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A FIGHT FOR THE CITY

THE STORY OF A

CAMPAIGN OF AMATEURS

BY ALFRED HODDER

Private Secretary to District Attorney Jerome

IV.—The Powers that Rule

I

T is not the office of the leader of a of administrable laws, there should have

great campaign, in his speeches, or been evolved so firm and definite a scheme.

even, it may be, in his inmost medita- An inadministrable law is in practice not tions, to do elaborate justice to the mood a. law; it commits to the administrator and mind of those he comes to overthrow; the labor of evolving case by case a pracit is enough for him if in his words and ticable scheme. An inadministrable law thoughts he does rough justice to their is in practice infinitely worse than none; deeds. Not their inward and spiritual it foreordains the illegality of every pracstate is for the moment of importance to ticable scheme. Where the law is inad. him and to his hearers, but the state of ministrable, the administration of the law the community beneath their rule; in the is necessarily illegal; where the law is nice consideration of degrees of innocence inadıninistrable, the administrator of the or guilt there would be for him and for law is the legislator's âme damnée. The his hearers only loss of passion and of price paid for the specious virtue of the power. To the defense the Tammany legislator is the administrator's legal guilt. politicians might have made Mr. Jerome It is not to be wondered at that the paid, naturally enough, small heed; yet administrator should upon occasion turn in the long interval for unimpassioned in wrath upon the eloquent accuser who thought that lies between election and has been the foreordainer of his crime. election, the nature and the weight of that The Tammany politician has thus turned defense may well be found of moment, upon his accuser more than once; he has not to the defendant only, but to the com- declared in good set terms that he has munity itself.

served the public as in fact though not in There was nothing new in Mr. Jerome's word the public wishes to be served. The clear recognition of the alliance between guilt of perjury lies in deceit. The oath the grafter and the puritan. Every man he takes and breaks, the public has required about town experienced in men and affairs that he shall take—and break; and it is takes that alliance for granted in his daily toward the public only, he may reasonably speech. What has escaped notice, seem- claim, that its obligation was incurred. It ingly, is the significance of that alliance is a familiar principle of law and ethics for the conscience of Taimany itself. that to the performance of impossibilities The practice of levying blackmail on

can possibly be bound. The the wicked for the profit of the right- legislating public solemnly propounds to eous is at least as old as Robin Hood; him an oath for the performance of imposthe practice of making vice contributory sibilities which it knows to be impossibilito the public treasury prevails in many ties; he solemnly recites the oath that its foreign lands to-day. It is not a system propounder knows to be an oath for the that in the United States is sanctioned by performance of impossibilities: qui est-ce the public conscience and the public will; qu'on trompe ici? but it is a system, not a chaos ; it is to The administrative system thus evolved the credit of the administrative instinct in is far from being the private property of the community at large that, in the absence Tammany or even of the Democratic

