Page images

manifested in his proclamation and other official papers. All other questions to be settled on terms of sincere liberality.

He agreed to release all confiscations to those States that would forthwith recognize the national authority, and proposed to charge those for the continued expenses that rejected this offer. He handed me this paper after explaining it. He spoke of pains and penalties. He said that it would not be proper to offer a pardon to Mr. Davis,— whom we familiarly call Jeff. Davis,—who says he will not take one, but that almost any one could have anything of the kind for the asking.

Undoubtedly the capture of Lee made the use of the machinery I have suggested as unnecessary for the purpose of securing peace, and I have not complained of Mr. Lincoln. Whether a better plan to secure a prompt, cheerful, and complete pacification could have been suggested or has been adopted remains to be seen. I desired that the men who could control opinion and who commanded the public confidence, and who were ready to abide by the Union, should not be discarded or disfranchised, but their coöperation and aid should be received with cordiality. But I do not place any stumbling-block in the way of any other policy, and am content to have peace and pacification as they

I replied to his remarks by urging the suspension of may be awarded by the conquering powers. hostilities to treat.

I told him that the effect of such a measure would be peace on his own terms; that General Lee could not hold his army together under such circumstances; that our trouble had been to find the man or men who would take upon themselves the responsibility of action. Mr. Davis objected that he could not constitutionally make peace and destroy himself. General Lee had said that he could only make military conventions; Congress had been unwilling to act without Mr. Davis and General Lee; but that now there would be no hesitation, because the military situation was more critical and the necessity more urgent.

I submitted to him the draft of a convention I had drawn and placed before General Breckinridge and Mr. Davis as a mode to make peace on the basis of union. He assented to the existence of the difficulty, took my paper for consideration, and said he had been considering of a plan to call the Virginia legislature ogether that they might restore the State to the Union. He said that it was important for that legislature to do that they were in the condition of a tenant between o contending landlords, that the tenant should attorn the successful party who had established his right. e said he had a government in northern Virginia, but Lat its margin was small and that he did not desire to enlarge it. He learned from Mr. Myers the condition of the legislature and whether it could be convened, and declared that he would make known his conclusion when he got to City Point.


In this conversation there was no effort to mystify or to overreach. I knew that General Lee's army would fall apart, or suffer a great disaster. The stores at Richmond were lost in the evacuation; there were no magazines in the country, and I did not believe that the stock saved in Petersburg could sustain his army five days if all were saved. But the fact was that he lost his supplies at Petersburg, and that his capture was compelled by the disorganized state of his army in consequence of a loss of his provisions. This had been made known as a probable consequence a month previously.

Three days after my conversation the capture of General Lee took place. In the intervening period commenced the work of fulfilling Mr. Lincoln's wishes. He consented in a letter to General Weitzel to the call of the Virginia legislature, but upon the capture of General Lee revoked the call, and the newspapers, with their usual and characteristic disposition to censure, have charged upon General Weitzel and myself some impropriety. The charge against me is that of having circumvented Mr. Lincoln.


You are well aware that I was not a fanatical proslavery man; I had voluntarily liberated all of my slaves before the war some years. In 1847 I had, in a review on slavery in the "Southern Quarterly Review," advocated as a duty the amelioration of the law of slavery and proposed the establishment of the legal relations of slaves in the family on a firm foundation, and the removal of restraints on voluntary emancipations, on education, and to abolish all sales under legal or judicial orders or process. In articles on the same subject, and in conversation, I agreed that amelioration was a duty and necessity. In 1860-61 some of the Southern papers called me an abolitionist.

I agree too that President Lincoln's proclamation was one of that class of measures that determine the policy of a people for weal or woe. In the state of the world's opinion there could not be a step backward. Mr. Lincoln felt this, and one of his conditions of peace was "no receding by the Executive" from his position, and his explanation was his promise never to recede.

We have now to test the wisdom of the measure. In regarding the subject of slavery in former years, I have esteemed as the greatest calamity that could befall the country the introduction of emancipation except through the agency of the State governments; that the conditions of the society should be ameliorated by the society itself. I have uniformly admitted that there was a fatal error in supposing that the perils of the South were to be obviated by political or party arrangements at Washington. The remedy was in a social amelioration at home, commencing in the manner indicated in the article in the "Review" and others of a similar nature.

