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Idaho labor herald. (Boise, Idaho) 1913-1914, November 19, 1914, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88056074/1914-11-19/ed-1/seq-1/

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Published in the Interests of Organized Labor—For a Decent Living Wage Scale and Better Working Conditions
Vol. II. No. 25. )
( $1.00 Per Year.
5c a Copy
One reveals no secret, nor risks the banality of flattery, to say
that May Fels is very beautiful as well as exceptionally intelligent.
To say less, or leave it unsaid, in however brief a sketch of her,
would be an affectation—the picture tellls its own tale; her life work
beside Joseph Fels and her continuance of it succeeding his passing,
tell their part unmistakably.
Not ever woman who feels the impulse to larger activities than
are compassed in the personal satisfactions has depth of mind to
reach fundamental issues. Women are not inherently radical
thinkers, the feminine graces of mind being other than those which
lead to the preception of causes. But Mary Fels is a human indi
vidual first and a woman second. In this side is not unique, but rare
—there are not many. As active and responsible head of the Joseph
Fels Fund for the restoration of the land to the people she is easily
the leader of the most revolutionary movement known to history.
The world does not understand this yet because it is not super
ficially obvious that land appropriation is the base of all slaveries
and exploitations. All can see—and scorn and hate—the tinsel of
the aristocracies, the swords and sceptres of dynasties, and the money
bags of plutocacy, but only here and there is one who preceives that
all kings and money lords, buccaneers of business and finance, food
slavery, and war itself
all rest on the allodial system of land
Not so many indeed, men or women, know even the mean
ing of "allodial" and much less the deep and terrible significance
of alloting titles to the earth's unused acres.
But Mary Fels knows—and she is very able, very wealthy, and
wholly true to the best she knows. She may have learned it from
Joseph Fels her husband, or with him. There was complete sympa
thy and understanding between them—a rare and beautiful friend
ship not quickly to be severed by death, as one learns from those
who tell that in her speech aYid thought today there is the seeming
consciousness of his presence. He is there in London with her, or
wherever, helping, guiding, consulting—only when circumstances
force his absence upon her is she sensible of the separation. It is
his work—theirs. Well she knows what it is. For years they worked
together in the utmost harmony—in America, Europe, Australia,
almost everywhere—true cosmopolitans, teaching a truth as wide as
earth, as deep as human causes lie, as fraught with hope of freedom
and justice as the human heart can reach.
Mary Fels knows—and the great basic truth drew her
from the petty charities and reforms that do but change the person
nel of slave and freedom and can never lessen the ratio between them
• while land monopoly exists. Dynasties and plutocracies will hear
from her. To war and hate and greed Mary P'els is probably the
most dangerous woman in the world.
Which is ventured in no sense of hero worship, of which I hope
to remain unattaint. One jierson is as another intrinsically to me,
for I am quite certain that none could be greater than another had
not the unméritorious accident of birth more fortunately endowed
one and not the other. This terrible inequality of endowment is
abnormal, greed-born, and unnecessary. There should be a million
Mary Fels in the world—that is to say, a million wow en beautiful,
intelligent, profound, with sympathies as wide as human suffering
and wealth and ^energy with which to combat the inhuman greeds
that erstwhile would devastate the race and drive mankind back to
Hs Neros and chattel slaveries.
And to make that million possible,
and other millions of men and women free to pursue whatever may
be their mental bent.e even—to paraphrase Joseph Fels' frank and
manly humorisity—even to make her own ill-gotten wealth impos
sible—Mary Fels gives all that she has.
the widow's mite, and the treasurers of Ind are no more than that.
If. genus homo ever awakens to the fact that land ownership
means man ownership and that every man needs to own himself and
must be permitted to own no one else; if he ever understands that
the forcible withholding of idle acres is the cause of poverty, that
slavery ensues from land monopoly and can only be cured by reduc
ing land tenure to use and orcupancy—then it will be "all off" with
war and kings and money bags; then he will build a monument to-^
not to Henry George who built his own monument when he wrote
Progress and Poverty—but to Joseph and Mary Fels to whom the
aforesaid genus homo will in a very large degree owe'his long de
layed enlightment.
