E. D. Linton, “Political Platform for the Coming Party” (1871)

  • E. D. Linton, Political platform for the coming party, Boston : [s.n.], 1871.
  • William West and E. D. Linton, “Political platform for the coming party,” Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly 4 no. 9(January 13, 1872): 3-4.
  • “Edward D. Linton,” The Index 8 no. 400 (August 23, 1877): 403.

This text, issued as an anonymous pamphlet, is sometimes attributed to Josiah Warren himself, but seems to have been the work of his friend Edward D. Linton, a social reformer of some significance himself. I’ve appended an short biographical notice of Linton from The Index.

 

“POLITICAL PLATFORM FOR THE COMING PARTY.”

Some time in August last a pamphlet bearing the above title was sent to my address by Mr. E. D. Linton, of Charlestown, Mass. That gentleman is the author of it, and he need not be ashamed of his work. It would have been printed before this in the Weekly but for the pressure of other. matter relating to the same movement which seemed to be of more immediate importance. Now, however, that a very private conference is to be held in this city on the second Tuesday in January, “72, for the discussion of the questions treated in this pamphlet, its insertion in these columns should not be longer delayed; but my friend Mr. Linton will excuse the following criticism.

The entire programme reminds me of the play of “Hamlet,” with the part of Hamlet omitted—that is to say, of the Platform of the “New Democracy” as first presented, or the recent improved platform of the International Workingmen’s Association, minus the political changes in forms of government necessary to the attainment of the required conditions. Ina little pamphlet printed nearly three years ago, setting forth the programme of the “New Democracy,” I added a few words, under the head of “The Referendum, to the following effect:

The reader of the preceding pages will not fail to notice that the new democracy contemplates nothing less than a radical reorganization of society upon the basis of equality, so that in every department of industry, trade, commerce, education and insurance, the State may be substituted for the individual, just when and where the individual fails or neglects to perform the duties incumbent upon him. In the execution of this work, however, it is found that the State itself requires reformation or reorganization, Representative self-government, as our system of legislation has been termed, has become, in fact, the Rule of Privileged Individuals, so that the several National, State and municipal legislative bodies reek with corruption, and no man can be safely trusted in any legislative body. ‘The New Democracy, therefore, propose to amend the constitutions of the United States and of the several States in such a manner that all acts of the several legislative bodies may be submitted to the people for ratification.

My opinions remain unchanged. Existing forms of government must undergo a change corresponding to the changes in human conditions that the necessities of humanity demands. Everybody is wiser than anybody. But, then, everybody needs “schooling” (so to speak), and the schools should be so numerous that teacher and scholar may be brought into direct communication, and permitted occasionally to change places, so that the scholar may become teacher, and vice versa, Authority has had its day. Whatever is done hereafter in the name of the people must be done by the people. Any other way of even doing right is paying “too dear for the whistle.” Virtue were more vicious thin vice itself, if imposed on an unwilling people by a Despotism of any description. The reaction is too great for human endurance.

William West.


PRINCIPLES WHICH SEEM TO BE SELF-EVIDENT.

  1. That every human being has an equal and inalienable right to all natural wealth, viz., land, air, water, light and other primitive productions of the earth, and to the free and unrestricted use of them so far as is necessary for his or her maintenance; and, therefore, no human bring can have any right to sell or convey any of these to his fellow, and can rightfully traffic only in his or her own time and labor and the products of the same, and in sacrifices made and risks incurred,
  2. That no powers can be delegated to any government which each individual does not himself or herself possess.
  3. That all governments exercising any powers not specifically delegated to, them by the persons governed are usurpations and frauds.
  4. That every person of sane mind and capable of self-support is rightful sovereign of his or her own person, property and responsibilities, and has a right to repel, and to combine with others to repel, all aggressors upon these sovereign rights—be they individuals, or organizations called governments; but to go beyond this is to become, in turn, invasive and criminal.
  5. That what one person may rightfully do many persons rightfully do as a society or state, but what is wrong or criminal in an individual is just as wrong and criminal in a state or nation; and what one person may rightfully do he may delegate power to another to do for him; but as no person has any right to give, grant or sell land, but only his improvements thereon, no such power can be delegated to any government; and therefore all “titles” to land (except the useful occupation or culture of the same), are of no more validity than a bill of sale of a human being.
  6. That “profits” beyond compensation for service performed—that is, speculation in the products of labor, is indefensible on any principle of justice, and that only service performed in the production; transportation or vending of commodities, time employed in rendering service, sacrifices made and risks incurred, are legitimate subjects of price at all; and that price should be an equivalent for such time, service or sacrifice. In other words, “costs should be the limit of price.”
  7. That labor or service for labor or service, in equitable exchange, will make civilization a condition of peace, plenty and security, instead of a condition of war, poverty and insecurity (which latter is mainly the condition of all human society at present), and a circulating medium (or money) which does not, secure the equitable exchange of labor is spurious and vicious, and belongs to the barbarous past, Money should be a promise of a known and expressed quantity of labor or service of a definite kind, and which will procure for us from day to day and from year to year the same amount of labor or service that we gave for it.

