Primary Sources Logo

structural tag close window


T.V. Powderly, "No Very Rich or Very Poor"
1893



 

Background

Consider This Question

 

In the early 1890s, the American Press Association put together a feature series of writings in preparation for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They commissioned 74 notable Americans to make predictions about American life in the 1990s, in the process producing an interesting commentary on life in the 1890s. The variety of essays reflected the diversity of the contributors, including a senator (John J. Ingalls), an electrical engineer (John J. Carty), a poet (Elizabeth Akers Allen), and a minister (Thomas De Witt Talmage). The segments ran in newspapers across the country from March through May 1893, in time for the World's Fair opening.



Three millions celebrated in 1793, 63,000,000 in 1893, and 300,000,000 will in 1993 celebrate the landing of Columbus. They will be educated and refined, for the arts and sciences will be taught in the public schools. Not only will the mind of the pupil be trained, but the hand as well. Each child will be instructed in the manual of tools.

They will be instructed in the functions of every part of the human system; "man, know thyself" will have a meaning in 1993. The economic and social questions of the day will also be taught in the schools. There will be no uneducated persons to act as drags on the car of progress.

The form of government will be simpler, and the initiative and referendum will prevail. Lawmakers will not be the autocrats they now are, for they will truly register the will of the people. They will not dictate to them, as at present.

The commonwealth will be organized on industrial lines. Labor organizations will have disappeared, for there will be no longer a necessity for their existence. An ideal democracy will stand upon the foundations that we of 1883 are erecting.

Railroads, water courses, telegraphs, telephones, pneumatic tubes, and all other methods of transporting passengers, freight, and intelligence will be owned and operated by the government. The earnings of these agencies will swell the public treasury. Homes will flourish, for they will no longer be taxed. Instead of devoting so much time and money to the erecting of great public structures, as at present, the erection and adornment of the home will receive first consideration.

Each home will be regarded as a contribution to the wealth and beauty of the nation. The earnings of public concerns will defray the cost of maintaining streets, sewers, waterworks, and light-and heat-giving establishments. Cremation will take the place of the present system of burying the dead. And the living will be healthier, for the earth will not be poisoned through the interment of infection. The contents of sewers will not flow into river and stream to send deadly vapors through the air, but will be utilized to enrich the harvest-yielding earth.

The progress of the lower grades of animal life has been skillfully guided and hastened, until we may now assert that cattle and fowl are approaching perfection. In 1993 the same attention will be bestowed on the human race. Instead of rushing blindly forward, increasing and multiplying at haphazard, humanity will knowingly and intelligently advance to higher altitudes.

There will be no very rich or very poor, for -- long before 1993 dawns upon the world - the industrialists will have learned that the raising of large families is but another way to create slaves to perform the drudgery of the wealthy. And the family will be restricted to the capacity of the parents to maintain and educate it.

Under such conditions, prisons and poorhouses will decline, and divorces will not be considered necessary. The system which makes criminals of men and women -- and at the same time makes millionaires of the others -- will have disappeared. As a consequence, the confinement and punishment of criminals will occupy but little thought or time of the men of 1993.


 

Consider This Question

Background

 

1. How does Powderly's essay align with the Populist Platform?




 close window