Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
Concerning Charity

By John R. Lawson

(Part of a statement before the United States Commission on Industrial Relations, 1915. The writer was the representative of the miners in charge of the Colorado strike, and went to work as a pit-boy at the age of eight)
THERE is another cause of industrial discontent. This is the skillful attempt that is being made to substitute Philanthropy for Justice. There is not one of these foundations, now spreading their millions over the world in showy generosity, that does not draw those millions from some form of industrial injustice. It is not their money that these lords of commercialized virtue are spending, but the withheld wages of the American working-class.  1
  I sat in this room and heard a great philanthropist read the list of activities of his Foundation “to promote the well-being of mankind.” An international health commission to extend to foreign countries and peoples the work of eradicating the hookworm; the promotion of medical education and health in China; the investigations of vice conditions in Europe; one hundred thousand dollars for the American Academy in Rome, twenty thousand a year for widows’ pensions in New York, one million for the relief of Belgians, thirty-four millions for the University of Chicago, thirty-four millions for a General Education Board. A wave of horror swept over me during that reading, and I say to you that that same wave is now rushing over the entire working-class of the United States. Health for China, a refuge for birds in Louisiana, food for the Belgians, pensions for New York widows, university training for the elect—and never a thought or a dollar for the many thousands of men, women and children who starved in Colorado, for the widows robbed of husbands and children of their fathers, by law-violating conditions in the mines. There are thousands of this great philanthropist’s former employees in Colorado today who wish to God that they were in Belgium to be fed, or birds to be cared for tenderly.  2

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