Lapas attēli

lapse of the subsidized interests? It has been the history of every such undertaking that when the bounty is stopped the ship ceases to run. The fate of the great Collins Line is a striking example of this. Commencing about 1850, this line consisting of a fleet of the finest ships then afloat, received a subsidy of $850,000 a year for several years, and as soon as this was withdrawn the line went to pieces.

HOW SHALL WE CREATE A MERCHANT MARINE? When this bill shall have met a deserved death at the hands of the representatives of the people it is to be hoped that legislation will be had that will deal with conditions now paralyzing our merchant marine, and not attempt to pay avoidable losses in a naturally profitable business out of the Public Treasury. Divorce shipowning from the legislative union with shipbuilding. Let the American buy his ship where he will, and give him the same right to his country's flag for this property as for any other property he may own. The shipbuilders will stiil have the complete monopoly in building the ships used in the coastwise trade. It may be that at first he will go to a foreign market for his ships, but let this natural right be enjoyed under conditions that permit real trade by America with the nations of the earth; trade that means buying as well as selling. Let the tariff bars be put down, so that commerce is no longer shackled and American ships can have an incoming as well as outgoing cargo, and the marine will so grow and expand that shipbuilders, freed from extortion in prices of material used in construction, can specialize, and the shipyards of America will dominate the shipbuilding industry as of old. What idle folly to put the shipowner in an artificial market of prices for all he must buy, hamper his carrying trade by wall of exclusion against all imports, and then turn him loose for what little trade is left to the world's competition on the high seas. How long will the selfish interests of subsidized manufacturers strangle the calling of a race naturally bred to the sea ? The whole case is well stated in the following extract from an editorial of the Washington Herald of January 25, which we submit to the consideration of the real friends of an American merchant marine:

Our foreign commerce would be greatly encouraged by the removal of obstructive tariffs, and there would be hundreds of American steamers engaged in the carrying trade if only American citizens were permitted to buy foreignbuilt vessels and fly the Stars and Stripes over them. What objection to this alternative method is there, save only that it flies in the face, not of sound economic theory and actual commercial experience, but of the stand-pat doctrine of protection to American industry?

We forbid the flying of an American flag over any but home-built craft; we impose heavy and almost prohibitive tariffs upon the materials used in ship construction; we make it possible for the steel trust to sell abroad at lower prices than at home and to exact monopoly prices from home consumers; we restrict commerce by tariffs intended to prevent foreigners from selling to us; we refuse to admit to our markets even the commodities our colonial subjects have to sell, and then we propose to subsidize lines of communication to the colonies and to the countries against which we have raised the almost impassable barriers of the Dingley tariff! And Secretary Root tells us, with creditable frankness, that we do all this because the protective tariff makes it impossible to do otherwise !

That is the nub of the whole matter. The same infuences that have maintained the high-tariff policy are behind the ship-subsidy scheme; the same selfish interests are promoting it, and the saddest part of it is that patriotic and high-minded men are convinced that its promotion is in the public interest and will redound to national glory. We are tangled up in the meshes of the protective policy, they say, and, instead of getting out, we are going to tangle ourselves up still more. And so we find a President who would limit swollen fortunes committed to a project which, if it accomplishes anything; will develop more swollen fortunes, advocating state aid to steamship lines as a part of our commercial system, and using his great influence to bring about an artificial policy of Government exploitation of foreign commerce, in order to avert the dire necessity of revising the tariff in conformity with the natural laws of trade.

If we would accomplish real and permanent good, let us repeal some and modify other existing laws, and if need be return to the policy of discriminating duties which was so eminently successful in the early life of the Republic. Above all things let us get away from the idea of subsidies and quit encouraging men to believe that they can not do anything without Government aid and teach them lessons of self-reliance.

In the consideration of this very question in 1816, Daniel Webster said:

How, sir, do shipowners and navigators accomplish this? How is it that they are able to meet and in some measure to overcome universal competition? Not, sir, by protection and bounties, but by unwearied exertion, by extreme economy, by unshaken perseverance, by that manly and resolute spirit which relies on itself to protect itself.

These wise, strong words of one of America's greatest statesmen may not commend themselves to the greedy spirit of this age of paternalism, but they will meet a ready response and a hearty approval in the minds of the great masses of the people who bear the burdens of Government.



Report of the president to annual convention of American Federation

of Labor on the ship-subsidy bill, November, 1906.


With the legislative committee and the representative of the Seamen's Union, Mr. Andrew Furuseth, I appeared before the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries on several occasions, conveying the Federation's protest against the passage of the so-called ship-subsidy bill, particularly upon the ground that it contained provisions which practically made conscription (compulsory naval service of seamen) a condition precedent to their einployment on privately owned vessels.