no

man

party as a whole. No political party in day Mr. Croker was guilty of a slip of the United States has the monopoly of just this sort; in words which rang from the administrative lie. The system is the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, he deessentially the same whatever party may clared himself to have been working for chance to have the upper hand. If it is his own pocket all the time. No man in under Tammany that the illegal adminis- the least experienced in men or in affairs trative system is oftenest and most vio- will find it credible that in this instance lently denounced, that is by no mean's he was speaking the truth about himself. because under Tammany the administra- It is not to be believed that ever any man tive lie and the illegal administrative attained and kept the central place in a system it necessitates reach their extrem- vast body of quick-witted and hot-hearted est form. It is rather because the Demo- men by working for his own pocket all cratic party as a whole, and Tammany in the time; it is not to be believed that particular, have less than their opponents' Mr. Croker has not sacrificed a thousand genius for the administrative lie. It is times his personal and present interests, rather because the Tammany politician is if not indeed to those of the great public, administering a system to which he was still to those of his colleagues and his not born. The administrative lie is Anglo- clan.' The point is that, face to face with Saxon, Protestant, and Puritanic; the enemies who had a gift and passion for Tammany politician, as a rule, is none of good words, he had no impulse to give these three things. His taste in lies, if himself good words; he had an impulse lie he must, is of a different kind ; his rather of sheer wrathful and disgustful taste in men is of a different kind; his very impatience of good words; he utterly deconscience is of a different kind. Con- clined to drape himself in any decorative fessedly it is not the Anglo-Saxon element phrase. The point is that this impatience that is predominant in Tammany; and of the decorative phrase is found far no one ever yet has called hypocrisy the oftener on the Democratic than on the Irishman's besetting sin. His temptations Republican side. There is nothing in to departure from veracity have seemingly the principles of the two parties to explain an altogether different source. They are their difference on this point; the princitemptations seemingly to overpraise his ples of the Democratic party lend theminterlocutor rather than his own people or selves perhaps more readily to the requirehimself, and the praise he gives and seeks ments of the ringing phrase: the source is not the praise of being grave and good of the difference lies rather in a difference and great; it is the praise of being loyal, of race and of inherited ideals. It is only loving, charming, witty, brave, and kind. in the Democratic ranks that there occur It is probable, indeed, that he sees neither such outbursts of impolitic and disconstimulus to virtue nor evidence of virtue certing candor as made memorable the in the overstatement of his own or of his administration of the late Chief of Police; neighbor's moral strength; he has been it would be an error to suppose that Willtaught that the remission of men's sins iam Devery incurred the indignation of must be preceded by the confession of the public in the first instance by his their sins, and that none have been more deeds; he incurred it by his words. ready to claim kinship with the sinner There had been chiefs of police before than the holiest of the saints. His forte his day who exercised quite as capriciously lies neither in rebuke nor exhortation, nor and ruthlessly as great an arbitrary poweven in moral indignation. It can scarcelyer; what the public would not stand for be affirmed of him as yet that he has was a lawless exercise of power that was shown any special aptitude for doing jus- not even denied.

not even denied. That William Devery tice; it can scarcely be denied of him did himself injustice by his words there that he loves mercy and walks humbly is no reason to believe ; but at least it is with his God.

self-evident that he, too, had no impulse Far from overstating his own virtues, to give himself good words; he has a gift he is prone upon occasion to understate for words, but he has used it for the fabrithem-of all modes of speech the most cation of the undecorative phrase. Audacbewildering and exasperating to the aver- ities of utterance like his can never be the age Anglo-Saxon mind. Only the other rule in any group of politicians; and Mr. Croker, and for that matter Mr. Sullivan, is too kindly; there is in the world no are more renowned for silence than for

sort of charity that counts for good speech ; but still their very silence obvi- except Big Tim's. Nor yet Tammany ously is a silence from good words. They itself; it fosters in too great perfection may plead plausibly enough that they the spirit without which no great republic have done what the great public wishes ever yet has thriven—the spirit of the to have done, but in the meanwhile they clan. The clan differs from the trust, have failed to say what it wishes to have whether of capital or labor, in that it said. They have too lightly taken for embraces all sorts and conditions of men. granted that by keeping on the statute- There are

doubtless various excellent book the formulas of the administrative sorts of men that count few representalie, the public craving for the decorative tives in Tammany, but at least it has been phrase is once for all appeased. Among rather they that held aloof than Tammany their colleagues few or none have made that refused to take them in. Tammany amends for this oversight of theirs. Even has enabled men in widely different states when the Tammany politician is in theory

of life to understand one another's needs a convert to the charm or to the useful- and natures. It has accomplished quietly ness of the administrative lie, even when and effectually for its own innumerable he takes it on his lips deliberately, he, for

members what has been too often fussily the most pari, fails to recite it with suffi- and ineffectually attempted for the comcient gravity and unction ; because it is a munity at large. It has supplied in time formula, he recites it iu bout des lèvres and of need material aid without the intervenformally; like certain Old World come- tion of a Charity Organization, and legal dians lauded by Charles Lamb, he seems aid without the intervention of a Legal to be confiding to his audience that he is Aid Society. If its system of administrabut playing a part. When the adminis- tion has been liable to terrible abuses, it trative lie is called in question, he has has been sedulous in the protection of the not the least appearance of feeling his individual against the working of the own veracity to be impugned ; it might system, at least whenever the individual be almost fancied that he breathed more has been a member of the clan. No doubt freely, as now at last at liberty without it has been often reckless of the interest of deceit to speak the lines set down. If individuals not numbered with the clan; we are near waking when we dream, we no doubt it has often been reckless of the are still more obviously near truth-telling interest of the public as a whole. But it when we are willing to admit we lie; was said long since by a great statesman indeed, fiction owned for fiction has sel- that the man who in his politics pursues dom, except among the strictest of the the interest of his friends at least has puritans, passed for a lie at all. But proved himself disposed to seek some lies so told lose half their power to thrill; other interest than his own. under the adininistration of Tammany the be doubted whether any man was ever great Anglo-Saxon public has been left capable of working to good purpose for starving for good words.

