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t (5/)er / l I|K f^fyW^ :::::::::=^^^ :::^ | i Vol. XYL—No. 38. i'affvr Bead Before the Chautauqua Circle. ALL law is founded upon the one law of Heaven, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God and thy neighbor as thyself,” or per haps a better translation would be, “Thou sbalt serve the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself.” The three primary fundamental principles «f Jaw seeure to mankind, (1) a right to life; (2) a right to liberty; (3) a right tp the peaceable possession and enjoy ment of his own property. Common law regarding property rights has been ranch modified by statute, principally relative to its universal and unlimited application, and equal property rights are extended to inelude every man, woman and child, under our various state codes. Every state, I believe, without an exception, has its statute of exemp tions, by means of which there is se cured to every citizen a certain amount of real and personal property that is exempt from execution. The justice of such a law is self-evident: that amid the changing vicissitudes of busi ness life, with its “ups” and “downs,” the exempted property, usually con sisting of a homestead and its furnish ings, remain intact. But these laws fall short of being perfect, in that there occurs one exception—i. e., exemption from tax claims. In this, as in many other instances, the state is made a preferred creditor. Can .we conceive any possible reason why the state should possess rights in collecting her claims not allowed to a private indi vidual ? This seems to me wrong and unjust, not only from the standpoint of itobeing an unwarranted preference, but made more so from the fact that such property should be absolutely exempt from claims of every description. A man’s house should be his temple, his sacred shrine, his sanctum, and should be free from molestation by law and execution. Let those who would amass fortunes and vast estates bear the bur den of taxation. The law exempts from taxation per sonal property, not to exceed SIOO in value. God pity the homes that can be fnrnishei with $100! So strong has been public sentiment against personal property taxation that some cities and villages have not used their power along that line. Much to the credit of our capital city, St. Paul, never in the history of said city has she enforced a personal property tax. Those pay who will, but those neglecting to pay are never forced to by execution. THE NATIONAL BANKRUPT LAW. Tor many years the subject of en acting a uniform National Bankrupt Law was agitated, until in 1898 every legal mind was surprised at having plaeed before them one of the greatest steals ever imposed upon a justice-lov ing people—our National Bankrupt Law in force today. Since that time petitions innumerable have been drawn and signed by thousands of merchants and business man from every state, urging, yea, begging, its repeal, and even many of its stanch supporters have gone so far as to admit that it baa served its purpose. Just what that purpose was, from a standpoint of justice, 1 have never found anyone who was able to divine. But from a standpoint of injustice, its purpose is clears in short, many of the old “used to-be’s" scattered all over our country, who delight in telling that at a certain time their check was good for SIOO,OOO, and who today could not purchase a ton of coal on time, desired very much to “clean up” the past at a small cost. There is a case on record in St. Paul of an old man at the point of death whose liabilities were $60,000 —hia as sets in round numbers were three ci phers without a figure before them— who went through bankruptcy and Property Rights. was duly discharged of his debts. When asked his reason for such a step athisage and condition, he said his conscience troubled him. His dying words were, “Thank God I can die happy. I don’t owe a man a dollar.” The true purpose of a bankrupt law should be te prevent preferences to creditors and cause a just distribution of the bankrupt estate. These condi tions were fully met by our state in solvency law, which allowed a man to declare himself an insolvent, or al lowed his creditors to petition that he be decreed an insolvent by the court. But under our state insolvency law creditors have the option of filing their claims against the estate and receiving their pro rata of the dividends there from, and thus discharge the debt; or of refusing to file their claims and still retain a valid claim against the debtor not affected by the insolvency proceedings. This option does not exist in national bankrupt proceedings. File or not file your claim, and it is discharged in either case. Thereby the credit system of our country has been seriously injured—creditors by the millions have been cheated out of their claims. Dishonesty has been fos tered by law, and dead beats have been created, encouraged and protected. Yes, God knows it has served its pur pose! This law has not met with the approval of the legal fraternity, nor has it been a source of revenue to law yers. Beturning to our first principle, “the right of man to enjoy the peaceable possession of his own property,” there occurs to us another gross infringement upon this right, in the powers of fran chise and eminent domain. These pow ers are exercised chiefly by corporations, and it does not require much politicai doctoring for a corporation to obtain, free of charge, franchises that are often worth millions of dollars. It has be come the custom for states, cities and towns to grant these franchises, and in many cases surplused with a large bo nus, as an inducement to different enterprises to locate there; feeling that they will be a material benefit to the community. So long as this system is followed to any great extent, it be comes necessary that it be universally followed; that each municipality may meet the competition thus established. But as the benefit to the community is only in proportion to the success of the enterprise, and if the conditions are such that the people are demanding such an enterprise, are there not capi talists seeking for opportunity to in vest their money in such enterprises that are in demand and would be will ing to pay well for the privilege of such franchises? Many such enterprises cannot locate elsewhere, in case they do not receive proper encouragement in one place, such as light, gas and water companies, street and