Baltimore Evening Sun (4 February 1914): 6.
Remark of the Hon. Pelatiah Webster in 1783, quoted by the Hon. Hannis Taylor in “The Genesis of the Supreme Court,” and by the Hon. Theodore Roosevelt in his autobiography:
Laws or ordinances of any kind * * * which fail of execution are much worse than none. They weaken the government, expose it to contempt, destroy the confidence of all men, native and foreigners, in it, and expose both aggregate bodies and individuals who have placed confidence in it to many ruinous disappointments * * *
Too bad, indeed, that the Hon. William R. Kenyon, of Iowa, was unable to be present at Osler Hall last night to woo the moral ear with moving tales of his great deeds for virtue. The Hon. Mr. Kenyon is a shining specimen of the new sort of statesman that the prevailing uplift has hatched--a sort of candied blend of Ben B. Lindsey, Charles J. Bonaparte, Mary Baker G. Eddy and Jane Addams. The old-time United States Senator was a man of years and dignity, a laborious student of governmental problems, the very antithesis of a popular comedian. But the Senator of the new school runs frankly to entertainment. The Chautauquas know his tenor burble; the Sunday-schools hang upon his pious snorts; he is in favor of the uplift in all its branches. Hence the present legislative frenzy for making mankind perfect overnight. Hence, for example, the Webb law and the Mann “white slave” act.
But though the Hon. Kenyon thus failed to give his refined knockabout turn, there was still a good show by favorite performers--the heroic Levering, the sagacious Janney, the forward-looking Lichliter, the incomparable Hooker. The newspaper reports make no mention, however, of the Hon. Mr. Bonaparte. Can it be that he was absent? And where was Pentz? And Jack Cornell? And the Hon. Alfred S. Niles? And Dr. Hunner? And Afax Carton? And Dr. Howell? Alas, the assembled multitude must have missed the sight of these great men! And of the Rev. Dr. John Roach Straton, that powerful thinker. And of dear old Abbot Morriss, chairman of the Pentz white-washing committee.
But though the show last night was thus limited to a few select performers, the entire strength of the company will descend upon Annapolis tomorrow, and what is more, it will make an easy killing. Two or three members of the Senate, I bear, are boasting in the barrooms that they will vote against the Kenyon bill and its three moons, but unless my snouters lie more than usual, this boasting is only boasting. When the showdown comes, all four bills will be passed with a whoop. And why not? What would a legislator gain by voting against them? There are not 20 men in all Baltimore who would venture to oppose the bills publicly, or to defend lawmakers accused of opposing them at Annapolis. The time is one of wholesale uplift, of endemic forward-looking. The wise man throws open his docile mouth and lets the whole pharmacopœia of radiums slip down.
Meanwhile, the Kenyon bill has been passed by Congress for the District of Columbia, and the moral gladiators of Washington make elaborate plans to “save” the ousted ladies of the Tenderloin. This business of “saving” them, in truth, already takes on the aspect of a rough-house, for there are two camps of moralists and each is trying to steal the captives and glory of the other. The Washington newspapers are filled with news of the row, which most of them seem to regard with amusement, thus bearing out the Hon. Mr, Levering’s doctrine that journalism is cursed by a contumacious levity.
Of the 285 women on the books of the Washington police, the pornophobes claim 70 as “saved.” No doubt both camps are counting the same women--and then adding a few for good measure. Two or three weeks ago, when the passage of the Kenyon bill began to appear certain, a thorough canvass of the Washington red-light district was made by men of experience in dealing with such women. They found but 25 who professed any desire to be reformed--and 10 of these were old hags whose belated repentance took on a frankly comic aspect. Of the rest, fully 175 boldly announced that they would continue in their evil courses, or refused to give any information about their plans. A hundred or so, it is thought, will proceed temporarily to other cities, chiefly in the South. When Baltimore is “cleaned up,” after the Legislature has yielded, a good many of the local women will go to Washington, which will probably see a reaction by that time.
No sane man, of course, believes that the Kenyon law will ever stamp out the social evil in Washington, or even materially ameliorate it. In the little city of Des Moines, Iowa, the native heath of the Hon. Mr. Kenyon, the law has failed. A few local politicians, true enough, continue to prate about its virtues and effectiveness, but we all know what the enthusiasm of such gentry is worth. Here in Maryland we have already enjoyed the affecting spectacle of job-seekers getting converted to local option--for example, the Hon. Tom Parran and the Hon. Isaac Lobe Straus. It is often easier to get in line than to face the extraordinarily ferocious and malignant attack of professional moralists, who get their living out of promoting and defending such donkeyish laws. Thus the conversion of job-seekers to vice-crusading means no more than their conversion to the recall of judges, the direct primary, the initiative and referendum or any other such current peruna. If Christian Science had snonters and libel-mongers behind it, they would all get converted to Christian Science.
Turn from such rice converts and their moral bosses to wltnesses with nothing to sell, and all of the testimony is to the effect that the Kenyon law has made things worse in Des Moines instead of better. The evidence of the army surgeon at Fort Des Moines I published one day last week. Today I get news that the more intelligent citizens of the town are vainly seeking relief from the intolerable conditions which prevail, and that some of them have even appealed for help to the Hon. Stanley W. Finch, until recently special commissioner for the suppression of the white slave traffic under the Department of Justice. The Hon. Mr. Finch is now on furlough from the Government service and engaged in uplift work in Washington. In his absence the people of Des Moines will have to go to other professors. I hereby nominate Dr. Howard A. Kelly, the man who stamped out prostitution in Baltimore.
Extract from the estimable Sunpaper of February 6, 1917:
Senator J. Harry Preston came over from Washington to pass the time of day with Mayor Hook. The Mayor rewarded him for his trouble by giving him a box of Camembert perfectos.