the public who was not capable of working In the United States the public is by for a clan. When all is said, there is for no means Anglo-Saxon—witness Tam- individuals and for nations such a thing many; and the time may come when an apprenticeship of public spirit; and even in morals there will be a compromise it might be served in a worse school than between the ideals of the Anglo-Saxon Tammany Hall. If there is to be forever race and those of races whose blood is in the city of New York a system of blent with ours. To nie it seems that in inadministrable law and illegal administhe compromise there is not necessarily tration, the application of the system might involved a moral loss. There is some- be in worse hands than those of Tammany thing to be said for the morality of suiting Hall. action to word and word to action, and But Tammany is committed to that something even for the morality of being lying system ; there lies the rub with a little better than one's word. I cannot

Tammany. However little natural gift for my life detest William Devery—he is or liking it may have for the administratoo veracious ; nor yet Tim Sullivan-he tive lie, it has accepted its existence, it

And it may has built upon it; its whole vast edifice tendencies fulfilled. He spoke to his is overthrown when that is overthrown audiences of what he saw. He spoke to It is too much to ask of human nature them not only of the blackmail levied and that a man or that an organization should the lawless power exerted among prostideliberately and voluntarily renounce its tutes and gamblers and saloon-keepers, means of life. I am very far from mean- but of the blackmail levied on the lawing that Tammany is incapable of finding abiding poor. It is not the least among other means of life; with the same re- the offsets to the charity of Tammany sourcefulness with which it has adapted that what is given to the poor has been itself to the conditions of the administra- but too frequently wrested from the poor. tive lie, it would doubtless have adapted, “ Take one small instance,” Mr. Jerome it would doubtless still adapt, itself to said, with his usual picturesque precision conditions different from these. But all of illustration. 6 Tåke what looks like a its work would be to do again. It is the small matter, yet concerns a great many price men pay too often for their power of decent men. The conditions of life are dealing with the established fact, that hard in a great city like this : the labor they acquire a sort of vested interest in market is overstocked. There are a great the fact with which they have contrived many people who seek to make their to deal successfully; they made the best living in the humble occupation of pushof it because it was unalterable, they cart peddlers; and what do they find ? desire it to remain unaltered because they “ These men pay the city of New York have found how to make the best of it. for the privilege of selling ; have they not Something like this has happened in the a right to sell without squaring it with case of the Tammany politician and the the wardman ? Have they not a right to administrative lie; he may well at first sell without buying tickets for Tim Sullihave found himself embarrassed by it; he van's chowder-parties ?” (Voices in the could not have rid himself of it if he crowd, it is recorded, cried, That's would. He has been the victim, he has good 1”) “I have been told a story of come to be the champion, of the estab- what happened a short time ago, as this lished fact. He may reasonably be re- election was approaching, and I believe it proached with all the evils of the estab- because it was told me by a man who I lished fact, not because he is its author, am sure has never yet lied wittingly, and but because he seeks to keep it as it is. because it tallies with the things that I

