Single Tax Conference

Unsigned Article

[Reprinted from The Standard, 26 February, 1887.
The conference was held in Cincinnati, Ohio]

"The delegates of various industrial and reform political organizations have assembled from thirty-one states and territories on this anniversary of the birth of "The Father of his Country" to view the situation of public affairs and advise proper action."


A Two Day's Session-The Officers Chosen- A Platform Adopted Recommending Numerous Reforms in the Laws.

CINCINNATI, Feb. 23.-The committee of thirteen organizers of the National industrial conference, after a session yesterday morning at the Burnet house, issued tickets of admission to the floor of Music hall to the chairmen of delegations. The states represented by the tickets issued on these credentials were as follows: Alabama 1, Arkansas 8, Colorado 1, Dakota 3, Illinois 65, Iowa 35, Indian territory 1, Kansas 30, Massachusetts 4, Michigan 30, Mississippi 4, Missouri 47, Nebraska 10, New Hampshire 1, New Jersey 1, New York 13. North Carolina 1, Ohio 73, Pennsylvania 20, Tennessee 2, Texas 10, West Virginia 10, Wisconsin 12, Rhode Island 2, Indiana 77. Total, 429.

At 2 o'clock Chairman B. S. Heath of the national committee called the conference to order. There were about 350 persons in a hall having a capacity of 5,000. A score of persons looked down from the gallery, but before the close of the session this number had swelled to 200. The roll call showed that there were present about 300 delegates. The largest delegations were from the tier of Northern states nearest Cincinnati-Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Missouri.

There were ten ladies in the delegation, among whom were Miss Marion Todd of Battle Creek, Mich.; Mrs. Heath of Chicago and Mrs. Severance of Milwaukee.

Richard Trevellick was elected temporary chairman, and on taking the chair he introduced Rev. M. C. Lockwood of the First Baptist church of Cincinnati, who, after a brief prayer, welcomed the delegates on behalf of the committee of arrangements. The rest of the afternoon's session was taken up in the selection of committees on credentials, organization, rules and order of business and platform.

When the convention reassembled at 7 o'clock there were not more than two hundred delegates in the hall, and about an equal number of spectators were in the gallery. A letter was read from Gen. J . B. Weaver, Iowa, the greenback leader, declaring that the platform should be brief and unmistakable, and relate chiefly to land, labor and transportation. Mr. H. H. Haaf of Henry county, Illinois, took the floor, and said he came as a delegate from a conference of prohibitionists, and proposed a temperance plank for the platform.

Mr. L. B. Weller, chairman of the committee on permanent organization, reported the following permanent officers:

A. J . Streator of Illinois.

R. V. Trevellick, Michigan; J . J . Woodard, Alabama; C. Cunningham, Arkansas; R. R. Buchanan, Colorado; A. J. Martin, Connecticut; E. J . Curtis, Idaho. M. J . Kane, Iowa; N. M. Lorin, Indian Territory; J . H. Allen, Indiana; P. P. Elder, Kansas; S. Seay, Kentucky; Wm. Murray, Massachusetts; M. B. Ely, Mississippi; D. N. Thompson, Missouri; J. T. Chamberlin, Nebraska; W. G. Brown, New Hampshire; O. Preston, New York; John R. Winston, North Carolina; John Seitz, Ohio; E. W. Pike, Oregon; J . P. Lane, Pennsylvania; J . R. Miles, Tennessee; Holmes W. Merton, Rhode Island; R. J . Sledge, Texas; James N. Laidley, West Virginia; Dr. Juliet Severance, Wisconsin; Geo. V. Smith, Wyoming Territory; Lee Crandall, District of Columbia; J . O. Dean, Dakota Territory.

M. D. Shaw, Missouri.

Assistant secretary-
D. P. Bliss, Massachusetts.

Reading clerk-
Geo. D. Lennon, New York.

Mr. Power of Indiana, asked permission to read a memorial from two thousand Union soldiers of his state asking the convention to pass a resolution favoring the pensioning of every honorably discharged Union soldier of the late war. Referred.

After addresses by Mrs. Marion Todd of Michigan and several other delegates the convention adjourned a t 10:45 o'clock.

This morning the time of the conference was taken up by general speech making, the committee on platform not having its report ready.

Mr. Samuel Crocker of Kansas explained the Oklahoma movement, and presented a resolution censuring the national administration for its course in relation to this question, and asking congress for the immediate passage of the Oklahoma bill now before it. George L. Jones of Wisconsin spoke in favor of a graduated income tax. Speeches were also made by Dr. Juliet Severance of Wisconsin, ex-Congressman B. S. Taylor of Pennsylvania, Moses Smyth of Indiana, who opposed the Oklahoma resolution, and thought that the convention had been called for broader purposes; and Jesse Harper of Illinois, who dwelt upon the wrongs caused by the stock watering of railroad and telegraph monopolies.

