‘A “Dundee Working Man” Criticised’, Letter to the Editor (29 April, 1882)

The following letter is a response to a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). This riposte from a correspondent in Louisiana criticises the 5th entry in the series which appeared in the March 4th 1882 edition of the paper.

To the Editor of the People’s Journal.

Sir,—The People’s Journal of March 4th is now before me, having reached me from my home in Massachusetts last night. On page 5 I find the following:—“A Dundee Working Man on America—No. 5.” “American Ladies and Divorces.” It is to correct the erroneous statements therein contained, and to prevent, if possible, the mischief which may be caused by their dissemination if uncontradicted that I now address to you this letter. By allowing it a place in your paper you will prevent the formation of opinions prejudicial to a true knowledge of the social status of the country. I am myself a Scotchman (a native of Dundee), and from a ten years’ residence in America, in several States, I think I have had a good opportunity to estimate the character of the average American—man or woman. I will not indulge in personalities, nor will I criticise the literary hash of “Dundee Working Man’s” letter. I write simply to correct statements which are untrue and likely to produce erroneous impressions. The ignorance of Americans and Englishmen respecting each other’s country is to be regretted, and every statement likely to increase or confirm this ignorance should be corrected. The first statement of the “Dundee Working Man” that American girls are “pert.” &c., is to a certain extent correct, but it is almost entirely among the lower class of people. “Dundee Working Man” evidently forgets that although politically all men here are “equal,” they are not so socially. There are classes here, as everywhere else, and it is evident that “Dundee Working Man’s” observations have been confined to a class of people not very high in the social scale and not a representative class. He has gathered a few incidents about some American women, and by a sweeping generalisation has extended the conclusions drawn therefrom to all American women, for “woman” is a name I never knew an American lady to be ashamed of, although I have seen American servant girls bristle at the word. But the young American lady is no more pert than young ladies of other countries, as far as my observations lead me to believe, and I have had extensive opportunities to observe, being acquainted with women of five or six countries. The third remark in “Dundee Working Man’s” letter I can but pass over, with a blush that any countryman of mine should speak of a woman in that way. The statement that “in their homes they (American women) are, generally speaking, slovenly-looking,” &c., is simply untrue. That condition is not general, but exceptional. In the rough towns on the rugged coast of Maine, in the farming districts and cultured cities of Massachusetts, in the proud “City of Elms” (Newhaven), in Connecticut, made classic by the shades of Yale University, and here on the rolling prairie where every spot is a “garden of flowers,” it has been my lot to meet American women of the highest social standing, and sometimes those of the lowest order in society, and I have found them as neat, and cleanly, and womanly as ever I found women anywhere else. Of course, as I have said, there are exceptions, but they are few in proportion to the whole. Among American girls the wearing of cheap jewellery is a too prevalent custom; but if any countryman had observed closely, he would have found that the habit is by no means confined to Americans; other girls—Irish, Scotch, English, German, all do the same. As to women’s speaking in meetings, although I have attended meetings of Methodists in three different States, I have never seen one—not even the most ignorant—get up and rattle on “until the sheer want of breath” she sank “exhausted into her seat.” Nor have I ever seen such a thing happen in the meetings of any other denomination. The anecdote which illustrates their “’cuteness” is disgusting, and reveals the nature of the sources whence your correspondent obtained his information. Need I be more explicit, and say that only a woman of a very low order would ever do what a “Dundee Working Man” attributes to this one? Moreover, the fact that a husband or wife would tell such a thing to outsiders shows their character and class too well to necessitate further comment. I will not criticise farther. If your correspondent, as he says, has, to his own mind, “neither extolled their virtues nor exaggerated their follies,” all I have to say in, either his judgment [sic] is at fault or he judges all from a very few examples of a very low class. This is the first of “Dundee Working Man’s” letters that I have seen. I may not get another People’s Journal soon, as this section is so overflowed with water as to prevent the running of trains. If I do, however, and find such absurd statements I shall feel bound, with your permission, Mr Editor, to correct them, I hope “Dundee Working Man” will be more careful hereafter to be sure that a fact which be represents as generally true is really so, and not exceptional.