But the precise evil before us is emancipation by the armed force of States not holding slaves and who have enlisted in their armies probably one-sixth of the virile population of slaves as auxiliaries.

Whether prosperity will follow from this disturbance of the society is the difficult problem before us, and surely it is one that will task all the faculties of our peoples and the best qualities of their nature. It does seem to me it is a sufficient burden, and that the conquest is sufficiently embarrassing without the enforcement of the laws that Mr. Seward stated to me at Hampton Roads were the offspring of the most vehement passion in time of war. Mr. Burke, in his tract on the Policy of the Allies, has exposed with his characteristic clearness the rules by which statesmen may compose the elements of a state torn by revolutionary factions and plunged in the worst excesses of civil war. In his speech on Conciliation of America he developed

counsels for enlightened patrial statesmen, who would soothe the discontents in an empire and to preserve it from war. I should rejoice to see these adopted in the present crisis.

I was arrested the 22d of May, at 10 P.M., under a short, abrupt order from the War Department. I was at home, where I had been since the evacuation of Richmond, and expected no evil and thought none. I remained on the gunboat (Mosswood) in James River before Richmond a few days, and after an hour's notice was sent to this fort. I saw in the report of the military court a letter that had an indorsement of mine. I supposed it possible that this had something to do with my arrest. I addressed General Ord, commanding at Richmond, a letter of explanation, and requested that copies might be sent to Mr. Stanton and Mr. Holt. But I am still here. The officers are courteous and considerate and I suffer no indignity. But I should be glad to know why I am arrested and detained.

My affairs greatly need attention. Without any fault my fortune has been nearly exhausted. An explosion that took place at Mobile has put in ruins that upon which I depended to support my family. I earnestly desire to labor in their behalf. With kind remembrance to your daughter,

I am your friend, HON. B. R. CURTIS, BOSTON, MASS.

Maria Mitchell.

J. A. Campbell.

WHATEVER is most characteristic and strongest in the New England type was perceived at once in Maria Mitchell. To those who are not well acquainted with that type she would have appeared perhaps a little hard and brusque. But in the genuine New England character there is always a depth of tenderness which can be depended on to appear when most wanted, and that quality was not lacking in her. She was especially fond of children, and a welcome friend to them, because at once they felt in her the sincerity which was the keynote of her whole being. Those who had only reverenced and respected her learned to love her after seeing her with children. Respect she always commanded, not only from those who knew her, but from strangers. I remember being impressed with this power when I heard her rebuke a rough man who undertook to smoke in an omnibus; the absolute fearlessness, the plain straightforward telling of the truth that he had no right to do this and that he infringed on the rights of others, and his instant obedience to her request, made an impression upon me which never can be forgotten.


The New England characteristics were perhaps intensified in her by the Quaker training and home influence. Those who were at Vassar during the first years of the college must all remember the silent grace" at table, which was a tribute of respect to the old father brought to live there by his daughter as one condition of her accepting the call to a professorship. The bond between her and her father was unusually strong, and the two had a happy home together in the observatory building till the old man died. After that time Miss Mitchell still lived there, having some one of her students as a companion, so that her life was, whenever she chose to make it so, quiet and solitary in the company of her telescope and surrounded by

her professional work. The special students in astronomy were never very many, but her influence was not confined to them. She took her meals in the large hall and was familiar with all the students, and wherever she appeared there blew a fresh breeze of genuine life. Clear and strong and pure as the sea breeze over the south shore of her native island, her personality made itself felt, sweeping away all tendency to the sickly sentimentality which is apt to be found where many girls are congregated, and to the flattery of which so many women teachers weakly yield. Her absolute truthfulness of character never failed to find and fortify the honest intent, never missed striking and banishing all affectation. No girl could come before her without being self-judged. Such a presence is of inestimable value in a college like Vassar.