Being also a woman as well as an individuality, Mrs. Fels is
strongly sympathetic to the suffrage movement in the United States
as elsewhere. Unstintedly it has her influence and her financial
support, but never to the exclusion or diminishment of her lion's
share of work for free land and free men. Does she over-estimate
the importance of the suffrage question ? Perhaps the vote in Cali
fornia this fall on the single tax enabling amendment, "Local Tax
Exemption No. ", will justify her faith in the voting wisdom of
her sex.
It is much, as much even as
Henry George used to say that it will take fewer ballots than
bullets to free the land to the people. Certainly it is. true that the
ballot box has immense value as an educative factor, when, as is
rarely enough the case, a vital issue is presented there. And it is
true that until at least a very powerful minority has lieen educated
to unanimity on the basic question of land tenure, so that the allodial,
or allotment, system can be abolished and the tenure of use and oc
cupancy firmly established in its place, all effort toward freeing the
land is but éducative. In its last analysis human slavery is human
ignorance. And no one can divorce himself from the human mass
and live—whether he can indeed by dying is an open question. The
ignorance of the mob binds all.
slaves, and least of all those who whip the slaves.
Popular thought or sentiment is usually a crude and banal thing,
yet as the centuries flow by it becomes less crude and banal, and that
it can finally be educated to the point where it can perceive and un
derstand the basic cause of human slavery seems not so far a cry
now. But far or near it is the hope that stirs to courage and strength
an ever increasing army of insurrection to all forms of intrenched
greed. And at the head of this army is a very small woman very
comely, with "a very unusual, magnetic style of speech—rather
timid in manner, but her voice clear and musical" (quoting Daniel
lias been written of "The Little Woman Who Would Uplift
World," as the "North American of Philadelphia recently character
ized her, and yet much has been left unsaid of one destined for
conspicuous a part in the great world struggle between Lova? and
No one is free where there are

In Porto Rico, as elsewhere, there is, as there has been for many
years, unemployment and distress. But Porto Rico apparently has
in its Free Federation of Workingmen, headed by Santiago Iglesi
a labor organization with some intelligent ideas of the cause of the
The federation addressed on September 21, a complaint to Gov
ernor Arthur Yager at San Juan, calling his attention to conditions
they exist and suggesting a remedy. It mentions that the Bureau
of Labor of the islands has been imploring the landowners to give
peasants the use of land. This policy the Federation shows to be
Knowng as we do," says the Federation, "the conditions
of indigence under which the peasants live, and what has been for
long years and centuries the attitude of their lords toward them,
regard the advice of the Bureau as quite futile, and the blandishments
addressed to the exploiters and enslavers of the rural population of
Porto Rico as somewhat ironclad and improper."
But the Federation points out' that (pc insular government ozvns
considerable land, enough to furnish support to 10,000 zvorkingmen
and their families if devoted to farming, and it offers the reasonable
suggestion that this land be devoted to that purpose. It docs not slop
zvith the public lands. It says '{Besides the lands ozvncd by the
government there arc in the countryfargc tracts of uncultivated land.
The government should take ovetr stich tracts by proper means at
laze and continue to establish farms,
lozidng statement of facts
"The workers on farms and the small landholders work and
devote all their efforts rib create the wealth of the country. They
are the ones that 'give to land the value it has and yet'the land
and its value belong to or are monopolized by a few business
men, bankers, usurers and individuals who live on their rents."
In answer Governor Yager promised tto give the matter careful
study. It is to be hoped that he will, but will also bear in mind that
while he is pondering over it distress is continuing, and he shouuld
not impose too much on the patience of the sufferers, while thinking
over a problem the solution of which should have been known to him
before he accepted such a position as he holds.