It may be necessary here to call attention to the fact that the advocates of the bill questioned the accuracy of our contention on this latter point and asterted that the naval service required is of a voluntary character.

It is true that the language employed in the bill gives the superficial appearance that such service, if undertaken, would be voluntary, but upon an examination of the language and its practical application there is no escape from the conclusion that it means, and is intended to mean, compulsory naval service in time of peace or war as a condition upon which seamen can find employment in privately owned vessels ; in other words, that seamen would be required to sign articles enlisting in the naval reserve before they would be permitted to earn their own livelihood-to support those dependent upon them.

For your information I quote the provisions of the bill bearing upon this subject. The bill is known as Senate 529 of the first session of the Fifty-ninth Congress. The provisions referred to are as follows:

“That there shall be enrolled in such manner and under such requirements as the Secretary of the Navy may prescribe, from the officers and men now and hereafter employed in the merchant marine and fisheries of the United States, including the coastwise trade of the Atlantic and Pacific and the Great Lakes, such officers, petty officers, and men as may be capable of rendering service as members of a naval reserve for duty in time of war.

* These members of the Naval Reserve shall be enrolled for a period of four years, during which period they shall be subject to render service on call of the President in time of war. They shall also possess such qualifications, receive such instructions, and be subject to such regulations as the Secretary of the Navy may prescribe.

"A vessel shall not be entitled to the subvention (subsidy) above provided for unless during the period of employment in the foreign or deep-sea fisheries the following proportions of the crew of the vessel after the dates specified shall have been enrolled in the Naval Reserve."

The bill then proceeds to prescribe the continual increased proportion of the constantly increased number of those seamen employed in privately owned vessels “who shall have been enrolled in the Naval Reserve."

It will be observed that the bill provides that enrollment of seamen is compulsory; that it prescribes that they shall be enrolled for a period of four years, compelled to render service in time of war, and subject in times of peace to the instructions and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy. And, further, that the vessels can not receive the subsidy unless there is a constantly increased number of seamen who shall have been enrolled in the naval service. It is not difficult to understand that if the owners of vessels can only receive the subsidy upon the condition that their seamen shall have enrolled themselves in the naval service, these owners will insist upon their seamen signing the articles of enlistment in order that they may be employed.

In passing it may not be amiss to say that the workingmen of our country, the organized workingmen, are no less patriotic than any of our citizens in other walks of life. In all the great events and vicissitudes when the honor, the interests, and the safety of our country have been at stake, none more promptly, zealously, and patriotically enlisted and offered their services and lives under the flag of the Republic than did the men of labor. We have lost none of our love for and devotion to our country. The past is but a presage of what the toilers of America will do should the necessity ever arise, but we can not refrain from entering an emphatic protest against an attempt to subserve a principle of civilized government and particularly republican institutions by a system of conscription and compulsory military or naval service, especially in times of peace, even if conscription and compulsory service are hidden disingenuously behind the subterfuge that they are voluntary.

The entire subject is commended to your careful consideration to determine the course which shall be pursued by your representatives.

Report of committee on " officers' reportsat Minneapolis convention Ameri

can Federation of Labor, November, 1906.


We have read and examined with care what the president says about the subsidy bill and also the bill itself. We find that the bill provides for an enlistment of the seamen in the naval service, and, in fact, makes employment on a subsidized vessel conditional upon such enlistment. It is equal to a law which would make it necessary for a carpenter, a miner, a molder, or any other tradesman to become a member of and remain in the national guard before he could work at his trade within the State in wbich he lives.

The theory upon which the bill is drawn and the reasons given by its advocates are that we have not the vessels needed as auxiliaries to the Navy and not at all the men needed to man the Navy in time of war. Accepting these contentions as facts, it is contended as reasons therefor that the cost of building a vessel in an American shipyard and the cost of sailing a vessel under the American flag in the foreign trade is so much higher than that under other flags that a subsidy is necessary. It is further contended that with an adequate subsidy we shall have more vessels, and having more vessels we shall have all the native or naturalized seamen needed.

That we have not now the necessary number of native or naturalized seamen needed for the merchant marine and the Navy is a fact not disputed; it is patent to all who are at all acquainted with maritime conditions. The American boy is not seeking the sea as a means of livelihood and the American man at sea is seeking and finding more agreeable and more remunerative employment on shore.

There is employed at present, according to the census, about 120,000 men as seamen or deep-sea fishermen under our flag, and among the seamen from 10 to 15 per cent are either natives or naturalized; the rest are men owing allegiance to other flags and not subject to draft upon order of the President.

