Hayes a Workingman

H.L. Mencken

Baltimore Morning Herald/April 19, 1899

The Democratic Candidate Proud of His Record.

Twelfth Ward’s Rally

Large Crowd at the North-Avenue Skating Rink-Colonel Brewer, Mr. Straus and Others Make Stirring Addresses.

“Wellington doesn’t want the Independents—We Do!”

This was the inscription on the transparencies at the Twelfth Ward Democrats’ meeting at the North-Avenue Skating-Rink last night, and this seemed to be the keynote of the speeches.

The tremendous Democratic rally at Music Hall had the effect of somewhat reducing the attendance, but, notwithstanding this disadvantage, an audience of about 1,500 was present. In the galleries were many ladies, whose gaily colored costumes added a touch of bright, fresh color to the gaudy monotony of the hall’s decorations.

M. L. Hewes, president of the ward, called the meeting to order and introduced the first speaker, Col. James R. Brewer. He had scarcely spoken a half-dozen sentences when the ward clubs began to arrive. The Jefferson Democratic Club, marshaled by President George D. Barnes; the Remington Democratic Club, led by Capt. John Malley, and the Twelfth Ward Association, under the leadership of Philip Wise, marched into the hall with bands playing and marchers cheering. The crowd inside gave back cheer for cheer, and the sound was echoed and re-echoed through the long and lofty building. As soon as quiet had been restored Colonel Brewer made another attempt to proceed, but was soon cut short again by the enthusiastic applause which announced the arrival of Mr. Hayes. The Mayoralty candidate came in unaccompanied and walked forward through a double line of admirers to a seat on the platform. The third attempt was more successful. The Colonel said, in part:

“Colonel Supplee, the Republican financial phonograph and complete guide to letter-writing, has been telling us of late about the amount of money which he claims that the Republican party has saved for the taxpayers of Baltimore. He proves and disproves a great variety of statements and counter-statements, but the most important question of all he leaves unanswered. If a tax rate of $2.25 did not secure money enough last year to properly conduct the city’s affairs, what course of reasoning should make us believe that $1.98 will do so this year? With his peculiar systems of calculation Colonel Supplee can explain many things, but it is very doubtful if he will have the courage to seriously attempt to explain this.

“ ‘Praise Malster, from whom all blessings flow.’ He bids us sing this paraphrase of the doxology, and submits figures to prove that it is the correct and authorized version.”

Colonel Brewer was followed by Mr. Hayes. His remarks were much applauded. He said:

“Enthusiasm, I see, is not lacking here, and I am glad of it. But it is not enthusiasm, we must remember, and not large crowds at meetings, which can elect the Democratic candidate two weeks hence. It is only by hard work by the rank and file, and by the men who take little interest in politics that we can hope to win, as we ought. Overconfidence in politics, is a worse disease than lack of confidence. Each Democrat must use his own individual influence, no matter how small it may appear to be, and how insignificant, when compared with the influence of others, to help forward the cause and achieve the victory which we believe is destined to be ours.

“The chief issue in this campaign is the question of taxation. There is nothing that is so important to the poor and the rich alike as a low tax rate. High taxes mean the departure of capital, the closing of workshops the reduction of real estate values, and, finally, but surely, the injury of the class who, directly and on the surface, seem unaffected. The workingman—the man who earns his bread by the labor of his hand or brain—is the sufferer in the end.

“Yet the Republicans, who have made our tax rate the highest of any city receiving the same advantages in the country, pose as the workingman’s friends and accuse the Democrats, who stand ready to give Baltimore a reasonable tax rate, of favoring the classes to the injury of the masses.

“Personally, I am heartily in accord with those who consider the man who toils entitled to as much consideration as any other. I am a toiler myself, and the proudest act of my life was, when as a State Senator I introduced and helped to secure the passage of a bill authorizing the organization of the Federation of Labor. I am in favor of organized labor.

“The Democracy promises the voters of Baltimore a clean, straightforward business-like administration, free from partisanship and spoils-grabbing, and the main promise which we make to you is this: We will give the taxpayers a bearable burden, not a killing load. Taxed must be reduced in this city. The Democracy promises to do it.”

Isaac Lobe Straus, who followed Mr. Hayes, said, in part:

“The underlying principle in the coming contest is so clear that it cannot be mistaken. On the one hand, the voters of Baltimore are offered a government which shall in every way advance the interests of the city, and on the other there is presented for their selection partisan corruption and its attendant evils, a bad administration and a high tax rate. The voters are to choose between them. Mr. Hayes has repeatedly said that the commercial, industrial and moral advancement of Baltimore shall be the object of his every effort as Mayor. If he is elected he will give us a clean, efficient, business-like administration, in which the best interest of the city will be first considered and politics will be last.

“The Republican party, as a whole, is not antagonistic to good government. But at present we are not offered any good government by the real Republican party. It is a Malster organization party which opposes us now, and against it we are waging our warfare. From the beginning of the campaign you have not heard one word from their mouthpieces, which may be taken as a promised of improvement. With tiresome reiteration they say that their past acts have been perfect, and point with pride to their record. The thinking voters, who know something of this matter, will also know for whom they should cast their ballots.”

Addresses were also made by James H. Smith, candidate for Comptroller; W. Starr Gephart and Alonzo Miles. 


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