ExploringAmerica By Kevin Pechersky Pd 3 December 1st, 1884, Whilestopping in Colorado Springs, it was cold and so I sought refuge by asking tostay in a home for a night.
A woman, Helen Hunt Jackson, looked ill and couldbarely raise to her feet. Still, she was nice and greeted me with a smile. Iintroduced myself and she offered me to read her novel Ramona. With nothing else to preoccupy myself with and grateful forthe chance to wait out the cold in her and her husband’s home, I kindlyobliged. When I finished it, I was deeply entangled into the fantasy of it. Sheasked my opinion and I said I love how you described California. She faced meand told me that was not her point to be made.
It was really to show thesuffering of the Native Americans. Currently, settlers and the United Statesgovernment are taking their land for resources and farmland. “If I can do onehundredth part for the Indian that Mrs.
Stowe did for the Negro, I will bethankful.” She wanted to spreadawareness, since the situation has not changed. She was upset that people misconstrued the purpose of the novel but wasglad that I enjoyed it.
Her novel, she tells me, is very well regarded by hercritics. June 21st,1886, I arrived in New York to find the streets bustling withimmigrants, street vendors, and people rushing to their day-to-day jobs. Iencountered a man who believed in the betterment of workers. He took it uponhimself to protect these workers.
“I saw that leadership in the labor movementcould be safely entrusted only to those into whose hearts and minds had beenwoven the experiences of earning their bread by daily labor.” His name wasSamuel Gompers. Just a little less than a year ago, he founded the AmericanFederation of Labor (AFL).
They were a labor union, of which Mr. Gompers wasthe president of. He was a fiery orator with quick wit and speaking to him, Ilearned the importance that the AFL could play for workers internationally.Right now, I can understand how working conditions can be tough, to the pointof even being inhuman and I wished him the best of luck with his endeavors. Hisfounding of the AFL should play a vital role in labor representation. March 3rd, 1892 JosephGlidden was a man of opportunity. I ran into the man with barbwire around hisfarm as I was travelling through De Kalb, Illinois. After asking what it was, heimpressed upon me the importance of his recent innovation, which he applied apatent for.
It was “a twisted fence wire having the transverse spur wire, D,bent at its middle portion about one of the wire strands, a, of said fencewire, and clamped in position and place by the other wire strand, z, twistedupon its fellow, substantially as specified.” He claimed that he had created this amazingbarbwire, along with a way to mass-produce it. Curious, I pressed for more but,alas, he would not give any more detail. He was waiting to hear from the U.Spatent office.
His barbwire had applications for the whole of the U.S, since alot of free range farming was present. With barbwire, this type of farmingwould no longer be possible if every farmer put barbwire along his property. Headded that it was excellent for military defense.
The wide applications of thistool, if accepted as a patent, could be used for years, if centuries to come. July 13th,1892, I had just arrived at Homestead, Pennsylvania to witnessthe effects of the Homestead Strike firsthand. Along the way, I ran into arather impassioned woman by the name of Emma Goldman. Her accent, foreign and seeminglyof Russian descent, was strange to the ears. Her heart felt for the workers of Homestead and she hated factorymanager Henry Clay Frick. “The brutal bluntness of the account, the inhumanityof Frick towards the evicted mother, inflamed my mind.” I was shocked by herrevolutionary ideas.
She blamed thesuffering of the working people on the pursuit of profits by the factoryowners. After the Homestead Strike, her lust for vengeance seemed to prevail inher speech. “It would… strike terror inthe enemy’s ranks and make them realize that the proletariat of America had itsavengers.” I do not know to what extentI believed her words to turn into action, but it did seem like she was callingfor uprisings. We spoke for an hour and I left with two sides of a debateclashing inside my head. I did not want a revolution, but I felt that theHomestead Strike was truly inhumane.
I do hope to run into her again because Isaw how committed she was to her ideals. July 23rd, 1892I was sitting in thereception room waiting for an audience with Henry Clay Frick to question him onhis thoughts of the Homestead Strike. My adventurous mind was curious to seeboth sides of the cause and the previous encounter with Emma Goldman onlyfueled it. I see a man request a private audience with Frick and his featureswere distinctly foreign and he seemed without a doubt, an immigrant. Myimpression of him was that he was a radical or a zealot.
