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Committee on Labor Investigation.



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MR. SPEAKER: The Joint Committee on Labor Investigation, appointed to consider a communication from the Workingmen's Party, dated January eighteenth, eighteen hundred and seventyeight, " and to inquire whether any legal meetings of said party have been unlawfully interfered with by the law officers of San Francisco, and to investigate the nature of the language used by the speakers at the meetings referred to, and to take into consideration all other matters complained of that would be proper for legislative action," beg leave to submit the following report:

That, under the resolution introduced by Mr. Tobin, and passed by the House, your committee proceeded to San Francisco, and examined witnesses on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, February second, third, and fourth, and on Saturday, February sixteenth. Your committee have examined all sides of the question as thoroughly as it was possible for them to do within the limited time allotted them, and have gathered a mass of iniportant testimony which will be found in the accompanying transcript of the proceedings and documents filed with the committee.

The first day was devoted exclusively to the examination of city officials, among whom were his Honor, Mayor Bryant, Judge Louderback of the Police Court, Judge Ferral of the City Criminal Court, Captain Lees of the Police Department, and Supervisors Foley, Gibbs, and others. On the succeeding days, members of the Workingmen's Party and representatives of the mercantile interests were afforded an opportunity of being heard upon this vitally important question.

We have endeavored, to the best of our ability and we trust we have succeeded in doing so-to give an impartial hearing to those who desire to come before us, and to consider the question submitted to usin a spirit untinctured by bias and unswayed by popular clamor.

The testimony taken by us developed the following facts: During the months of June and July of last year the workingmen of some of the principal manufacturing towns in the East having been subjected to much suffering from lack of employment, arising from the financial depression prevailing at that time, inaugurated a series of strikes, the culmination of which was a brief but memorable era of riot, incendiarism, bloodshed, and crime. We found that about the same time a large proportion of the laboring element in San Francisco was unemployed and in a state of distress, due to the overstocking of the labor market by poor immigrants from the East, and by the steadily increasing incursions made upon almost every department of mechanical industry by an excessively large Asiatic population. Public sentiment against the presence of such a vast

assemblage of an inferior and non-assimilative race, which sentiment has been intensified by the prevailing stagnation in business, and consequent distress among the working classes, was suddenly fanned into fever heat by the reports of the outbreaks in the Eastern cities. We found that in July last a meeting was held on the sand lots, in front of the new City Hall, under the auspices of what was known as the National Labor Party. At that meeting resolutions were adopted sympathizing with the strikers on the other side of the continent, requesting the repeal of the Burlingame treaty, and deploring the existence of a cheap system of coolie labor in California. We found that shortly before the adjournment of that meeting an incendiary fire was started in a Chinese wash-house on the corner of Post and Leavenworth Streets, several blocks away. During the continuance of the fire a large crowd gathered around the burning building and filled the streets in the immediate neighborhood. That evening several Chinese wash-houses were gutted and parțially demolished by gangs of vicious young men and irresponsible tramps. These meetings were continued for some time, and acts of incendiarism and vandalism became so frequent that a portion of the citizens organized themselves into what was called the Safety Committee, and patrolled the streets day and night for the preservation of the public peace and the prevention of incendiarism. Shortly afterwards the lumber yards immediately adjoining the Pacific Mail Steamship Company's dock were fired by some person or persons unknown, great destruction of property ensued, and the police, assisted by the Committee of Safety, were forced to charge upon a mob, from the midst of which several pistol shots had been fired. feeling of insecurity and alarm overspread the city by reason of those riotous procecdings, which was, however, allayed by the stoppage of the meetings of the National Labor Party and the retirement to private life of the Committee of Safety. This was the initial point of the labor agitation in San Francisco and throughout the State. Your committee desire to state in this connection that they have to find the slightest evidence tending to show that the leaders of the so-called Workingmen's Party and the great body of their followers have had any participation. whatever in the riotous acts alluded to. Your committee also failed to find any evidence of any overt acts committed or attempted to be committed by the supporters of the present workingman's movement, although language was used at some of the meetings which, if interpreted without the context of surrounding circumstances and results, might seem to bear upon its face evidences of an incendiary character.

