Baltimore Evening Sun (3 July 1913): 6.


The police still hunt in vain for the Hon. Mr. Levering’s winged Mercury, smouched by ganovim. Can it be that the rogues have disguised it by taking off its pajamas?

THE WOMAN HUNT. These women are being chased from pillar to post and are afforded no respite. The grand jury feels some sympathy for them and does not believe they are being treated properly by the persons who were appointed to conduct the reform.—A member of the grand jury, quoted in The Evening Sun.

The unmoral Anderson in today’s Letter Column:

For the fourth time we ask: Will the Free Lance publish our letter to the church boards?

For the hundredth time I ask: Have I ever refused to publish any letter? What is the Hon. Mr. Anderson trying to make me out—a concealer of evidence? I resent the imputation with a lofty sneer, and call attention once more to the hon. gent’s singular talent for chicane.

Last night was the first anniversary of the Hon. Dashing Harry’s unanimous nomination for the Vice-Presidency. And yet not a rocket went up, not a band brayed, not a patriot got drunk in honor of the occasion! Such is the gratitude of republics!

The ingenuous Sunpaper, inflamed to pious horror by Dr. Goldsborough’s campaign against the House of Correction, sheds large globulous tears over the fact that the boy Ijams, lately deceased, “was beaten because he didn’t complete the daily task set him, because he didn’t sew parts of 150 shirts.” One more proof, argues the Sunpaper, that the contract system is cruel and abominable. One more proof that it is the cause of “more than nine-tenths” of the sufferings of our gentle and persecuted rogues and felons.

But will the Sunpaper kindly explain how the abolition of the contract system would save these rogues and felons from their present sorrows? Supposing that they were employed on State work instead of on contract work, wouldn’t that work still be obnoxious to three-fourths of them, and wouldn’t it still be necessary to hold them to it by force? What difference, indeed, does it make to a convict whether he works for the State, or for a contractor? For the life of me I can see but one difference, and that is the difference that by the contract system he may get a chance to earn something for himself, whereas by the State labor system he gets nothing.

It is easy enough to weep over the wrongs of negro criminals and to bewail their punishments as barbarous and inhuman, but what would you do, dear reader, if you had the job of making them earn their keep? Would you persuade them to the stone pile by poetry and music, against their inherent and powerful disinclination, or would you hold over them the menace of the bastinado? How many of them would work at all if it were possible for them not to work? And how would it improve their morals and usefulness to permit them to remain idle? Most of them, it must be obvious, got into durance for the very reason that they had no taste for work and refused to do any work. It is the first aim of all sound reform to accustom them to the necessity—to force them to overcome their natural reluctance, as all the rest of us have had to overcome it.

Two-thirds of the prisoners in the penal institutions of Maryland are negroes, and what is more, they are negroes of the very worst class. No sane man, familiar with this type of negro all his life, believes that it can be influenced by the bait held out to Boy Scouts and Sunday-school scholars. No; the black rascal is wholly inert to such benign attempts upon him. The one emotion which reduces him to docility is fear. He must be forced to do the bidding of those set over him. And the only sort of force he comprehends and yields to is physical force. He is not to be reached by appeals to his better nature. He has no better nature.

It must be obvious that the man charged with the management of a large group of such rambunctious brutes has a heavy and difficult task before him. It is not easy for him to draw the line between sufficient coercion and too much coercion. It is not easy for him, proceeding against such rebels by force, to avoid doing them occasional injury. The slightest error in the other direction—the slightest show of weakness and irresolution—is sure to bring him face to face with open defiance of his authority. Let it be said to the credit of the Hon. Messrs. Weyler, Leonard and Lankford that, on the whole, they have steered this perilous course with great skill. Every scrap of evidence against them has been eagerly magnified by persons sworn to their overthrow, and yet no definite and actual proof of their cruelty has ever been adduced. With a thousand prejudiced witnesses against them they have defended themselves successfully against all charges. They deserve, after such an achievement, the benefit of every doubt.

In all this campaign against the State penal institutions, as in the current underground campaign against certain officials of the Police Department, there is vastly more political enterprise then genuine moral fervor. To put it plainly, the jobs at the Penitentiary and the House of Correction are very tempting to a number of Republican politicians, including some of the highest eminence and most vociferous virtue, and so are the more important posts in the Police Department. Various well-meaning but misinformed and unreflective men, not personally interested in this enterprise, and perhaps even opposed to it, have been deftly enlisted by pious battle-cries, and the result is a saturnalia of bogus and dangerous “reforms.” Let the people of Maryland keep a wary eye on all such “reforms.” In particular, let them keep a sharp lookout for beneficiaries.

If the contract system is the cruel thing its honest and dishonest critics maintain it to be, then the men who have persistently defended and advocated it—for example, the Hon. Messrs. Frank A. Furst and John T. Stone—are brutes and villains. And if the current scattering of prostitution is demanded by public decency, then the men who have opposed and prevented it for years—to wit, the judges of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore city—are bad citizens and indecent. No sober Baltimorean, I take it, is going to agree to any such verdict upon these men. No intelligent person is going to reject their calm judgment in favor of the absurd shrilling of a camorra of peanut politicians and notorious fanatics.