« AnteriorContinuar »
for there seems to be a certainty that people who read the Bible and worship God will, if they get stirred up much, always vote the Republican ticket.
Mr. Thayer also sent a circular direct to “ Christian citizens,” and the committee quote it entire with strong disapprobation. It must have been very damaging to the Democratic party, as any one can see by reading it. Whatever is calculated to arouse 66 Christian citizens” should be carefully suppressed, and will be if the majority can have their way. Clergymen and Christians have generally done great harm to the Democratic party, and no doubt they were the head and front of that “civilized bulldozing” which has aroused the ingenuous and patriotic indignation of the committee.
In this State, as in Massacliusetts, there was only the most shadowy and unreliable evidence of intimidation, and in every instance where it was alleged with any tangibility it was thoroughly contradicted by the best men of all parties.
As though in apology for their utter failure, the committee, in commencing their report upon this subject in Rhode Island, say that, “ in pursuing another duty, this subject of controlling the votes of employés by employers, through fear of loss of work, was incidentally examined."
On the other hand, a perusal of the volume of evidence accompany. ing the report will show that this subject was quite as fully investigated by the committee as any other. As in Massachusetts, the local managers of the Democratic party evinced no lack of zeal to besmirch the character of their people, provided that the responsibility could be attributed to the Republican party; and when a committee of the Senate, armed with national process and led by the great capacity and enthusiasm which have stimulated this investigation on the part of the majority, has been over the ground, not to have been proved guilty is ample vindication.
The first case reported by the committee was the last in the order of evidence. In the town of Westerly are located two granite companies, employing about 150 men. The committee say that direct influence was brought to bear upon these employés about a week before the Presi. dential election of 1876, by these corporations issuing a handbill and cir. cuating it where the men worked, of which the following is a
TO ALL VOTERS
Employed by the
X. E. GRANITE WORKS, AND THE SMITII GRANITE CO.
Having become fully convinced that the election of Samuel J. Tilden and a Democratic Congress, on the 7th of November, will do a great injury to onr business, and will also be a National Cala ty, we do most earnestly advise all VOTERS IN OUR EMPLOY to vote the Republican Ticket, most especially for a Republican Member of Congress. You will by so doing secure your own interest, our interest, and the interest of your country.
The N. E. GRANITE WORKS.
The SMITH GRANITE CO. Waiving all question as to the natural comparison between this instrument and a double-barreled shot-gun as an intimidator, it is the fact that there was not a particle of evidence before the committee to show that the circular was genuine or that its existence ever came to the knowledge of the company, either before or after it was issued.
George R. Coy, the only witness who testified in regard to it, said he was an active Democrat; that the principal man in the works lived in Hartford, Conn.; that the workmen said they found these circulars on their benches and stones; that some of them were brought to him to use at a Democratic political meeting which they had there, and that they used them at the meeting; that he did not know that any Democrat, in consequence of the influence of the circulars, failed to vote the Democratic ticket; that quite a number who generally voted the Democratic ticket did not come at all, but that they might have revised their politics
Upon the evidence as it stands the minority believe that, as in case of the admitted trick by the Democratic witness in Manchaug, to apply for the use of the hall through a personal enemy of the agent in order to secure a refusal that might be trumpeted over the State to excite prejudice and create political capital, so in this instance these circulars were a Democratic invention, to be used for the same purpose at the Democratic meeting testified about by the witness.
The chief characteristic of the whole thing seems to be a lack of importance.
Mount Hope Village is in the town of Scituate. The Hope Manufacturing Company is there, and many of the citizens of the town work for the company. The company needs them as much as they need the company.
The committee find as the fact that, the Republicans used a colored ballot at the Congressional election of 1876 to distinguish it, while the Democrats used a white one, and there they stop, as though, white being the emblem of innocence and the badge of a Democrat that year, their conduct was necessarily pure. But the witness—a genuine Democrat himself, and the only one in the case on either side, and therefore as good authority for what the committee do not mention as for what they do-says that they distinguished their ballot by the figure of an eagle so heavily printed as to show through the paper, so that it could be seen even when the ballot was folded up. Thus both parties seem to have provided a method of distinguishing their ballots from one another; but the majority found only one-half of this globule of fact.
On election-day certain men, probably town officers or party appointees, whose duty it was to do so, and who, like many other citizens of the town, worked for this company, stood at the ballot-box and watched that ballot-box all day. This willing witness couldn't make anything stronger of it, nor that it produced any effect, more than it should have done in securing a reasonable scrutiny of the proceedings and an honest vote. He said that, “ One or two I know who told me that they did not dare to vote"; but he couldn't give a single name, although he said that at one time he knew the name of every man on the voting list; nor could he give any further information upon the subject at all.
