Baltimore Evening Sun (25 July 1911): 6.


From The Sun of February 11, 1911:

Mr. James Preston * * * has offered to be one of 100 citizens to give $5,000 each to aid the work of advertising the city.

And the ninety and nine still safely lie in the shelter of the fold, and even the one that offered to pay yet hangeth to his gold.

A splendid counterblast to that flapdoodlish doctrine which now flourishes in the City Hall--the doctrine, to wit, of Baltimore for the Baltimoreans--is to be found in the current issue of Baltimore, the monthly publication of the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association. It is entitled “The Exclusiveness of Bugville,” and it proceeds, I suppose, from the pen of the Hon. Thomas G. Boggs, secretary of the association. Whoever wrote it deserves thanks for a straightforward and effective attack upon a piece of balderdash that has long given aid and comfort to the cheaper sort of politicians and rabble-rousers. Let a copy be engrossed upon parchment and sent to Mr. Preston. I quote a few sentences:

When a community depending upon the work of the people of the world contracts or practices the frills of exclusiveness, it is not only unwisdom, but downright damphoolishness. When Bugville says to the world: “Bugville is for Bugvillains,” it crimps its own tail. * * * The great secret of the success of the cities of the West, and now the South, is their hearty welcome to the Uitlander. Until the last few years the South had this exclusiveness, but she has learned the lesson and is profiting by it. It is well and good–all things being equal--to favor home people, but when these cities want an engineer or an educator they want the best to be had in America. It is, or ought to be sufficient to any locality that a man is an American--either born or bred or at heart. The important thing is the best service. * * * This thing of “Bugville for Bugvillains,” if continued to be played, is going to lead to its natural and logical consequence--the place will be avoided by talent and competency * * * What Bugville wants is to give every honorable, competent and worthy man a chance, and stand by him, particularly if he becomes unpopular because of his strength.

No long argument is needed to show the essential resonableness, the sound common sense of this. Some of Baltimore’s most thoroughly useful citizens have been Uitianders–carpet-baggers, if you will. One such was George Peabody. Another was Enoch Pratt. Yet another was Major Venable. Dr. Osler was from strange parts--and no doubt his appointment to the Johns Hopkins faculty was bitterly resented by Little Baltimoreans who favored old Dr. Camomile or young Dr. Piffle, both Baltimoreans bred and born. Dr. Gilman was another carpet-bagger. Ottmar Mergenthaler was yet another. And there are a lot still among us--Dr. Remsen, former Mayor Hayes and so on and so on and so on.

Certainly, there could be no more offensive nonsense than this--that the importation of competent and energetic men, men with ideas, men who know how to do things, is damaging to the community. We need as many men of that sort as we can get. Baltimore suffers today from a deficiency of them. The trouble with us is that we have too few--that too many of our big jobs are in the hands of numbskulls. The contrary doctrine is entirely without evidential or logical support. It can be maintained, indeed, only on the debasing theory that offices of profit and honor are the mere spoils of politics and are to be frankly divided as spoils. That theory appeals with great force to ignoramuses, and with even greater force to those obnoxious demagogues who attain to a brief and precarious popularity by bawling the balderdash that ignoramuses delight to hear.

Simultaneously with the news that the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, unable to make progress against a typhoid epidemic, has asked for and received the help of the Federal Government, comes the suggestion from a reader of The Evening Sun that Baltimore do the same thing. Says he:

It seems a shame that the benefits of benevolent despotism should all go to our national wards, while our own citizens continue to suffer. Cuba has been cleaned up, the Philippines have been cleaned up, and even Panama, that ancient peep-hole, has been cleaned up. As a matter of fact, Panama is today a far healthier, cleaner and more comfortable city than Baltimore. Why not send for Colonel Gorgas and his men and give them full charge of the city for one year? In that time they would clean out and deodorize the harbor, stamp out the mosquito and the fly, purify the water supply, complete the sewerage system, abolish private cesspools, clean the alleys and the back yards, fumigate the slums and reduce the death rate by 40 per cent. And the resultant benefits would be lasting. Once Baltimore were actually clean--for the first time in its history!–it would be easy enough to keep it clean.

Not a bad idea, it must be confessed. When Colonel Gorgas went to Havana, Havana was almost as fragrant as the Back Basin. When he went to Panama, Panama was even worse. Now both cities are clean and odorless. Havana has a modern sewerage system, good drinking water and clean streets. Panama, despite the presence of thousands of darkies, has a death rate but little more then one-half that of Baltimore. Why should all these great benefits of civilization go to the dominions beyond the seas? Why can’t Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and other such ancient and unclean towns profit by them, too? The English cleaned up London before they tackled Calcutta, and the Germans cleaned up Berlin and their other big towns before they began laundering the Hottentots. Why does Uncle Sam proceed contrariwise?

Of course, it would cost a lot of money to bring Colonel Gorgas and his men to Baltimore. They do business on a big scale and without regard to the complaints of individuals. No doubt they would begin here by buying $1,000,000 worth of chloride of lime to dump into the harbor and another $1,000,000 worth to spread over the open dumps of West Baltimore. And then, perhaps, they would pull down 10,000 or 15,000 alley shanties and tear up 500 miles of filthy cobblestones, and set 10,000 catchpolls to the crazy work of catching mosquitoes and flies. It would cost a lot to do all these things--but let us not forget that it also costs a lot not to do them.

Imagine the emotions of a Southern merchant who comes to Baltimore late in the summer to lay in his winter goods! Imagine the joy which gurgles within him as he sails up the harbor on the savannah boat, coming closer and closer to the Back Basin. Finally–O delight of delights!–he is to the midst of it. That exhilarating miasma arises all about him, enwrapping him in its folds, caressing him with its kisses, penetrating the innermost recesses of his being. Certainly that adventure must put him in a mood to buy, and, what is better still, in a mood to come back again, and yet again. Certainly it must please him to be received so hospitably and in a manner so thoughtful and delicate and refined.

Boil your bathing water! Wallop the fly! Chase the skeet! Avoid the wine-cup! Send your money to the boomers!