Ernest Crosby, “Golden Rule Jones: Mayor of Toledo” (1906)

Golden Rule Jones: Mayor of Toledo



Publishers’ Note

This sketch of Golden Rule Jones appeared originally in The Craftsman of Syracuse, New York, and is now reprinted, after revision, with the consent of the Editor of that magazine.



It was in Chicago in the winter of 1895-1896 that I made the acquaintance of Samuel Milton Jones. We had both been invited to some kind of a conference and were entertained at one of the “settlements” of the city. His fame had not reached me at that time, for he had not yet entered politics and the reports of his strange doings in the field of business had not traveled as far as New York, but I was attracted at once by the open and childlike way in which he expressed his extreme democratic views to everyone. There was in the house in which we stayed a crippled man of unprepossessing appearance who looked after the furnace and did other odd jobs in the cellar. He was, if I am not mistaken, a reclaimed tramp, one of the fruits of the good work of the residents. It was not long before Jones had discovered him, and they were soon old friends. By a certain instinct he carried his brotherly feeling where it was most needed and where it would be most valued. And I remarked then, as I often did afterward, that Jones, while frequently engrossed in his own experiences and in the problems arising from them, even to the exclusion of external suggestions, was, notwithstanding, entirely free from conceit, and acted without the slightest reference to appearances or to the opinion of the gallery. He followed out his own impulses as simply as a child.

I became naturally curious about this interesting man, and I heard some stories at this time from his own lips which I have never forgotten. But perhaps before I tell them it would be best to give a brief outline of his life. He was born on August 3, 1846, in a laborer’s stone cottage in the village of Bedd Gelert, North Wales. When he was three years old his parents emigrated to America with their family, first taking up a collection among their friends to raise the necessary” fare. They made the voyage in the steerage of a sailing vessel, and from New York they went by canal-boat up the Hudson and the Erie Canal to Utica and thence by wagon into Lewis County, New York, where his father found familiar work in the stone quarries, and still later became a tenant farmer. Sam went to the village school, and thirty months’ attendance there constituted his entire formal education. He had a great dislike for farm work, but he was obliged to take part in it as a lad. At ten years of age he worked for a farmer who routed him out of bed at four o’clock in the morning, and his day’s work did not end till sundown, for all of which he received three dollars a month. At fourteen he was employed in a sawmill and his natural taste for mechanical work began to show itself. He had been considered lazy on the farm, but he assures us that he never had a lazy hair in his head, and he makes his own case the text for a sermon on the importance of finding congenial work for boys and men. From the sawmill he passed on to the post of “wiper and greaser” in the engine room of a steamboat on the Black River and learned a good deal about the management of engines. An engineer advised him to go to the oil regions of Pennsylvania, and soon after he arrived alone at Titusville, the center of that district, with fifteen cents in his pocket. For a short time he knew what it was to search for work and not find it, and all the rest of his life he felt the deepest sympathy with men in that sad condition. He had the greatest confidence in himself, however, and, as he often pointed out, it was much easier to get work then and there than it is now anywhere. On arriving he had registered in a good hotel, trusting to luck to earn money to pay his bill, and in a short time the bill was paid. Meanwhile he wrote a letter home to his mother, but did not have a cent to buy a stamp with. Seeing a gentleman on the way to the post office, he asked him to post his letter, and then pretended to examine his pockets for the necessary three cents, whereupon the man offered to pay for it himself, which was just what young Jones had hoped he would do. Afterward Jones condemned this deception of his, and cited it as proof of the evil effect of conditions which deny the right of work to anyone. During his weary tramp in quest of a place one employer whom he accosted spoke kindly to him and encouraged him, giving him a letter to a friend of his who had oil wells twelve miles away. These kind words Jones never forgot, and he always had at least a friendly smile for the “man out of a job.” At last he found work and remunerative work, too, in managing an engine which pumped the oil from a well. He liked the work and advanced quickly, till, with occasional periods of hard times, and after doing all kinds of labor connected with boring for oil, he had saved a few hundred dollars. Then he started digging for himself, and became an employer. In 1875 he married and after a very happy married life of ten years his wife died, as did also his little daughter. These blows were almost too great for Jones’s strength, and he followed the advice of his friends and removed with his two boys to the oil regions of Ohio, in order to divert his mind by change of scene. Here he was very successful, as these oil fields were just opened and developed very rapidly. “I have simply taken advantage,” he says, “of opportunities offered by an unfair social system and gained what the world calls success.”

In 1892 Jones married again, and about the same time he invented several improvements in oil well appliances, which he offered to the “trust,” but they refused to touch them. His experience is evidence of the fact that our “trust” system does not encourage invention, being often satisfied to let well enough alone, the managers sometimes buying up patents for the express purpose of suppressing them, and of thus saving the money already expended in old-fashioned plants. Jones was sure that his inventions were valuable, and hence he founded the “Acme Sucker-Rod Company” and began manufacturing at Toledo on his own account, and made that city his home. He had never lived in a city before, and Toledo, with its 150,000 inhabitants, proved to be a new world to him. City life was very different from the life he had hitherto known. In the oil fields society was simple and there was no great gulf between employer and employee, but in town it was altogether different. In the factories which he visited the men were mere “hands,” and were not considered as human beings, and in each shop there was posted a long list of precise rules, invariably ending with the warning that immediate discharge would follow any infraction of them. This made Jones’s blood boil and he determined to manage things otherwise in his factory. The idea occurred to him to put up the Golden Rule instead of a placard of regulations, but he fought against it in his mind, knowing that it might seem peculiar and that it would be misunderstood, but the thought took possession of him and finally up it went, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” or, as he was wont to translate it in conversation, “Do unto others as if you were the others.” When, on opening his shop, he sat down with his foreman to make out the payroll, the latter took from his pocket a statement of the wages paid by other companies. “Put that away,” cried Jones. “What has that got to do with it? What can we afford to pay?” And the result of this novel plan was that he always paid the highest wages for the shortest hours of any employer in Toledo. One of those kindly critics who invariably find fault with honest efforts to do good, blamed him once for paying high wages when so many men were out of employment.

“You might employ twice as many if you cut down their wages one-half,” he said.

“If there is to be any cutting down,” was the answer, “it seems to me it ought to come out of my share, and not from men who are getting much less than I am.”

Once when he was visiting the factory of a neighbor the latter said to him: “See here, Jones, here is a case that troubles me. How would you treat it according to your new ideas? I have a man here who has spoiled three sets of castings in a week and that means a loss of so much. What would you do with him?”