In Woonsocket there are several large manufacturing establishments. None of the owners reside there. Some of the agents and overseers are Republicans and some are Democrats. Some of the workmen are Democrats and some are Republicans. They are all mixed up there. Some of the witnesses, very active Democratic local managers, summoned by the committee on behalf of the Democracy, testified that men voted under the eye of their employers' agents; that the owners themselves live elsewhere; that their agents are generally Republicans, &c. Nothing definite in the way of coercion of the ballot was stated which was not proved to be utterly false.
One Riley, a lawyer and a defeated Democratic candidate, the leading witness, made the statement first cited by the committee. Later in his testimony he said that Charles Nourse, John A. Bennett, Isaac M. Bull, Mr. Cole, George Grant, A. J. Rathburn, and Mr. Cornell were the superintendents or men in control of the industrial affairs of Woonsocket" whom he had seen engaged in this business of escorting or intimidating voters, as he expressed it (p. 147). On the same page he completely exonerates Mr. Cornell, except as to a hearsay statement that he discharged one Michael Norton for voting tht Democratic ticket. After revising and elucidating his testimony through several pages of crossexamination, he comes to the point thus (see p. 152):
Q. To cut this short, I ask you was there a single instance in which Mr. Nourse, to your knowledge, made use of anything like a threat, or resorted to anything like bribery, to influence the vote of a single human being ? -A. No, sir.
Q. Do you know of any instance whatever wherein Mr. Bennett did a like act?-A. No, sir.
Q. Or Mr. Cole?-A. No, sir.
Q. Or Mr. Cornell, except in this one instance you speak of, where a man said he was discharged for voting as he wanted to ?-A. No, sir.
This witness had no knowledge of but one case where a man had been discharged from employment on account of his vote_Michael Norton. Several witnesses showed that politics had nothing whatever to do with it; that he was discharged in the month of June, five months before the election in November; and he himself only claimed that it was because the superintendent had been a candidate for some office at the local spring election previous, and that during the colloquy which preceded his discharge he told the superintendent to “ go to hell,” whereupon the superintendent told him to clear out."
Mr. Hawks, the overseer of the carding-room, testified as follows (p. 260):
JAMES L. HAWKS sworn and examined.
By Mr. Blair:
Q. With what manufacturing company are you connected ?-A. The Woonsocket Company.
Q. What is your position ?-A. I am overseer of carding-room.
Q. For what cause was he discharged ?-A. I discharged him because he refused to teach a man to tend a lapper. I requested him to teach the man; he replied that he would not, and I told him if that was the case he might consider himself discharged. Q. Was there any political reason in his case for his discharge ?-A. None at all.
James Pettiplace, who had charge of the weaving department, testified that Norton gave him the following account of the circumstances of his discharge (p. 262):
Question. Do you reside in Woonsocket ?-Answer. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you connected with manufacturing; and, if so, in what way?-A. I am in the weaving department of the Woonsocket Company.
Q. Have yon charge of that department!-A. I have.
Q. Did he work for or under you?-A. He did not work for me; I had nothing to do with him.
Q. Did you have any conversation with him as to the cause of his discharge ?–A. I had.
Q. What did he say was the reason of his discharge ?-A. I was sitting in my yardI think it was the Saturday night after his being discharged—and he came along; it was something uncommon for him to come along, but he did so. He began and went on to tell me in regard to his leaving. He said to me at first, “What would you do in that case ?” I asked, “What case?” He said, “I had a wrench yonder which belonged to me, and the overseer of the carding-room accused me of taking it.” I asked him, “What was the matter between you and Mr. Hawks?” He replied, “Mr. Hawks had a Frenchman up in the carding-room to learn how to work a lapper. He asked me if I would teach the Frenchman to work the lapper, and I said no; I would see him in hell first, with the damned lapper. Mr. Hawks told me he did not want me, and I picked up my things and left.”
Q. Did he say that politics had anything to do with it?-A. Not in any shape or way.
Q. Have you known of any intimidation of voters in Woonsocket at or since the Presidential election of 1876 1-A. I have not. I have not been advised much in regard to voting, for I have always voted the one way. It would not make much difference to me whether they were voting Democratic or Republican. I should vote my principles, let the consequences come as they would.
Q. The point of my question was whether you had heard of employés being influenced by employers through intimidation, threats, or coercion ?-A. I do not know of anything of the kind.
There was also a statement that one Lawrence Berth was discharged for political reasons. Like every other charge in this wide waste of lies, this one was exposed as follows:
THOMAS F. O'REILLEY sworn and examined.
Question. Where were you born and what is your age?-Answer. Ireland; thirtyfive years.
Q. How long have you been in this country?-A. Since I was nine or ten years old. Q. How long have you been in Rhode Island ?-A. I have been in Rhode Island, off and on, at different times; I came here first, I think, in 1855.
