money,
the majority of the Committee seek by false in-
nuendoes and unfair influences to injure the reputa-
tion of these county commissioners, and ask for
their removal on evidence on which no decent man
would hang his dog,

1. As to the removal of August Williams, the
report of the minority of the committee — R, W.
Newhall, Esq., of Middletown, law-partner of Judge
Culver — shows that there were many reasons for
his removal ; and it recommends that the question
of the legality of his removal be tested by the
courts to which Williams has already appealed.

2, It is not claimed that the evidence shows
that Commissioners Birdsey and Lake ever ap-

295



RATCLIFFE HICKS

propriated a dollar dishonestly ; but the majority
of the committee say that a certain record-book is
missing, and that therefore it is fair to presume
that these men have stolen it to cover up their
defalcations. It is just as fair to presume that
some of the men who for twelve months have pur-
sued the commissioners with bloodhound ferocity
have taken it away (for it was within their reach)
and then have charged it on the commissioners ;
we have heard of such things being done before.
The height of Commissioner Birdsey's offence is
that for three months he deposited small sums of
county money in his own name in the bank ; but
he refunded every dollar of it four months before
any investigation was ever proposed. Dr. Hatch,
all the time he was superintendent of the Reform
School, kept and deposited the State's money in his
own name in the bank. As to all the charges for
services, these commissioners followed in the foot-
steps of their Republican predecessors, or took
the legal advice of Judge Stoddard of New Haven.
If they sinned, they sinned unwittingly and not
wittingly; and to punish Birdsey for their action
is akin to that infernal doctrine which robbed
heaven of the presence of unbaptized infants. We
do not believe that the Republicans of this Legis-
lature can be induced so far to [ignore their man-
hood as to remove these commissioners upon mere
inference to satisfy the relentless animosity of a few
men whom they have offended by their official
296



NEW HAVEN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

action, and it remains to be seen whether honest
men propose to indulge in this scalping warfare.

The Constitution has provided a way to remove
dishonest officers of the State ; to wit, by impeach-
ment. We know of only two ways by which they
can be removed : one is by impeachment, and the
other is by abolishing the office. It is a fair infer-
ence that when the State has provided a way to
remedy a wrong, you are to pursue that way.

In two States of the Union a resolution similar
to the one submitted in this case, and under
similar constitutional provisions, has been declared
by the Supreme Courts of those States unconsti-
tutional and void, and nowhere can be found a
case that supports the legality of this proceeding.
We have no doubt as to what will be the decision
of our Supreme Court if this question ever comes
before it; for if this action is legal, it opens the
door to political anarchy and unhinges the safe-
guards of society. If all officers of the State —
like bank, insurance, railroad, and county com-
missioners — hold their offices subject to removal
by every recurring Legislature, without a repeal of
the law under which their offices were created and
by the mere force of the prevailing argument of
eight to seven, then the corner-stone upon which
rests the safety of our political institutions is under-
mined. The majority are never obliged to give a
reason for their action ; and it only needs some
exciting cause, like another rebellion, to bring into
297



RATCLIFFE HICKS

play the use of this most dangerous and uncon-
stitutional power. In my humble judgment there
is only one claim on which this proposed action
can be sustained ; it is the claim of the highway-
man, that might makes right.

Ratcliffe Hicks.



298



SHALL SUPREME COURT JUDGES
BE EXCUSED FROM CIRCUIT
DUTY?

To THE Editor of the Hartford " Times " :

I READ in your paper of the 8th a report signed
by Mr, Hammersley, which was unfavorable to the
proposed exempting of the Supreme Court judges
from circuit duty. As I had the misfortune to
introduce this resolution, I want to say a word in
its defence, — not that I expect at this time to ac-
complish the desired result, but because I want
to set the faces of this generation towards one ^of
the improvements which, though defeated to-day,
is sure to come in the near future. Let me then
summarize some of the arguments in favor of this
proposed change.

