Sunday, November 4, 2012

So What Would Great-Great-Grandpa Think About Our Politics Today?

There I was, settled in to clean up my genealogy files, when I saw a post on Facebook by Susan Petersen mentioning the Colorado Digital Archives.  Of course I just HAD to pop over there and soon was engrossed in the Colorado Historic Newspaper site.

Eickelberg Restaurant





I was finding some cool ads for my 2x-great grandfather, William Eickelberg's restaurant in the early 1900's.


I discovered that William had been the deputy coal mine inspector in Colorado, something I need to investigate further.  I also found he had been fired, but I liked what that brief article had to say:
Wm Eickelberg family about 1887/1888
"Coal Mine Inspector Reed has fired his deputy William Eickelberg of Lafayette.  There has been no love between the men from the first, the deputy having the governor's favor which was denied to the inspector, himself.  Some reforms are said to have been accomplished by these gentlemen and miners in this section feel especially kind toward Mr. Eickelberg, by whose order the coal mines have been placed in such condition that the men can work with some degree of comfort and risk of loss of life and limb has been rendered nominal.  Reed knows very little about this business but his deputy was a well equipped official from the start and should have been inspector."
Boulder Daily Camera 1894 Aug 23
 

William Eickelberg
Then I came across something slightly different.  In 1894 prior to the election which would take place, as it does in 2012, on November 6th, William had written a letter to the Boulder Daily Camera urging the miners and other laborers to vote the Populist ticket!  Apparently Great-great-grandpa was something of a rabble- rouser. In just reading his letter I realized there was SO much about Colorado and its political climate that I needed to know.

I don't now if William retained his somewhat radical politics into later life. In 1894 he would not yet have opened his restaurant.  In later years he became relatively well off so I don't know if that changed his view toward the Republican (and indeed the Democratic) parties, "who for many years have been and now are controlled solely by the wealth of this and other nations...who have brazenly ignored our rights and have, in nearly every instance, placed laws in our Statute Books that intended to legalize the robbery of the poor by the rich, and only deviated from this course when it was absolutely necessary to throw a crust to the common herd so that they would remain quiet a while longer, and thus enable the rich to continue their blood sucking."  Oh my - it might start to become clear where I get those liberal tendencies!!

I have transcribed the whole letter. While I don't expect people to actually read it all, I wanted to place the whole thing here just to show that in some ways political conversations haven't changed that much. But in some ways they have - I was impressed by the length of the letter and the expectation that the workers, of which he was one, would read something this lengthy.  It was certainly more than just bumper sticker slogans!


A COMMUNICATION.
-------------------------------
William Eickelberg Urges the Miners and Laborers to Vote Right.