overland railway companies. Mistakes are often made through undue haste to locate such enterprises before the time is ripe, whereas a few years of waiting would have enhanced the value of such fran chises enormously. It is often with much chagrin that a c'ity realizes that but a few years ago it gave away a street railway franchise which today is worth millions. One of many striking examples of such cases within our own state, is that of which is best known to us as the old St. Paul & Duluth railroad, now the N orthern Pacific, by virtue of that bless ed merger deal. If we as individuals disobey the law, we soon find ourselves making binding twine. Corporations go about it differently. They give a promise to the state, and the state does not wake up to the worthlessness of such a promise until it is too late. “Ah consistency, thou art a jewel!” But in this instance we see this company given STILLWATER, MINNESOTA THURSDAY, APRIL 9,1903. FRANCHISES. “IT 18 METER TOO LATE TO HENB.” a free franchise, together with a bonus of a tract of land ejgt e nding as far south as the present sitejof Rush City, as far north as Virginia! and Grand Rapids, bounded on the eaijst by the state line and extending west beyond Mille Lacs Lake, including almost the entire pine belt of our state. For all these years the company has Often selling this land, also selling pine grants to lumber com panies, and they have on hand today for sale some 700,000 acres of land from this grant. The state made* this donation as an inducement to get a line of railroad from the Twin Cities to Duluth and South Superior, that northern Minne sota might be more rapidly settled. If that 700,000 acres of land was today opened up for government homesteads, I doubt if inside of a week there would be an acre unoccupied. Or had it been so opened up, at the time of the grunt, Northern Minnesota would be more thoroughly settled, and instead of one railroad, we would have a dozen travers ing that section. Rf Ilroad companies are not slow in building roads where there are settlers. Thus the settlement of our state has been retarded, while the recipients of its favors have today one of the best paying roads in the state. Those of you who have been unfortu nate enough to speculate in stocks, may have noticed on the “bucket shop” boards the slight fluctuations in St. Paul & Duluth railroad stock. My personal investigation of this fact made me conversant with the following facts: When any extensive improve ments were made in bettering the road bed or rolling stock, which would have ordinarily reduced the current dividends for some time to come, these disburse ments were met by loans from eastern money lenders, who took as security blanket mortgages on the land in this grant. These mortgages were in a sense “collateral,” as they were never put on file, and were satisfied by the re turn of the original mortgage unfiled. These were paid by the re ceipts from the continual sales of said land. So what the road is today in equipment is largely, if not entirely, what the land grant has made it. Yes, our ancient Btate legislatures have sometimes been composed of an assem bly of asses—that is, judging them by their efforts to promote the welfare of the state. THE RIGHT OF EMINENT Bom ain. Most franchise rights carry with them the power of eminent domain, which empowers the franchise holder to condemn any and all private or pub lic property that it may be necessary for him to possess in order to carry out the purposes for which the franchise was granted, in general, if we want to possess certain property, our only way of possessing it is to pay the owner his price, no matter how unreasonably high it may be, or how badly we need the property. There is no way of com pelling him to set a reasonable price upon it, or of compelling him to sell for any price. But the power of eminent domain is a serious infringement upon this right. It gives the possessor of this power the right to say, “You shall sell whether you wish to or not, and if your price, iq my estimation, is un reasonable it shall be determined by arbitration.” And the process of such arbitration often entails n ore expense than the property is worth. But, we may reason, there are two sides to the question. Would it not be the rule of such parties to invariably set an unreasonable price upon their land? And the franchise holder with out this power of eminent domain would, of necessity, be compelled there by to abandon his undertaking. This may be true in certain cases, but if an evil must exist let it be on the side which secures to every man an inde pendent and control of his own property. Take, for instance, the power of eminent domain exercised by a railroad company. Such a fran chise should be granted only when the country traversed by said road would be benefited by it. If it is a benefit to you to have your farm traversed bjj a railroad, you naturally would encourage it. If it be a detriment to you, I con tend that you alone have the right to de termine whether or no you will sell your property for that purpose; and you should have the power to set your own price as you would in any other case of sale. When a community demands a railroad, or an increase of railroads, railroad corporations will find en couragement enough to warrant them in overcoming all opposition without the aid of the power of eminent do main or the courts of arbitration. And where such an undertaking is for the beuefit of a few and the detriment of many, they should either pay for the privilege, without any power of con straint, or be frozen out entirely. Our laws should never depart from the well established principle to secure equal rights to all, and special privi leges to none. To be clear, conscise, and self-interpreting, for truly, “To in terpret a law usually means to corrupt it.” E. E. E. Modern’ Heroism. THE WORLD has given us many examples of heroism. Nathan Hale, whose only regret was that he had bat ODe life to give to his country, was a truly heroic figure. Richmond F. Hobson and his compatriots gave us a glorious ex ample of American valor, as have hun dreds of men before them. Who has not read the inspiring accounts of the heroic deeds performed by such women as Mollie Pitcher, Grace Darling, Joan of Arc and Hannah Dustin ? But what of the prosaic hero or heroine of every day life? Do you doubt that chivalry still lives ? Not, perhaps, the chivalry that lovea the blood and carnage of battle, but the chivalry that values human life; the chivalry that is full of human kindness, and dares to brave the criticism of the press and the,public, in a just and right eous cause. Or the courage of the man who unflinchingly faces danger and death in the discharge of duty. There are so many kinds of heroes and heroines in this present day and generation, whose names are unknown to fame and who will die “unhonored and unsung,” that it would take pages to enumerate them all. The soldier on the field of battle, ’midst the hurtling shot and screeching shell, is brave; but his courage may be largely due to train ing and discipline. That prince of all among nature’s noblemen, the railroad engineer, is an heroic character and has time and again shown qualities of he roism equal to that of knights of old. