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  • Oct. 21, 1871


    [About the Chicago Fire]

    Chicago has fallen. A stay has been put on that mighty growth and rapid progress, of which she was the modern exemplar and epitome. The magnificence of her enterprises—the munificence of her merchant princes—were a marvel and an astonishment. Bu the mysterious decree has gone out against her, and now her glory is taken away and she mourns in the ashes of her desolation. Like Tyre and Carthage, those old cities of the sea, she is not; but unlike them she will rise again in strength renewed. The giant Northwest will arm against misfortune, and putting forth all its energies will find its chances even in this enormous reverse.

    If sympathy avail aught against the overwhelming calamities of this life, Chicago has the deep commiseration of all cities in the New World and the Old. They lament with her in her great sorrow. Theirs will be no meaningless woe—it will resolve itself into action.

    Meanwhile, let individuals remember that it is individuals who suffer. Public misfortune means personal affliction. The pressure is fearful. Let all whose hearts are not dead to human feeling remember that food, clothing shelter are required—the most urgent, most absolute needs of our common nature. Leave off wringing of hands and crying aloud. Give liberally, according to your means; but, be it little or be it much, bethink yourself that "now" is the time. Stand not on the order of your giving, but give at once.


    Everyone knows that the city has been robbed. Millions of dollars spent in furnishing furniture that never knew saw, hammer nor nail; nine millions spent on carpets that never passed through the loom, and so on; Accounts of these robberies in every hand, the items in every mouth. The public speculators denounced and pointed at, but nothing done; nothing can be done. The Seventy may rage, but the wicked do not even tremble.

    The [Tammany] Ring is not busted yet. It is assailed, but it is intact. By the fearful and wonderful provisions of our laws and charters we have a set of public servants who, being once appointed, cannot be discharged. They must be impeached before they can be removed. If they have only backbone enough to stand fast, and are thick-skinned enough to defy the slings and arrows of an outraged public, they may keep where they are; for do they not hold the impeaching power in their breeches pockets. The Wynans business settled that point. Injunctions against the issue of bonds amount to little; they only mean that the city creditor shall not be paid, but not that the defaulters may not create new debts. There is one drop of comfort in this cup of misery. The contrast with Democratic-New York and Republican Washington. While the city has gone on piling an Ossa of expenses on a Pelion of debts, the National Administration goes on reducing expenses and paying off debts, not as wisely or as considerately as it might do, perhaps, but still doing the work appointed. The government high officials are men of moderate fortunes, which they can for the most art trace back to private, not official sources; in other words, they are in the main honest—live cleanly and die decently. Our civic dignitaries are in possession of enormous fortunes—they toil not neither do they spin. Producing nothing, their business is to live sumptuously, to wear fine linen and diamonds, and to work the wires.

    is there no remedy for this monstrous state of affairs. None, while the people are content; wh8ile each is more intent on his own daily gains than on the welfare or morality of the community; If reputable men felt they owed a duty to their country, and in place of dreary Fourth of July preachments about the value of freedom would only recognize the copybook maxim that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance; in short, if knowing their duty, they would turn to d and do it,, there might be some hope. As it is, the honest being inactive the rogues and their satellites have it all their own way; Nor is there any hope of change until some enormity so intolerable that it breaks even long-suffering patience. Then the people may perhaps rise and drive all before them, like chaff before the wind. But this means revolution, and out of revolution comes for the most part one man power.

    Will honesty and common sense for once lay aside their indifference and take action, or do they prefer the risks of inaction, calmly folding the hands, and saying, "It will last my time!"




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    Webmaster's Note: Except for some headings, these are actual extracts from the Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly. Some spelling and punctuation has been changed. If an article was too long, some sentences were removed. Sentences or paragraphs that have been removed are indicated with the ellipsis (....)