Speeches of Carl Schurz
CROKER AND TAMMANY
Shepard is Associated
that the One Issue is Crokerism
— Ovation to Justice Jerome.
A meeting held last night at the St. Nicholas Rink under the auspices of the Citizen's Union and the Good Government Club drew out a crowd of several thousand people. All of the floor space of the rink was occupied and the galleries were well filled.
The most extended speech of the evening was delivered by Carl Schurz, who made his first appearance in the campaign. The other speakers were Seth Low, Felix Adler, Jacob Cantor, William Travers Jerome, Edward M. Grout, and George Haven Putnam.
The meeting, which had been advertised for 8 o'clock, was late in starting. At 8:15 none of the speakers had arrived. The crowd listened to the band and was patient. Assemblyman Julius Seymour's appearance on the stage was the signal for the first outbreak of applause. When Mr. Low and Mr. Schurz arrived and ascended the stage, led by George Haven Putnam, the band played the “Star Spangled Banner,” and the entire audience arose. The cheering was continued throughout the rendition of the national anthem and was taken up with renewed energy when the band had ceased playing.
The meeting was opened by George Haven Putnam, who acted as the chairman. Mr. Putnam denounced the kind of administration which Tammany Hall has given the city. His statement that it is not “whitewash, but quicklime which is needed for Tammany Hall,” provoked thunderous applause.
Mr. Schurz, who followed Mr. Putnam, was greeted enthusiastically. During the course of his speech his remarks became inaudible, owing to the passing of a fife and drum corps. At Chairman Putnam's suggestion he ceased speaking, remarking: “If you please, we will wait until the Tammany procession goes by.” At the conclusion of his speech and while he was being heartily cheered, Seth Low walked over to where Mr. Schurz had taken his seat, grasped his hand, and whispered to him words of congratulation.
When Mr. Low was introduced by Chairman Putnam the ovation he received lasted several minutes. He turned the cheering into laughter finally by saying: “I can stand this as long as you can, provided every cheer means a vote.”
Justice Jerome's arrival was announced to the audience by a great commotion outside of the hall. He had to make his way to the stage through a wildly cheering crowd. As he ascended the steps to the platform the whole audience arose and a demonstration followed which lasted for several minutes. He said he realized that much of what he had to say was of such a character that the newspapers could not publish it, but he was determined that those who lived up town should know of the conditions which existed in some quarters on the east side, and which were fostered by the Tammany system, even though he ran the risk of offending the sensibilities of his audience. Several times when he hesitated and remarked that he thought he had said perhaps all he ought to say, the crowd insisted upon his going on.
In opening the meeting George Haven Putnam said in part:
“We have heard a great deal about the partisanship of Mr. Low in this campaign. How ridiculous! We have all the Democratic organizations of New York supporting the Fusion cause. We do not admit that Tammany Hall is a Democratic organization. Taking out the votes bought by Tammany, the votes which are enforced by it, and the votes of those who favor opportunity to break the law, we believe we will have a majority of the Democratic votes of New York for our ticket.
“If you believe that Van Wyck has given us an administration notable for its integrity, its judicial fairness, and its courtesy, you will vote to elevate him to the Supreme Court bench. If you believe we want to perpetuate the methods of the ridiculous Gardiner in the District Attorney's office, you will vote for Henry W. Unger. But if you don't believe these things, you will support the Fusion nominees.
“More than one Grand Jury has declared that the District Attorney's office, of which Unger was the chief assistant, and I may say the brains, was not to be trusted. A Grand Jury on which I myself served found that tips were given from the District Attorney's office to men who were implicated in our investigation. The Committee of Fifteen repeatedly declared that the police were in alliance with the crime, for the control of which they were responsible. The whole government of Tammany is a government of tips to crime.
“Think of the dirtiness of the dollars that are being poured into the Tammany treasury to elect the figurehead, who is trying to whitewash that organization. It is not whitewash but quicklime that is needed for Tammany Hall.
“The thing to do with the Tammany tiger is to cut off his tail close behind his ears and send the head to Wantage for interment.”
In introducing Mr. Schurz, Chairman Putnam eulogized his career as a soldier, a statesman, and public-spirited citizen.
