Page images

done, except in so far as their students are brought to a personal sharing in the great intellectual and spiritual achievements of the race, - into the scientific spirit and method, the historical spirit, the philosophic mind, the social consciousness, and religious discernment and commitment, - every one of them involving, at the same time, moral and religious conviction and purpose.




[ocr errors]

IF I were seeking to find the heart of what I shall try to say here this evening in any word in this Book, I should use these words:

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

We are living in a changing social order, and the changing order presents a special challenge to this generation. The living conditions for thousands of people in this republic have changed fundamentally in the last thirty years. The old individual control has broken down over a great deal of life, and the new social control is not yet wholly born.

Just what do I mean by that? I was raised on a plantation in the old South. The nearest house was a mile away, and in that simple home the father and mother controlled everything, light and air and education, food supply, water supply and morals. I have lived for sixteen years in the most crowded tenement ward on the West Side of Chicago, 75 thousand people piled one on top of another in less than a mile square, speaking 22 different languages, coming from the ends of the earth. I will agree with any man in the insistence upon the responsibility of the home; but I want a home to start with. Take the tenement home beneath mine. Mother, father, five children, simple, Christian peasant folks from the old land. The father goes to work in the morning at the Griffin Car Wheel Works and works ten hours. He goes early and returns late. He sometimes works over time and sometimes works on Sunday, to add a little. more money in that home. His wages are small, he does common labor. The mother leaves the home and goes to work about an hour after the father, in a garment factory four blocks away, and she works nine hours. The children

[ocr errors]

of that home are under the care of the little fathers and little mothers of the tenements during all of their waking time. Because they must play somewhere they play in the streets; there are no back yards to those tenements. Playing in the streets, they get the morals of the street. If there is a low dive on that corner, and a low dance hall on this corner, and a gambling hell there, and sometimes a house of ill fame there, the children do not get the morals of the home; they get the immorality of the social order. The very light, the air the children breathe, are determined by the building ordinances and the sanitary code from the City Hall. The food supply is not a matter of choice of the mother. She buys in the near-by market, she walks from her home with a little money and buys the food and brings it home. Unless you have a pure food law through your state legislature and one in Washington, and enforce it through your sanitary bureau at City Hall, thousands of little children in this republic will have the choice between one kind of milk with formalin in it and another, one kind of meat too old for human food and another, one kind of partially decayed vegetables and another, and they will grow up narrow chested, gray blooded, incompetent, puny, unfit for the labor and struggle of life, quite independent of the ideals and morals of their simple parents, who are without resource in the actual living situation.

And that interests everybody. Whether you have a Christian conscience, whether you care about the larger ideals of human brotherhood or not; if there is nothing but a financial nerve to you, you can be reached by that, because there is not a home in the republic or a tax payer in the land that is not paying the increased cost in money to help increase the penitentiaries and asylums, juvenile courts, delinquent and dependent homes, and other means of taking care of the social waste that we are fashioning in our mill towns and cities. We are building criminals as you sit here on your seats tonight, in a great many communities under the flag. This is new in history, and the strain is new in our civilization.

Side by side with that change is a change in the industrial life of the republic and a consequent strain there, a strain on the old morals and an uncertain loyalty to certain class morals that are growing up, in my judgment the enemy of the larger national purpose. We used to have simple industries in this republic. A man, his family, his partnership owned a factory. They worked 75 or 100 or 200 men; they knew their workers by their first names; the workers' children and the employers' children went to the same school; the worker's wife and the employer's wife went to the same church; there was a community and a social bond. You say, “Yes, I know a factory like that." Yes, so do I; but they are left-overs. In the last thirty years, ninety per cent. of employing capital has passed from the individual control to the corporate form of control.

I believe in the corporation, and believe it is a necessary instrument of modern production. It is a foolish person who does not see the breaking up of the laws of personal responsibility for employing capital. If I own stock in the U. S. Steel Corporation and live out West, I have got to have a pretty active conscience and a pretty vital social sense if it reaches to those furnaces at Gary and Pittsburg where forty thousand men are working tonight, working twelve hours a day and seven days a week, and twenty-four hours on the double shift, grinding themselves out on an average in nine years.

There is growing up in the nation a class morality among capitalistic interests on the one hand, and a class morality among labor interests on the other hand, that both menace the better issues of the republic. To make that fairly clear,

we were passing a ten-hour law in Illinois. Massachusetts has had one for 33 years, England has had one for 60 years. We were the third industrial state in the republic, and we were working our women 12, 14 and 16 hours in the rush season, in one day, and they were breaking down with nervous prostration under the strain. We had a bill in the legislature seeking to limit the hours of women's labor in any one day. Walking through the corridor of the Capitol building I met a friend of mine, a millionaire manufacturer of Chicago, a warm personal friend, as good a man in his personal life as you can find anywhere, a good member of his church, a sincere and worthy citizen. I said, “What are

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you doing here? Did you come up with this manufacturers' lobby to fight this bill?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Aren't

“ you ashamed of yourself?” He said, “I don't know but I am. You know, the executive committee appointed me as chairman of the committee to come up here and I said I didn't want to come, that I didn't know but I was for that bill. And they said, 'Oh, well, you won't have to speak, we have somebody else to speak. Everybody likes you and we count on your going and we know you will do it.He had yielded and gone, and he was using his splendid influence and his Christian character against the protection of the working mothers of the poor in the state of Illinois, in violation of his individual conscience, but under a certain sense of loyalty to his group.

There is a strike on, the garment workers are out. I am making a circuit of a certain number of factories, and find four men as I turn a corner beating a woman. She is down on the ground. I go into it and pull a fellow off that I know perfectly well, a decent, clean fellow, an honest man, good to his family and a member of the church. I pull him back and say, "What is this you are doing?” He looks up sheepishly and wants to get away, but I say, "Oh, no, we are going to talk this thing out.” I get him off in a comer and he says, “It is like this. The executive of our union told us to come out and stop these non-union strike-breakers from going into that factory. I went along and when we got there this girl started in. I said, 'Don't go in.' She started on and I touched her on the shoulder and she struck at me and then I struck at her, and then we all jumped on her and knocked her down.” I am here to say that that man was not a criminal in his heart; he was not a wicked, brutal person at all as it seemed to show him to be; but he was influenced by the new group interest against his better moral nature.

When you get a great organization of capital on one side and a great organization of labor on the other side, a nonresident ownership dealing with the conditions of labor and hours of work by which people give their lives a day at a time, you have got a serious social strain. We had a great struggle on in Michigan a little while ago, practically civil

« PreviousContinue »