Hoping you will publish this, I am, Mr Editor, yours, &c.,

D. Kinlay, jun.

New Iberia, Louisiana, United States,

April 2, 1882.

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 10.’ by a Correspondent in New York (22 April, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on Mormonism. An extremely contentious issue at the time which inspired much suspicion (see Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 novel ‘A Study in Scarlet’.

The Mormon Question.

One of the greatest questions now agitating the people of this country is, Shall Mormonless be permitted to continue its baneful, pernicious, and unholy despotism in this country, or shall we blot out for ever this deep stain on America’s [illegible]? Utah, the land of the Mormons, lies to the far west, almost direct west from New York. It s for the most part in a deep basin, surrounded by high mountains—the Great Salt Lake basin—and the lakes and rivers have no outlet. The Great Salt Lake is 100 miles long and 50 broad. There are 84,000 square miles in the territory. The soil is fertile and the climate, though dry and cool, is very healthy. About three-fourths dry and cool, is very healthy. About three-fourths of the inhabitants are Mormons. At the present time there are about 125,000 Mormons in Utah, and in the neighbouring States or territories 35,000 more. Some of your readers may not know to what extent this brutalising system is allowed to go on here. A celebrated New York preacher, the Rev. Dr Newman, speaking of Mormonism recently, said:—“Mormonism is a political body in the disguise of a church. It s a nullification, disloyalty, treason. It is a despotism, and the head of the Church is the despot. His immediate kingdom is Utah, with 150,000 deluded people; his remote kingdom is the world, and all men are his subjects. He is styled ‘prophet,’ ‘seer,’ and ‘revelator,’ and assumes that he is the only mediator through whom Jehovah reveals His will to man. He assumes infallibility, and claims the right to direct everything, from the slightest matter to the most important. The Mormons are bound to consult him. He claims the exclusive right to marry and to divorce. Each Mormon is required to pay one-tenth of his possessions when he enters the Church, and thereafter to pay one-tenth of his annual increases. This amount is paid over in trust for the saints to the President of the Church, who is to-day the richest man in America. As a civil and an ecclesiastical ruler the head of Mormondom claims the right to sentence offenders to death, and the twelve apostles believe in slaying the Lord’s enemies, no matter whom they may be. Mormonism is anti-republican. It is a kingdom within our Republic. It is a despotism under our own flag. It dreams of the conquest of the world. Polygamy is an incidental evil of this monstrous political despotism in our midst. We are reaping the evils of procrastination. We have dallied with this iniquity till it now alarms us. We esteemed Mormonism a standing joke to be laughed out of existence, but to-day it commands out most serious attention. We said it would succumb to the march of civilisation. In 1850 we organised a Territorial Government composed of Mormons, and thus recognised the Government. We have allowed the national domain to be parcelled out by that Territorial Legislature, and most of it by fraud. We have suffered emigrants to enter Utah from all lands. We have consented that all such persons should be clothed with the rights of citizenship, and we have permitted the women of that Territory to be invested with the power of the ballot, which women are white slaves. We have waited till the enemy is organised into secret military forces in the possession of arms, and who are now drilling for their advance. Nay, more, for ten years Republicans and Democrats have sat in Congress with a Mormon and a polygamist, who has recently flaunted in the face of the nation his contempt for the law of 1862. These are out delinquencies.” Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 10.’ by a Correspondent in New York (22 April, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 9.’ by a Correspondent in New York (15 April, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

Advice To Emigrants.