Mr. Schurz's speech in full follows:
“This is the most extraordinary campaign I ever witnessed; a struggle for good municipal government, in which we have to choose between two candidates for the Mayoralty who, both honorable men, profess to aim at the same ideals of municipal administration. I may add that they are both my personal friends, and that, if there be any difference between them, the candidate I oppose is, as a friend, perhaps somewhat nearer to me than the candidate I support.
“To oppose Mr. Shepard is one of the most painful public duties I have ever had to perform. I know his principles, his motives, his aims; and, knowing them, I value him very highly. I must confess it grates upon my feelings when I hear him spoken of with a slur. I have to oppose him because he has placed himself in an unnatural position, in which, in spite of his good intentions, he is apt to do more harm than good. But I wish it distinctly understood that in discussing his course I may question his judgment without intending any reflection whatever upon the integrity of his character or the purity of his motives.
“The first fact that, in our efforts for good government, stares us in the face is the existence of an organization — Tammany Hall — whose very purpose it is to give the city the worst government it dares, to the end of making money out of it. And this organization has been for years, and is now, in full possession of the municipal power. To describe its character, I cannot do better than quote Mr. Shepard's own language, uttered in a Seth Low mass-meeting, in the municipal campaign of 1897. He said: ‘The most burning and disgraceful blot upon the municipal history of this country is the career of Tammany Hall. * * * The bossism, prostitution of power; a more tyrannical and mean treatment of citizens who were too poor and ignorant to protect themselves, a worse treatment of a great city, we have never known to disgrace us with ourselves, to disgrace us throughout the United States, to disgrace us in the eyes of the civilized world.’ Thus spoke the righteous wrath of an honest soul. I might quote a great deal more, but this will do. And he takes nothing back.
“That Tammany has not improved since, we all know. On the contrary, it grows worse with age, as all such powerful organizations for plunder do. In fact, its latest performances in city government that have been exposed rather exceed its former ones in nastiness. Now, Tammany being intrenched in power in more senses than one, our efforts for a change in the right direction cannot be confined to a mere elaboration of sound principles of municipal government and their advocacy for popular acceptance. Here we have to deal with a concrete, substantial force which must be overthrown to clear the way for reform.
“The overthrow of the Tammany power is not a mere secondary object of our fight, but it is the condition sine qua non, the essential, imperative prerequisite of general and lasting improvement in our city government. Recognizing this obvious truth the friends of reform have accentuated the anti-Tammany character of the struggle with especial emphasis, and rightly so. Efforts to overthrow Tammany have been made before by rallying all its opponents without distinction of party, and Mr. Shepard aided them with great vigor. Such efforts, always difficult of accomplishment, have sometimes failed because distracting party spirit among the opponents could not be overcome, and sometimes they became more or less abortive in their results by reason of faulty management.
“We are engaged in such an effort again. That effort, stimulated by the exposure of Tammany villainies of an extraordinary character, has brought about a union of the anti-Tammany forces so general, and inspired them with a determination so militant, that even the defiant spirit of the Tammany boss began to quail. The ingenuity of Tammany and its Brooklyn allies was sorely taxed to find a means for averting the storm, and that means was believed to be found in the nomination for the Mayoralty of a man of eminent respectability, a man who had gained distinctive standing as a fiery opponent of Tammany and a champion of reform. Thus Mr. Shepard was nominated.
“That he accepted that nomination I deeply deplore, for every touch of fellowship with Tammany is contamination. That he accepted, not for selfish ends, but for the purpose and with the expectation of conferring a great benefit upon the city and upon his party I do not doubt. But I wonder whether there is anybody childlike enough to believe that such purposes and expectations were share by Boss Croker or Boss McLaughlin, who decreed the nomination of Mr. Shepard. Can there be any sane person simple enough to think that Croker and McLaughlin and their henchmen and beneficiaries are contritiously repentant sinners longing for a missionary to teach and lead them the ways of a better life?
“To any unprejudiced mind it must be as clear as noonday that what they wanted to accomplish by nominating a man like Mr. Shepard was simply to neutralize the exposure and denunciations of the Tammany villainies, thus to time over a desperate situation and to pull through the rest of their tickets. Of all men in America Boss Croker and his crew are those who hat Mr. Shepard's high principles and reformatory aims most bitterly, and who are most ardently bent upon defeating those principles and aims. Why the very platform upon which they nominated Mr. Shepard glories in the record of their past achievements, and the candidates on the same ticket with him, who are, if elected, to be his coadjutors, are taken from the ranks of their faithful. And especial care has been had to guard against the danger of legal prosecution for past misdoings and of legal interference with future mischief by the selection for the District Attorneyship of a man who has graduated in the school of Tammany law and Tammany morals with the very highest honors.