In consequence of the threatening and incendiary language thus used at public meetings by leaders of this movement-Kearney, Wellock, Knight, and others-and the fear of dire results in the minds of many of the taxpayers, the Mayor of San Francisco deemed it his duty to issue a proclamation forbidding such meetings to be held, and authorizing and directing the police of the city to suppress them. Though this measure was an extreme one, and only to be resorted to in cases of extreme emergency, your committee are of the opinion, taking all the circumstances into consideration, that Mayor Bryant was justified in so acting. We found, from the testimony herewith furnished, much to our gratification, that no resistance was offered by the men taking part in those meetings to the enforcement of said proclamation, and that the leaders counseled their followers to dis

perse peaceably when directed so to do by the police authorities. On the contrary, your committee found, by competent testimony, that under this proclamation the police officers, in several instances, entered halls where peaceably disposed citizens were assembled for the purpose of discussing the Chinese question and the best means of aineliorating the condition of the working classes, and without waiting to know the nature of the proceedings or to learn whether any infraction of the law was contemplated or advocated by the speakers, ordered such assemblages to disperse. In so acting, they professed to be guided by directions from police headquarters; but your committee believe that they violated the spirit if not the letter of the Mayor's proclamation, which did not warrant such conduct. We also found that the police officers made arrests of several of the leaders of the movement by taking them off a public platform, in the presence of an excited crowd, instead of seeking a less exposed opportunity of so doing, by virtue of warrants charging them with incendiary utterances.

In making such arrests, they, in some instances, roughly handled their prisoners, and in dispersing small knots or gatherings of citizens, the police, in several cases, made an unnecessary use of their clubs, and seriously injured several persons who failed to get out of the way with sufficient alacrity: Your committee would respectfully suggest that such a gross violation of the rights of our citizens calls for severe censure because unnecessary, no resistance being offererl, and tending in itself to a breach of the peace by the provocation it occasioned.

Taking the entire testimony offered to 11s into consideration, and also duly weighing the opinions and sentiments expressed to us of a large number of the citizens of San Francisco, and from all we heard and saw whilst there, your committee would respectfully suggest that the passage of the so-called Incendiary Act by this Legislature was illtimed, and calculated to some extent to embitter the minds of a large number of our citizens throughout the State. This feeling of disapproval not only exists in the minds of those who are factors in the labor movement, but also in the minds of a large portion of our business community. Whether the provisions of said bill deserve all the severe strictures imposed upon it, is not the question. A large portion of our population consider it an obnoxious and unnecessary measure, and believe that the laws as they stood before this Act was passed were sufficiently restrictive for any ordinary emergency. Under such circumstances we would respectfully recommend tlie repeal of the so-called Incendiary Act. Nothing, in our opinion, would tend more to allay public excitement and put a stop to inflammatory language than the employment of the idle and the needy who are unfortunately now so numerous in this State, and any legislation tending to this much desired end should be encouraged.

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MR. SPEAKER: Your Committee on Labor Investigation, to whom

in the outrages which unprincipled men were urging the inflamed was referred the communication addressed to the Speaker of this and excited masses to perpetrate. Assembly by the leaders of the so-called Workingmen's Party, and This state of affairs was critical in the extreme, and demanded dated January eighteenth, eighteen hundred and seventy-eight,

prompt action on the part of those intrusted with the duty of mainwould respectfully report as follows:

taining the peace and dignity of the State. Your committee, thereOur instructions, by resolution of this Assembly, directed us to

fore, find that the proclamation issued by Mayor Bryant, prohibiting inquire not only into the complaints of the workingmen as to their incendiary talk at meetings, was well timed and an absolute necesgrievances, but also to investigate their conduct, to examine into the

sity for the purpose of preserving the peace, and protecting life and character of the language used by their speakers at meetings then

property. And it is the opinion of your committee, formed after a recently held, to search for the causes of the agitation, and to ascer- careful consideration of all the facts in the premises, that to this tain what action would be advisable by this Legislature. In obe

proclamation, and to the prompt action of the Legislature in passing, dience to these instructions, your comınittee proceeded to San and of the Governor in approving, what is known as the "Incendiary Francisco and sat in joint session with a similar committee from the

