PUTS AN END TO THE MOST GALLING SORT OF
HUMAN SLAVERY ON
BOARD MERCHANT SHIPS
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
How long, O Lord, how long,
Shall creeds conceal Thy human
And Christ the God is crowned in
While Christ the man is crucified?
Now, let us see what this conference report
contains, what this bill is designed to bring about.