Politics

THE fourteen investigation committees of Congress have developed no facts half so damaging to the administration as the results of an investigation which has lately been prosecuted at Washington, before a tribunal composed of very different materials from those of which Congressional committees are made up,—we mean the Supreme Court of the United States. The proceedings of the administration in Utah have at last been thoroughly exposed. And we must say that, looking at them from any point of view, they are to our minds the most extraordinary of the many extraordinary acts in which it has been implicated. The facts, stated without either aggravating or extenuating circumstances, were these. A judge was sent from Washington to Utah to prosecute tire Mormons. This judge, having arrived in Utah, began to execute his commision by creating a court of his own, and in it trying, under a code of his own, men over whom he had no jurisdiction. By sitting as a Territorial judge when he needed the support of the Territorial laws, and as a United States judge when the Territorial laws failed him, he managed in a short time to make such confusion in Utah, that, had it not been for the certainty of final redress by the Supreme Court, the Mormons would undoubtedly have taken the law into their own hands and attempted to right themselves by violence. But the illegality of all the proceedings was quite evident from the first. Judge McKean knew quite as well as the Mormons that his proceedings would be upset by the Supreme Court, and that the administration did not know it also is to suppose not only that the President, but that the Attorney-General knows no law.

Judge Hoar has recently written a letter, in which he has shown that the prevailing impression that the appointments of Judges Strong and Bradley to the Supreme Court were political appointments, and that the court was packed to secure a reversal of the legal tender decision, is erroneous. But the lawlessness of Judge McKean’s court, the selection of such a man in so delicate a case, and the complete indifference of the administration to his proceedings, show precisely the same spirit which such appointments as these were supposed to indicate.

IT has not been difficult at any time to foresee how, if the Alabama claims were to be settled at all, our government would probably extricate itself from the ridiculous position in which our “ case ” has placed us. It was evident from the first that a foolish sense of national pride and a weak sensitiveness to domestic opinion would prevent the government from withdrawing the indirect claims. There was no reason why these feelings should stand in the way, but it was clear that they did. We had said that we should make a demand, and a demand we would make. To be sure, we knew, and every one knew, that there was nothing in the demand. But what of that ? What America had said America would maintain, true or false, reasonable or unreasonable, honorable or dishonorable. Besides, with the Presidential election coming off in the fall, it would never do for the administration to give the opposition such a weapon as the confession of a mistake would be. On the other hand, it would be equally unfortunate for the administration if the English government withdrew from the Geneva arbitration on account of our buncombe demands. It was therefore apparent from the first that the policy of our government would be a policy of makeshifts. To maintain stoutly the integrity of our case, and at the same time to let it be quietly known that part of it was merely put in for the sake of appearances ; to insist that everything should go before the Geneva tribunal, but at the same time to allow it to leak out that we should be better pleased to see certain portions of our case fail than succeed ; — this was the policy which timidity, and what is amusingly known as a sense of national honor, suggested to the administration ; and thus far it has been successfully carried out. England has had the sagacity to read between the lines of our public declarations, and has not withdrawn from the arbitration. Meanwhile a well-meant attempt has been made to fasten upon Mr. Bancroft Davis the responsibility for the American case. It would certainly be very convenient for our government if this attempt could succeed. A better scapegoat could hardly be found. It would be fortunate indeed for the administration if it could say to the world, The case is indeed preposterous ; but it is entirely the production of Mr. Davis, a sharp lawyer with a reputation much clouded by a former connection with a swindling railroad. What can you expect of such a man ? But the government can say nothing of the kind. Every line of the case prepared by Mr. Davis was sanctioned by those whom he served, and the case which he wrote was laid before the Geneva tribunal as the case of the American government. The responsibility cannot be shifted upon the shoulders of a subaltern.

It is not likely now, unless some sudden convulsion of politics takes place, that England will withdraw from Geneva. The arbitration will probably end in a decorous manner, and both countries will renew their professions of eternal amity. But does any one suppose that, after all the mismanagement and hypocrisy and chicane that there has been on both sides, the two countries will really love each other ? With cries of broken faith still ringing in the air, does anyone believe that a few suave diplomatic assurances will pacify the feelings of either England or America ? It will require many long years for that, and it will require many long years, too, for us-to forget that it was our own government which poured the latest poison into the still gaping wound.