Act," is due the fact that riot, bloodshed, and general anarchy were Senate. Due notice of our sessions was given to the authorities of

not precipitated on the State. We also find that the peace officers of the City and County of San Francisco and to the leaders of the

the City and County of San Francisco, in carrying out the provisions Workingmen's Party, so-called. They were notified of the time and of Mayor Bryant's proclamation, and of the "Incendiary Act,”, did place of holding our sessions, and also that the committee would not exceed their authority, nor did they interfere in the slightest hear such testimony bearing on the subject under investigation as degree with the freedom of speech, lawfully exercised. either party desired to offer. Both parties appeared and produced În making up these opinions your committee has been guided witnessess, who were fully examined by the committee and ample entirely by the testimony presented at the investigation, and their opportunity offered for cross-examination by, opposing parties. conclusions are based on the facts elicited, according to their best Among the witnesses examined on the part of the authorities were understanding. Messrs. Foley and Gibbs, Supervisors of the City and County of San Beyond the fact that the Chinese have monopolized many branches Francisco; his Honor, A. J. Bryant, Mayor of the City of San Fran- of business, and have driven white labor, to considerable extent, cisco; Hon. Davis Louderback, Judge of the Police Court of the City from others, your committee fails to find any cause or justification of San Francisco; Hon. Robert Ferral, Judge of the Municipal for the conduct of those who have been so industriously endeavorCriminal Court of the City of San Francisco, and Captain Lees, of ing to array one portion of the community against the other; and the Police Department of the City of San Francisco. Among a large we look upon the Chinese evil more as an excuse than as a justificanumber of witnesses examined on behalf of the so-called Working tion. We find that the laws of the State, if properly administered, men's Party were Messrs. Wellock, Day, Knight, and O'Donnell. are not discriminating in the protection they afford to either capiAfter a full and complete hearing of all the testimony and a careful talists or workingmen in the protection of life and property. Your consideration of the facts therein presented, your committee beg committee sincerely hopes that legitimate legislation will speedily leave to present their conclusions as follows:

free our white laborers from their Mongolian competitors, and, when That a general feeling of insecurity and alarm existed in the this is accomplished, we feel satisfied that the harangues of unscruminds of the best portions of the community throughout the city, pulous and reckless men will no longer be able to divert the honest and that this feeling had communicated itself, to a considerable workingmen of the State of California from the path of good citizenextent, to the larger cities and towns of the interior, and was rapidly ship, as defined by our Constitution and our laws. spreading throughout the State. That this feeling was caused by the large and frequent meetings

L. F. LONG, being held by the so-called Workingmen's Party, at which meetings

M. C. CONROY. language of the most violent and incendiary character was used; public officers and private citizens were denounced, vilified, and threatened in unmeasured terms; threats against life and property were freely indulged in, and the law defied in language unmistakable in construction; and that a reign of terror was attempted to be MR. SPEAKER: The undersigned, as a member of the Committee inaugurated, which, if not promptly checked, would undoubtedly on “ Labor Investigation,” respectfully submits the following minorhave lead, as a final consequence, to an immense sacrifice of both ity report: life and property. That this feeling so generally pervading the com Your committee was appointed soon after the passage of what is munity had caused a stagnation in all branches of business, a resul' known as the Incendiary Act by this House, and in consequence of which added greatly to the sufferings of a class of people numeri a communication addressed to it by Kearney, Knight, and Wellock, cally largę, and who were ordinarily well-disposed and law-abiding the recognized leaders and controlling spirits of what is known as citizens, but, being out of employment, they had, in a measure the workingmen's movement, asking for an investigation. yielded' to the peculiar influence exercised by ignorant, audacious Your committee, in pursuance of the instructions of this House, and unscrupulous leaders, and were willing either to sit idly by proceeded with as little delay as possible to the discharge of the while the work of destruction was going on, or to take an active part duties of the trust reposed in them, by holding a series of sittings in

rights of others, and in a manner prescribed by law, out of the abundance of this land of plenty, for the starving poor of the State.