Q. You have resided in Woonsocket for how long ?-A. For the last five years.
Q. For whom do you labor?-A. I am overseer of the weaving for the Lippitt Company.
Q. Do you know Lawrence Berth?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. State when he left you.-A. He left me on the 9th day of June of the present year.
Q. State all the circumstances of his leaving.–A. He came to me and asked to go off for one day as he wanted to come to Providence. I believe his purpose was to attend some convention. I think it was the Ancient Order of Hibernians' convention. He came to me to get off at Monday noon in order that he might come away on Tuesday. I understood afterwards that he came back on Tuesday. He did not come in the mill Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and I think it was on Friday night that I saw him with a few others. He was coming along the street and told me he wanted to see me a moment. He approached and informed me that on Wednesday he had bought out a liquor saloon; he said he knew it would be all right with him; that I would not find fault; that he had got out of the mill now; that he was going out of the business and had wanted to for some time. He said he wanted to settle up. I told him I did not believe the company would settle before he would leave a settlement with them. That was all there was of it.
Q. Was there anything else?-A. Nothing else.
Q. Have you ever known, at or since the Presidential election of 1876, the proprietors of that millor its superintendents or officers, or anybody in their employ, to intimidate or bulldoze or coerce the voters, whether Republican or Democratic?—A. I have never known of it.
Q. Are you a voter!-A. I am not.
Q. If he had been discharged you would have known of it, would you?-A. If he had been discharged I would have been the one who had done it.
Q. He left then of his own accord, without your knowledge ?-A. He left of his own accord, without my knowledge, and was gone three or four days. Q. Did he keep a liquor shop afterwards ?—A. Yes, sir.
It was also charged that Mr. Chase marched three or four men to the polls with their hands high in the air, holding their tickets. Every one of the men named, and several others, swore to the utter falsity of the statement, yet the committee report it as a fact all the same; or, rather, leave the impression that it is true by quoting favorably the testimony of a single witness and ignoring the crushing demonstration to the contrary.
It was clearly proved that when tickets were distributed at the mills they were the tickets of both parties, and that every man selected and voted just as he pleased.
It was proved that in many cases the operatives rode to the polls in the wagons of the companies, and that accommodations were furnished impartially to Democrats and Republicans.
It was proved that there was no coercion or intimidation of Democrats by employers or by any one else, nor were any means used by Republicans, nor, so far as shown, by Democrats, not proper and creditable to both parties, relating to freedom of action by the voter.
The evidence from the most respectable and reliable citizens of both parties to sustain these facts is very voluminous and decisive, and, as it cannot be cited in this report at length, we refer to it for the satisfaction of every impartial mind.
The last “fact”—from our standpoint it is a fiction—found by the committee is that the time-keeper of the Corliss Steam Fire Engine Company, in Providence, was at the polls in 1876, with his book, and would watch the men of the establishment and check their names as they voted, and make memoranda, and in consequence men were intimidated, and he was finally removed from his position near the polls.
George W. Kenedy was time-keeper and clerk in the office of the Corliss Steam Engine Company; but the company managers appear to have always been indifferent in political affairs, at least so far that they employed as many Democrats as Republicans, and that neither were ever interfered with. Indeed, Mr. Corliss seldom voted at all. The ward was very strongly Democratic. Mr. Kenedy held the office of clerk of the Republican ward committee. The Republican primaries were frequently overrun and controlled by the Democrats, and Mr. Kenedy was ordered by the Republican committee to observe the balloting and check each man on his list, so that they might have a record by which to detect Democrats when they again undertook to control the Republican caucuses, by pretending that they voted the Republican ticket at the polls. The object was to obtain an enrollment of the ward and not merely of the employés of the Corliss Company, and the whole thing was disconnected from the managers and superintendents of the works.
Philip B. Stiness, a real-estate broker who knew nearly every one in the ward, thus states the case (p. 216): Q. You say you know what he was there for —A. Yes, sir.
Q. What was he there for ?—A. Previous to that time we had been overslaughed in that ward by Democratic voters (and it was so in the other wards), and while I was a member of the city committee a proposition was made to have an enrollment of those only who were Republicans. The reason for this was that we had had from 100 to 150 Democratic votes thrust into our caucuses in that ward, and had been entirely prevented from nominating Republicans on some occasions. This was carried so far that on one occasion a hundred Democratic votes were offered me to carry a point if I would take them (which I did not), and I mention that to show that I know this fact. We voted to have this enrollment of the Republicans made, and it was for the purpose of making the enrollment that Mr. Kennedy was keeping the list, as I understood it that morning, at the request of the Republican city committee, he having been clerk of the district and knowing the voters better than any one else in the ward except myself.
Q. There had been such an order in the ward committee ?-A. In the general committee of the ward to make the enrollment.
Q. The Republican committee ?-A. Yes, sir.