“The first thing I would do,” Jones replied, “would be to imagine myself in his place. How long have you employed him?”

“Two years, isn’t it?” answered the proprietor, turning to his bookkeeper.

“Yes, sir, two years and three months.”

“Has he ever spoiled a casting before?” asked Jones.


“How much vacation has he had since he came?”

“Look at the books and see,” said the employer to the clerk.

“Let me see,” answered the latter, taking down a blank book and turning over the pages, “two, three—just five days in all.”

“Why, I understand it very well,” said Jones with a smile. “His nerves have got out of order with continual wear and tear. If I were you I would give him a fortnight’s vacation!” And in his own shop every employee had a week’s holiday each summer with full pay, an unheard-of luxury until he introduced it.

On one occasion one of Jones’s workmen got drunk and injured a horse belonging to the company by driving it into a telegraph pole. The next day the foreman came into the office and said, “Of course Brown must be discharged to-day.”

“Why?” asked Jones. “He was dead drunk, wasn’t he, with no more sense than a stick or a stone? Now, suppose we could take a stick or a stone and make a good citizen for the State of Ohio out of it, don’t you think it would be even better than making sucker rods? Send Brown to me when he comes in.” And when at last Brown came, shamefaced and repentant, into the private office, Jones said nothing, but took down his Testament from the shelf and read the story of the woman who was accused before Jesus, ending with the words, “Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.” And that was all the reproof the man received. He was often blamed for keeping intemperate men in his employ, but his object was to reclaim them. “It would be an easy matter to ‘fire out’ every drinking man in the shop and fill their places with sober men,” he says. “That would be easy. Any ‘good business man’ could do that. But to make conditions in and about a shop that will make life so attractive and beautiful to men as to lead them to live beautiful lives for their own sake and for the sake of the world about them, this is a task calling for qualifications not usually required of the ‘successful business manager.’”

Such were the anecdotes which I heard with regard to Jones when I first met him at Chicago. And the strange thing was that his business methods were completely successful. He turned the vacant land next to his factory—space which was sorely needed for his increasing business—into a park and playground and named it Golden Rule Park. He established an eight-hour day, although none of his competitors followed his example, and yet his business and his income grew. “If I don’t look out,” he said to me once, “I’ll become a millionaire, and what should I do with a million? It’s a curious fact that while I never thought of such a thing, this Golden Rule business has helped the company. People give me four hundred dollars for engines which they won’t pay over three hundred and fifty dollars for to other manufacturers. I don’t understand it at all.” I was present once at his office in Toledo while he and two of his managers were discussing what to do with a recalcitrant debtor. They had delivered a machine to this man a year before, and, although he was amply able to pay, he had never sent the money. The two men were trying to persuade Jones to bring suit against him, but he would not look at the case in that light. He did not like the idea of going to law, and would only promise to think it over. One thing which troubled him was the handsome house in which he lived, and which he had built or bought before his democratic nature had fully matured. The “settlement” idea impressed him at Chicago. “If I had only known of this before,” he said, “I would have built my house down among the homes of our workmen.” He felt like an exile in the fashionable quarter of Toledo, and he made it a point to take his midday meal with the men in “Golden Rule Hall,” over the factory, where he organized a common dining-room for them at cost. Jones actually loved his fellow-men, not in theory only, but by instinct, and it is interesting to watch a man who acts upon such unusual principles, for you are always wondering what he will do next. What would a lover of his kind do under such and such circumstances? It is as interesting as a chess problem, “white to play and check in three moves.” He dropped in upon a co-operative restaurant once in New York and found the young men and women employed there with two or three hours of leisure on their hands. He solved the problem on the spot by taking all hands off to a baseball match, and a merry and unconventional party they must have been.

In his “Autobiography,” which forms an introduction to his book, “The New Right,” published in 1899, Jones gives us his first impressions of business life in Toledo. “I think,” he says, “the first real shock to my social consciousness came when the swarms of men swooped down upon us begging for work, soon after signs of life began to manifest themselves around the abandoned factory which we rented for our new enterprise. I never had seen anything like it; their piteous appeals and the very pathos of the looks of many of them stirred the deepest sentiments of compassion within me. I felt keenly the degradation and shame of the situation; without knowing why or how, I began to ask myself why I had a right to be comfortable and happy in a world in which other men, by nature quite as good as I, and willing to work, willing to give their service to society, were denied the right even to the meanest kind of existence. ******* … I soon discovered that I was making the acquaintance of a new kind of man. Always a believer in the equality of the Declaration of Independence, I now for the first time came into contact with workingmen who seemed to have a sense of social inferiority, wholly incapable of any conception of equality, and this feeling I believed it was my duty to destroy. Without any organized plan, and hardly knowing what I was doing, I determined that this groveling conception must be overcome; so we began to take steps to break down this feeling of class distinction and social inequality.” He arranged for an occasional picnic or excursion, to which the men came with their families, and he invited them to his fine house at receptions to which his wealthier friends were also bidden.