In conclusion, I desire to say that your committee, in view of the examinations made, and exhaustive reports submitted to this Legislature and the public on the Chinese question by other committees, possessing superior facilities and machinery for making such investigations, devoted little time or attention to the Chinese phase of the question. Taking it for granted that it must be patent to all thinking persons that the widespread want and destitution now extant in this State, and which has precipitated it into the very jaws of political and social revolution, is directly traceable to the presence in the State of immense hordes of heathen Chinese, who live at the expense of the laboring masses of our people. And it is my deliberate opinion that, but for the presence of these hordes of Chinese the present rumblings of discontent and threatened revolution would have been unknown, and to-day there would be little or no suffering or destitution in the State, no cause of complaint, and peace and prosperity would reign supreme.

The opposition to the longer toleration of the Chinese evil on this coast has become so sharp and well defined on the part of a very large element of our population as to make the final result a matter of serious inquiry, and if it is possible to so control and adjust these antagonisms and differences as to enable these two elements of our population to so far harmonize as to live in peaceable contact with each other, or whether the conflict is irrepressible in its nature and must continue until the State is all Caucasian or all Mongolian.

the City Hall at San Francisco, of which wide notice was given, and all parties interested invited to attend and present the names of such witnesses as it was desirable or necessary for the purposes of the investigation to examine. In pursuance of this arrangement and notice, your committee examined and reduced to writing the testimony of a large number of witnesses, among whom were the city and county officials of the City and County of San Francisco, and the leaders, and some of the rank and file of the Workingmen's Party. From this testimony I arrived at the following conclusions:

That the present labor movement is not responsible for nor connected with the July riots, but that it had its incipiency soon after, and followed close upon its heels, leaving the presumption strong that the parties responsible for the terrible scenes of riot and incendiarism in July are incorporated with the present movement.

That at the time of the passage of the so-called Incendiary Act, and for several weeks prior thereto, the larger portion of the people of San Francisco, including most of its business men and wealthier citizens, were greatly excited and alarmed on account of the threatening and incendiary language almost nightly uttered by Kearney, Knight, Wellock, and others, leaders of the Workingmen's Party, against the persons and property of the wealthier and more prominent citizens, while addressing large and excited crowds of their followers.

At the time of the passage of the so-called "Incendiary Act" by this House, I confess that I had serious doubts as to the propriety of the passage of such an Act, under any circumstances, and have seen no reason since to change the views then held. But the circumstances under which it was passed, and the condition of things then existing in San Francisco, went far toward justifying, if not to make the Act a public necessity.

As it is not likely that any orderly, law-abiding person will be subjected to hardship or inconvenience under the operations of the statute, and as sufficient time has not elapsed since the statute went into effect to judge intelligently of its practical workings and effect, I am unable to see any urgent necessity for its repeal, but rather that it should be left to the future to determine the wisdom or the folly of the Act.

In justice to the leaders of the Workingmen's Party it is proper to say that they were unanimous in their statements before your com-. mittee, while under oath, that the offensive and incendiary language used by them was employed in a pickwickian sense, and that they did not intend to do anything wrong themselves, nor to encourage others to incur the hazard of an infraction of the law, and that they ridiculed the idea that there was the least necessity for any legislation, so far as they were concerned.

In a few instances what seemed to be quiet and peaceable meetings of workingmen were broken up and dispersed by the police, and knots of workingmen upon the streets were charged upon by the police, and scattered like sheep. The quiet, patience, and resignation exhibited by the workingmen in the dispersion of their meetings, and the vigorous handling which they received at the hands of the police on these occasions, is greatly to their credit. That there is great want, destitution, and squalid poverty in San Francisco, there is no room for doubt, and that it is the duty of those in authority to provide, as far as may be consistent with the public good and the

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