 

REMARKS.

The popular errors of so-called political economists, and of men claiming to be statesmen, viz., that “demand and Supply should regulate price,” and that “money should be the measure of value,” are not only totally irreconcilable with the sacred principle of equity, and equally at variance with the maxim “‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” but are monstrous falsities, as the subjugated and impoverished condition of the producers of wealth everywhere testifies. The law of demand and supply should have no more to do with regulating price then it has with regulating the weather. “Demand” should regulate “supply,” but not price.

If any one thinks that money should be the measure of value, will he please to tell how much money it will take to measure the value of a cup of cold water to a man famishing with thirst?

We want a money that will measure costs and not values; and the money now used In the United States may be made to do that, perhaps to a satisfactory degree, by issuing it and redeeming it on the cost principle, as hereinafter proposed; and the intelligent reader will understand in what sense the word cost is here used.

MEASURES.

If the foregoing principles are sound, it is certainly desirable to understand and act upon them ; and though we cannot hope to bring them at once into practice, we can at least take action which still tend in the right direction

First of all, our legislators must be made to recognize and bear in mind that they are elected to act as agents, and not as masters, of their constituents; and that the greatest service they can perform for the people just now is to remove the obstacles they have placed in the way of successful life.

Among these are the laws prohibiting individual or free banking, and giving the monopoly of furnishing a. circulating medium to corporations, and delivering the public lands into the hands of speculators, and thereby laying a foundation for a landed aristocracy in this country.

Herein the right of any person, potentate, king or government of any kind, to give any further titles to land is denied, and solemnly protested against now and evermore; but the right to occupy and cultivate any land, unoccupied or uncultivated, and to give, sell and convey such improvements, should be protected by the whole power of all the people.

The millions of acres given to railroad speculators within the last ten years must be restored to the public domain; and, as a means to this and other great ends, it is proposed to tax all lands alike—not by their value, but by the acre, whether improved and occupied or not; and that all other modes of raising revenue for the support of the National government, except the tax on incomes, be abandoned.

And we demand that our legislative agents immediately look to the abolition of all statutes interfering with or dictating, directly or indirectly (by tariffs), what we shall eat, what we shall drink, or wherewith we shall be clothed.

Our postal system should be overhauled—so that, instead of a mass of absurd rules, continually changing and impossible to be understood and remembered, and instead of friendly correspondence being taxed twelve times as much as the advertisements of speculators and the schemes of office-seekers, all matter passing through the post office should be taxed impartially, one item for handage and another in proportion to weight—both together balancing the costs necessarily incurred.

THE NATIONAL DEBT.

As the late war had its origin in’ injustice to labor, and was conducted mainly in the interests of speculators, property holders, office holders and office seekers, the national debt should be paid by them, instead of by the workers, who have nothing but insufficient wages to live on.

MEASURES CONCERNING MONEY.

1. The repeal of all statutes prohibiting any citizens from becoming bankers.

2. The issuing by the National Government of promissory notes (similar to ‘‘greenbacks”) to the amount of the cost of the postal business of the United States (say $25,000,000 per annum), and receivable in payment for postal service and all other government dues.

3. That the National or State governments furnish railroad transit for freight and passengers at cost (precisely as it has always done the postal business), and that they issue promissory notes for railroads purchased, and for the labor and material employed in constructing others, to the amount of the cost of said road and management, and redeemable in such railroad service and all other government dues.

To this end the government must purchase all existing railroads at an equitable price, or build new ones parallel with those already existing, and build new roads wherever needed.

4. That the National or State governments take possession, by equitable purchase, of all the mines and quarries of every description within the jurisdiction of the United States, and work them at cost; and that they issue promissory notes (similar to greenbacks), in payment fcor the purchase, labor, material and management of said mines and quarries, to the amount of the costs thereof, and redeemable in the products of said mines and quarries at cost price, and also for all government dues.

