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Newspaper Page Text
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be made to secure the services of the unemployed. If that fails they will
resort to convict labor.
Davis brought home some new truths to these men of the business
world. It was something strange to them. None of them had ever before
considered the itinerant worker as anything except a tramp.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of in being a hobo," said Davis. "Look
at all these rich men here and the state officials and the learned engineers;
tEey seated me as delegate, 5idn't they? They're not ashamed of me. The
gold miners of California were hoboes. Columbus was a water-hobo.
Every man that has gone into the unknown without a definite object is a
hobo. All discoverers ara hoboes.
"Tramps? It's the tramps that disgrace our profession. They don't
want to work. The hobo does want work and is idle through no fault of
And don't forget there are
tnem. it was wnen tneir numoers
had grown that certain political agi
tators tried to use them for their
own purposes. Politicians, anarchists
and others thought they saw in the
hoboes a large body of men who
could be added to their own ranks.
The hoboes, however, were too smart
for these and kept aloof from them."
Davis divides the travelers into
"The common bum we don't con
sider," he" said. "There are no young
bums. A bum is an old man, usually,
in whom the fire of ambition has
died out His only aim is to eat and
sleep. He wouldn't work if ,he could,
and, in many cases, couldn't if he
would. He is utterly useless.
"Tramps' we know as men who travel
over the country, or the globe, in pur
suit of some object. It may be liter
ary, artistic, political or religious.
"We recognize all actors as fellow
'boes.' Not many of them are tramps.
There are men who travel to get
material for literary purposes. Thetfe
are others who travel for political
purposes. The religious tramp is not
much known in the. North, but he
flourishes in the South. He will
preach on a soap box and pass the
hat when he is done. This is true
of the political tramp, also". The lit
erary tramps gets his graft out of
the sale of his books. But the real
hobo scorns to use his travels for
grafting purposes. He travels from
place to place to get work and works
when he gets it
300,000 of us. We want good roads
so we can find work easier.
It made the bankers and the state
officials ponder deeply, this problem
of the unemployed. Three hundred
thousand men, all out of work! And
here they were seated in convention
demanding that convicts be forced
out on the highways to take away
this work from those 300,000.
"Why do we call our organization
the 'Hoboes of America?' Yes,
there's a reason. For many years
men who traveled from place to place
were called hoboes and -were not dis
tinguished in the public's eyes from
tramps and bums. Gradually as their
number increased and they met each
other on the road, they learned to
distinguish the traveling working
men, or the man willing to work,
from the tramps who simply loafed
over the country, and they saw that
there was genuine consideration for
a man willing to work but who had
to keep moving. The necessity of
separating themselves from the no
mad criminals caused the respectable
class of men to cling together. Soon
they learned that by observance of
the law in the various communities
through which they passed, keep
ing themselves clean and working
when they could; they weer corres
ponding respected as a class.
"It was no crime to travel and they
broke new laws, so why should the
fact that they had come to town in
a boxcar, or on the trucks, be a
cause fo rdiscrimination against