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” And, as we are associated with and become inured to danger, we are apt to loose, in a great measure, our fear of it. At the same time our minds become so schooled that we are ever prepared for emergency and learn to act intelligent ly upon impulse, with a coolness that is as surprising as it is admirable. Such training not only fits man to cope with familiar dangers, but qualifies him to lead in times of extreme and unexpect ed danger. The mechanic, working at dizzy heights or the miner who delves in the bowels of the earth, seldom feel the dangers of their positions. But, when man or woman, singly and alone, without the possibility of mar tyrdom, the plaudits of the multitude or the support of companionship, does a courageous thing, that is true hero ism. The man or woman, who with out special training, can remain calm and collected in the midst of great dan ger when a vast throng is beside itself with fear, shows courage of a high order indeed. Some years ago it my privilege to witness such an act under conditions that will always remain vividly im pressed upon my memory. One win ter’s night I attended an entertain ment, given in a large hall, in a small western town. The show was a sort of specialty company, and among its lead ing features it included a series of moving pictures. The machine opera-’ tor had rigged up a booth in the rear Terms* j sl.ooper year, In advance i tHMo.-j six Months 60cents. end of the hall in which he installed his machine. This booth was so located that it closed the main entrance to the hall, and the audience was admitted through a side entrance, first passing through a small room commonly used as an ante-room by the civic societies. A young married couple had taken “reserved seats” well up in front, but the gentleman early relinquished his seat to a lady friend who had come in after the “standing room only” sign had been displayed. I was standing in the very rear of the hall, near the booth containing the projecting appa ratus, and the young man .took up a position near me. The opening numbers had been given and the moving picture man had just opened his part of the entertainment, when the celluloid films on the ma chine took fire, the ribbon snapped in two and in an instant the booth was in flames. Someone raised the cry of fire, and then hell broke loose. There was one wild, frenzied rush for the door. Men, women and children were knocked down and trampled upon. The wild, despairing shrieks of the women and children, mingled with the hoarse shouts and awful curses of the men, rent the air. Like stampeded animals they charged upon the entrance, over chairs and benches, unheeding their weaker neighbors, all intent upon ful filling the first great law of nature, self preservation. The fire soon communi cated with a large number of celluloid films hanging in rolls upon pegs on the wall; convenient for instant use, and they soon filled the back part of the room with flame and smoke. I was crowded up against the wall with such force that I could scarcely move, but eventually I succeeded in climbing upon a bench, where I at least had a good view of what was transpiring about me. The machine operator, after several ineffectual efforts, succeeded in rushing through the flames and turning off the gas which was escaping from the large cylindrical tanks, and was likely to cause an explosion at any moment. He was badly burned about the hands and face, but he was true grit and showed admirable nerve all through the terri ble ordeal. The proprietor of the hall, together with a few cool-headed assist ants, did all that was possible to pre serve order, but all in vain. As well might they have faced a hurricane. A jamb occurred in the ante-room— some of those who had reached a place of safety, no longer appalled by the flames which they could not see, tried to re-enter the hall, thus blocking the exit. Some few there were who, crazed with fright, climbed out through the windows and risked their necks in dropping twenty feet to the ground. Others were dragged back by cooler heads. One man hanging to the win dow ledge, on the outside, called loudly “someone come and take me;” but no one, not even an old maid, seemed to have any use for him at that particular moment. Men were fighting like mad, women were fainting and pandemoni um reigned supreme. The young man had left the place at my side, and I could see him pushing, pulling and struggling with the mass of humanity that blocked his way. Now he would force his way forward a Tew paces, only to be thrown back by the tide of humanity; losing nearly all the dis tance he had gained. How he finally managed to work his way through that turbulent, seething mass, I cannot tell. The smoke and gases from the burning booth and celluloid filled the room and the air was suffocating. My lungs hurt and my eyes were watery and swol len. My position was becoming un tenable; and as the people had near ly all succeded in making their escape, I sought a position near the stage. The few who haul taken it upon themselves to act as a fire department soon had the flames under control; arid order was once more restored out of chaos. During all this time, in a chair well up in front, sat the young woman, my heroine. She seemed totally oblivious of the danger, noise and confusion to which she was being subjected; but re garded them all with the quiet interest of one who has no part in the play ex cept that of spectator. She showed no outward sign of fear or excitement; and when her husband reached her side, she looked up demurely into his face and said: “I thought you would never come.” G. B. M.