As we look over the country today we see two classes of people. The excessively rich and the abject poor, and between them is a gulf ever deepening, ever widening, and the ranks of the poor are continually being recruited from a third class, the well-to-do, which class is rapidly disappearing and being absorbed by the very poor.
“On one side of this gulf we see the people toiling day and night, in the fields, the mines, the factories, working for meager wages, scantily clad and poorly fed and when the year’s crop is gathered or the day’s wages are paid we see the products of the farms and the fruits of the toil transferred across this inseparable gulf and delivered to those who are on the opposite side.
“An inspection shows that they are well clothed and that they have every comfort and luxury. They live in splendid mansions, in gorgeous palaces. We see no farms, no mines, no mills, no factories, for the dwellers on this side of the gulf do not labor. Yet there is piled up all the products of the farms, the mines, the factories which came from the other side.
“A little study of the situation reveals the fact that the laws are such that this vast army of people on one side are compelled to labor and toil in poverty in order that the few dwellers on the other side may lead lives of idleness and luxury.
“One of these classes represents plutocracy, the other represents the great masses, the toilers of the nation.
“The greatest struggle of all the ages is the one now going on between these two classes. Plutocracy is endeavoring to widen and deepen the chasm while the people are trying to bridge it until there will be a common ground on which all can meet on an equal footing.
“The rapid concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is the most alarming sign of the times and unless speedily checked portends the decay of our national greatness. The danger is so imminent that thinking men everywhere are alarmed.
“I have an unwavering faith in the honesty and patriotism of the masses and believe that when the critical moment arrives they will exhibit the spirit of our ancestors when they declared what ‘all men are, and of right ought to be, free and equal.’”
The American Plutocracy, by Milford Wriarson Howard, Holland Pub. Co, NY, 1895
Milford Wriarson Howard (1862-1937) wrote three nonfiction books on political subjects. He was a member of Congress, 7th Alabama District when he wrote ‘The American Plutocracy.’ In 1894, he had run as a Populist following a bitter split in Alabama’s Democratic Party, winning in a violent race where threats were made against his family. Two years later he suffered a nervous breakdown but successfully ran for re-election, moving his family from Ft Payne to Cullman, AL, for their safety.
In 1927, Howard took his wife on a six-month trip to Europe, writing a series of articles about their trip for The Birmingham News. He interviewed fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy, and the interview changed his political views, causing him to endorse fascism. His last book was “Facism, A Challenge to Democracy.” published in 1928.
Credit is due him for the existence of Alpine Camp for Boys, the Master Schools for underprivileged children on Lookout Mountain, Sally Howard Memorial Chapel, and the Scenic Highway, which runs the length of Lookout Mountain. His dreams led to Comer Scout Reservation, DeSoto Park, and DeSoto Parkway.