Ripley Sentinel April 5, 1915

(Mississippi)

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PUTS AN END TO THE MOST GALLING SORT OF
HUMAN SLAVERY ON BOARD MERCHANT SHIPS

 Senator Vardaman, as Usual, Sides With Man and His Liberty Against the Dollar and Its Oppressiveness--Senator Makes Short Speech, But Full of the Heartbeat of True Democracy.

 

   First, safety at sea, the protection of the life, providing comfort for the people who patronize ships and make the business to operate them. Second, to protect from the exactions of conscienceless greed the men who do the who operate the ships, and give them larger liberty and make the vocation more attractive to self-respecting men; to elevate the standard of manhood, and in that way improve the efficiency of the men, and consequently benefit the entire world
   The Senator from Ohio (Mr. Burton) speaks of demoralizing trade, interfering with the orderly management of our international affairs. Mr. President, if the passage of this bill should bring about a temporary disorganization or a temporary disturbance in business, the result to be accomplished is well worth whatever difficulties may result there from, or sacrifice that business may suffer.
   I cannot, for the life of me, see how any man who loves his fellow-man can object to securing to the sailor those rights, those privileges, those immunities which are provided in this bill. It is only doing scant justice to a longsuffering class of patient toilers. It cannot hurt business. No business is entitled to prosper that has to prosper upon injustice and wrong.
    I sometimes think that the cheapest thing in the world, in the estimation of the average man bent upon making money, is a human being. No more thought is given to him, no more care is taken of him than the piece of inanimate machinery he operates. He is a thing to be used, abused, and cast aside when no longer needed by the man or corporation in whose service he is employed. I submit that no business has a right to prosper upon conditions and upon a system of that character, and that is all there is in this bill that any Senator can object to.
    I sincerely hope, Mr. President, that the conference report may , be promptly adopted and that this bill may become a law. The Democratic party is committed to it has the approval of the Chief Executive. It is demanded by our platform: It was one of the accomplishments of the Democratic party mentioned in our campaign book that we went to the country an last fall and asked for endorsement at the hands of the American voters, and now to fail to adopt this conference report, to fail to redeem that promise would be an act of faithlessness on the part of the Democratic administration, which I trust will not be charged against us when the inventory is made up of the accomplishments of the administration. Common honesty demands that this legislation be enacted.-Tom Watson's Jeffersonian.

 

    The people of the whole civilized world owe a debt of gratitude to Senator LaFollette for at last putting an end to human slavery of the most galling sort on board merchant ships.
    For generations it has been the law that sailors could be compelled to serve out the alleged civil contracts that they had made with the masters of the vessels, no matter how harshly the seamen had been treated, and no matter what change of circumstances excused the sailors for wanting to regain their freedom. 
   This old law of the sea related back to the time when seamen were unmercifully whipped by ship officers and put in irons like felons.
   Whenever a sailor made a dash for liberty in New York, Baltimore, or any other seaport, the police and the constabulary would run him down, as though he were an escaping criminal, when in fact, his fault, at the worst, l was nothing more than the breaking of a civil contract.
   Such contracts are broken, both by employers and employes, every hour of the day on land, and nobody is ever treated like a felon for it.
    Only two or three years ago some seamen in port at Savannah, Ga., made an effort to escape their harsh bondage, and the officers of the law of this State hounded them down, killed one of them and returned the others to the ship.
   The vilest negro could not be treated that way on land without the punishment of somebody for peonage.   After years of hard struggle, Senator LaFollette forced his bill to a vote in the Senate-a bill which merely gives
to the white sailors on a ship the same personal liberty to quit work that is enjoyed by every white man, black man, brown man, yellow! Man, and. red man in the United States.
  You will be amazed perhaps when I tell you that both the Senators from Georgia fought the bill and voted to keep the white seamen in slavery to shipowners
   You will be  amazed perhaps when I tell you that Senators Hoke Smith and Hardwick voted for a continuation of unconstitutional "involuntary servitude, just as did the Republicans Smoot, Stephenson, Lodge, Warren, Gallinger, DuPont, Lippitt and Sherman
   Thousands of readers of the Jeffersonian will be rejoiced to learn that Senator Vardaman, as he always does, sided with the Man and his Liberty against the Dollar and its Oppressiveness.
   The speech of the Mississippi Senator was not lengthy, but it was so full of the heartbeat of true democracy that I lay it before you.

    Mr. Vardaman: Mr. President,  I realize that the time of this session is passing very rapidly and the close is near at hand, and a great deal of legislation remains to be enacted -import legislation. I am not going to trespass very long upon the time of Senate morning in the

discussion of this question, although I regard it  as one of the most important measures that have engaged, the attention of this body since I became a member of it.
   It is peculiar in this: The prominent feature, the chief purpose, is to ameliorate the condition of that class of American citizens whose inhuman treatment, to my mind, has become a national disgrace. We have given some attention to the well-being of every other class of American laborer, except the toilers of the sea. Not only is this legislation designed to improve the condition of the sailor, but when this conference report shall be adopted and this bill shall be enacted Into law the effect will be felt throughout the civilized world.
   Mr. President, if the Sermon on the Mount were delivered today this body today for the first time from the veracious lips of Moral Completeness, some Senator in this Chamber would rise in his place and object to the application to governmental questions of the eternal principles enunciated in that sacred message, lest the order of things might be disturbed and business disorganized on account of the abnormal conditions and the sensitive state of - the public mind produced by war. If the Decalogue had been discovered on yesterday and transferredf erred from Sinai's mysterious height to the Presiding officer of this body with the direction that he lay it before the Senate for consideration, I have not the slightest doubt but that some voice in this Chamber would be heard very promptly protesting against the interference with established conditions, the vested right of big business, the control and management of all the affairs of men that a few might grow rich at the sacrifice of the many, by the enactment into law of the principles embodied in that incomparable message from the loving lips of Compassionate Omniscience,
   Mr. President, I am afraid the rule of gold has taken the place of the golden, rule in matters of legislation. The love of money is eating out the hearts of the American business man and its malign influence is being felt in the legislative councils of the Nation.

How long, O Lord, how long,
    Shall creeds conceal Thy human
       side,
And Christ the God is crowned in
    song,
While Christ the man is crucified?

   Now, let us see what this conference report contains, what this bill is designed to bring about.

 

 

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