Nothing was more characteristic of her than the way in which she accepted the position and the salary offered her, without ever thinking to inquire whether the salary was the same as that given to the other professors. It was the chance to work that she wanted, the chance for influence in one of the first colleges for women. The money she was to receive was a minor consideration, and quite as characteristic was her indignation when, after being there for a considerable time, her attention was at last called to the fact that she, a mature woman, with a European fame, was receiving a salary less than that paid to some of the professors who were young men, almost entirely without experience, and quite destitute of reputation. The indignant protest, which then called for an equal salary, was not a personal affair. She flamed out in behalf of all women, and of abstract justice, with a glow which forced an immediate increase in salary. The excuse for this injustice must be found first in the fact that, at the time when Vassar College was established, women had no proved what they can do in professional lines, and, second, in the very conservative influences which guided the policy of the institution. In her religious belief Maria Mitchell was attached to one of the so-called most liberal sects. The children of the old Quaker families of Nantucket generally went over to the Unitarians if they departed from the strict faith of their fathers, so that in this matter also she was almost if not quite alone at Vassar. But she was appointed on the ground of her reputation as an astronomer, and fortunate was it for the college that the question of her religious belief was not raised till after her appointment.

The absolute truth which, as I have said, was the keynote of her character, could not fail to make her teaching thorough, for a love of truth is one and the same, whether in the intellectual or the moral sphere. But, as with all true teachers, it was the force of her personal character that acted most upon the young women with whom she came in contact. No one of them but was lifted and strengthened by her strength, sincerity, and single-heartedness. It was difficult for her to use diplomacy in never so small a degree, and what skill in it she did gain was the outcome of long years of experience, and she never employed it without a mental protest. She gave the New England stamp to whatever work she touched, and the lines of influence she has left on many characters are as indelible as those on the rock surfaces of New England's granite hills.

Anna C. Brackett.

The Single Tax on Land Values.

IN your issue for July you publish, under the title "Confiscation no Remedy," a letter from W. M. Dickson of Cincinnati, Ohio. Pray grant me the opportunity to answer briefly the objections raised.

Your correspondent says: "In his book Henry George clamors boldly for the confiscation of the land; for its seizure by the state without compensation to the owner. But of late, in his paper and speeches, he would reach this confiscation indirectly, by imposing upon land the whole weight of taxation."

Far from having advocated any such measures in "Progress and Poverty" as those here attributed to him, Henry George expressly protests against them. In Book VIII., Chapter II., on page 364, he gives the keynote of his theory: "I do not propose either to purchase or to confiscate private right to property in land. The first would be unjust, the second needless. Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land. Let them continue to call it their land. Let them buy and sell, and bequeath and devise it. We may safely leave them the shell, if we take the kernel. It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent." No further comment is needed.

Next your correspondent states that at present the land in Ohio, his native State, pays about one-third the taxes, and improvements and personal property twothirds; that to place this whole burden of taxation on land would greatly decrease its value and throw such of it as was not worth the tax on the market. The single tax on land values would undoubtedly act just as described and that is its object. But your correspondent jumps at the conclusion that, this being so, the farmers would be most injured and would enlist in a body against the tax on land values; and probably knowing that the farmers constitute fifty per cent. of our population, he continues: “Hence, whatever its theoretic merits may be, George's plan is outside of practical politics. It is simply impossible."

The first class may be dismissed at once, for they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. They would pay their rent to the state in place of paying the landlord, and would be relieved of all the direct personal taxes and the indirect revenue and tariff taxes that they now pay upon everything they consume, from lumber, salt, and woolens through the whole category down to the Bible.

The second class is really part of the first class; for if their farms are mortgaged they do not own them to that extent, but are actually paying rent, and so far belong to the first class, and would enjoy the same advantages under the single tax. Another great and direct gain would be, that to start in life they would not be compelled to invest a large sum of money to buy a farm, but could lease it from the state for a moderate sum annually, and enjoy the same security of tenure as now under private ownership of land. The temptation to buy more land than they can cultivate, for speculative purposes only, thus making themselves landpoor, would also be removed. Insomuch as they own their land clear of all incumbrance, they would belong to the third class.