“When, in the face of all this, it is pretended that the nomination of Mr. Shepard means a movement of conscience on the part of Tammany, it sounds like a ghastly mockery, like making cynical sport of the credulity of the natives, which cannot be too strongly resented.
“But this is not the saddest aspect of the case. Mr. Shepard and those of his friends who advised him to accept that Tammany nomination seem to have forgotten that, if what he and they have told us about the scandalous character of Tammany is true, which they certainly will not ask us to doubt, then those Tammany braves are not decent citizens with whom you can have honorable political transactions, but they are criminals who should be prosecuted for their misdeeds and put into the penitentiary.
“The only political conversation we can hold with them or about them is to expose their infamous character and conduct to the abhorrence and execration of the community. This is our duty to the public. We should therefore never have any relations to them that may prevent us from conscientiously and freely speaking our minds about them and from denouncing and arraigning and pursuing the tyrants, and the thieves, and the blackmailers, and the protectors and promoters of vice, as they deserve. A good citizen, and especially a reformer, should never think of dignifying the municipal robber-nest of Tammany Hall with the countenance of his association, and still less of his co-operation in municipal politics. And I am deeply grieved to say that in these respects my friends Mr. Shepard, who so far had bravely come up to the noblest standards, has now so gravely mistaken his position.
“What can be expected of it all? He certainly cannot wish to be regarded as having undertaken the usually ridiculous role of the virtuous young woman who marries a vicious and incorrigible old reprobate for the purpose of reforming him. The cynical old Tammany sinner would shriek with laughter at that. Nor do I think Mr. Shepard wishes to be looked upon as a Judith entering the chamber of Holofernes for the purpose of cutting his throat. He would prefer a less deceitful part; and besides, the Tammany Holofernes would hardly be caught napping in the arms of the enchantress, and it is very doubtful whose throat would actually be cut.
“No, not this. But Mr. Shepard, if elected, will go into office with a perfectly honest determination to give the city a good government; and he will do so as far as his power goes. But the improvement will be not nearly as large as he would like it to be, and certainly not nearly as large as it ought to be; for Tammany will be in full command of everything outside of the legal limits of the Mayor's power; and it will, with consummate circumspection, insidious cunning, and desperate energy throw every possible obstacle in the way of every reform threatening to curtail its corrupt revenues. And then, when his two years' term is over, Tammany will toss him aside like a squeezed-out lemon, ‘point with pride’ to its fine administration during the two years past, put one of its own faithful statesmen in his place, and cheerily resume possession of the whole field, opening its whole business again at the old stand, and chuckling with sardonic merriment at the short Shepard episode as the best joke of the season. And it will then be more unscrupulous and rapacious than before; for it will be strengthened by the credit, falsely assumed, of Mr. Shepard's partial good work, and having had to live upon somewhat reduced rations of pelf for two years, its appetites will be greedier than ever, and eager to make up for lost time. It is the old story:
“When the devil was sick, the devil a monk would be.
“When the devil was well again, the devil a monk was he.
“This prediction may be made with the greatest confidence, for the idea that the Tammany spirit can be killed by gentle means and that Tammany can be reformed from the inside is an amiable delusion springing from a fantastic misconception of the true essence of Tammany's vitality. Tammany may in old times have been a political party or part of a political party, with principles and patriotic aims that might be appealed to. It has long ceased to be that. Tammany is now, in its ruling elements, simply an association of professional politicians for mutual support and assurance in plundering this city and its inhabitants for the enrichment of a few and the subsistence of their retainers and dependents. What can you expect of such an organization?
“When I read in the papers of another dear and highly esteemed friend of mine going to Boss Croker to talk to him of the requirements of the public interest I was sincerely touched by the striking guilelessness of that attempt. He had evidently forgotten that those Tammany chiefs do not take any interest in the public business except as to the pecuniary interest they can take out of it. What they are after is money — much money, very much money, all the money they can possibly get, and even more. This is the sober truth, the dominant fact with which we have to deal.