And the evil of the established system myself have seen. I have been told that scarcely can be by any eloquence exag- all of a sudden, as this election was apgerated; explain the cause as we may, proaching, the police force descended there can be no question as to the effect. upon the peddlers of the East Side. They The system of illegal licensing of viola- had been getting on very nicely through tions of laws not meant to be observed the summer, with only an occasional shaketends naturally toward the licensing of down, perhaps, from the Board of Healthviolations of any and of every law. The of course they had to pay that; it may be, collection of such license fees by the too, with an occasional shake-down from administrators, indirectly or directly, tends the plain-clothes man---well, of course they to give them an interest rather in the had to pay that. Those who had most violation than in the observance of the money had to take occasionally some law. The very fact that the administra- tickets for a chowder-party; well, they tors of an inadministrable law are them- had to pay that. But I am told that as selves inevitably lawbreakers tends to election time drew near there was a great throw them into fellowship with other activity of the police force among the lawbreakers ; the very fact that they them- push-cart men, so that at last the associaselves inevitably stand within the danger tion of the push-cart men betook themof the law leads them to associate them selves in all humility to Martin Engel and selves with other lawbreakers for the cor- asked what they had got to do. And ruption of the higher and the lower courts. Martin Engel answered, “ You have got to In his capacity of Justice of the Court of support Tammany Hall.' Well, it was Special Sessions, Mr. Jerome had, year by support Tammany Hall or get arrested. year, ample opportunities to see these It was support Tammany Hall or be put out of business. Thereupon the associa- when I spoke unflatteringly of Mr. Hahn, tion answered, · Yes, great one, we will Mr. Foley came to me and said : You support Tammany Hall.' But once inside are all wrong about Mr. Hahn. He is a the little box on election day, I find it diffi- very fine fellow. He does not need to be cult to believe the push-cart men will still on the force at all. You know he made be supporting Tammany Hall. Men will do a great deal of money in Brcoklyn Rapid much for friendship—that is human na- Transit.' Well, one man that has a fruitture; when a man is kind to me, 1, for my stand finds that he cannot get his license part, desire to help him all I can. Uptown renewed. He asks about it. • Did you men say to me, Hang it, Jerome, those take some of Tim Sullivan's chowder fellows somehow get down to the hearts tickets?”. “No, I could not afford to do of the people. You know they give the it.' 'Go and do it.' He goes and does outings. Mr. Hochstim, Mr. Katz, Mr. it, and gets his license. And at the end Engel, and the rest, they seem to think of these chowders you find that never a have twined themselves about your hearts. one of them has a deficit. In the old Heaven help you, then! I think you must days the district leader used to put the surhave let your hearts slip down into your plus in his pocket, but now they tell me pockets. It would be hard enough to that it goes into the treasury of the local know where else they can be found en- organization. At least they never fail of twined."

getting from some $2,500 to $3,000 cash The next night, in Brooklyn, he recurred profit, and the securing of that profit is to the same theme. “Whatever you may the work these district leaders do. Then, think about push-carts in the street,” he too, the push-cart men have got to square said, “ there are a great many men trying themselves with the wardmen. Then, too, to make an honest living in that way. they have got to square themselves with Whatever you may think about fruit-stands the health inspector. Then, too, they at the corners, there are a great many have got to square themselves with other men trying to make an honest living that persons who come around representing way. And in the midst of those men we certain people whom I do not name. have a district leader. And you go to And so it goes all through; not vice alone your clubs in the brownstone district, pays its enormous tribute, but honest and the politician in the brownstone dis- industry must pay if it expects to live.” trict says : « Now, the trouble about the Honest industry of all degrees of husituation in this city is that we do not get mility and dignity: one of the stories Mr. down to the hearts of the common people Jerome told oftenest during the campaign, as the Tammany people do.' And Mr. because its repetition was demanded Shepard said the other night in Tammany oftenest by his audiences, had been first Hall that the Tammany leaders have intended as a sort of parable of the diffientwined themselves in the hearts of the culties encountered under a Tammany plain people. As I have had occasion to administration in the conduct of honest remark before this evening, it seems to trade of every kind. “Yes, if you want me rather that they have entwined them- it, I will tell you the lemon story; it selves in the pockets of the plain people. came about this way. There are a number But we are told that we must get a hold of very earnest and enthusiastic men, with on their affections as the district leader New England consciences, who live in does. Well, you say, what does the dis- Litchfield County, Connecticut. They trict leader do? Why, he gives these formed the Litchfield County Universal people an outing or a picnic. Let me Club, they built a club-house, and last tell you what happens in some of their summer they asked me to come up there. outings and picnics. Tim Sullivan gets It wasn't far from a little place I have in up an outing and a picnic. Tom Foley the country. I talked with them after gets up an outing and a picnic. Ward- dinner, and the toast—there was nothing man Hahn goes out and sells to the ped- but apollinaris at that dinner; it was in dlers and the keepers of gin-mills and the New England—and the toast that they push-cart men a thousand tickets at five gave me to respond to, and that I was dollars apiece. Another plain-clothes man presumably to occupy about five minutes comes pretty near doing the same. And in responding to, was 'Municipal Problems

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