This third class, holding their land free of all incumbrance, would of course, with the rest of the community, be relieved of all the direct and indirect taxes. Then it should be remembered that they now pay an annual tax not only on their land but also on their improvements. This tax, which now increases every year the more they improve their property, would be entirely removed. And, finally, consider the following:

In the census of 1880 these figures are given for the State of Ohio: Assessed valuation of real estate, $1,093,677,705. And in another part of the same census: (Real) value of farms in Ohio, including land, fences, and buildings, $1,127,497,353

It will be seen from these figures that all the real estate of the State of Ohio was assessed at less than the real value of all the farms and their improvements, leaving out all city lands and mining lands, which are by far the more valuable. Two reasons or explanations exist for this: first, the undervaluation of improved property, which is practiced everywhere more or less, but especially in the large cities; and, secondly, the entire absence from or nominal valuation upon the taxlists of tracts of unimproved farm lands. These two facts are notorious, and result in the shifting upon the shoulders of the working farmer of taxes that should be paid or shared by land speculators, city property holders, and corporations.

This is a statement, but not an argument. The farmer is as good as any other citizen, but no better, and he is entitled to no special consideration, or special legislation. Nor is land in the country, whether under cultivation or not, any different, economically considered, from land in the city used for building sites. Land is land, and the taxation on its value will fall no heavier on the farmer than upon the manufacturer, or importer, or other citizen. On the contrary, being on land values, most of the tax will be paid where the We therefore confidently assert that, by taking all value is highest in cities, in mining districts, and upon taxes from improvements, by removing all existing land held under franchises. But your correspondent direct and indirect taxes, by assessing all land at its having from sentimental reasons selected the farmers full value, whether improved or unimproved, and by (of Ohio) as a standard by which to test the justice taxing all land values to the extent of their rental value, of the measure, let us examine the effect the introduc- the taxes of the farmers of the third class also would tion of the single tax upon land values would have upon be less than they are at present, and that they would their condition. for the first time get the full return of their labor. This There are three kinds of farmers in Ohio, as else is self-evident when we consider that under the single where: tax upon land values the farmer would pay no taxes First. Those who lease their farms and pay rent, in whatever except the rent of his bare land, and that money or in produce. being based upon the natural advantages he enjoyed, Second. Those who fondly believe they own their he could always afford to pay. All this is more ably farms, but who have them mortgaged. discussed in "Progress and Poverty," Book IX.,

Third. Those who own their farms free from all in- Chapter III. cumbrances.

As to believing that the single tax is a cure for all


ills that flesh is heir to, Henry George does not assert, nor has he ever asserted, it. He does believe that the land monopoly is the greatest of all monopolies, and that it should be the first attacked; but the social benefits to be derived from an introduction of the single tax are so numerous and so far-reaching that even a partial enumeration of them seems indeed like setting up a claim for a panacea.

And here is Mr. Dickson's solution of the social question: "The remedy is restraint, pruning, regulation, not confiscation." But this, instead of being a remedy, is exactly what we have been doing for centu ries. No! decidedly other measures are necessary.

First of all, we must stop the restraining, pruning, regulating work of those unjust laws which take from one to give to another; which in violation of the spirit of our Constitution create a privileged class. And after that we must give all the same opportunity. to that element land, which is as much a matter of necessity to man as air. This will be doing justice; and this the single tax on land values will accomplish, by killing land speculation and practically restoring the land to the people, without disturbing security of titles or

[blocks in formation]

THE average country road as at present maintained and repaired is a constant source of unnecessary expense to taxpayers and an almost constant vexation to travelers. At its best the dirt road is good for only a few months in the year, and those months the time when the farmer-the man most interested in good country roads - is using his horses on the farm. In the fall, winter, and early spring, when the great bulk of teaming is to be done, the roads are in bad shape, except when kind Providence sends a snow that makes "good sleddin'." Bad roads mean small loads, and small loads mean to the farmer proportionately small profits. I know many and many a farm where the saving in time from hauling larger loads, the saving in wear and tear of horseflesh, wagons, and harness, would over and over again pay for the increased initial cost of a good macadam road.

Made of the best dirt obtainable, applied under intelligent supervision, and kept in order with proper road-making tools, the dirt road never is entirely satisfactory. What, then, can be expected of the quality of roads made of the material most easily obtained, applied by men ignorant of the first principle of roadmaking, working without proper tools, and supervised either by men equally ignorant, or not at all?