5. That the National or State governments furnish the telegraphing of the country on the foregoing principles.

6. That wherever gas or water is introduced to supply large towns or cities, it should be done by the town and city corporations on the same principle.

These five departments of business, if managed by the National, State or Municipal governments, as the Postal business is now conducted, would probably furnish all the circulating medium or currency necessary, and there could never be too much, unless there can be too much on a “bill of lading,” representing the goods which are safely and securely on board a ship. It would be the safest and soundest possible; it would be issued and redeemed naturally and without interest, and would put a stop to speculation—the spoliator of legitimate business and the plunderer of the producers of wealth. It would enhance the production, the business and consequent wealth of the country probably ten fold, and make it possible for every person to have all the comforts and elegances of life. In other words, poverty would soon be abolished, peace would prevail and security of person and property be established, and millionaires and paupers would become extinct.

Hours of labor not to exceed eight per day on any public works.

The following is the reading of the kind of money proposed, of the denomination of dollars, without the vignette:

The United States promise to pay

DOLLARS

to bearer, on demand, in Freight or Passage on any United States Railroad, at the rate of — cents per mile for one passenger, or — cents per cwt. for freight [or — in ounces of unalloyed silver at the United States Treasury; in tons of pig iron at the mine; in tons of coal at the mine; in pounds of copper; in grains of gold; in pounds of salt; or in any other commodity, as the case may require!

—–

This Note is receivable for all debts due the United States.

A “dollar,” as now used, is no more the measure of either “costs” or “values” than an india-rubber yardstick would be the measure of cloth. The kind of notes above proposed promise something definite to measure the dollar by, and it is thought that the different kinds of labor or service, and commodities included in the foregoing notes, may be sufficient to compare all other labor to, and to measure it by; and that therefore all notes issued by the government for other purposes may, perhaps, safely conform to the “greenbacks” now in circulation, with the exceptions of the “legal tender” clause, and the gold interest and gold payment on duties on import clauses,

The following is the reading of the notes proposed, to take the place of the “greenbacks” now in circulation:

The United States promise to pay to bearer,

ONE DOLLAR.

—–

This note is receivable for all debts due the United States.

Nothing should be a “legal tender” between citizens except just what the creditor agreed to take. A contract, to be of any binding force, should be—

1st. Possible of fulfillment.

2d. It must be understood alike by both or ail parties to it.

3d. It should be just.

If any of the States or Municipalities within the United States undertake the ownership and management of any of the enterprises proposed in the preceding pages (which it is no doubt very desirable they should, if they would do it on the cost principle), the money should be furnished by the United States, at cost, on the credit of the State or Municipality, in a way similar to that by which it now furnishes money called “blackbacks” to the national banks.

A Circulating medium or money thus furnished by the government, would so instruct the whole people as to what a civilized money should be, that, at no distant day, public opinion would demand that all business owned and managed by individuals or companies should be conducted on the “cost” principle: and land tenures being based only upon useful occupation or culture, and all lands not so occupied being restored to the public domain, a government simply of business agents would be all the government that would be needed.

E. D. Linton,
Charlestown, Mass.


Edward D. Linton.

Edward D. Linton died on the morning of the 17th inst, aged sixty-three. Twenty months had passed since he was stricken down with paralysis, while attending a labor-meeting at John A. Andrew Hall. A year or so previous he had been deprived of work as ship-carpenter at the Navy Yard in consequence of the support he gave General Banks, then running for Congress in opposition to the regular Republican candidate. From that time he was unable to obtain steady employment, and times went hard with him. He was not of the complaining spirit, and only his most intimate friends realized the struggle he passed through. Goethe’s mother said of him: “When my son has a sorrow he makes a poem of it.” So by a native impulse Mr. Linton was wont to turn to good account whatever misfortune befell him. He did not permit the absence of “civil service reform” at the Navy Yard to discourage him; he was stimulated to greater efiort in the cause he had so early espoused. But it also maybe said to have helped hasten his death, quickening a mind already too active and unremitting in its labors. Mr. Linton was naturally of a robust constitution, and he held on to life with a tenacity that was marvellous, scarcely partaking of nourishing food during his long illness. Nature at last reluctantly gave way, and in death he was only a skeleton; but up to the last moment, save some temporary wanderings in the first part of his sickness, his mind held its steady poise; his intellectual vision was clear and serene.