“Do you think the Squire of Wantage can maintain and enlarge his country seat in England and keep up his stables of blooded horses and his thousand-dollar dogs and his betting at English horse races without large revenues? Do you think the big Tammany chiefs can get rich without a very liberal flow of funds? Do you think they can keep tens of thousands of their retainers and voting cattle in food and clothes and good spirits, alcoholic and other, without immense cash returns? Thus they need very much money for their well-known purposes, and to raise that money they have to burden the taxpayers with no end of sinecures and superfluous salaries; they have to put the whole business of the city, from the big corporation down to the boot-black, under a system of blackmail — the most insidious species of highway robbery ever invented; they have to levy assessments on the brothels and gambling hells and become protectors and propagators of vice, for the more such places there are the greater will be the income from them. These things they have to do to keep their organization going, for if they do not raise the money the organization will fall to pieces.
“Tammany will, therefore, by the very conditions of its existence, remain the robber nest it is now, or it will cease to be at all. I say this, fully aware of the fact that there are still some otherwise decent people clinging to the organization for some reasons of family tradition or party spirit, for which God may forgive them. But I am speaking of the spirit that rules it all.
“Now, what can you do with such an organization? An organization glorying in a leader who tells you with cynical frankness that he is in politics for his own pocket all the time? Can you hope to reform that crowd from the inside by moral suasion and the charm of a virtuous example? The power of Tammany can be reformed only by being destroyed. This is one of the cases in which a public enemy must be crushed to become harmless. I do not pretend to know all the things that may be required to put down and lastingly to keep down the Tammany power. But I do know that it cannot be done by respectable men giving it the prestige of their countenance. I do know that to accomplish it, all of the opponents of Tammany must unite for a common effort without distinction of party. I do know further that to the same end the evil deeds and iniquitous tendencies of Tammany must be relentlessly kept before the public mind.
“And, more than that. We must not content ourselves with merely replacing the vicious Tammany methods of government with better ones, but we must spare no effort to drag the evildoers, the corruptionists, the blackmailers, the protectors and promoters of vice, out of their holes and to bring them to justice and condign punishment, so that they may not only receive their dues, but serve as warning examples. We must have in office, not only a Mayor who will do this part of his duties with zest and alacrity, which, certainly Seth Low will, if elected, but we must put by his side coadjutors in sympathy with the work, and especially a District Attorney who understands his business and will do it, not only with ability, but with fearless resolution and enthusiastic energy — just such a public prosecutor as we shall have in Mr. Jerome.
“We can hardly look for such action if Mr. Shepard and his companions on the ticket are elected. At a meeting in Brooklyn he said that neither among the objects of this campaign nor among the objects of municipal administration should be ‘the destruction of a great political organization on the Manhattan side of the East River,’ — which expression is evidently a euphony for Tammany Hall. Mr. Shepard forgets the fact, which I suppose he formerly recognized, that Tammany has none of the moral attributes of a political party organization, but that it is now in its organized capacity simply a band of freebooters, masquerading as a political party.
“We make war upon them, not for the purpose of fighting the Democracy, but to deliver the city of its tyrants, bloodsuckers, and demoralizers. When I express the hope that under the coming city administration more of the Tammany rascalities, not one-tenth of which have so far become publicly known, will be uncovered and exposed to popular abhorrence, and as many as possible of the blackmailers will be sent to jail, I mean that they should be prosecuted, not as Democrats, but as criminals. And if by this process Tammany should gradually be disintegrated, this will not be a hostile blow at the Democracy, but a happy deliverance from a loathsome fungus, which the Democratic Party cannot get rid of too soon for its own welfare.
“I said that in the position he had taken, Mr. Shepard, despite his pure intentions, would do far more harm than good. I repeat it. All the good he can possibly do for two years as Mayor will be far outweighed by the evil he will certainly do by giving the fundamentally incorrigible Tammany the strengthening prestige of his countenance and aid.
“The Fusion, headed by Seth Low, is accused by Mr. Shepard of not being as non-partisan as it pretends to be. The way in which the anti-Tammany forces have been united is, indeed, not the ideal way. But whatever just or unjust criticism there may be, one thing is evident, the Fusion is infinitely more non-partisan than the body that nominated Mr. Shepard. The Fusion not only professes to be non-partisan, but it is largely supported by men and organizations not belonging to the Republican Party; it has put forth a platform demanding in the strongest terms for the municipal government a non-partisan character, and its candidates, Mr. Seth Low, an honorable man, at their head, solemnly pledge themselves in the most emphatic language to conduct that government in a non-partisan spirit.