In the Southern Atlantic States there is a fine climate, and much good land offered at reasonable prices, but with the exception of Florida, the social, political, and educational conditions of these States are not such as to make emigration to them desirable. These States are ruled too much by the pistol, the rifle, and the shot-gun to make life agreeable there. Florida is obtaining a large number of northern settlers, and though some portions of the State are subject to malarious fevers, and its principal towns suffer from yellow fever, the climate in the interior is delightful, and the culture of the orange, lemon, fig, and other semi-tropical fruits is becoming large and profitable. Land in desirable portions of the State is in much demand, and is bringing higher prices than that I have named in other States. Tennessee (East Tennessee in particular), has much desirable land, having a delightful climate, great mineral wealth, and much valuable timber; and in many places a fertile soil. A number of large [illegible] from great Great Britain have already located themselves here, and most of them are doing well. Land can be obtained at low prices, especially if purchased for colonies in large tracts. In Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa there are no very desirable lands belonging to the Government. Some railroad Directors and others have land grants, and will sell alternate sections to settlers at from six to ten dollars per acre. These lands being on trunk railroad lines are in many cases desirable as investments. Minnesota has a fertile soil, great enterprise, and a magnificent future. The climate in winter is cold, but dry and uniform. In summer it is delightful. In the western portion of the State is the best land for spring wheat in the United States. This region is attracting great numbers of emigrants. Land in every way desirable can now be procured in this region under the Homestead Act or under the Timber Culture Act. Every citizen of the United States, or those who declare their intention to become such, over twenty-one years of age, whether male or female (except the married female), possesses three rights entitling him or her to 480 acres of Government land, a pre-emption homestead, and an entry under the Timber Culture Act. A pre-emption is a fourth of a section, or 160 acres of land obtained by occupancy and improvement and the payment of 1 dollar 25 cents per acre, or 200 dollars for 160 acres. Payment can be made at any time after 6 months, or within 33 months from date of entry, and a deed obtained allowing to dispose of or hold the purchase at will. A homestead is a similar tract obtained by the payment of 14 dollars Government fees, and the continued occupancy and improvement of the land for five successive years. Persons are not required to remain on it uninterruptedly, but an abandonment for six months works a forfeiture. Those who prefer, and are able, can secure a title after six months by paying the pre-emption price. A claim under the Timber Culture Act is secured by paying 14 dollars Government fees, and the planting of tree seeds or cuttings to the amount of ten acres. Three years time is allowed for this, making the cost merely nominal. Two years are allowed before any trees need be planted, and the entire expense, if done by employed labour, will not exceed 120 dollars for the entry. Persons entering a claim for timber culture are not require to occupy it, or even go upon it, if they do not desire to do so. The improvements can be made by employed help. Every individual may enter either pre-emption or homestead, and a claim under the Timber Culture Act at the same time, making 320 acres, and often fulfilling the requirements of the law regulating either of these former two, can exercise his remaining unoccupied right giving him 480 acres. Persons wishing to enter these lands must appear in person at a Territorial Untied States Land office, or before a Clerk of the Court for the country in which the land is located.

I have tried to make this rather complicated land getting system as easy of understanding as I could. It can scarcely be thoroughly understood at the first glance; but I have no doubt but those who intend coming here in the agricultural interest will give this or any other and better description of how land can be obtained in this country more than a passing glance. My information is not based on any claptrap advertisements or agencies. The most of it is taken from statistics published by the Statistical Bureau at Washington and from reliable parties who have been in and seen the workings of the most of our States. I could give you an account of more of our States and Territories, but as they are something of a repetition of the others, I conclude it would be too dry for the generality of your readers. Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 9.’ by a Correspondent in New York (15 April, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 8.’ by a Correspondent in New York (8 April, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on employment.

Employment Agencies—How to Purchase Land—Best States to Settle In.

Before referring to the principal States which are most recommended to those who follow agricultural industry, allow me to warn all intending emigrants, of what ever class or sex, not to be led away be advertisements, whether in newspapers or otherwise, inviting there to patronise what are called “intelligence offices” or “employment agencies.” The advertisement generally reads something like this—“All unemployed help gladly assisted in obtaining employment. Call from 10 to 2. Merchants Mutual, 42 Fourth Avenue.” There are a great many such offices in large cities here. I have no doubt some of them are honest enough, but the difficulty is in knowing which is which.