EDITOR CAMERA: -
      I ask space in your valuable paper to,
in my humble way, urge upon my fellow
miners and laborers the necessity of
united action on Nov. 6th, as on the
other days of the year, as there would
be little use in our assembling together
at various times during the year to ad-
vise and consult each other as to the
methods to be employed by us for the
protection and advancement of our
craft if we are to divide on that day for
the gratification of politicians and there-
by neutralize any good that may have
been accomplished during the rest of
the year, because in my judgment the
remedy for most of our grievances can
best be obtained by voting solidly for
men taken from the ranks of
the common people who will be aided
and backed by a political party that
sprang into existence only two years
ago for the purpose of taking up the
questions of the day and solve them as
the people want the solved, and no
longer wait on and expect the two
branches of the gold party, who for
many years have been and now are con-
trolled solely by the wealth of this an
other nations, to legislate for and con-
strue such legislation in a way that
would recognize and benefit the great
masses of the people, but who have
brazenly ignored our rights and have, in
nearly every instance, placed laws in
our Statute Books that intended to
legalize the robbery of the poor by the
rich, and only deviated from this course
when it was absolutely necessary to
throw a crust to the common herd so
that they would remain quiet a while
longer, and thus enable the rich to con-
tinue their blood sucking.  In this party
we find Davis H. Waite, whom the peo-
ple of other states, as well as our own,
love to honor, as witness the great
crowds of people who go out to hear
and sheet him on this present eastern
trip; but which meetings, according to
the Denver Republican of the 29th inst.,
are to be belittled by the plutocratic
press of the East.  Can we afford to
have the toilers of other states recognize
in him a friend of the labor forces and
not recognize and honor him as such
ourselves?  The dispatches state that
these people have raised the cry of
Waite for president in '96.  Surely we
will honor ourselves by obtaining his
services as governor during the in-
tervening two years, especially, as he is
the first governor Colorado ever had
who has made it his study how to best
serve the interests of the laboring men
of this state, and who seems to be hap-
piest and most at ease when in com-
pany of and in consultation with the
common people; the first governor who
does not pander to, and is not controlled
by, Colorado's 400, but who is sole
governor of this state and when he had
mapped out this line of action, had the
courage to carry it out in the face of the
combined force of capitalists and their
hirelings, in this state and elsewhere,
although he knows well that to do so
will subject him to untold vilification
and abuse from those who stop at noth-
ing to gain their purpose, even to having
reporters hovering around this office and
waiting for the time when he shall be so
harassed and worried by this enemies
that perchance he says damn, that they
may herald it to the world that we have
a blasphemous governor.  He it was
who, in the railroad strike, protested
against U. S. marshals.   He it was who
refused to permit the use of the militia
at aid a band of cut throats who were
willing to murder the metal miners at
Cripple Creek for $3 per day.  He it
was who went into the coal mines to
ascertain for himself the true condition
of the men therein employed, and then
took the first step toward making the
office of mine' inspector what it was in-
tended it should be - and office for the
protection of the miner, and not merely
a bureau of information for the mine
owners.  He it was who, when he learned
that his own appointees constituting the
Fire and Police Board of Denver were
aiding the opponents of good govern-
ment in maintaining a political ma-
chine of Republican [ ] who
were pu[]ing in their [ ] Re-
publicanism on the street corners not-
withstanding the fact that they owed
their further employment to a Populist
board compelled them to vacate and
make room for men who will do all in
their power to prevent the intended
overthrow of the will of a majority of
the people of this state by methods
for which the gang in Arapahoe county
has become so justly noted.  Although
-------------------------------------------------
in the removal of the old board, who
were trying to remain in office by for-
tifying the City Hall with dynamite
and rifles, and with the assistance of
the entire Republican gang of Arapahoe
county, the governor was compelled to
gain his ends by a trick for which the
gang will never forgive him.  They
doubtless imagined that all the shrewd-
ness and political wisdom was to be
found within their party, therefore, when
the governor called out the militia, after
having carefully estimated the courage
of the dynamiters and having foreseen
that it would not be necessary to fire a
shot and having thereby secured the
immediate hearing of the case by the
Supreme court and, as we know, won,
as he always does, the other crowd
simply went wild, so wild in fact that
they soon afterwards developed into
full-fledged redeemers.  I could enu-
merate several other instances in which
he has been found on the side of the
people, but these are sufficient answer
to those who ask what Waite has done
for the laboring men.
            Then, in this party we find the only
candidates for congress who are pledged
for the free and unlimited coinage of sil-
ver at the present ratio.  And speaking
of the free and unlimited coinage of sil-
ver, what has become of those people
who were continuously day, during the
campaign of two years ago, that if we
had the free and unlimited coinage of
silver in this country that it would be-
come the dumping ground for all the
world's silver, including all the old silver
coffee and tea pots, spoons and such like
which, according to their theory, this
government would be compelled to buy
from their owners, not knowing, perhaps,
that if we had free coinage this govern-
ment would not buy any silver, but would
simply coin so much of it as its lucky
owners wished to have made into money.
These same persons who were so afraid
we would have too much money are now,
with few exceptions, to be found in the
ranks of the redeemers, who claim theirs
to be the only and original silver party,
notwithstanding the pot and spoon
theories of two years ago, and their lead-
ers votes in congress.  And one of their
leaders ex-Senator Bowen, outdoes the
Populist party saying that after we
have coined all the gold and silver metal
and all of the old pots and spoons we
can lay our hands on, that he favors
bringing the circulating medium up to
from $50 to $60 per capita by issuing
a paper currency based on our gold
and silver.  However, it is easy for this
party to claim everything in sight.  As a
sample of their claims in this campaign,
I will refer to the one made by an annex
of their party, the Business Men's
league, through their secretary, John E
Leet, who, a few weeks ago, stated, in his
now famous letter, that Populism had
swept the state like a devastating forest
fire; that three hundred million dollars
worth of property had dwindled to one
hundred million, and on being roasted
for sending such stuff east, tried to justify
his action by stating, in an address Sat-
urday evening, Oct. 27th, at the Coliseum
hall to the Republican Leagues, that it
was the best advertisement ever sent
east out of this state, because it would
show eastern people that they could buy
Colorado property for one third its value.
This same league held a meeting at the
Tabor Opera house Monday evening,
Oct 29th, from which they send out a set
Of resolutions condemning the Populists,
which the chairman declared were car-
ried unanimously, though he gave no op-
portunity for one-third of this audience,
who were Populists, to declare them-
selves against said resolutions.  Thus it
will be seen that the high and mighty
Business Men are not above stooping to
fraud and deceit.  Another strange thing
about this meeting was, that while the
meeting was arranged for the purpose of
creating Republican enthusiasm, the fire
eating speakers were Democrats, one of
whom was ex-Governor Grant, who went
out of his way to insult Governor Waite.
If this be among the proprieties I have
indeed much to learn.  We also have, on
the Populist ticket, splendid men as
candidates for the various state offices
and our county ticket is all that could be
desired, one of the candidates being taken
from among ourselves.  In this county
we are yet comparatively free to follow
the dictates of our own conscience as to
how we shall vote.  In many other coal
mining sections this is not the case as I
personally know of many men who are
tramping over the country in search of
work, who were told they were no longer
wanted, the reason in some instances
being boldly given was, "You fellows
have too damn much politics about you,"
their politics in every case being Popu-
list.  Every miner owes a special grudge
to John F Shafroth, who stated at Louis-
ville that the miners of this section were
more interested in Lafe Pence's vote for
free coal than anything else in the Wil-
son tariff bill.  In making this fool state-
ment he took us all for fools, as we need
not care whether coal comes in free of
duty or even if a bounty of several dol-
lars a ton is paid to its owners on lan-
ing it in this country, as it will not make
any difference in either trade or prices of
Boulder county coal, or anywhere else
in the state for that matter as we are
amply protected by our high tariff rail
roads.  In view of these facts I trust
every miner will vote the straight Popu-
list ticket.       Yours respectfully,
Wm. Eickelberg
Lafayette, Oct 10, '94





3 comments:

  1. Diana,
    I enjoyed this interesting take on the Colorado politics of the day. Since you mentioned your "liberal" leanings, could I share this post with you? http://jonesfamilymatters.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Diana, for stopping by. It brought me back here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good find. I know I found a few tidbits about politics and the weather in a few letters my grandfather received. Markers of history, not really cause not much historical mentioned. But nice to know what was on their minds in those days. I try not to judge the ancestors today by my standards of this century. I'd hate they judge me. Well you gave me some food for thought for the day. And that makes it a good post. jo

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