“On the other hand, the convention which nominated Mr. Shepard, while glorying in the record of the present Tammany administration, which is partisan in the worst sense, has promised, and, in fact, never thought of anything else than another partisan administration. And Mr. Shepard himself gives us to understand that municipal government on the party basis is, after all, the natural and proper thing.
“Here I differ with him most seriously. The municipal governments of our large cities are notoriously the sorest point in the working of American institutions. They have, almost without exception, produced corruption and misrule of the most appalling kind. One of the chief causes of these dreadful failures has been found in the fact that in voting for municipal officers the citizens are asked, and induced, to divide, not on questions of municipal interest, but on the lines of National party politics. And in this way, blinded by party allegiance, the voters are apt to disregard the municipal interest, and to permit the rascals to slip into the places of municipal power. Everybody knows this.
“A highly valued friend of mine, who supports Mr. Shepard, tells us that our Citizens' Union, by its independent course, has fulfilled its mission in forcing the two parties both to nominate decent men for the Mayoralty, and that this is all that independent movements should be required to do. This has a captivating sound, but it evidently recognizes the right of the National party organizations to nominate the candidates for the municipal offices, and to organize the municipal governments on National party lines — the parties to be now and then frightened into decent conduct by occasional independent revolts — as the Russian Government has been said to be an absolute despotism, tempered by occasional assassination.
“But this recognition of the principle that municipal elections should be conducted on National party lines, and that this municipal government should not be divorced from National party politics — this is just the thing that Boss Croker wants for New York, that the Republican boss, Quay, wants for Philadelphia, that the Republican boss, Cox, wants for Cincinnati, and that the corrupt combines of both parties want for Chicago. These practical sages understand the business. They know thatt if citizens vote for municipal candidates because they are Republicans or Democrats, they will be apt to vote for Republicans or Democrats, although they are rascals, and to protect the rascals in office because they are Democrats or Republicans.
“It is true, as my friend says, that people have too long been accustomed to that way of electing municipal officers to be easily weaned of it. But this is only a reason, not for abandoning, but for continuing with redoubled energy the effort for educating the popular mind up to a more enlightened view of the public interest.
“It is also true that our present methods of making non-partisan nominations are quite imperfect and liable to misuse. But that should only stimulate good citizens to exert their ingenuity for improving them. And one very important and encouraging thing has already been accomplished. Our Citizens' Union has survived, in full vitality, the dangers of an enervating period of calm sea, for which we cannot be too grateful to its faithful leaders and patriotic rank and file. And as it stands there with undiminished devotion and accumulated experience, we may look to it for further great service to its good cause.
“There is, therefore, every reason for stoutly maintaining the principle of non-partisan municipal government, and every hope of carrying it into more perfect practice. And I declare, if the course taken by Mr. Shepard were otherwise less objectionable, the mere fact that it distinctly represents a decided relapse into the ways of partisan municipal government as a recognized rule would be to me sufficient reason for opposing it.
“No doubt my friend Mr. Shepard thinks that what he has done may lead to a healthy regeneration of the Democratic Party. I profoundly sympathize with him in his wish. A regenerated opposition party commanding respect would be an incalculable blessing not only to the Democracy itself, but to the Republican Party, too, and, indeed, to the whole country.
“But let me tell my Democratic friends that to effect a healthy regeneration of their party the worst way to begin is to give to such a nest of corruption and iniquity as Tammany Hall new countenance and power. Far better, far more hopeful would it be if you ignominiously excluded from the councils of your party an organization which only fraudulently sails under the Democratic flag and flaunts that flag only for purposes of piracy. How can you invite good citizens to the company of those the stench of whose corruption tortures the nostrils of mankind? Do we not all know that in our recent history the National Democracy succeeded only when, spurning Tammany's counsel, it took as its leader a man who was ‘loved for the enemies he had made,’ Tammany being the chief representative of those enemies? Do we not all know that this was because the very name of Tammany means that which, in Mr. Shepard's own language, ‘disgraces us with ourselves, disgraces us throughout the United States, disgraces us in the eyes of the civilized world’?