Again there is another form of getting employment when emigrants (or greenhorns as they are called) land here; it is termed “The Castle Garden Labour Bureau.” I believe this Bureau is an honest affair. But I think it is far better for the emigrants, both male and female, to bring, if they can, a little money with them, so that they can go to any place where they may have relations or acquaintances, or where they have some knowledge that some particular State or place has more inducements than others for them. The following is a summary of the number of emigrants who were provided with work by the Labour Bureau last year, with the wages paid to farm hands and female servants:—

Males. Females.
Irish, 11,131 8,863
German, 23,812 1,125
Scandinavians, 812 273
Russians and Poles, 912 21
Swiss, 1,070 166
Hungarians and Bohemians, 585 147
English, Scotch, and Welsh, 522 302
French, 106 28
Hollanders, 58 9
Italians, 32 5
Arabs, 3
Turks, 3 1
Canadians, 10
Armenians, 2

The average monthly wages paid to farm labourers and female servants for whom work was procured, according to the statistics of the Labour Bureau, was as follows:— Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 8.’ by a Correspondent in New York (8 April, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 7’ by a Correspondent in New York (1 April, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on literature and a visit to Niagara falls.

Literature—Extravagance—Amusements—

Barnum’s Show—Visit to Niagara

                If there is one thing above another in which you far excel the Yankees it is in literature. We have two or three good magazines and a few good newspapers, but, generally speaking, the American press is very frivolous. The one half is taken up with politics, and the other half with anything that is horrible, sensational, or laughable. But what must I say in speaking of periodicals? All I have seen are of the Jack Sheppard and Claude Duval kind. But such stuff pleases the readers, and, I suppose, pays the publishers. But the literature of America wants the backbone of the literature of Great Britain. But we must not lay all this to the blame of Brother Jonathan himself. We must remember the heterogeneous mass of people there are in this country. The cosmopolitan character of nationalities which are represented in America may be gathered from the fact that over fifty different kinds, embracing every land and clime in Europe—Asia, Africa, and Australasia—landed in New York last year. So that in printing matter there are lots of different tastes to be considered.

There is one class besides the Chinese who are held in low estimation in America—viz., the poor darkie. As far as I have ever seen there is nothing but his colour (a thing he cannot help) to mark him out as not being in most respects the equal of his brother of the North. Not long ago ta conductor of a street car was fined for turning one out of his car merely because his skin was black, and there is a manager of a theatre going to appear as defendant in a case where he turned one out of his place of amusement. There was a Yankee who was going a-fishing and took a young ebony along with him. On crossing a very dangerous ferry the young darkie fell overboard. The Yank instantly sprang after him. Both were nearly drowned before they were got on board the boat again, and the rest of the white passengers began to remonstrate with the white man for being so foolish as to risk his life for a negro. He replied—“I didn’t care a cuss for the darned black whelp, but he had all the bait in his pocket.

I think it was Geordie the Third that said, “Sailors earned their money like horses and spent it like asses.” I think this may apply very well to Americans generally, for they win good wages by working hard, and they are not slow in spending them. It is quite a common thing for a young man to take his sweetheart or a married man to take his wife out on Sunday in a vehicle and drive her all round the town, and in winter the wife or sweetheart thinks herself slighted if she is not taken out sleigh riding. Why, this very day (second day of the year) I saw dozens and dozens of working men with their wives and sweethearts sleigh riding, and very expensive riding it is too. It is a very poor working man’s house that has not either an organ or piano in it, and almost every one has got a sewing machine. Then as to theatres, circuses, wild beast shows, and such like, they must be patronised. Some of these shows are of great magnitude, and can only pay in large places, but this does not hinder the people who live in smaller places from seeing them, for they will lose a day’s wages, pay railway fare, and all incidental expenses to see them. The great showman Barnum consolidated with another large show last year, and went round the country. Among other large places he visited Syracuse. At that time I was working 27 miles off, but the workmen where I was resolved to take a day and go to see the show, and I was as stupid as to follow suit. This cost each of us two and a half dollars for wages, one half dollar for railway fare (special train for the occasion), one half dollar for admission to the show, one half dollar for dinner and tea—total, four dollars or sixteen shillings and eightpence to see a circus and wild beast show. I have said that the shows are of great size here. On that occasion there were fifteen thousand people under one canvas roof. They performed in three rings at the same time. To show the extent of their menagerie they had twenty-one elephants, one of them a baby a few months old. Everything belonging to this exhibition was on the same scale. This beats your Wombwell of your Newsome, doesn’t it? Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 7’ by a Correspondent in New York (1 April, 1882)”