Two years ago twelve thousand votes were cast in Massachusetts for the workingmen’s candidate for the governorship. The size of the vote caused a good deal of wonder, as no one had supposed that Labor Reform, as an independent political movement, could muster so many supporters. An analysis of the vote showed, however, that the greater part of it came from the manufacturing district which General Butler represents in Congress, a shoe-making district, the head-quarters of the Crispin society. This of itself seemed enough to explain the unexpected support which the ticket had received. The “ Knights of St. Crispin ” had just been before the Legislature of the State, asking for a charter to enable them to hold property, and their application had been refused. The reason why their application had been refused was a provision of the constitution that no member should “ take any person to work at any part or parts of the boot and shoe trade who has never worked at any branch of the trade at least twelve calendar months, without the permission of the lodge of which he is a member; provided that this shall not be construed to prevent a father learning his own son.” The effect of this article, if given a legal operation, would have been to establish an hereditary caste of shoemakers, and this the members of the society themselves avowed in different words to be their object. The Legislature very properly refused to grant their monstrous petition. The Labor-Reform agitation then began, and it was in great measure to the discontent of the Crispins with the treatment they had received from the dominant party that the heavy vote thrown by the Labor-Reformers was at the time attributed. Subsequent events have shown that this explanation was the correct one. The Massachusetts Labor-Reform vote of the succeeding year showed a marked diminution in the strength of the party, and the recent votes of the same party in New Hampshire and Connecticut seem to foreshadow its speedy extinction. There are, no doubt, some people who think that because the International Society is apparently increasing in activity in Europe, some movement of the same kind must be developed here. But there is no similarity between the two cases. The European workingman and the American workingman are two entirely distinct creatures ; and because the one is a socialist or a communist, there is no reason that the other should he. The labor agitation of Europe is the agitation of class against class. But there is no true working class in this country. When we begin to have a population too large for the country, when it is no longer possible for every American to earn an honest livelihood for himself, and the poor find starvation on one hand and crime on the other staring them in the face, then we may have our Internationals and Communes. But that day is as yet far off.

Meanwhile, it is important to observe that in the proposals of those who are engaged in the Labor-Reform movement, whether in Mrs. Woodhull’s late section of the International in New York, or in the European councils, the most marked quality which is displayed is a complete ignorance of the fundamental truths of economical and political science. The abolition of the wages system is a thing that may be brought about, and no doubt the world will have made a vast step in advance when it shall have been accomplished. But what shall we say to “ the abolition of all industrial corporations which refuse to adopt the co-operative principle ” ? The International proposes that interest on money shall cease, and a large party among the Labor-Reformers desire that the institution of private property shall be abolished. The Knights of St. Crispin, with the most childlike simplicity, propose to return at once to the Dark Ages, and establish an hereditary caste, — the very thing which in another walk in life most of them emigrated to America to escape. Every one who has any acquaintance with the laws governing the distribution of wealth and the history of government knows that the interest on money is a natural product which cannot be prevented from accumulating, any more than government can prevent the sun’s rays from warming, or the cold of winter from chilling, the earth. The attempt has been made by many governments to interfere with the laws which govern the accumulation of interest, and they have always failed. So, too, of the institution of private property ; governments have over and over again tried to prevent certain classes of their subjects from acquiring property, but in the long run these attempts have always failed. The declaration of principles promulgated by the Labor-Reformers are usually a farrago of absurdities such as those we have quoted, mixed at hap-hazard with sound and wise maxims which probably mean for the majority of those who hold them no more than the absurdities which are paraded in their company. The leaders, too, whom they place at their head, whatever they maybe in Europe,— and we have yet to see any reason to believe that Tolain, Fribourg, or even Karl Marx are men of profundity, — are in this country men and women in whom it is impossible for any but the very ignorant to place much confidence. A party headed by Wendell Phillips and Mrs. Woodhull cannot persuade people that it has any very good right to exist. Indeed, the most sensible thing yet done by the Internationa] has been to suspend Mrs. Woodhull’s lodge for attempting to introduce free-love among the principles of the society. Though for all we see, freelove might really prove the key of the labor mystery, just as well as the abolition of all corporations which refuse to introduce the co-operative principle. Who can tell ? In certain parts of the world, there are tribes of men who have for many ages practised free-love, and they have no labor question. To be sure, they did not introduce free-love for the purpose of getting rid of the labor difficulty. But we might.