In the afternoon the platform was adopted, as follows:

The delegates of various industrial and reform political organizations have assembled from thirty-one states and territories on this anniversary of the birth of "The Father of his Country" to view the situation of public affairs and advise proper action. A general discontent prevails on the part of the wealth producers. Farmers are suffering from a poverty which has forced must of them to mortgage their estates, and prices of products are so low as to offer no relief except through bankruptcy. Laborers are sinking into greater and greater dependence, strikes are resorted to without bringing relief, because of the inability of employers in many cases to pay living wages while more and more are driven into the streets. Business men find collections almost impossible. Meantime, hundreds of millions of idle public money which is needed for relief is locked up in the United States treasury in grim mockery of the distress. Land monopoly flourishes as never before, and more and more owners of the soil are daily becoming tenants. Great transportation corporations still succeed in extorting their profits upon watered stock through unjust charges.

The United States Senate has become an open scandal, its seats being purchased by the rich in defiance of the popular will. A trifling fisheries dispute is seized upon as an excuse for squandering public money upon unnecessary military preparations, which are designed to breed a spirit of war , to ape European despotism and to empty the treasury without paying the public debt. Under these and other alarming conditions, we appeal to the people of this whole country to come out of old party organizations whose indifference to the public welfare is responsible for this distress, and help us to organize a new political party, not sectional but national, whose members shall be called commoners; whose object shall be to repeal all class laws in favor of the rich and to relieve the distress of our industries by establishing the following principles:

Every human being possesses a natural, inalienable right to sufficient land for self support, and we desire to secure to every industrious citizen a home, as the highest result of free institutions. To this end we demand a graduated land tax on all large estates, especially those held for speculative or tenant purposes; the reclamation of all unearned land grants; the immediate opening of Oklahoma to homestead settlement; the purchase of all unoccupied Indian lands and the settlement of the various tribes upon lands in severalty; also laws preventing corporations from acquiring real estate beyond the requirements of their business and alien ownership of land. The systems of irrigation in states and territories where necessary shall be under such public control as shall secure the free and equitable use of the waters and franchise to the people.

The means of communication and transportation should be owned and controlled by the people, as is the United States postal system, and equitable rates everywhere established.

A national monetary system should be established in the interest of the producer instead of the speculator and usurer, by which a circulating medium in necessary quantities and full legal tender shall be issued directly to the people without the intervention of banks, or loaned to citizens upon ample security at a low rate of interest to relieve them from the extortions of usury and enable them to control the money supply. Postal savings banks should be established. While we have free coinage of gold, we should have free coinage of silver. We demand the prompt payment of the national debt and condemn the further issue of interest-bearing bonds, either by the national government, or by states, territories, counties or municipalities.

Arbitration should take the place of strikes and other injurious methods of settling labor disputes; the letting of convict labor to contractors be prohibited; the contract be abolished in public works; the hours of labor in industrial establishments be reduced, commensurate with the increase of production in labor of labor saving machinery; employes be protected from bodily injury; equal pay be given for equal work for both sexes, and labor, agricultural and co-operative associations be fostered and incorporated by law. The foundation of a republic is the intelligence of its citizens, and children who are driven into workshops, mines and factories are deprived of education, which should be secured to all by proper legislation. We desire to see labor organization extend throughout the civilized countries, until it shall be impossible for despots to array the workingmen of one country in war against their brothers of another country.

In appreciation of the services of United States soldiers and sailors, we demand for them justice before charity. The purposely depreciated money paid them during the war should be made equal in value to the gold paid the bondholder. The soldier was promised coin or its equivalent, and paid in depreciated paper. The bondholder loaned the government depreciated paper and contracted to take it back, but was paid in gold.

A graduated income tax is the most equitable system of taxation, placing the burden of government on those who can best afford to pay, instead of laying it on the farmers and producers and exempting millionaire bond- holders and corporations.

The capture of the United States senate by millionaires and tools of corporations, who have no sympathy with free institutions, threatens the very existence of the republic. We demand a constitutional amendment making United States senators elective by a direct vote of the people.

State and national laws should be passed as shall effectually exclude from America the Mongolian slave and Asiatic competition.

The employment of bodies of armed men by private corporations should be prohibited.

The right to vote is inherent in citizenship irrespective of sex.

Excessive wealth resulting in luxury and idleness on the one hand, and excessive toil and poverty on the other, lead to intemperance and vice.

The measures of reform here demanded will prove to be the scientific solution of the temperance question.

The committee on platform proposed as the name of the new party "The Commoners," This was amended as "The Union party," but after decided opposition and considerable debate it was again amended as "The Union labor party."

When the land plank came up for discussion Mr. Williams of Missouri moved to amend by striking out the section relating to the Indian lands, but the amendment was lost. Leo Miller of Illinois moved to amend by adding "that those land values which result from the growth of the community belong of right to the people and should by them be appropriated and applied for purposes of general benefit." The amendment was voted down. Mr. Betz of Cincinnati moved to reconsider, and the motion was carried. Mr. Miller asked for two minutes to defend his amendment, and was almost howled down. The chairman decided that under the rules he must be allowed to speak. Mr. Miller spoke in favor of taking the "unearned increment by means of land taxation." The amendment was again lost, the majority against it being very large.