Baltimore Evening Sun (24 October 1912): 6.


From the amended platitudes of Eminent Baltimore Statesman:

Scrach the Sunpaper and you will find the devil.

Passage from the life of a Baltimore property owner: first he pays an assessment for a smooth pavement in front of his house, then a paving loan is issued and his taxes help to meet it, and then he gets a bill for his special paving tax.

Ten thousand dollars to any man who can think of anything sillier than the City Council--present company always excepted.

Reading recommended to earnest Vice Crusaders:

The pamphlet on “The Enforcement of Law in Cities,” by the Hon. Brand Whitlock, Mayor of Toledo. The chapter on prostitution in Vol. VI of Dr. Havelock Ellis’ “Studies in the Psyebology of Sex.”

The endless competition of the platitudinarians:

And after Harry overcomes the baleful blight of the Sunpaper and carries Baltimore by 40,000 the chances are 3 to 2 that Woodrow will prove an ingrate. Such is life.

Three or four months ago an agreement was concluded between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and a great South American Steamship company whereby ships are to ply between Baltimore and the west coast as soon as the Panama Canal is opened. Since then what have been done by the merchants of Baltimore to get that promising trade? Nothing whatever. The boomers, inflamed by ginger pop at one of their endless banquets, have appointed a committee of ten Prominent Baltimoreans to “investigate” the matter, and no doubt the committee will meet in due course and appoint subcommittees. But the actual business men of the city have sat still. Not a single firm, so far as I know, has even asked what South America wants. When the ships begin their runs they will carry Philadelphia goods, Pittsburgh goods and Western goods--but how much Baltimore goods?

Can it be that this South American trade is not worth having, that it will not be worth having after the canal is opened? I think not. At rare intervals a Baltimore firm of unusual enterprise has proved the contrary. Several years ago, for example, a local manufacturer of gaudy novelties sent a trial shipment to Valparaiso. The risk involved was nearly $100: he stood to lose that vast sum if the Valparaiso consignee turned out to be a thief. But the Valparaiso consignee turned out to be honest, and so the Baltimorean got his money. Then he tried again, this time at some other port. Now he is doing a profitable business of more than $5,000 a month. Now he is doing than $5,000 a month. And what is more, it is a cash business. A draft pinned to a bill of lading brings him his money.

Another Baltimore firm, in a different line of business, has also built up a satisfactory connection, though rather against its will. The first order it got came without solicitation, and had already been declined by a rival. It demanded a guarantee--and got it. Today it is sending regular consignments to South America. Its goods are well thought of down there, and it could have 10 times as much business if it would launch a Spanish-speaking drummer upon the trade.

South America has ceased to be a barbarous wilderness. Such countries as Peru, Chile, the Argentine and Brazil are civilized, populous and prosperous. They consume many of the things that Baltimore makes--straw hats, ready-made clothing, shirts, underwear, neckties, chemicals, canned goods, plumbers’ supplies, tinware, novelties. They are no longer remote. It is no longer necessary to get their money out of them by way of London; ample banking facilities have now been provided in New York. And when the canal opens it will be no longer necessary to ship goods to them by way of Liverpool or Hamburg. Why don’t the manufacturers of Baltimore send drummers among them now, wih samples marked in their own money and described in their own language, and so get a grip upon their trade?

The local business organizations seem to be taking no interest in the matter. The trouble with most of them is that they are controlled by jobbers, whose necessarily limited territory produecs inevitably a limited vision. But Baltimore, in late years, has ceased to be a jobbing town and become a manufacturing town. It is not the grain and dry goods that we bring here and then ship away again that count, but the stuff we make here. The big fortunes of tomorrow will not be made out of Western wheat and New England fabrics, but out of Baltimore hats and undershirts and tinpots. And they will be made by reaching out after new markets, by taking quick advantage of unrolling opportunities, just as the big jobbing fortunes of the past were made.

Baltimore’s home territory is bound to shrink, for all the bellowing of boomers. When Atlanta and Jacksonville and Savannah were sleepy Southern towns we supplied the whole territory between the Mason and Dixon line and the gulf. But these once-sleepy towns are now wide awake. They have jobbers of their own and they are fast getting factories of their own. In a few short years Baltimore’s home territory for the ordinary run of jobbed goods, and for many common line of manufactured goods, will be no larger than Atlanta’s or New Orleans’. We must specialize and we must reach out. We have the sea at our doors. Why not use it?

The boomers, as everyone knows, confine themselves to wind music and futilities. For example, they raise a fearful din about Philadelphia’s seizure of the Eastern Shore trade, forgetting wholly that the Eastern Shore is in Philadelphia’s natural territory and not in Baltimore’s, that political lines count for nothing in interstate commerce and geographical lines for everything. Once they talked of building a bridge across the Chesapeake, a lunacy worthy of Jules Verne. At all times they hatch new and mythical steamship lines or make other grotesque efforts to repeal the theorem that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.

Of such flubdub we have had enough, and to spare. If the trade of Baltimore is to be extended, it must be extended by men of sense, and particularly by men with enough sense to see the difference between the thing that is possible and the [Enough! And maybe even too much!]