Imatges de pÓgina
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all will agree has been countless ages in ownership of land is claimed under our forming for the great ultimate purpose style of civilization; by which is meant of supporting human life for an indefi- the right to ruin it, if the person chooses nite period ? Civilized society pronoun- so to do. We have men in California ces against cruelty to animals, and has who individually own 100,000, 200,000, organizations with funds to protect the and 250,000 acres each. There are hun. poor creatures. But the brute is only dreds of men in this State whose indi. for a day, while the land was for all time, vidual possessions would support fifty and for the sustenance of millions upon families with every luxury. When we millions successively forever. Decreas- take into consideration the enormous ing the productive capacity of the soil wealth accumulating here in the hands robs the generations to come of the right of a few, it is easy to see that every arato live. It is not self.preservation in the ble acre in the whole State could soon broad sense. It is its opposite. It is be owned by them. Yea, there is wealth the destruction of the race. It is a base enough already in the possession of fifty violation of the first law of nature, upon men in California, which if invested in which all government should rest. We land would virtually make all other landlay it down as an axiom in political econ- holders tributaries, and the landless but omy,

that every generation should leave little better than peons. Have the peothe soil in as good a condition as when ple, for whom the soil was formed, nothtaken, and improve its productive capac- ing to say while this wholesale disinity if possible. We say no society, no heritance is going on? When poverty, government, is mindful of its first duty, slavery, and extermination stare a thou. that does not have this provident care sand generations in the face, are they of the future in view. The practice powerless against selfishness and greed? of the world is abortion, Restellism, a Land and water are sought to be con“slaughter of the innocents” on a ter- trolled, and the air would be monoporible scale. It is a bare-faced robbery lized if it could be dominated by the fer. of the coming ages of their patrimony; Legislation is called in to preserve the a merciless deprivation of generations air and the water from poison. Why of the right to appear and live. Mal- should not the people in their sovereign thus has shown that mankind increase capacity protect the land from barbaric in a geometrical ratio, while the ratio of hands as well? the productive capacity of the earth is The effect of absolute ownership in only arithmetical. Hence, it follows the land is seen in the decreasing productime must come when procreation must tiveness of the soil in all parts of the be repressed, while the soil is stimulated country where greed, ignorance, and unto produce its utmost. Man, by his im- thrift go together. Lands in the East. providence, selfishness, and thoughtless- ern States that formerly produced thirty ness, hastens the day, by reducing the and forty bushels of wheat to the acre, soil to barrenness, and making a country are unable to yield more than fifteen a dreary irredeemable desert.

bushels, even less, and sometimes nothWhat follows but that the principle ing at all. It is a patent fact that the should obtain, that, as the soil was made production of wheat travels westward, for the many, the voice of the many the new States taking the lead in the should be heard in its defense? Earth, growth of this cereal. California and water, and air belong to all, and abso- Nebraska take the front rank in this lute ownership or fee simple pertains no business, and, looking at California, we more to one than to the other. Absolute can see the ruinous effect of the con

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stant cropping of lands. Sixty bushels earldom or principality in Europe. He to the acre were once usually harvested. and a few more parvenus like himself Even volunteer crops of forty and fifty gobble up by land-warrants, half-breed bushels were not uncommon. The same and university scrip, and other processlands can make no such showing now, es, all the productive soil and timbered after the lapse of but the life-time of land in a dozen counties, and hold it to half a generation. It is not so in En- the detriment of thousands of families gland, where cultivators realize the in- whose right to live is just as sacred as sular character of the country, restricted that of the persons who stand in their by the surrounding seas. There is no way and virtually dispute that sacred wide expanse of virgin territory to which right. The land is held, perhaps to sell to wander and spoil when the ancestral at enormous profits, perhaps to rent, and homestead is ruined, and necessity com- thus to control the labor of generations, pels the preservation of the soil, with to fatten a few whose only merit is a fortthe alternatives of emigration or death. unate circumstance to which neither inIt is not so in Japan and China, those dustry nor genius contributed. When half-civilized countries on whose frugal the nature of mankind is studied, when people we look with contempt, where a history is consulted, and when it is plain superabundant population teaches the that the domination of a landed aristocsacredness of the soil's fertility. No racy is productive of disorder and bloodright in the soil in those countries exists shed, is it not equally plain that an ounce but that based on good conduct toward of prevention should be prescribed for it. The land belongs to all in their col- threatened malady? In our own counlective capacity, but the right of posses- try, what troubles have resulted from sion is maintained so long as no abuse the large landed estates under rent, callis practiced on the patrimony of the ed the Livingston and Van Rensselaer many, of which each individual posses- manors? Who has not heard of and sion is a part. Are there not lessons to sympathized with the poor tenantry of be learned from nations we may deem Ireland? What but similar causes have lower in the scale of civilization than twice drenched France in blood, by upourselves ?