It was these experiments of Jones which attracted public attention in Toledo to him. In the spring of 1897 a convention of the Republican party in that city was held to select a candidate for mayor, and it so happened that there was a deadlock between the supporters of three contending candidates, no one of whom could secure a majority. It was necessary to compromise upon a new man, and the belief that the name of Jones would appeal to the labor vote caused the selection to fall upon him. He had always been a Republican and a church member and was supposed to be entirely conservative and respectable—a little eccentric perhaps, but with eccentricities which might prove good vote getters. Toledo was a Republican town and Jones was elected by a majority of over five hundred. If his nomination was a surprise to the party managers, his course in office was still more so, for he refused absolutely to listen to partisan advice of any kind, and devoted himself to the task of applying the Golden Rule to the administration of the city government. He tells us that he thought that the great need of municipalities was the formation of ideals. Looking upon us as “a nation of Mammon worshipers, with gold as our god,” he endeavored to “lift the public mind in some measure into the domain of art and idealism.” “I believe,” he adds, “that it is the artistic idea of life that helps us to see the possibility of a social order in which all life, every life, may be made beautiful.” In this way he took up the ideal of social justice, and advocated an eight-hour workday for municipal employees, and succeeded in establishing it in the police department and the waterworks. He induced the police commissioners to adopt the merit system of appointment to the force. In his second annual message to the common council he made many recommendations, including the ownership by the city of its own gas and electric light plants, a larger share of home rule to be obtained from the Legislature, the referendum upon all extensions of public franchises, the abandonment of the contract system of public work, the addition of kindergartens to the school system, larger appropriations for public parks and for music in the parks and for playgrounds and baths. But it was not so much the specific measures advocated in it as the spirit of brotherhood breathing through the whole message, which drew wide attention to this unusual document, and brought letters of approval from Count Tolstoy and W. D. Howells. When the Mayor’s two years’ term of office drew near its end, the Republican convention met again to name his successor. The supporters of Mayor Jones were almost numerous enough to nominate him, but by underhand means they were prevented from securing the necessary votes and the choice fell upon another. Jones at once announced himself as an independent candidate, believing that the people approved of his administration, and the liveliest campaign ensued that Toledo had ever seen. The Democrats nominated a third candidate also, and all the power of both “machines” was exerted to put down this political upstart. He was actively opposed by all the newspapers of the city. The clergy turned against him because he was considered too friendly to the saloonkeepers, the fact being that he could not help being friendly to everybody, while he believed that the Sunday laws should be enforced “according to the standard of existing public sentiment.” One of the reforms which he had instituted was the substitution of light canes for clubs in the hands of the police. “I have sought to impress upon the patrolmen that they are the public servants and not the public bosses,” he says in a letter of defense of his mayoralty during this campaign; “I have told them individually and collectively, and especially impressed upon the new men, that the duty of a patrolman is to do all in his power to make it easy for the people to do right and hard for them to do wrong, and I have added, ‘An officer can often render better service by saving the city the necessity of arresting one of her citizens, by helping a prospective offender to do right instead of waiting for him to be caught in a fault in order that he may be dragged a culprit to prison.’“ And he pointed with pleasure to the fact that the number of arrests had fallen off about twenty-five per cent., or a thousand cases in a year, and that the city was more orderly than ever notwithstanding. The real issue of the local campaign was, however, the grant of a franchise for practically no consideration to an electric light and street railway company, and the false issues of the saloons and the police were brought in to becloud the mind of the public. The labor unions promptly rallied to the support of Mayor Jones, and his own employees organized a band and glee club, which accompanied him wherever he the people, singing labor songs written by himself. The enthusiasm of his meetings was unlimited, and a blinding snowstorm was not sufficient to prevent a grand procession of his supporters, their energy being only stimulated by “two or three inches of snow” on their umbrellas. The newspapers on the eve of election predicted the overwhelming success of their candidates, but when the votes were counted Jones had received 16,773, of a total of 24,187, while his opponents divided the remaining votes pretty evenly between them. He had received sixty per cent, of the vote, against the united and determined opposition of all the parties and the entire press. It was a personal triumph such as is rarely experienced in popular elections, and not only a personal triumph but a demonstration of the power of the spirit of the Golden Rule over the multitude when it is frankly expressed in the life of a man. Mayor Jones was reelected in the “spring of 1901, and again in 1903, and held the office at the time of his death. His knowledge of political parties gained in office led him to doubt the value of these institutions, and soon after his second election he announced his conviction that parties were evils, and occasionally he signed his name as “a man without a party.” In the autumn of 1899 he was a candidate for governor of Ohio upon a no-party platform, and received 125,000 votes, the campaign giving him an excellent opportunity to preach his views in all parts of the State. He might have gone to Congress the following year, but he declined the nomination. The last time he was a candidate for mayor, in 1903, the animosity of the press was so great against him that the editors of Toledo agreed not to mention his name, referring to him, when it was unavoidable, as “the present incumbent of the mayor’s office,” but still he was elected by a plurality of 3,000 votes.



The most picturesque portion of the official life of Mayor Jones was that which he passed as a police magistrate. If it is hard for an employer to express love for a neighbor in his life, how much more so is it for a magistrate and chief of police! As mayor, he had to fulfill the functions of both, and the result was sometimes amusing and instructive. The charter of Toledo provided that in the absence of the police justice the mayor could occupy his place, and on several occasions he did so. He had formed the opinion that our police courts are “largely conducted as institutions that take away the liberties of the people who are poor,” and he resolved that they should never be so used in his hands. On the first day that he sat there was only one prisoner, a beggar who pleaded guilty, but besought the Mayor to let him leave town. “This man has a divine right to beg,” said the Mayor. The policeman informed him that the prisoner had been arrested for drunkenness the preceding Friday. “Only the poor are arrested for drunkenness,” replied Jones. “You would not arrest a rich man for drunkenness. You would send him home in a hack.” The beggar asked again to be allowed to leave Toledo. “I do not see what good that would do,” said the Mayor. “You would only go somewhere else and would not be any better off. We cannot drive a man off the earth, and the worst thing that can happen to any man is to be out of work. Under the circumstances I think we shall have to let you go; but you must keep out of the way of the officers. You are dismissed.”

On the next court day three men were brought before him on charges of burglary and petty larceny, and two of them pleaded guilty. The newspapers report that the Mayor watched the men during their arraignment with a “peculiar expression of face.” Then he began to philosophize: “I do not know how it would benefit you,” he said, “to send you to the workhouse. If I thought it would do any good to send you to the penitentiary, I would send you there for five or ten years, but I never heard of any person being benefited by serving time in that institution. I would not send a son of mine to the penitentiary, although it is not a matter of sentiment with me. If I thought it would do him any good, I might send him there. . . . Now take the case of this young man,” and he pointed to one of the prisoners, “he is suffering from a loathsome disease—crime is a disease, you know—and imprisonment would not to my mind effect a cure for him. I will continue the case for decision.”

On the following morning before going to the court room the Mayor went to the turnkey’s office, and calling the three men before him he gave them a good talk. “He reminded the Wilsons,” says the newspaper reporter, “it was a crime to steal from the poor, at least that was the way his argument sounded” (but perhaps the reporter missed its full effect). “He spoke to the men at length, and then, shaking hands all round, told them to go home and be good citizens.” No announcement of any decision was made in court, but on the docket the Mayor entered the words, “dismissed, sentence reserved,” the meaning of which is perhaps a little hazy.

On this day another case came before him involving the misdemeanor of using a gambling device in the form of a “penny-in-the-slot” machine. The Mayor was very impatient of the time consumed by the lawyers, and apparently was not much shocked by the transgression. “The best way to dispose of this case in my opinion,” he said in conclusion, “is to turn the machine over to the owner and let him stand it face to the wall. . . . The defendant is dismissed.”