The true remedy for poor dirt roads is good macadam; but with no greater expenditure of money than now, the present roads might be vastly improved. The road tax should be paid in cash: the system of loafing out the tax under pretense of "working the roads should be abolished. This money should be expended under the immediate supervision of one man for each township, selected for a knowledge of road-making, and put under bonds for the faithful performance of his duties. This would introduce into the system the element of responsibility, which is sadly lacking at present, and to the lack of which are due many of the abuses of the present methods. One man hiring his labor where he pleased, and paying cash for a day's

work, would get considerably more done for the money than a dozen or fifteen roadmasters working out the tax in conjunction with their neighbors and fellowfarmers.

Proper tools should be provided to work with. Roadscrapers are almost unknown in many country districts, and plows and shovels are the tools most commonly used. Very good road-scrapers can be bought to-day for only two or three times the cost of a good plow, and two men, two horses, and a road-scraper will do the work of an equal number of horses and ten men with plows and shovels, and do it better.

Only the best obtainable materials should be used in repairing the roads — gravel when possible, and when not, the dirt most nearly approaching it in quality. The use of "gutter-wash," sods, and stones larger than two inches in diameter should be forbidden. I have seen roads, "mended" with sods, that were for weeks impassable at any gait faster than a walk, and I have seen holes in the road-bed filled with large stones that were a nuisance for years.

The roads should be worked at proper times. The need of the dirt road is little repairs often made. The common practice is to do almost all the work just after "corn-planting." This is wrong, for two reasons: it is too late for the best results, and too much is done at one time. Six inches of earth or gravel will make a far better road if put on in layers of, say, two inches at intervals of a month or so, than will the entire amount applied at once. Just as soon as the roads are settled in the spring, and before they have become dry and hard, the scraper should be put to work leveling and filling the ruts worn during the winter, and slightly rounding the road-bed towards the center. The ground being still moist, and not compact as at the usual time of doing this, the work can be done more easily and rapidly and the road will pack better. Later, a light coat of earth or gravel, to be followed by another when the first becomes packed hard, and this in turn by a third if possible. Lastly, in the fall the entire road should be gone over to see that all gutters and bridges are free, that the road may not be washed out by winter storms and spring rains. All mudholes of course should be filled promptly at all times so that no water may stand in the road, and loose stones should be removed at least once a month.


The usual time for cutting brush — August right, but some reform is needed in the way of doing it. The brush should be cut close down to the ground, and not, as often is the case, cut a foot or more above it, leaving long unsightly stubs to sprout the ensuing spring. It should be piled at once, and burned when sufficiently dry. Under the present system I have seen brush cut, left as cut, the next year's growth cut over the top of that, and the resulting tangle abandoned the third year.

With some such system as this I have sketched, the application to the road work of the business rules which govern every progressive farmer in the conduct of his farm, with the work done under the supervision of a responsible man, done at the proper times instead of whenever convenient, with the proper tools and with a proper quality of earth, by men who were compelled to give a day's work for a day's pay, the dirt road could be made not good, but vastly better than it is. But at its best the dirt road is a costly one to repair:

its only redeeming feature is its comparative initial cheapness, and in the long run repairs even this up. Country communities are apt to complain of the first cost of the macadam road, while annually spending millions of dollars and moving countless tons of earth, without having good permanent roads.

R. A. Learned.

The Iowa Experiment.

"How is prohibition working in your State?" is the question oftenest asked the Iowa man abroad. The inquirer as he listens to the story his question invites usually wears upon his face a peculiar expression which translated into words would read, "I acquit this man of intent to mislead, but my private opinion is, he's romancing." A rather skeptical acquaintance of mine in the East recently said to me, "Your story of empty jails, flourishing schools, and homes of thrift and comfort that were not there before, sounds like one of Washington Gladden's fascinating dreams of an ideal 'Christian League'; but don't you think you'd find it rather difficult to verify your statements with facts and figures drawn from official sources ?"

Leaving to others the picturesque features of the subject, let me lay before the readers of THE CENTURY a few suggestive" facts and figures drawn from official sources "— some of the results of an investigation suggested by my practical friend's inquiry.