That’s why it waspeculiar seeing him seek a meeting with Frick. After being denied, he seemed toforce himself into Frick’s office anyway. What happened next was, the only wayI can describe it, horrifying.
I heard gunshots and a wave of commotion swept overeveryone. Eventually, as I saw him being restrained and arrested, I heard himsay “Inhumanity is the keynote of stupidity in power.” Frick somehow managed tosurvive, a miracle in itself. I learned the shooter’s name was AlexanderBerkman, yet he was called “Sasha”. This brought me to the memory of Goldmanmentioning a man she seemed quite fond of. She called him Sasha and, thoughbrief, mentioned his agreement with her ideals. I think it no coincidence,therefore, that the two might have known of each other.
However, Alexanderbroke open the debate on whether there is a need for unions and whether it iscorrupt that there are people taking advantage of others for economic gain. October 1st,1892 I did not have the chance of meeting Mr. Frick. However,I found a most respectful and intelligent individual. He was Mr.
AndrewCarnegie. He had purchased the Homestead Mills and was shocked at the resultsof the Homestead Strike. He felt that “my partners were misled by… Thesuperintendent, who was himself misled… My idea is that the Company should beknown as determined to let the men at any works stop work… and wait patientlyuntil they decide to return to work, never think of trying new men-never.” He felt that, had he beenpresent at the Mills, as he had business to attend to in Scotland, he would’veprevented an “unnecessary” event.
Mr.Carnegie is a most benevolent man, who shared some secrets to success with me.He encouraged me to forge connections with upper societal people and to engagemyself with books. He is an extremely successful businessman, and dominated thePig Iron Works. He planned to donate much of what he earned to charitablecauses, mostly because he had worked his way up in life.
He was a self-made manand wanted to share his wealth. In short, I believe him to be a most decentman, and finding out the story from the side owner of the Homestead Mills, wasan amazing opportunity. January 21st,1904 I arrived in Chicago two days ago and I met aninteresting fellow today, a very educated Negro. He was W.
E.B Du Bois and hismanner of speaking seemed to come all too naturally. He stated “The Problem ofthe twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,-the relation of thedarker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and theislands of the sea.” He opened up myeyes to the debate of what to do with the racial injustice that invades oursociety now. He tried to change my opinion of a black man, that anyone canbecome intelligent given the will and opportunity. He told me that he was backin Chicago to discuss his recent release TheSouls of Black Folk. He also told meof intentions of eventually forming an association that would promote racialequality.
However, he said, it would most likely be a few years before he coulddo so, because of other engagements. I gave my support, because this man had triedto change my perception of the value of a typical human soul. He wanted me to judge upon character and notskin color. Him, having a PhD from Harvard, believed that education was the wayto close the racial divide, and I happened to agree with him.
This man has,without doubt, caused me much needed self-reflection. I have a feeling thatthings might change in the near future. His recent work appears to be openingthe eyes of many and more and more people seem to rally to his support. Bibliography Goldman,Emma Living My Life (New York: AlfredKnopf, Inc., 1931) Berkman, Alexander Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (Pennsylvania: Mother EarthPublishing Association, 1912)Du Bois, W. E. B.
The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago: A.C.McClurg & Co.; Cambridge: University Press John Wilson and Son, Cambridge,U.S.A.
, 1903Gompers, Samuel Seventy Years of Life and Labor (EastonPress), 1925Ray, Emily and WynellSchamel. “Glidden’s Patent Application for Barbed Wire.” SocialEducation 61, 1 (January 1997): 52-55.The Barbed Wire Patent,143 U.S. 275 (1892)Carnegie, Andrew Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie(Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 1920)Whitaker, Rosemary “Jackson,Helen Hunt” American National Biography, Copyright © Oxford UniversityPress 2018.
http://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1600836Jackson, Helen Ramona;Broadview Press, 2008