“Regenerate the Democracy! If you want to regenerate the Democracy, if you want to commend it to the confidence of the people, if you want your words of promise to be believed by the American people, you must first spew Tammany, the unclean thing, out of your mouth.
“And in the face of all this Mr. Shepard now tells us that because it survived two revolts of the public sentiment Tammany cannot be destroyed! What a strange infatuation! The same was said of the Bourbon Kings in France, that after every revolution they would triumphantly return. Now they are only one of the reminiscences of history. But if it were true what Mr. Shepard says, and if from it the inference were to be drawn that since this organization, which from a patriotic society has, by the long enjoyment of power, degenerated into a brigand camp, cannot be destroyed, we have to submit to its existence and to the permanency of its rule, then I should say good-bye to free institutions and to public decency.
“But it is not true. Tammany can be destroyed, as so many atrocities even more strongly intrenched have been destroyed. And if there is justice in heaven and on earth, and any remnant of self-respect and free spirit among our people, Tammany will be destroyed, and men now as old as I am will live to see its downfall. I can only hope that my friend Shepard, whom I cherish and esteem so much, and to whom, from the bottom of my soul, I wish well, may not be buried under the ruins.
“One word more. One of the chief elements of Tammany's power is the terrorism it exercises over men's minds. It has made people afraid by the cunning unscrupulousness of its persecutions. There are thousands of business men in this city who do not dare to do or refuse anything the doing or refusing of which might bring upon them the displeasure and the ruthless vengeance of the Tammany tiger. What a disgraceful humiliation this is! What a shame! Here is a man, grown up as an ordinary ruffian, who rose to power by the arts of low politics, who grew rich as the chief of Tammany, who enjoys his pelf on a country seat in England, who now and then spares a few weeks to look after his revenues in New York, and who holds this great city under so ruthless a tyranny that not only the helpless poor, but thousands of men of substance, in abject fear tremble at his frown. I repeat, what a burning shame!
“Is it not time they should remember that they are born freemen? Do they not hold in their hands the weapon of freemen, the ballot, with which they can strike down the tyrant? Can they be blind to their present opportunity to shake off the odious yoke of a grinding and degrading despotism? Here they see the banner of a civic uprising carried by trustworthy leaders. Who will be simple enough to be misled by the quibbles and cavils resorted to as to the manner in which that banner has been raised, or by the transparent trick of the tryrant in distress to hide himself for a time behind a respectable name? That banner, as it now floats over us, is the banner of deliverance, and if the citizens of New York are true to themselves, it will be the banner of victory.”
Seth Low, who was next introduced spoke as follows:
“At the outset of this campaign I said that the single issue of it was Crokerism, and speaking now, after both sides have been deployed, I say again that the single issue of it is Crokerism. On the one side is a ticket named by Mr. Croker from top to bottom, standing upon a platform approved by Mr. Croker, associated with a county ticket also approved and named by Mr. Croker. The ingenuity of the lawyer, even of the adroit lawyer, is not competent to make anybody thin, who will stop to think, that a victory for that ticket is anything but a victory for Richard Croker.
“If that ticket is elected Richard Croker may return to England and claim in the presence of the civilized world that this great city of New York actually prefers to be governed from Wantage, and actually prefers to have its politics administered by a man who will do it for the sake of his own pocket all the time rather than to choose for its officials men who have been put in nomination in open antagonism to Mr. Croker and all that he represents. [Applause.]
“Let me remind you again that this is not a contest between individuals, between two candidates for the Mayoralty: it is between Crokerism and those who hate Crokerism and want to destroy it.” [Applause.]
Mr. Low then defined Crokerism as absentee government, and described briefly the management of Tammany Hall and of the city's affairs first from Lakewood and then from Wantage in England. He made an appeal for the votes of his auditors, not for himself alone, but for his associates on the county ticket, and concluded by demanding persistent work in behalf of the whole Fusion ticket from now to election day.
When Justice Jerome advanced to the front of the platform it was several minutes before he could begin his speech, on account of the continuous cheering and hand-clapping. When quiet was finally restored he said:
“Mr. Putnam has referred to the 30,000 gamblers and disorderly persons who are going to oppose me, according to some respectable and astute politicians, but there are not any 30,000 gamblers and disorderly persons who are going to oppose me, not at all. The administration of this city has been so vicious and corrupt that even the gamblers and disorderly persons cannot stand it any longer. [Laughter and applause.]