Two months later the Mayor again held court in place of the regular magistrate. Five men were brought before him on the charge of begging. The Mayor addressed them paternally. “It was like a parent threatening to chastise wayward children, but withholding the rod in view of their promises to be good,” said the Toledo Bee. They were discharged. Then came the case of a tramp, found drunk with a loaded pistol on his person. The Mayor held the pistol up so that everyone could see it and declared that it was a devilish weapon, intended solely to kill human beings. It was worse than useless; it was hellish, and worse than whiskey a thousand times. The prisoner was sentenced to smash the revolver to pieces with a sledge hammer, and the court adjourned to another room to see the sentence carried out. As they left the court room “the Mayor laid his arm affectionately over the shoulder of the prisoner, who grasped his hand with a sudden pressure that indicated how little he had expected the unusual sentence.” So runs the newspaper report. A policeman put the pistol in a vise, the prisoner was given a sledge hammer, and in an instant he had smashed the weapon to fragments and was a free man again. The last case which came before Mayor Jones was that of three young men who had indulged in a free fight over a game of ball and whose appearance testified to the fact.

“You stand up where I can see you!” cried the Mayor. “There you have it without saying a word—brute force,” and after a stern lecture he let them go.

The Legislature of Ohio soon got wind of the fact that a man with a heart was holding court in Toledo and they promptly repealed the law allowing the mayor to take the magistrate’s place. At his last appearance on the bench Jones made a little farewell address which explains his course. He said: “The Legislature is greater than the people and it has seen fit to take the power of appointing temporary police judges from the hands of the mayor. I have no fault to find with the arrangement. I have no unkind feeling toward anyone connected with this police court, and I have made friends down here who will last as long as life. It is a comfort to reflect that in all my experience as acting police judge I have done nothing either as judge or as a mayor that I would not do as a man. I have done by the unfortunate men and women who have come before me in this court everything in my power to help them to live better lives and nothing to hinder them. I have sent no one to prison, nor imposed fines upon people for their being poor. In short, I have done by them just as I would have another judge do by my son if he were a drunkard or a thief, or by my sister or daughter, if she were a prostitute. I am aware of the fact that many people believe in the virtue of brute force, but I do not. For my part, I would be glad to see every revolver and every club in the world go over Niagara Falls, or better still, over the brink of hell.” In a letter to the Toledo press he further explains that his actions in court were based upon the Golden Rule. “There are two methods,” he says, “of dealing with people whose liberty makes them a menace to society—on the one hand, prisons, penalties, punishment, hatred and hopeless despair; and on the other, asylums, sympathy, love, help and hope.”

In case Mayor Jones had been obliged by the law to do violence to his own sentiments in sentencing a prisoner, he would promptly have refused to apply the law and have handed in his resignation. He told me this in a letter dated February 26, 1902. “I have been somewhat perplexed,” he says, “to know just what to do if I should meet a ‘bad case,’ and the prosecutor should inform me that the law says so and so, prescribing something that I did not want to do. For that reason I have been somewhat shy about going on the bench; but this last trip I went four days in succession during the absence of the judge, thoroughly prepared to meet any case. I knew just what I would do if the prosecutor should instruct me that the law prescribed something that I felt would be an insult to my soul—something that I could do as a judge, that I could not do as a man. I thought it would be a splendid occasion for declaring myself and saying that I would not do either as mayor or judge that which I could not do as a man, and therefore the necessity was upon me to resign both offices, for I could not hold the office of mayor and appoint some other man as judge and ask him to do that which I myself refused to do; but no such opportunity presented itself. There was nothing more desperate than a ‘common thief,’ ‘drunk,’ ‘disturbance,’ and on one occasion a ‘common prostitute,’ and of course I found no difficulty in disposing of these cases by the application of the law of love, even in the poor way that it could be dispensed from the police bench.” And it was Mayor Jones who told me of one manly precedent for resigning a public office when the occupant is called upon to offend his conscience. It was Mr. Darby, warden of the Ohio penitentiary, who, during Mayor Jones’s term of office, resigned his post rather than take part in the “electrocution” of a convict. “Not for the whole State of Ohio,” said he, “would I turn on the electric current to kill a human being!” That is the right kind of talk. Let us never forget the individual in the official; and let us produce more men who, not for the State of Ohio, nor for the whole world, would blow up battleships full of their fellows, or run bayonets into their eyes or slice their faces with sabers. This does not seem to be an utterly unattainable degree of gentility as I write it down. A friend of mine not long ago told me a story which bears upon this matter of doing wrong in office. He was many years ago the correspondent of a New York journal in one of our Indian wars. General Crook was engaged in his final campaign against Geronimo, the Apache chief, I think. One night our troops encamped near a town and my friend entered the tent of the General to obtain news. He found Crook, a gray “and grizzled veteran, lying on his back in the sand with an expression of worry upon his face. “Why don’t you get a place to sleep in town, General?” said my friend. “There is no reason why you should be uncomfortable here.” “Oh, no,” answered General Crook. “I must not fare better than my men. And a little roughing-it does not trouble me. What troubles me is that I have got to wipe out this band of Indians and kill and capture them, and I know perfectly well that they are entirely in the right and that we are altogether in the wrong.” It never occurred to General Crook that he might have avoided the commission of this crime, which he so clearly understood, by resigning his commission. But Mayor Jones and Warden Darby had fortunately made the discovery. The last time I saw Golden Rule Jones (for by this name he was known), only a month or two before his death, he showed me a letter from a condemned murderer in the Toledo jail, a man who has probably since then been executed. It was dated, “Lucas County Jail, April 14, 1904,” and contained the following paragraphs: “During my confinement at the Central Station and the County Jail, and of all the large number of men who have come and gone, I have never heard one word of anything except praise and admiration for you. And this is not caused by a false conception of your theories—far from it! They all understand how thoroughly and unreservedly you condemn crime. But the theories of punishment advanced by you are what call forth their admiration. And the majority of these men do not fear corporal punishment, for they constitute a class who can never safely be driven, but they can be easily led, providing the leader strikes the proper note.” That there is truth in what this man says is shown by the reduced number of arrests in Toledo during Mayor Jones’s incumbency, and the improved order of the city, while the number of drinking places under his liberal policy was actually diminished.

Opinions will doubtless differ as to the value of Mayor Jones’s contribution to the science of penology, but I am sorry for the man who does not appreciate his spirit. His attitude on the bench and his comments are the natural outgrowth of the heart of a man who takes his place as judge with a deep love of mankind within him. His position was necessarily tentative. The precedents of hatred, fear and retribution are piled up in our law libraries, but the precedents of love and sympathy have yet to be established, and Mayor Jones was a pioneer in this department. The day may yet come when his example on the bench will be cited with greater respect than many a learned decision which is now regarded as impregnable.