The request of the Federatiou.it would seem should be granted.
The government land might easijv be leased to workers, and the
privately owned lands, withheld from use, should be forced into
use by taking for public purposes through taxation the value given
to them by the wealth producers of the island.
u r
Further on appears the fol
( G a 1 v£s 4 oh^X«wi». )
Some men are so exacting"That if they do one kind of deed
They want to sec it published, that the whole wide world may read.
They must have proper credit for each little thing they do,
So selfish, egotistic and so narrow is their view.
Let not thy left hand know"—we're told, and many men today
Do what come up that should be done, and cheerfully obey.
1 heir hands go forth in helpfulness to others passing by
NX by should one ask for credit? Let's ignore it, you and I,
And just help folks along the road when help is worth the yliile.
Arid never ask for thanks except to see some fellow smile.
Here are two of her characteristic
much to lessen this deficiency."
If a woman stood up in all the pride and the abasement of herself,
as she is, what would she not be to a man and' to all men and women.
What could she not achieve in herself and for others. For oneself
truly is always for others as others truly arc always for one self,
t.very step in grozvth and progress is made along the line of self
knowledge.. So one must investigate oneself and live by zvhat one is
and may be
It is ill to deceive others but zve may be constrained to that;
mercy may call for it. It is zvorse to deceive oneself; one never need
do that. 7 he integrity of the mind is necessary to salvation. Illu
sions about oneself fill the mind zvith cobzvcbs and then it ceases to
be a good working machine and zve become, despite our best inten
tions, hurtful insteadof helpful in life.
Mary Fels did not change her name when in the fall of 1881 she
became the life-partner (as it happily chanced) of Joseph Fels. They
were distant cousins. She was graduated at the high school of her
native town, Keokuk, Iowa, and the year before her marriage she
spent in study at the convent of Notre Dame, Indiana. In 1886
when the Russian Jews reached America destitute and helpless she
began her public activities. They have continued uninterruptedly
by illness, and they have been always of a personal nature.
Where she gave her money she gave herself, her presence, her
thought, her care—her head, heart, hand, and purse went together.
She always meant it. The life of an idle rich woman witfi its end
less social swirl of "good times," "pleasant evenings," joy rides and
headaches never appealed to her. The Felses were always in earnest
in every endeavor. Luckily those endeavors were never trite or tri
val, and early became fundamental—for over zeal in the narrow
pursuits of small natures is a curse on the world of men. Joseph
and Mary Fels always stood for human freedom in its widest, fullest
sense, not only for the word but for the thing itself ; it was the bent
of their natures, always lightened by a fully developed sense of
humor ; they could stop to laugh at themselves—but not often at the
errors of others.
'notes" that contribute
Innumerable petty "fly-catching" reforms constantly nagged at
the their heels for "funds." It was one of these doubtless that gave
birth to this illuminating "note" of Mrs. Fels which was evidently
born of many perplexities:
• •.How one needs to steer one's course in this, life, to bezvare of
cither abandon on the hand or of rule of thumb on the other! The
possibilities of life and one's ozvn self-realization and consequent ef
fectiveness are at stake between the tzvo. Doei not the second
threaten these almost mor. than the first?
And later on she writes: "In all cases is effort made to show
them that only the reform that makes all other reforms possible and
that ultimately will do away with all reform is worth while."
The "Little Woman Who Would Uplift a World" is rarely wise.
Explanations are still
mine owners
coming in to the press from Colorado's
concerning their attitude toward the striking miners.
iese explanations have been coming at the rate of about two or
three a week ever since the Ludlow affair, and the end is not yet in
Sight. Is there that much to explain? There would not be if the
m.ne owners would only be frank. They claim to be acting in the
interest of law and order, in the interest of their faithful employees,
in the interest of the right to work, in the interest of everything
worth defending, it seems, except their own pocket books. They
never think of mentioning that. J
Why not openly admit that they are ordinary' human beings
making the best for themselves out of existing conditions, with
more than the average interest for the welfare of others > That
be done in a few word.. Everyone will believe it and no further
explanation will he necessary. Their "faithful employees" have no
particular interest in their welfare, and will probably admit it frankly,
if suie that it will not endanger their jobs.
