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The state of the coal region during the strike was simply a state of idleness and lawless riot, for most of which John Mitchell was and is to blame. But here is a glimpse of John himself and of the sort of figure he cuts among intelligent men. We quote from New York Sun of January 18th:
"Mitchell Tries to Sum Up His Side of the Case — Says He Doesn't Believe in Violence — Declares that the Miners Can't Get Cars Now — Asked to Prove His Assertion Philadelphia, January 17.—John Mitchell, goaded out of his usual calmness and shrewdness by the testimony that for the past two weeks has been accumulating against his union, delivered a valedictory before the Strike Commission to-day. His address was in reality an effort to again present the union cause and for once Mitchell seemed to lose the cunning that characterizes his moves. As such an effort, however, it was promptly recognized by counsel for the operators, who cut the miners' president short in one of his most turgid deliverances."
It was at the following point in Mitchell's speech that the interruption occurred. Mitchell grew a little wild and wandered from the point. He said:
"I have an abiding faith in the American people. I believe that when they understand a cause to be right, they will support it, and without the support of the people no great movement can succeed. That is true of a strike.
"There is one other question that I feel it is my duty to speak of. Several days ago I addressed a commuincation to all the anthracite mine workers urging them to cooperate with the management of the mines in increasing the output of the mines for the purpose of relieving this terrible suffering due to the coal famine. Since my communication was received by them, I have heard from a large number of our local unions, and in nearly every instance the miners tell me that the production of coal cannot be increased through any effort of theirs; that in most cases the companies are failing to furnish them as many cars as they would load."
Commissioners, attorneys and spectators alike listened with astonishment to this outburst. At this point Major Warren arose.
"Mr. Mitchell," he said, "pardon me for interrupting you. Will you produce proof of any of those cases you are now stat freely and fully to destination. There is no scarcity of coal cars. We now have more than we can use. The coal movement has been very heavy. Saturday and Sunday 3,018 cars of anthracite coal passed over the Reading- division. During the same time there were unloaded in the City of Philadelphia 481 cars and at Port Richmond 439 cars of anthracite coal. There were also 194 cars of bituminous coal unloaded at Port Richmond.
"At Port Reading 3,646 cars of anthracite and 182 cars of bituminous coal were dumped.
"This morning there were no loaded cars at Palo Alto scales, and only fifty-eight left at Cressona.
"There were in trains on the Reading division this morning 247 cars of anthracite and 103 cars of bituminous coal moving southward. The only other loaded cars were fifty-seven at different passing points billed to Philadelphia and miscellaneous points.
"The car reports to-day show that after filling colliery calls for coal and foreign cars there is a visible supply of 3,000 cars in excess of demand.
"Six collieries, with a daily production of 4,000 tons, were drowned out by the miners' union ordering out the pumping gangs, and we were powerless to keep the water out of them during the strike. Two of these collieries are entirely ruined and must be abandoned. The other four are being pumped out, and in the course of time will again be worked. Their destruction prevents the use of these surplus cars, deprives the public of coal and many men of employment. What would have happened had the strikers succeeded in drowning out all our collieries should give the public serious thought."
Here are other points of Baer's testimony before Mr. Low and other gentlemen of New York:
"Mr. Baer Shows That There Was a Shortage of 22,000,000 Tons Owing to the Strike—Railroads Are Unable to Compel Individual Operators to Keep Prices Down, and the Marketing of Large Quantities of Coal Has Been Taken Out of the Hands of the Big Companies.
"New York, January 13.—Mayor Low and representatives of the coal-carrying railroads held a conference to-day to discuss the coal situation in the five boroughs of Greater New York. below that of 1901. This is a large shortage. Notwithstanding this enormous increase in the output of bituminous coal, the shortage has not been made up. Indeed, one of the striking factors in the situation is the fact that bituminous coal brings more in the market than anthracite, although in seven years the output of bituminous coal has increased from about 113,000,000 tons to 350,000,000 tons in 1902," etc., etc.
Thus at every point the testimony of the coal companies and operators is to the effect that the shortage in coal is due to the strike and to no other cause, and testimony enough has been published long ago to show that the coal strike of 1902 was as needless and foolish and wicked as would be a strike by the letter carriers all over the country, or a strike by all the employes of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
The men were working in comparatively easy circumstances, and most of them were content, they, as all of us, bearing certain wrongs—but quite content. Then the low-bred agitator, the walking delegate, called John Mitchell and others, the ignorant fools, wanted to get up a fight with the operators. They succeeded and we all know the result, but for Mitchell and his pals of the newspapers, or others, to try to place the blame of the well-nigh universal distress upon any other shoulders than Mitchell's own is too absurd for the consideration of anybody except a lot of old maids and Irish politicians.
The union scoundrels forced the fight and now want to lay the blame on others. As to the contention of my friend in the New World, that during the months of December, 1902, and January, 1903, the coal sellers or dealers got up some sort of conspiracy to raise and keep up the price of coal. Mr. Baer's testimony before Mayor Low and others, in New York, clearly shows that some such scheme was worked, but that the coal companies did their best to prevent it; but let us suppose that they did not, though I think that Mr. Baer's position on this point is generally believed, but suppose the operators and coal dealers resolved: First, not to be dictated to as to what they should do in their own line of business, and suppose further that they then used the same methods used in all commercial dealings, viz.: to buy as cheaply as possible and to sell as high as possible—who will blame them over much for resolv