The Legislature not only removed Mayor Jones from the police court, but from time to time curtailed his power in various ways, taking away the right of appointment to office, and building up hostile forces in the city government. The common council was always opposed to him, and outside of the Mayor’s office the franchise-grabbers had it all their own way. Still he succeeded in accomplishing a few practical things, which his friend Brand Whitlock has summarized in an article in the “World’s Work.” He humanized the police, introduced kindergartens, public playgrounds and free concerts, established the eight-hour day for city employees and a minimum day’s wages of $1.50 for common labor. He used the carriages of the Park Department to give the children sleigh rides in winter; devised a system of lodging-houses for tramps; laid out public golf links in the parks, and organized a policemen’s band. He gave away all his Mayer’s salary to the poor, and his office looked like a charity bureau, so many were the applicants for relief who besieged it. Nor did he turn away from anyone. A thorough democrat in feeling, he never was conscious of any inequality when he met the great and rich, or when he dropped in at the jail to talk with the prisoners. In an invitation to me to come and spend a week at his house he enumerates the attractions as follows: “I believe that you would thoroughly enjoy it, and perhaps it would be a help to come in contact with some of my friends of the lower classes—the ‘bum’ element around market space” (and he names one or two). “Then Blank’s saloon is a real curiosity shop. Besides, the workhouse, prison and the jail are fine places.”



Mayor Jones was a born orator in the best sense of the word, that is, he could think out loud before an audience in such a way as to reveal to all his love for them and his earnest desire to follow the right as he saw it. He drew crowds, and those who came from curiosity stayed to hear and learn. Mr. Whitlock gives an example of the way in which he reached the hearts of his hearers.

“What’s the Polish word for liberty?” he asks of an audience of Polish workmen. They shout a word in reply. “Say it again,” cries Jones, turning his head to listen. They shout it again still louder. He tries to pronounce it and fails, and they all laugh together. “Well, I can’t say it,” he says, “but it sounds good to me,” and he proceeds to speak at length on freedom. And his frankness ensured him a good reception from all kinds of audiences. “I was at Cornell College yesterday,” he wrote to me, “and made two speeches, spreading as much heresy as I could in the short space of time, and it was enthusiastically received.”

Mayor Jones was an author as well as a public speaker. His book, “The New Right” (namely, the right to labor), contains his autobiography, a work which for strength and simplicity of style is worthy of ranking with that of Benjamin Franklin. Jones had a natural taste for literature and as a youth was a leader in literary societies formed among his fellow workers, and his style was unconsciously modeled by his familiar use of the Bible and the English classics. He published two other volumes called “Letters of Love and Labor,” containing letters which he wrote from week to week to his own employees, and handed to them with their pay envelopes. It is safe to say that no such communications have ever before been made from the hirer to the hired. One letter, for instance, is entitled “The Slavery of the Wages System.”

“Dear friends,” he writes, “. . . it is true that the present system of relation among men and women whereby some work for or serve others for hire is a system of modified slavery, the degree of slavery varying somewhat according to the master or mistress. . . . The most conspicuous evil of the present system is found in the fact that it gives some men arbitrary power over others, and this sort of power of one man over his fellowmen is in reality tyranny, no matter by what other name it may be called; and because it is tyranny, it is damaging alike to the ruler and the ruled. . . . Because I believe in equality—believe that you spring from the same divine source that I do—because of that, I believe that the natural impulse for you and for all men is to desire to do the right thing because it is right. Therefore we have been trying to direct the business of the Acme Sucker Rod Company from that standpoint. . . .”

Another letter is on the subject of “Love and Reason or Hate and Force,” and was called forth by the adoption of strict rules by the men to govern their insurance society, in fear of each other’s dishonesty. “We have the authority of the greatest teacher the world ever knew,” he writes, “for saying that the way to overcome evil is with good. The gospel of force and hatred as represented by laws, policemen’s clubs, constables, sheriffs, jails, prisons, armies, navies and legalized murder in many forms, has had its inning; and crime, wretchedness, misery and war still curse this beautiful earth. Let us try the other plan. Let us try, in a small way, to overcome evil with good—that is, to put out fire with water rather than with kerosene oil. Let us manifest our faith in God by our faith in the God (the good) in our fellow-men, by our faith in humanity. Believe me, dear friends, there is good in every soul that breathes. All the rule that you really need is just enough to provide for Equality, that all shall be served alike, and I am sure that by trusting your fellow-men, trusting to the rule of love and reason and appealing to the manhood and honesty in them, you will be far more likely to succeed than by imitating lawmakers and rulers in an effort to ‘force’ men to be honest.”

The object of these letters was “to lead to a more perfect understanding” between him and his employees, and he placed a box in the office in which letters of criticism, anonymous or signed, could be dropped by the men, a privilege which was sometimes availed of. These letters of Jones’s treat of a great variety of topics. In them he advocates trade-unionism, although he declares that he is “far beyond” it. “I want a condition where there will be no war nor need of war measures.” He deprecates the caste-feeling which exists among workmen, and the contempt which skilled labor exhibits toward that which is unskilled. He points out what he has been able to accomplish in the factory, to wit, a minimum wage of $2 a day for every man who had been in the service of the company for a year, no child labor, men being paid to do “children’s work,” no “piece-work,” no work “contracted out,” no overtime, no timekeeper, each man reporting his own time, and a cash dividend of five per cent, on the year’s wages at Christmas. In the oil-fields he was allowing full pay for an eight-hour day, while all other employers required twelve hours’ work. In one letter he urges the claims of co-operative insurance upon the men. If the men agreed to leave one per cent, of their wages on deposit for this purpose, the company contributed a like amount for the same end, to be paid out as insurance in case of sickness or injuries. Still later a system by which the men could receive stock in the company was devised and put in operation. But he did not pretend to be satisfied with the relations which he had established with his men, and he longed ever for greater equality and democracy in business. He was only feeling his way. In 1902 he wrote to me as follows: “I am really beginning to see a way out of ownership through business. . . . I simply want to get things fixed so that I don’t have to own it, and of course I want to do this intelligently—by that I mean in such a way that it will minister most largely to the common life.” He did not live long enough to mature these plans.