I . Our Supreme Court is overworked. To hear
and investigate patiently two hundred cases yearly
is all that it can do conscientiously. To read the
record, the briefs, and examine the authorities in
two hundred cases, — that is, about one case in
every working-day in the year, — is all that any
court of five men can do. Besides this, the mem-
bers must write their opinions, every word and
299



RATCLIFFE HICKS

every line of which are to be subjected thereafter
to the most critical analysis.

2. Every year adds immensely to the labors of
a judge in the multiplication of authorities and
text-books. To be a good judge in the days of
Zephaniah Swift, whose library consisted of a
dozen books, and to be a good judge to-day is
like the difference between a college one hundred
years ago and a college to-day. One hundred years
ago law was a matter of common-sense. To-day it
is a question of analogy and of authorities.

3. Our present system necessarily causes great
delays. The judges are often unable to investigate
a case and prepare the opinion in less than a year
after it is argued. This of course suspends the
case for all that time, and entails great expense
and trouble upon clients and attorneys. All such
delays tend to bring the administration of law in
this State into contempt with the driving business
men of to-day.

4. We all want an unprejudiced court. We
want every case to come to the Supreme Court
untried and unheard by all its members. We do
not want that judge who has tried our case on the
circuit, and done what we believe to be an injustice
to our clients, to sit on the Supreme Court bench
or in the lobby or in the consulting-room when
our case is being finally disposed of.

5. We want in every case the independent
investigation and judgment of five judges. That

300



CIRCUIT DUTY

is the number which the wisdom of the State has
fixed upon, and that is the number we are entitled
to and demand. Let the law create no excuse for
the want of a full bench and a separate investiga-
tion in every case by five men. To be sure, you
can call for a full bench ; but it is almost an insult
to the four men sitting on the bench, and always
causes delay. Most lawyers hesitate to do it.

6. The multiplication of courts — the creation
of common pleas, district, and city courts — has
in the last ten years largely increased the duties of
the Supreme Court judges.

7. Practically the Supreme Court judges held
only a criminal term, or some unimportant civil
term, recognizing among themselves that they
ought not to be expected and do not desire to do
circuit duty.

8. This change is demanded to-day; and if on
trial it shall be found that our Supreme Court
judges suffer for the want of circuit duty, we can
very easily return to the old antiquated custom.

I have heard only two arguments against the
proposed change. One is that it is a great benefit
to the judges to do circuit duty. I believe that
that is all a humbug. No man knows as well as
the judge himself whether or not he is benefited by
circuit duty. Now, I think if this matter were left
with the judges of the Supreme Court, they would
vote unanimously that to do circuit duty is an
intolerable nuisance, and of no appreciable benefit
to themselves. 301



RATCLIFFE HICKS

The only other argument I have heard is that it
tends to make them civil ; that to do circuit duty
serves as a sort of instigation to keep the spirits of
our Supreme Court judges humble, submissive, and
peaceful.

Such arguments go well with a weak case.

R. H.



302



BROWN UNIVERSITY PRIZES

New York, Jan. 28, 1891.

Rev. E. B. Andrews,

Brown University, Providence, R. I. :

Dear Sir, — I have been thinking of offering
prizes, amounting to fifty dollars each year, divided
as follows : thirty-five dollars for the first, and fif-
teen dollars for the second, — for excellence in
Junior Debating Competition. There is a similar
system in Yale, which has recently, I believe, been
opened to all members of the Junior Class.

I thought I would offer this for one year ; and
if on trial it proves a success, I would offer to the
University money enough to insure a continuance
of the prizes in the future.

Please give me your impressions in this matter,
and then I will decide what I shall do.
Yours respectfully,

Ratcliffe Hicks.



Providence, Jan. 30, 1891.
My dear Mr. Hicks, — Your valued communi-
cation of the 28th inst. is at hand. Your proposi-



RATCLIFFE HICKS

tion is a most welcome one. Our young men
need precisely the inducement which you suggest.
The plan would give a support to the Junior work
in speaking which is much needed, and which
could not be secured in any other way. It will
give me great pleasure to hear from you further
in the premises.