risings of a furious people intent on betBut the injury to the intrinsic value tering their unequal lot? Under existof the land is not the only difficulty of ing civilizations there is a constant anwhich we can complain. Extensive pos- tagonism between artificial or acquired sessions cheat multitudes of their natu- and natural rights; while, as the Caliral rights. Should the laws of a people fornian Bancroft says, “one of the greatregard more the accidents of man than est objects of civilization is to distribute the man himself? A foreigner just land- among men more equally the benefits of ed upon our shores, with no affinities it this world.” What higher object can a may be with our institutions, by chance republic have than this ? When great falls upon a rich mine. He appropriates inequality begets discontent and is the the millions therein, and, seeing thou- parent of revolutions, the doctrine of sands of acres of land that can be pur- self-preservation or the greatest good to chased for a trifle, and having fixed in the greatest number comes in, and nathis own mind how aristocratic and lord- ural rights rise paramount to pampered ly the possessor of land is in the coun- greed. try from which he came, he appropriates Let us further see how our laws relato himself with the gold he has found by tive to ownership in land work in other accident vast tracts, enough to make an ways. In cities a person of supera

VOL. 15.-29.

bundant wealth buys a large tract in the claimed to have no income, and es. heart of what is soon to be a great caped the income - tax as well. More commercial emporium. All others per- than this, by the influence his "capital haps see the future of the city as plain- wields, he manipulates assessors and ly as he, but he has the advantage of saves himself from paying his share to accidental wealth, dropped upon or in- the support of either the local, State, or herited, which he can use, while the national government. This is no overothers have it to earn in a hard but drawn picture, but is seen on every honorable manner - in the only way hand in hateful colors. that wealth was designed to come to Is it not plain that under our system the majority in this world. The new industry and enterprise are taxed ?-that owner does nothing upon his posses- the industrial classes are made to supsions, waiting for the industrious and port the governments, and pay heavily producing classes to build up home from their purses, as well as make enorsteads and a city all around his prop- mous draughts upon their time and paerty. He compels the active citizen tience, that the unproductive may grow to go farther away from his business like drones larger than the workers in to find a home for his family, thereby the hive, and like drones be worthless? consuming two or more hours a day The common idea to rectify such going to and from his place of occupa- wrongs as these is to continue the sys. tion for the balance of his life, and for tem, but to tax the unoccupied lots years paying more for car- tickets by and acres in such a way as to compel half than would be necessary if the a sale. That may be one of the best routes were shorter, as they would be if modes after a system is established, to the city were more compactly built, or get once more upon a tolerable basis. if there were more passengers to carry, It may do to ameliorate conditions; but as there would be if the whole area of we submit that the system is not foundthe city were occupied. The scattered ed in nature and needs to be overthrown. condition of the city entails additional Suppose a city in its incipiency should expense in the way of more policemen, have the right to grant lands for occugas - light, paving, and sewerage. The pancy by the payment of a small sum man driven away into the sand- hills is for the support of a municipal governcompelled to put up barricades at con- ment, to lay out and grade streets, and siderable cost, as in San Francisco, to be expended for the general good, against the drifting sand from the land- and that such lands should be allowed holders' acres of waste, and to sweep to individuals restricted to the amount his sidewalks daily to get rid of piling required for reasonable uses without dunes before his door. And then he allowing any to remain unoccupied for has the consolation to remember that, speculative purposes ? Homes might, during a pitiless war waged for the pro- under such a system, be possible to the tection of our nationality, he was com- many, and good citizenship be secured, pelled to pay an income - tax on a well- with that equality that comports so well known salary, and perhaps take service, with republican institutions. too, under the fag; while the accident The fact is not denied that a country of being in possession of a large tract is most prosperous and productive that of land gave the greedy possessor an is parceled out into small farms. For immunity from military duty, and, not like reasons it can not be denied that selling any lots, which were rapidly, the happiness and well-being of the resyear by year, advancing in value, he idents of a metropolis are best secured,

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the more universal is the ownership of the virtues of self-denial, care for the inhouses. To that end, then, should the firm and the aged, meekness, patience, laws be made; the wise legislator should and forbearance, fit to be perpetuated. always have the first and greatest object Germane to the subject of extensive in view.

