Want Lower Taxes

H.L. Mencken

Baltimore Morning Herald/April 22, 1899

Stirring Speeches at a Mass-Meeting of the Young Men’s Democratic Club.

Under the auspices of the Young Men’s Democratic Club of Homestead, there was a well-attended mass-meeting last night at Bender’s Hall, Gorsuch avenue. August H. Rittemiller, president of the club, presided. Addresses were made by Julian S. Jones, J. Booker Clift, Eugene O’Dunne, Jefferson D. Galloway, Patrick Redding, Jr., and John D. Cougler.

Mr. Jones said, in part: “what the people of this city want most and what they intend to have, is an honest and nonpartisan municipal administration, conducted in the most careful and economical manner. They want taxes to be as low as it possible to have them, after providing for the costs of the city’s government.

“This question of taxation is one in which the rich and the poor are equally interested. The people realize that they are getting no adequate return from the present high tax rate, and see that there is nothing to show for the expenditure of so much money. Notwithstanding the fact that the Malster administration has spent about $650,000 more than was spent under Hooper’s rule, there is absolutely no additional public improvement to be offered in evidence to account for its expenditure. 

“Yet Mr. Malster declared in his letter of acceptance that he has nothing to apologize for, and that, if he should be re-elected, he would continue the policy which he has followed during his present term. He has boasted that the tax rate has been reduced from $2.25 to $1.98, but he neglects to explain that, in order to make it appear $1.98, 10 cents was taken from the school fund. Not a single new schoolhouse has been built, and the children today are crowded into cramped and inadequate quarters.”

“Useless and unnecessary offices have been created for the purpose of providing places for ward-workers. In one department there has been an increase in salaries of $12,300, in another of $3.900, in another of $2,400, and so on throughout every department of the city government. But the taxpayers, who pay these easily earned salaries, have obtained no resultant benefits.”

Mr. O’Dunne’s address was much applauded. He said in part:

“No Republican compromises himself in voting for Mr. Hayes. As able, honorable and distinguished men of undying Republican faith as the party can boast of are our lieutenants in the fight, and in the rank and file, shoulder to shoulder, may be found men of political views as varied as the colors of the rainbow. The one common cause of good government in this fight has made us all akin. 

“Enthusiasm, mass meetings, torch-light processions, the flourish of flags and the sound of trumpets are very good and much to be desired, but it is the silent ballot, that falls without pomp or ceremony, which tells the tale. Therefore, see your friends, and on election day bring them to the polls. We want every vote obtainable: every vote that is not immovably imbedded in Senator Wellington’s ‘breastworks’—not that we really need them, but because we want to roll up the greatest majority for Tom Hayes that a mayoralty candidate has ever obtained in the political annals of Baltimore. We will expect of those in office an economical expenditure of the public money, fitness and integrity of those in office and unswerving fidelity at the posts of duty. Every vote cast for Hayes will help to bring all these things. Every vote uncast for him will make their advent that much the less likely.”

All the speakers were liberally applauded by the enthusiastic audience. 


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