The mine owners need offer no apology. Conditions in the
mining districts are undoubtedly horrible. But they would not be if
f ic laws of Colorado did not make it advantageous to the mine
owners to maintain such conditions. Colorado laws make it easy for
coal land monopolists to keep their mines closed during strike. The
iazos make use of coal lands impossible without permission of
individuals note issuing explanations. Consequently, if miners won't
^t'ork on the owners' terms, it is quite possible to shut dozen the mines
and cither zvait for outside men to come in and agree to*the ozvners'
terms. It is the people of Colorado zvho allozv these conditions to
exist, zuho should do the explaining and apologising.
Instead of quizzing the mine ozvners and suggesting truce plans,
it z voit Id be more in order for the United States Government to urge '
the State of Colorado to abolish private monopoly of its natural
resources, by compelling such monopolists as 'these mine owners to .
pay the rental value into the public treasury of the lands they hold.
That zvill make holding of lands out of use pending a strike or pend
ing issuing of a long string of explanations, an unprofitable proce
dure. 'll is the fault of the State of Colorado, not of the mine ozvners,
that such a measure had. not been adopted.
■ ..M
Western Canadian Cities have been wise enough to exempt im
provements and personal property from local taxation. But they
have not yet learned to make the tax on land values, by which all
local revenue is raised, sufficiently heavy to check land speculation.
Since land speculation is the principal cause of industrialdepressions,
failure to check it had the same inevitable result in Canada that it
lias had in the I. nited States and elsewhere.
But slight and insufficient as is the application of the Single T
principle in Canada, it is enough to show a marked difference in
conditions in cities where it has been applied, from conditions in
cities on this side of the border of a similar size which still tax labor
Such a comparison was presented by 'Dr. \V. G. Eggleson of
San Francisco, in a recent article in The Star of that city.
Comparing the cities-of Victoria in British Columbia with Berk
eley. California, a place of about the same size, Dr. Eggleston finds
that building activities in the two cities in 1913 were as follows:
Victoria's lead
Comparing New West Minster, British Columbia, with a little
larger city, Bakersfield, California, Dr. Eggleston notes the record
as follows: MB
New Westminster/
Bakersfield .
New Westminster's lead
a \
Stockton, California, is twice the size of New Westminster, but
the comparison shows:
New Westminster
V Oakland, California, is two and a half times the size of Edmon
ton, Alberta, but building activities for 1913 compare as follows:
Stockton ..
New Westminster's lead
Fresno, California, is twice the size of Medicine Hat, but the
records show :
Fresno ..
Edmonton's lead
. 1,776,666
Sacramento, California, is twice the size of Medicine Hat and
New Westminster combined, but the building records tell the fol
lowing tale:
Two Canadian cities
Medicine Hat's lead
.... 3, 4 16,057
Berkeley, Fresno and Sacramento combined are bigger than Van
couver, but the building records would not give one that impression.
They show :
Sacramento .
Canadian cities' lead
. 7,429.423
California cities
Vancouver's lead ...
. . * $ 2.993774
Oakland, California, is bigger than Vancouver and Victoria com
bined. Here are the building figures:
Vancouver and Victoria
Canadian cities' lead
$ 5
Finally, Vancouver's record since 1910, when the tax on im
provement was finally abolished, compares as follows with the five
California cities combined of Oakland, Fresno, Pasadena, Secra
mento and Stockton :
.... 55,286,878
Five California cities
.$ 5,089,122
Vancouver's lead...
The figures speak for themselves.
.... v i! •• 7

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