His Christmas letters to the men perhaps go the deepest. One of them is on the “Christ principle” of love to enemies, doing good to those that hate you and overcoming evil with good. Another is devoted to “peace on earth and good will toward men.” “My meaning will be made clearer,” he says, “when I say that I am addressing Jones as much—perhaps more—than I am addressing anybody else. My very intimate acquaintance with Jones leads me to say that he has not yet come into that realization of ‘peace on earth and good will toward men’ that is his privilege, and the privilege of all who listen to and obey the promptings of the voice within. . . . The practical application of it is: You must live the Christ spirit, you must refuse to fight, you must refuse to kill, you must reject force, you must deny that under any condition a big man has a right to force a little man or a child, you must stand for love as the only arbiter of right, and you must stand for it at any cost. . . . I am hopeful to the last degree, for I can see that just as soon as the people awaken to the idea of oneness and unity, of brotherhood, the common soldiers will throw down their guns, and, refusing to fight, will fall into each other’s arms and laugh at their masters, and thus all war will end just as soon as the common workingmen determine that they will not kill each other. This is the promise that the Christmas bells annually renew in our ears—‘Peace on earth, good will toward men.’”



It is easy to collect many passages from the writings of Jones to show what his economic ideas were. They started out from his firm belief in the people. To an opponent he writes: “I believe in you though you do not believe in me. I believe in all of the people and I believe in them all of the time—that is, I believe in the good, the God, the Divine, the Love principle that is at the heart of humanity. My hope for the nation and the race is in the patriotism, the love of the Whole, that is an outgrowth of this divine principle.” Again he says, “I believe that we are all people—just people—made of the same common kind of clay, inspired largely by the same hopes, the same longings, and having a common destiny. . . . Holding these beliefs, one can easily see that the idea of governing by force another man, whom I believe to be my equal in the sight of God, is repugnant to me. I do not want to do it. I cannot do it. I do not want anyone to govern me by any kind of force. I am a reasoning being, and I only need to be shown what is best for me, when I will take that course or do that thing simply because it is best, and so will you. I do not believe that a soul was ever forced toward anything except toward ruin.” And unlike many reformers he included the rich and powerful in his love. He had no patience with class feeling of any kind. “The poor are not poor from choice. They deserve little or no credit for their safety from the dangers that property-owning brings. With scarcely an exception every one of them would be a millionaire if he had a chance. The disease of ownership infects us all.” But he pitied from the bottom of his heart the idle rich, who are “just as pitiable” as the poor man who cannot find work. “These rich men’s sons and daughters have a right to work, to have a share in the creative work going on around them.” But this belief in the heart of all the people did not involve a belief in the wisdom of majorities. “There is really no foundation in fact,” he tells his men, “for the great confidence that we have in majorities. . . . Indeed they have been oftener wrong in the great events of history than they have been right.” And he cites the case of Jesus, of Luther at Worms, of Servetus, and Huss and Latimer and Ridley and Garrison and Lovejoy and John Brown. His political and social ideal was a “nation of friends,” and he saw clearly how monopoly stood in the way of its realization. “It is simply an inhuman cruelty,” he writes, “to teach a child how to be useful in the world, and then to turn it out to find every door of opportunity closed against it.” “Could you maintain your self-respect while denied the right to a place to stand on the earth, as thousands of American citizens are to-day?” He contends that the right to work is “an inherent right, like the right to breathe, like the right to be.” The problem is how to secure for everyone “the right to labor and to receive the full, fair value of what we produce.” “A day’s wage will never be fair so long as an employer subtracts profit from it.” And we see in Jones a tendency to regard physical labor as more strictly “labor” than mental labor. “The people are coming to realize,” he says, “that the source of their wealth is through labor—hard, sweating labor—and with this realization comes a revelation of the truth that those who do not labor do not produce wealth, all the fine-spun theories about brain-work and capital to the contrary notwithstanding.” His immediate plan for improving conditions was to shorten the hours of labor and thus give the unemployed a chance to share in the work. “Divide the day,” was his cry, and he wrote a song with this refrain. Then he preached the doctrine of public ownership, looking forward to the day when all industries should be owned and managed by the state, and he believed that the gathering of industries into trusts was a forerunner of the “co-operative commonwealth.” But Mayor Jones was no economist, and in a chapter on the “Trusts” he makes no mention of the protective tariff, nor does he consider the various monopolies upon which they are based. He condemns competition root and branch, failing to distinguish the difference between competition under monopoly—the struggle of fifty men to get into a life-boat which will only hold thirty—and the natural competition of healthy industry under free conditions. In all this he followed the “scientific socialists,” but they would have none of him on account of his hatred of classes and parties, and one of the leading socialists in Toledo, a doctor of high standing, was expelled from the party because he accepted an office from the Mayor. Although Mayor Jones repudiated all force, he still saw in the state “the only instrument through which the people may. express their love for one another.” His ideal was undoubtedly a state free from all imputation of force. He was delighted with the sign which he saw in the parks of Glasgow, “Citizens, protect your property”—“it was in such striking contrast to the ‘boss’ idea expressed in the order, ‘Keep off the Grass.’ “ He always had the family idea of the state and municipality before his eyes. Each citizen was to be “a member of a family which owns its own streets, which owns its own bridges . . . waterworks . . . electric lighting plants . . . telephone and express and messenger service; a member of a family which owns and does everything for the family that can by any possibility be better done by collective than by private effort.” He finds this family feeling showing itself imperfectly already in asylums, hospitals and various similar institutions, and he anticipates a wonderful advance of the social conscience in the same direction in the near future. It is the first ray of the rising sun that he feels in his own heart, and it has already arisen. “Electricity has always been in the world,” he says, “but its power was never utilized until the last few years.” And so brotherhood is already here. Let us use it and apply it to our institutions. Charity is only a makeshift. “I want to knock the props,” he writes, “clear out from under every person who is harboring the delusion that our charity institutions are evidences of civilization. They may be evidences that we are tending toward civilization; the very need of them is evidence that we are not civilized. The way to help the poor is to abandon a social system that is making them poor.” He was always appalled in New York by the long row of wretched men who waited in line every night at twelve o’clock for the distribution of bread at a bakery opposite the hotel at which he usually stopped. Back of all external reforms, however, he looked for a reform of the heart. “We cannot do better,” he said, “until we are better.” “Love is the only regenerative force. To teach love to individuals by personal kindness and helpfulness, is to do well; and to mold love into law and thus uplift and enlighten a whole city, is to do better.” It was his hope that America would first undertake the practical application of his dreams. It was to be the “land of comrades,” sung by Whitman, “the land of large thoughts, large hearts, and large conceptions of the value of every human soul.” “America’s task is to teach larger views of life and duty. We are to interpret that great word, Humanity, to the world.” But he loved all nations, and his journeys in Mexico and Europe—extended as far as the oil-fields of Bulgaria—opened his heart to the foreigner.