Permit me to say, in passing, that Iowa, far from being “a commonwealth of temperance cranks," as an Eastern journal has it, is a commonwealth of "plain people "to borrow a phrase from Lincoln; people who do their own thinking, and have their own way of doing, and are daring enough to believe that some things can be done which the wisdom of the conservative East pronounces impossible. Taking advantage of the fact that we have no great centers of population to dictate our policies and load us down, we of Iowa have applied to the State as a whole the identical theory for handling the social evil known as the saloon which Georgia and Illinois apply to counties, and which New York applies to townships; namely, the theory that the majority shall determine whether the evil shall be tolerated and controlled, or prohibited. At a non-partisan election held in the summer of 1882, the question of prohibition vs. toleration was submitted to the people, and the voters of Iowa, by thirty thousand majority, declared they had no longer any use for the saloon. But the constitutional amendment which then carried had not been properly submitted, and was by our Supreme Court declared invalid. A disappointed majority then turned to the State legislature for relief, and in the spring of 1884 a prohibitory law was passed. The legislatures of 1886 and 1888 sustained the law and strengthened it by amendments. Thus steadfastly have the people sustained the prohibition, anti-toleration method of handling the saloon.

"But you will not deny the fact that there have been saloons in Iowa during all these years of prohibition? You cannot truthfully say there are no saloons in your State at the present time?"

The outlawed saloon does still linger on our borders; still maintains a precarious, character less, hole-in-thewall existence in many of our cities; but its social and

political prestige is gone, and in at least 70 of the 99 counties in the State there cannot be found an open saloon.

Seven years have elapsed since the voters of Iowa formally withdrew their sanction from the saloon. Five years have passed since the voters of Iowa, through their representatives, outlawed the saloon. Is there anything in the present situation to warrant a return to the toleration policy? Let us turn to the figures and see what they say on the subject.

I am indebted to Hon. Frank D. Jackson, Secretary of State, for advance sheets of the "Official Register of Iowa" for 1889. From this source, and by comparison with reports of other years, I discover that the total expense of the counties of Iowa, “on account of criminal prosecutions," was in 1882, the year in which the prohibitory amendment carried, $401,431.18. In 1883 the total expense of criminal prosecutions was reduced to $361,173.78. In 1884, presidential year, there was a slight increase in criminal expenses. In 1885 and 1886, years marked by the return of the outlawed saloon and a consequent reign of lawlessness, there was a large increase, the total in the year last named being $421,024.31. In 1887, the year following the passage of the Clark (enforcement) law, the criminal expenses were reduced to $282,877.66; and in 1888 they aggregated $300,424.06 for ten months.

Compare the record of "leading crimes " in 1888 with the same in 1882. In 1888 there were 94 convictions for assault, 13 for breaking and entering, 47 for burglary, 13 for forgery, 13 for gambling, 42 for keeping a gambling-house, 148 for larceny, 9 for murder, 6 for manslaughter, 190 for keeping a nuisance, 59 for selling intoxicating liquors; total, 634. In 1882 there were 188 convictions for assault, 18 for breaking and entering, 78 for burglary, 30 for forgery, 14 for gambling, 41 for keeping a gambling-house, 215 for larceny, 14 for murder, I for manslaughter, 658 for keeping a nuisance, 25 for unlawfully selling intoxicants; total, 1282 -more than double that of 1888.

A few weeks ago I met Warden Barr, of the Anamosa Penitentiary, on his way to Fort Madison with a carload of prisoners, under orders from Governor Larrabee to take these men from the State quarries to the State shops. I learned that the transfer was ordered in response to a loud call from Warden Crossley, of the Fort Madison Penitentiary, for more hands to enable him to comply with certain contracts for labor into which the State had entered with certain manufacturers. The circumstance led me to write Governor Larrabee for information as to the comparative number of prisoners in our penitentiaries this year and in previous years. From our chief executive I learn that the monthly average of prisoners in the two penitentiaries in 1886 was 696; in 1887 it was 667, and in 1888 it was 607. On the last day of September, 1888, the end of the fiscal year, there were but 535 prisoners in both penitentiaries. I am informed by those who have inves tigated the subject that no other State in the Union, unless it is Vermont, has as small a percentage of convicts as has Iowa at the present time.

But, going back to the counties, what say our judges? Here is a small pamphlet containing the answers of forty-one district and superior-court judges to a number of questions put to them by Governor Larrabee, one of the inquiries being as to the expediency of re

« PreviousContinue »