Practical Agitation

Cover of book Practical Agitation
Categories: Nonfiction

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t us examine current beliefs on popular education, and then thereafter let us look very closely at the work done among the poor, and see upon what lines it has been found possible to establish influence. Why is it that if you go down to the Bowery and set up a kindergarten or give a course of lectures on the Duties of Citizenship, every one commends you; whereas if you go into some abandoned district where a Tammany thug is running for the State Assembly against a Republican heeler, and if you put an honest man in the field against them both, your friends call you a fool, and say that your reform consists of mere negation? Who asks to see the results upon the public welfare of a night school in astronomy? Yet, if you get ten mechanics to labor for six months with the fire of enthusiasm in them, building up a radical club, and as a result, one hundred and fifty men cast for the first time in their lives a vote that represents the heart and conscience of each, your intelligent friends ask, " What have you done? You are howling against the moon." Why is it that if you are a grocer and refuse to sand your sugar, you are called honest? Yet, if a young politician takes this course, it is supposed that life is not long enough for the world to discover his value; he is a visionary. In the sugar trade the man insisted upon dealing with the community as a whole. He was not trying to sell sugar to a club, or to benefit some district. He dealt with the public. Now, if a politician deals directly with the public, we condemn him because we cannot see the empire of confidence he is building up. The reason we do not see it is entirely due to historical causes. We have had little experience recently in the utility of large appeals. We forget their power. Yet we are ...

Practical Agitation
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