It is quite likely that Mayor Jones’s idea of America’s leadership was learned from Walt Whitman, whose works, during the last years of his life, had great influence over him. He had many favorite authors, and his books are full of quotations from the Bible, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Tolstoy, Lamennais, Mazzini, Victor Hugo, Bellamy, Mrs. Gilman, Herron, Longfellow, Browning and Lowell. But his special fondness was for poetry, and of all the poets Whitman was for him the chief. A volume of “Leaves of Grass” lay beside a Bible on his desk, and both books were well worn and penciled. On the walls of his office were the portraits of most of these authors, but of Whitman there were two. I take a little credit to myself for Jones’s acquaintance with Whitman, although I acted as a mere instrument. In the summer of 1897 Mr. B. Fay Mills invited a few kindred spirits to a beautiful spot on Lake George known as Crosbyside, and Mayor Jones was one of the party. Mills told me that he wished to persuade Jones to like Whitman, and we both agreed that the Mayor was about as nearly Whitman’s ideal comrade-man as could be found, and that it was a shame that he was not fond of “Leaves of Grass.” So Mills contrived a plot according to which a dozen of us went up the funicular railway to the top of the mountain at the south end of the lake, and there in the midst of the most beautiful scenery and looking out on a glorious view, he made me read selections from Whitman for a half-hour, ostensibly for the general benefit, but really with a solitary eye to Jones. When I finished the Mayor remarked dryly that he didn’t call that poetry, and that the kind of poetry that he liked was of the order of the lines:

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its fragrance on the desert air.

And of such poetry he could recite pages from memory. The experiment seemed to be a total failure, but you never can tell, and soon I was delighted to learn that Mayor Jones was quoting Whitman on all occasions, and referring to him as the best-beloved of his teachers. I understand that Mills had followed up the first attack, undaunted by its lack of results; but I claim an humble place beside him as the introducer of Mayor Jones to Walt Whitman. He had a sentiment adapted from Whitman stamped on all the envelopes which he used in his correspondence, namely this: “I claim no privilege for myself or for my children that I am not doing my utmost to secure for all others on equal terms.” I find him again quoting Whitman, for example, at the funeral of a tramp in February, 1902, in the back room of an undertaker’s. The man was an old sailor who finished his course in the lodging house of the Toledo Humane Society. “When Mayor Jones arrived,” says the Toledo Bee, “the dozen comrades, most of them feeble, shuffled into the room. It was a peculiar assemblage.” Mayor Jones made the funeral address. He spoke of the recent death of his own brother, and said that he regarded this man as his brother, too. “I am quite sure,” said he, “that he did the best he could, considering the limitations that surrounded him. . . . Death comes daily, hourly, everywhere. Yet it is nothing to be alarmed at. Sixty years is not the limit of life, nor sixty millions of years, but it goes on, and on, and on, through all the ceaseless ages—our life to be a part of all life. . . . I want to read you a few lines on what a grand old man, but lately passed beyond, Walt Whitman, has to say on death:

“Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world serenely,
Arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate death!

“He looks very restful there in his coffin, doesn’t he? It was Tolstoy who said that the dead are always beautiful—that there’s not an expression of pain or fear upon the face, but rather that of astonishment. I can’t say, I will not say he is dead—he is only away. Good-bye, my brother, good-bye.” A few days later the Mayor was invited by a delegation from the Sailors’ Union to “do the funeral” for another old salt.

Devoted to poetry, like a true Kelt, Jones had something of the bard about him. He wrote many songs for his men to sing, and there is a simple power in some of his verses which gives them value. Here is a stanza from one of his songs:

We speak the word patriotic,
We sing the song of the free,
And tell the tale of a new time,
Of a world that surely will be,
When men will live comrades and lovers,
All rancor and hate under ban,
And the highest and holiest title,
Will be that you’re known as a man.


No title is higher than man,
No title is higher than man,
And the highest and holiest title
Will be that you’re known as a man.
Another song is entitled “Freedom Day” :
Haste, oh, haste, delightful morning
Of that glorious freedom day,
When from earth’s remotest border
Tyranny has passed away.


Ever growing,
Swiftly flowing,
Like a mighty river,
Sweeping on from shore to shore,
Love will rule the wide world o’er.

The prose style of Mayor Jones, however, was far superior to his poetry, and he often uttered epigrams which summed up his thought tersely, vigorously and with humor. I cite a few of these aphorisms, collected here and there:

If there were to be improvements in sucker-rods, why may we not reasonably expect that there is room for improvement in social relations?

It would pay us a thousand times better to provide work for our own people than to purchase insurrections from Spain.

I was at a workhouse recently, and while there saw one-third of the men confined in the prison working at the brick-machines for the revolting and blood-curdling crime of jumping on freight trains.

The ideal robber—the lowest bidder.

Charity is twice cursed,— it curses him that gives and him that takes.

It is better to lift your whole city up an inch than to pull yourself up to the skies.

After the fight is over we have to settle the difficulty. Let us learn to settle it first.

What heresy can be more fallacious than the prevailing one that superior ability entitles one to the right to live at the expense of his fellows?

We tie a balloon to one man and a saw-log to another, and then declare that they have an equal chance to rise in the world.

If millionaires were three miles high, if they were a class of higher beings upon whom we depended for our cleverest inventions …. then the tremendous disparities in matters of wealth might be overlooked.

The best way to secure your own rights is to be diligent in securing the rights of others.

The rich man has no neighbors—only rivals and parasites.

It is only a lower-natured man who can be dazzled by the bauble, gold. Men who have discovered the true wealth of mind and character care little for the wampum of commerce.

I was born on foreign soil, but born an American. There are a lot of people born on American soil that are not yet half-way over from Europe.

It was a strange destiny which brought this man of Keltic, dreamy temperament into the business world and made him successful there. He was a machinist and an inventor, and yet he saw clearly the drawbacks of machinery and longed for a world of artistic craftsmanship. “Machinery,” he says, “has added speed and intensity and discomfort to production, so that many a factory worker’s life is almost equivalent to imprisonment at hard labor. Consider what a machinist’s work is like during the hot summer months. In spite of the intense heat, the murky, impure air, the deafening roar of machinery, the grime and sweat and dust, when every second seems a minute and every minute seems an hour, he is expected, for ten long, weary hours every day, to be as accurate as a jeweler and as energetic as a blacksmith. . . . A mechanic’s work is not physical only. It is brain work quite as much as the labor of many a professional man. . . . Machinery is almost driving some branches of art out of existence. It is leading us to lay stress on quantity, not quality. No nation could ever manufacture so many poor articles in so short a time as we can. The combination of machinery and long hours has worked against all that is artistic and original.”