Mr. Linton was born at Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard. He early went to New Bedford, and was apprenticed to a boat-builder. There, besides long hours at his trade, he persevered in his own education, declining for that purpose the almost imperative command of his employer to attend church, he feeling that he could and ought to spend his spare hours better. It is plain, however, although he had as then not thought very seriously on the subject, his young life had been tinged with scepticism touching the Orthodox creed. For when he chanced to stray into the Unitarian Church and listen to Orville Dewey, he told a young friend that he had just heard for the first time something he could believe. After that, when Waldo Emerson was for a short time occupying the Unitarian pulpit there, he and his friend both went into raptures, and felt that they were “living in a new world.” At the age of nineteen he was trying to give expression to his thoughts in the Boston Investigator, then under the management of Abner Kneeland. ‘

But Mr. Linton’s experience as an apprentice, and the general condition of the working-people with whom he came in contact, made the deepest impression on his mind, and turned him to thinking of measures of relief for the common laboring class. He espoused the “ten-hour” proposal, and labored for it until President Van Buren’s order adopting it as the system on all government works.

Mr. Linton was early in the anti-slavery movement, but not without his eyes still open for the wrongs of all races, and with a word for their redress. It is related that he presented in an anti-slavery convention a resolution to the effect that there were working people in England whose prospect for them: selves and their children’s children was no whit better than that of slaves of the Southern States; that the abolition of chattel slavery was only one phase of a world-wide problem. He thus early

“In grasp of thought the future held,”

and lived to hear the news of the country’s awakening forty years later to the reality of his vision. Mr. Linton’s zeal in the anti-slavery cause was in no ways lessened by this larger view. He was the one young man determined Frederick Douglass should have a hearing in New Bedford. When the bill-poster dared not risk his life in putting up’ the bills, he traversed the city one cold winter night, and the next morning at every street-corner the people had “the news,”—they Were to be “agitated” on the subject of human freedom by an ex-slave. Mr. Linton’s anti-slavery work, though less prominent than some, was always to be counted on. He was an intimate friend of N. P. Rogers, and by his transcendental instincts allied himself mainly with that wing of the old abolitionists, which Rogers may be said to have led.

As a labor-reformer Mr. Linton has had quite a following of quiet but interested friends. Much of his work has been in social conversation, though he has contributed to several periodicals, and published some discussions of the labor-question in book-form. Among the latter may be mentioned Specific Payments Better than Specie Payments, and Conversations on the Currency; this last is now going through the press.

Mr. Linton early became acquainted with Josiah Warren, and remained his life-long friend. His views of labor were largely influenced by Mr. Warren, and he became a full believer in Mr. Warren’s Cost Principle; but it was as the result of careful study and mature conviction. Intellectually he stood on his own feet; not too proud to learn of others, but desiring that whatever he received should be made his own by intelligent appreciation, and so become a part of his own thought. And then the unresting desire of his life was to impart to others willing to receive all he had gained for himself.

Aside from all questions of reform, all consideration of new views, there always stands a question friendship delights to answer: What of the man himself? Few, if any, in Mr. Linton‘s wide circle of acquaintances are not eager to give almost unrestricted expression to their sentiments of deepest esteem. No one is blest in life in whose nature friendships are not folded and sacredly cherished. Mr. Linton’s life was rendered happy in this respect from his cradle to his grave. We do not fail to remember here the faithful love, the untiring devotion of his nearest companion in life, as through weeks and months, day and night, she has watched and ministered to his helplessness, until now she is herself stricken down and rendered an invalid, perchance, for life. It is no slight tribute to Mr. Linton that he could inspire the affection and sacrifice of one so gifted intellectually, so modest and true in all her ways.

Theodore Parker in discussing the forms of greatness, speaks of four different kinds: bodily greatness. crafty greatness, intellectual greatness, and religious greatness. Of the two former, Mr. Linton could not boast. His claim to the third in eminent degree his friends may assert. By the fourth, Mr. Parker meant the power of “justice, love, and-obedience to the Eternal Right.” If to be obedient in this wise is to be religious, Mr. Linton was a religious man, one among ten thousand. If true greatness comes also of such obedience, Mr. Linton achieved true greatness and true success. .His life has not been a public one, but one hid in its own unselfishness. The public will not be able to lay its hand upon any great finished work or institution he has established. The work he did was without observation; but none the less great it may have been for that reason. Who can tell the force or the flight of an idea? Mr. Linton sowed as not expecting to reap again, save in the surety of his own soul that he did not sow in vain. “He lived the life he desired to,” said one at his funeral, “and it was beautiful.”

“The sun set, but set not his hope.
Stars rise; his faith was earlier up.
Fixed on the enormous galaxy,
Deeper and older seemed his eye;
And matched his sufferance sublime
The taciturnity of time.”

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