“You can shake the gambler down day after day because he is not in the combine governed by Van Wyck and Divver and Croker's friend, Frank Farrell, but you cannot keep it up forever. And you will find a good many gamblers who, when it comes to the question of putting their vote in the ballot box, are going to vote for me — not because they believe that if I am elected they are going to get any favors at my hands.
“There is not one of the indecent people of the City of New York who does not know that they will get just what is coming to them. [Laughter.] Still, they will only get what is coming to them. I was not born yesterday. I have got my own notions as strict and severe as those of any Puritan that ever landed on Plymouth Rock.
“There are in Greater New York to-day probably close to 100,000 disreputable women. The wise man is not the man who seeks by the severity of the criminal law to prevent that which the criminal law cannot prevent. He seeks to minimize the dreadful evils of a lot so pitiful that it makes one shudder to think of it. But we find in this city men who grow rich from the shame of these women.
“We find policemen who so grow rich — not all of them. Very few of the men who walk the beats, practically none of the men who walk the beats, touch a penny of that money; few, if any of the Roundsmen, touch a penny of it; few of the Sergeants touch any of it, but many of the Captains, very many of them, take that money. [Hisses.] You find the Captain of Police retiring on a competency that I could not hope to reach by years of work and professional labor.
“You women who live above Fourteenth Street do not know the conditions that exist in this city, the horror and shame and cruelty and wrong that the poor people of this city have to suffer. When you add to their natural burdens the burdens of blackmail, of extortion, and plunder you add a burden that if you did your duty this year, if you had done your duty in the past, those people would not have had to bear. These may be bitter words to some of you who have wrapped yourselves in your garment of self-complacency, who have given something of your wealth — by no means always well gotten — to the causes of charity. These may seem bitter words, but they are meant to be such
“You talk about the horrors of white slavery. Case after case exists in this city of young girls who are taken from their homes and kept in slavery in certain houses. If any particular one of those was brought home to your attention you would be horror stricken. But you seem to feel no responsibility for this being a decent community. You feel no responsibility that it comes to you personally to see that this thing is not so; you do not even inquire if it is so, and when a man tells you that it is so you say he is a ranter and railer, and is talking of things he knows not about.
“I care precious little for your thoughts of me, and much less for your applause of me. I had a meeting in Progress Hall, on the east side, last night. I would give more to reach the hearts of those people, as it seemed that I did, than to have all the smiling pledges the whole City of New York above Fourteenth Street on the west side could give me. To them the situation is no abstraction. To them the situation is no question of oratory. To them the situation is a dread reality which they are brought face to face with in the morning and at noon and at night.
“The responsibility of this town does not rest with the east side, it does not rest even with the corrupt official who takes money. It rests with you, men of the class who sit before me to-night, that is where it rests.” [Applause.]
Felix Adler was introduced, and during the course of his address was frequently interrupted by applause.
“In some respect,” said he, “Mr. Shepard's campaign is a brilliant one. I cannot but feel that his belief in the Democratic Party and his desire to regenerate that party thrills through his heart and in some measure must thrill through the hearts of those who hear and who read his speeches.
“The first reason he has taken for this position is that it was useless to try to destroy the power of Tammany Hall in this city. He calls it a illusory attempt. If we consider the history of the reform movement in this city from the small beginnings of the so-called Goo-Goos, of the 1,200 of whom I have the honor to have been one, to the 150,000 votes cast for Mr. Low at the last election, do you not feel that the contention of Mr. Shepard is erroneous, and that the movement for reform has grown steadily and is bound to grow?”
Julius H. Seymour spoke briefly on the issues of the campaign. He said that the registration in the Nineteenth Assembly District had fallen 1,000 short of the registration a year ago, but he hoped that the vote this year would be relatively larger than it was then.
“The vice existing down town is absolutely revolting,” said Mr. Seymour. “When are we going to defeat Tammany Hall, if we do not defeat it this year? If we are going to put an end to the existing state of affairs, we should defeat Tammany now.”
Charles V. Fornes and Jacob Cantor also made a few remarks.From The New York Times of October 23, 1901.
Speeches of Carl Schurz