For the last few years of his life Mayor Jones was a sufferer from asthma, and he had one or two bad attacks of illness which were nearly fatal and left him a shadow of his former self. In search of health he adopted a system of physical culture and diet from which he undoubtedly obtained benefit. He fondly believed that he had cured himself, but no one who knew him could share this belief. He also began to sleep in the open air, putting a bed upon his veranda in Toledo, and there he passed every night until a short time before his death, when he was obliged to retreat to his room and accept the devoted attentions of his wife. He died on July 12, 1904. The last time that I saw him was on a Sunday in the April or May before his death. He had come to New York with a delegation of city officials to study a municipal question of waterworks or something of the kind, and he stopped over for half a day at my country home to see me. He thought he was in perfect health and performed some difficult athletic feats in the garden (among others that of standing comfortably upon his head), for he had great muscular strength. But illness was written upon his face, and going to his room for a half hour’s nap, he slept heavily for three hours, and I had to rouse him so that he could catch his train. Not many weeks later came the telegram announcing his death.

His funeral, which I was unable to attend, was a wonderful sight. As his friend, Graham Taylor, said: “His spirit had been abroad before, strangely permeating and uniting his fellow-men, but never as upon that day.” All places of business were closed and the houses were generally draped in black. His photograph, quotations from his speeches and songs, were displayed in shop windows. Some of the mottoes were taken from the Mayor’s office, where he had hung his favorite quotations on the wall, including the text, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” burnt in wood by his own hand. His body lay in state in Memorial Hall, where he had often addressed the people. Flowers came from all classes of citizens, from all nationalities and trades and associations. It was estimated that 55,000 men, women and children filed past the coffin to look on his face for the last time. A great procession of people followed the body to his home, and there 15,000 were gathered in the streets to await the funeral ceremony. In the procession were the labor unions, the policemen and firemen, the postmen, and officials of several cities, musical and fraternal and benevolent societies, and a great throng of private citizens of both sexes and all ages, but as Mr. Taylor remarks, there was no military company or implement of war to mar the scene. The newsboys turned out to the number of 600, and their band played “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” At the funeral St. Paul’s chapter on love was read from his own Bible, and this was followed by his best-loved passages from his copy of “Leaves of Grass.” There were several addresses, and songs were sung by his workmen. In the cemetery thousands more were waiting at the grave, and as the earth fell upon his coffin a German singing society broke out into a farewell hymn. The crowd in the streets stood for hours bareheaded in the hot sunshine, the tears rolling down the faces of many of them. So ended the life of Golden Rule Jones, and after taking part in the funeral and seeing the wonderful outburst of popular sympathy for the man who had tried to live as a brother to all men, Mr. Whitlock says suggestively: “It began to look as if there might be something in it after all.”

And there was something in it. No one who has felt the thrill of brotherhood as expressed by such a man can doubt the reality of the force, any more than a man who has come into contact with a “live” wire can have doubts about the power of electricity. What are we to think of Mayor Jones? He made no claims to consistency. He only felt his way and from day to day did the best thing that he saw was practicable. He admitted that his conduct was far from perfect. “Your labor has made these things possible,” he wrote to his men, “and I do not claim that a just distribution has been made even yet—indeed, I am sure that a just distribution cannot be made under existing conditions, and the little I am doing is simply an earnest of my belief in the coming of a better day—a day when democracy, liberty, equality and brotherhood will no longer be a dream, but an actuality.” He disapproved of the patent laws under which he manufactured his machines and appliances, and declared that he would abolish these rights and all special privileges if he could. He had the utmost contempt for mere “things,” as he called property, and his personal tastes were those of an anchorite. “With respect to the private property that I seem to be under the necessity of ‘owning,’ I have this to say,” he writes, “I am doing the very best that I know to manage it for the best interest of all of the people—not the best that you know or that any other person may know, simply the best that I know;” and he invites suggestions from his political opponents. He is said to have left an estate of two or three hundred thousand dollars, and, although I understand that his schemes for betterment are to be carried out in his business by his widow and heirs, he would have been the first to acknowledge that his relations to men and things were not ideal, from his own point of view. He was called insincere and dishonest and a demagogue and a charlatan, as well as a lunatic, an anarchist and a crank. But he was, nevertheless, the very soul of sincerity. His political position was equally anomalous. Condemning force absolutely, he was still the head of the police department and a magistrate. I recall advising him to give up an office which seemed to conflict with his principles, but I am glad now that he did not follow my advice. He had to live his own life in his own way, and it taught a lesson which could not have been taught otherwise. He might have kept out of office. He might have turned over his shop to the men, who would have certainly failed. He might have relinquished his monopoly business and washed his hands of the dirt of trade. He might have given away his savings without the consent of his family. Perhaps in this way his conscience might have been clearer (although I doubt it), but he would have ceased to be a unique example of the attempt to apply the Golden Rule to an established order founded on what he called the Rule of Gold. I look upon him as a sort of visitor from some other planet where brotherhood and harmony have been realized in the common life, dropped down here in a semi-barbarous world and calmly taking his place in the midst of its crude and cruel institutions. And he had the manners of another planet, too, for of all the reformers I have ever seen or heard of, he is almost the only one who never uttered a harsh word against anyone, and he gently expostulated with me for being too inconsiderate. “Draw the sting,” was his counsel to his political speakers. It was a quaint and moving spectacle, that of this childlike man making his way among men of the world and astounding them by his disingenuousness. Day by day he pointed out the iniquities of our organized social life and showed how impossible it was to realize our highest ideals and yet leave our social and industrial system unchanged. For a dozen years he was sowing the seed of a new harvest, and we may be sure that it is silently ripening in many a heart. His was the everlasting effort to make the outer world fit the inner vision—that effort after the impossible which is the essence of life itself. “I have done nothing as I believe,” he said, “other than is the common practice of all who try to be at peace with themselves.” But no individual can win that peace in a world full of ugliness and injustice; he can only strive and suffer and strive again. But while that peace may ever remain a vision, it is none the less continually reshaping the world more and more in its own image. And Mayor Jones had laid hold of the creative force itself. “Equal and exact justice can only come through perfect love,” he says at the end of a Christmas letter to his men. “This is the force that is yet to rule and govern the world.” And his life was a foretaste of the event.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.