If the seamen and fishermen employed in our fisheries and our coastwise and lake trade were either native or naturalized Americans, the number of men necessary for the Navy could at any time be obtained. The difficulty, therefore, lies not so much in the number of men as in the number of men available, and the primary cause is that for some reasons the American does not seek the sea or remain there. If the American does not seek the coastwise trade, where there is no competition with the foreign vessels and small wages and onerous conditions are not caused thereby or an excuse therefor, there seems to be no reason why he should seek employment in the foreign trade where the shipowner has the reason of competition for the wages and conditions which he imposes upon the seamen. The American ceased to go to sea because he could do better on shore than he possibly could at sea where, no matter what his industry and thrift, he could not and can not earn sufficient upon which to keep a family.

As to the cost of operating a vessel under the American flag the contention that American vessels in the foreign trade provide better quarters, more and better food, that they carry more men, and pay more wages than vessels under other flags is not based upon facts. When the steamers Paris and New York were placed under the American flag the number of firemen and coal passers and of able and ordinary seamen was reduced.

The wages of sailors and marine firemen depend upon the port in which they are engaged and the voyage they are about to make, and not at all upon the flag under which the vessel sails, and our law, enacted in 1884, gave to the shipowner the right to hire his crew in a foreign port, bring them to the United States and back to a foreign port without reshipping them in the United States. This puts him on an absolute equality as to wages, exclusive of officers, with any country with which he trades. He pays English wages if he trades with England, French wages if he trades with France, and Chinese wages if he trades with China. The law gives bim this privilege, and he avails himself of it to the fullest extent.

The other costs of operating a vessel are coal, lubricating oils, and provisions. Like other vessels, he buys it where it is cheapest. If it be a sailing vessel, it consists in spars, canvas, ropes, and blocks, and these things we furnish to other nations to a very large extent.

Since the organization of our Government no industry has been as well cared for through absolute authority over the men employed therein, through immunities granted and special privileges conferred, as has been the merchant marine. By law enacted in 1790 the seaman was made the property of the vessel upon which he served. If he sought to withdraw himself from the servitude of his master, he could be and he was arrested, put in prison, there to remain until called for by such master. If he succeeded in escaping from his service and his master, he could be and he was pursued from State to State, or from one country into another, forcibly returned to his master, and compelled to continue the labor on pain of imprisonment. When involuntary servitude was taken off the negro, by war and the thirteenth amendment, and the statutes revised accordingly, the vessel's ownership of the seaman remained undisturbed. Conditions as to quarters on board, food, and working hours were by Congress left at the discretion of the owner. Some improvements have been made, but the seaman's status yet remains that of a serf or a peon. He is still compelled to live in a place 6 feet long, 6 feet high, and 2 feet wide. In this place he has to eat, to live, and to sleep when off duty. It has been described as too large for a coffin and not large enough for a grave. He is still compelled to sign away, in the foreign trade, a certain sum of the wages to be earned in order to obtain employment. He must obey any order from the master or any other officer or go to prison; but if crippled for life by injury thereby received, he has no remedy. He must, in obtaining employment, compete with the unskilled and destitute, not only in this country, but from all nations and races. The vessels are undermanned both as to skill and number, and the shipowner is resisting every improvement by every means within his power.

In the meantime the shipowner has been relieved of risks arising from acts of God or dangers of the sea through a system of insurance; arising from piracy, through the present perfect policing of the seas; from those arising from popular local disturbances, through damages paid by such localities or States; of liabilities to the shipper, passenger, or seaman, through limitedliability laws and judicial decisions; of taxes on floating property by several States; of fees to be paid for the enforcement of navigation laws, except in some unimportant instances; of care and cure of sick seamen, cost of which is now borne by the public Treasury, and the burial of dead seamen, who are handed over to the coroner and then buried by the community; of the duty to carry a certain number of citizens in the crew of the vessel ; of the duty of training men for the sea service, now done by foreigners or in training ships at

blic expense. In addition to this he may carry as many or as few men as he pleases, with such skill or lack of skill as he chooses; he may carry as much cargo on deck, and load his vessel to any depth that he thinks profitable. There are no laws or regulations on these subjects.

He may hire, and, in a foreign port in the foreign trade, by assistance of the police, keep the cheapest men that can be found in any part of the world.

Under our coastwise navigation laws he has an absolute monopoly of all trade from one American port to another.

Under the act of 1892 he may make contracts to carry the mail, through which he receives more pay for this service than he pays in wages to every man and boy employed on his vessel as a seaman in any capacity.

Having been relieved of risks and liabilities, and having been given immunities as have been herein mentioned, and having driven the American from the sea, thereby weakening our Navy, and now employing and thereby training foreigners and men of alien and antagonistic races, making them ready to be employed by other navies, he insists upon continuing these conditions, while he urges Congress to further tax the whole American people to help him carry on his private business.

Your committee recommends that the American Federation of Labor reiterate and emphasize its condemnation of any such legislation and especially against this bill with its un-American provision for conscription.

Concurred in.


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