Archive for Tuesday, January 24, 2012

100 years ago: Editorial page covers Presidential race, military spending, capital punishment

January 24, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Jan. 24, 1912:

[From the Editorial page] "Why should republicans bother about the democratic candidate for president? With Roosevelt on the ticket it is only a formality for the democrats to nominate." ... "It is now figured out that this country will not have war until 1930. Then what is the use of building these big battleships? If we made the proper saving in our navy and army there would not be a deficit. We would also have money for international improvements that are needed." ... "Andrew Carnegie has given away $208,335,000 to date and it is believed he has enough left to keep him the rest of his days. How did he get it. His testimony before the Stanley committee was anything but illuminating. In fact it was denser than mud. Carnegie had a good time and escaped without telling anything but where did he get it?" ... "There are some silly arguments made on all subjects. There is an agitation for the abolishment of capital punishment in Massachusetts. One man is opposing it because a man already sentenced for life 'could kill his guards in an effort to escape and be punished not at all for it as he is already in for life.' That is to laugh." ... "Suppose the next cold spell that we let the idle men work on the road? There are many roads that need work badly. Just now there is a place on the limits to the east that could be fixed by work.... There is always rock to break but some men just will not break rock. They would rather live off the county. These men have to be reckoned with in trying times. It will not do to let these people and other families starve. Improvident and stubborn people we have always with us. Why not give them work?"


Tee 5 years, 6 months ago

I wonder what they thought was going to happen in 1930.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 6 months ago

I wondered that, too. At any rate, they sure didn't see the Great War coming, apparently.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 months ago

In 1912, the dreadnought battleship was still the ultimate weapon on the seas. Except for a few folks like H. G. Wells, nobody in 1912 seriously considered airplanes as weapons.

Stephanie Hull 5 years, 6 months ago

What did it mean to "break rocks"? Did the County pay men for that, or a private company? Was it a real job -- someone could get hired to do it everyday -- or just something for unemployed men to do? Was the rock area in town? When did this go out of fashion?

Sarah St. John 5 years, 6 months ago

Hi sjgreen! I believe the local rock quarry was owned by the city or county. I know there was a county quarry west of town, but I don't know the exact location. Sometimes men were put to work breaking down rocks from a recently-demolished building, too.

"Breaking rocks" means just that -- going to the quarry and whacking away until you had a pile of rocks! It was probably a real job, but as far as I've seen in the old newspapers, it seemed to have been mostly used either as a fill-in between jobs or as a punishment.

Here is another rock-breaking article from earlier this month. Apparently it was something you could do on a freelance basis:

County prisoners were put to work breaking rock here:

And from August 24, 2010: "Oscar Wood, familiarly known as ‘Babe,’ was assessed $3 and costs in police court for becoming intoxicated yesterday. ‘Babe’ had no money and was sentenced to the rock pile for about ten days to work out his sentence.”

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