Very truly yours,

E. Benj. Andrews,
President Brown University.



President's Room, Brown University,
Providence, R. I., June 12, 1891.
Received of Ratcliffe Hicks one New York and
New England Railroad Company six per cent one
thousand dollar bond (second mortgage). No.
4414, which he presents through me to the Cor-
poration of Brown University, as the foundation
of two yearly premiums or prizes for excellence in
debate.

E. Benj. Andrews.



304



GIFT TO MERIDEN HIGH
SCHOOL FUND

Meriden, Conn., March 23, 1894.
Hon. Ratcliffe Hicks:

Dear Sir, — In behalf of the High School Com-
mittee I beg leave to thank you for your muni-
ficent gift of fifty dollars to be applied to the High
School Fund.

Thirty-six essays are now in the hands of the
Committee, from which seven will be selected to
be read on Commencement Day for prizes.
We trust that you will be able to be present.
Respectfully,

Chas. H. S. Davis.



Saratoga, Sept. 15, 1894.
Dr. C. H. S. Davis, Meriden, Conn, :

Dear Sir, — I wish to transfer to the proper
Committee or person one thousand dollars in the
Gold and Stock Telegraph Co., bearing six per cent
interest, guaranteed by the Western Union Co. for
ninety-nine years, in order to make permanent the
20 305



RATCLIFFE HICKS

prizes I have been giving from year to year to the
Meriden High School. If you will tell me exactly
to whom and how to transfer the bond and who
will receipt for the same, I will instruct my secre-
tary at Bridgeport to attend to the matter at once.
You may answer my letter to the address of 73
Warren Street, N. Y. City, Hicks Building.
Yours very truly,

Ratcliffe Hicks.



306



THE RATCLIFFE HICKS PRIZES IN
THE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

Saratoga, Sept. 15, 1894.

Treasurer Agricultural College, Storrs, Conn, :

Dear Sir, — In order to make permanent the
prizes I offered, I propose to transfer to the Treas-
urer of your College one thousand dollars in the
Gold and Stock Telegraph Co., bearing six per
cent interest, guaranteed by the Western Union
Co. for ninety-nine years. This is to make per-
manent the Ratcliffe Hicks prizes.

Would it be proper if I had the bond transferred
to the Treasurer of the College without mention-
ing any name as Treasurer ; and if not, how should
the bond be transferred? As soon as I get a
reply, I will instruct my Secretary to attend to the
matter ; and I suppose that he can send it by
express to Storrs, if it is not convenient for the
Treasurer to call at my office in Bridgeport to
receipt for same.

Yours truly,

Ratcliffe Hicks.
307



RATCLIFFE HICKS



Storrs, Conn., Nov. 3, 1894.
Mr. Ratcliffe Hicks, New York :

Dear Sir, — The bonds which you directed the
Canfield Rubber Co., Bridgeport, to send to the
College are received, and I have placed them in
my safe, and will communicate with the Trustees
and place them at their disposal. I suspect that
they will want to put them in some safer place
even than our supposed fire-proof safe.

In behalf of the institution and all concerned, I
express to you our gratitude for this timely help to
stimulate our young people to better work in the
lines indicated. I understand that you received a
copy of one of the prize essays of last summer,
and shall make inquiries of the other competitor,
— the young man receiving the second prize, —
and if he has not already sent you a copy, I shall
have one made and forwarded to you.

I believe you have never visited this institution,
and I now give you a cordial invitation to do so.
When you are in Tolland County, at your con-
venience, I should be glad to have you come and
look over the work for yourself.

We found ourselves before the opening of the
fall term with about thirty more applicants than
we had accommodations for. By removing all single
beds from rooms intended for but one pupil, and
putting in double folding-beds and other devices,
we were able to accommodate those who wished to
308



PRIZES IN THE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

enter. We find ourselves very much crowded
with our present accommodations, but are manag-
ing to get through the year, hoping that the com-


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Online LibraryRatcliffe HicksSpeeches and public correspondence of Ratcliffe Hicks .. → online text (page 16 of 18)