ownership in land is that of piling up There is no more common saying than colossal fortunes in the hands of the “a man has a right to do what he pleases few. Wendell Phillips struck the keywith his own," and yet there is none note when he said he had no patience more untrue. Civilization says we shall with a civilization which allowed one not abuse our horses, or give unneces- man to accumulate and hold $50,000,sary pain or torture to any living ani- 000. It was a sentiment to arouse the mal. We can not burn our houses when antagonism of wealth and all who are life or property is thereby endangered. slavish to the rich. That conservatism Our right to do with our own is limited that believes, or affects to believe, in the by the common conscience of the com- traditions of the past, or that nothing munity in which we live. The standard new can be tolerated without danger, is of right changes with the progression of shocked. Yet other men of thought and mankind; and, with this change, who conscience have given to the world simshall say that the public will not soon ilar opinions. Many have said wealth determine how far the power of the in- beyond need is generally a curse to the dividual to vandalize against nature shall possessor. Gerritt Smith inherited a extend, and where the great rights of large estate in land, and after a few years humanity begin? That Roman law was spent in an attempt to manage it, he declared by some infamous which for- found it absorbed all his time and left bade the sending of one's slave to the him no chance to keep pace with the amphitheatre and the beasts. It was progressive ideas of the age, and he said, by those who could not come up to gave it away to those of industrious the advancing humanitarian standard, to habits who had the least opportunity to interfere with the rights of property and accumulate a competence. He claimed the manly amusements of the people. no great merit for so doing, it being the The right to curse a whole land with best thing he could do, in his judgment, slavery, or, in other language, to take for his own highest good. Human natone's property anywhere in our repub- ure is the same in all parts of the world. lic, was the prime cause of a rebellion While the love of money is a ruling pasmore costly in blood and treasure than sion, and great fortunes are in few hands, any in modern times. In Rome and in which must guarantee all the more hardthe United States the nobler sentiments ship and poverty to the many, the ineof the people prevailed, and so will it be quality is antagonism - war. Capital in all time. What is to-day regarded as must be aggressive, continually using right may not be so in the years to come. its great power to maintain its supremaIn the centuries gone the aged and the cy, or it must be constantly on the deweak were left to die. Only the strong fensive, because of the jealousy and concould live. So is it now with savages. sequent enmity of the multitudinous But with the growth of ideas, with the poor, until that time when revolution elevation of soul in man, the affections has restored the many to more nearly gained the mastery, human rights came their equal rights, or the sentiment of to be considered; until now, instead of human liberty and equality is extinselfishness and brute force, the common guished from the people, as was done conscience of civilized man has deemed in India. Buckle has given us some

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idea of the debasing effect of huge fort- of but a hundred years. It is notorious unes in that country. The dominant that the rich do not contribute their proclasses had unbounded wealth; and the portion toward the support of the govmore colossal the fortunes, the more ab- ernments. Their power is seen everyject and miserable in consequence were where in the administration of the gove the laborers. According to the splen- ernments and the laws. They impress dor of one was the pitiful condition of themselves upon congresses and legis. the other. As one went up, just so far Jatures, upon sheriffs, dištrict attorneys, the other went down. Interest was ex- assessors, and grand juries. They act acted on the lender's own terms, and upon the dogma of Webster, that “the ranged from fifteen to sixty-five per great object of government is the procent. per annum. The result of such a tection of property”-that is, to save as state of affairs was seen in a thousand much as possible to those who have, and lamentable forms. Fortunes grew, and take as much as is necessary from those with fortunes power, absolute and un- who have not. They paid comparativecontrollable. The laboring classes mul- ly no income-tax when the country was tiplied, but were nothing but slaves. A in need during the late war. They kept few bags of rice was the compensation out of harm's way in the field, and took for the labor of a year. Ignorance with the advantages that great convulsions poverty, of course, went hand in hand, always bring of doubling and quadruand with ignorance went superstition pling capital. A bachelor of $10,000,also. The religion of the Hindoos be- ooo to-day may escape paying as much came admirably adapted to perpetuate to extinguish the debt of the nation, unthe unequal condition of society, if that der our system of tariff, as a soldier could be called society which separated with his family is obliged to contribute men into castes and kept them as in- who has periled his life and left a leg or separably asunder as man is separated an arm on the field of battle. Is this from the inferior animals. That relig, right? Who pretends that it is? Let ion taught abstinence from animal food, the minions who cursed Canaan a few thus depriving the votaries of a great years ago and defended the right of the source of physical strength and repress- White race to his earnings, answer. ing the passions, cheapening the cost of Let him who arrogates to himself the living, saving the more the earnings for right to hold that which makes a slave the masters, and so, as by a fiat of the of himself, in derogation of the inAlmighty, reducing the masses to a help- terests of thousands and what would less and hopeless condition of religious, give happiness to the many now pressmental, and physical bondage. No won- ed by the deprivation, answer. Let der that in such a people the sentiment sycophants and the hunkers of society, of human liberty was utterly crushed that seek privileges for the few against out, was wholly extinct; no wonder that the rights of the multitude, answer. the nirwana (the heaven) of the toiling Nor is the effect of vast inequality in Hindoo was not one of joy or emotion-- the distribution of wealth seen in this when all his life he had felt or known generation alone. Its baleful influence no such luxuries — but a state of abso- tells upon the generations to come. The lute eternal rest!

rich, the pampered, the selfish, and unThe effect of immense fortunes in the generous are in a condition to raise famcontrol of the few-in other words, of ex- ilies. To them the future is assured. treme unequal distribution-is seriously There are no carking cares about the felt to-day even in this young republic maintenance of a family in store for

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