The Kearney Agitation in California

Anglais The Kearney Agitation in California

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Denis Kearney was mainly known as American labor agitator of 19th century, and one of the most important leaders of the anti-Chinese campaign in California. He began an agitation among the workingmen in 1877. His attacks being directed mostly against the rights of capital and the importation of Chinese labor. This book deals with the Kearney Agitation in California. "What has been going on in California is not out of the natural course of things. The forces that have produced these events have been developed, not imported. And as it seems to me that the same forces exist in other parts of the country, I cannot see why, essentially, the same movements may not soon begin elsewhere. It is this that makes these California experiences worthy of attention. Every result becomes in turn a cause; every event is the progenitor of future events. And it is probable that this California agitation marks the beginning of a new phase in our politics. Whatever be his future career, Kearney has already made what will be regarded by thousands and thousands of men, many of them of much greater abilities, as a dazzlingly brilliant success. An unknown drayman, destitute of advantages, without following or influence, he has, simply by appealing to popular discontent and arousing the uneasy timidity which is its correlative, risen to the rank of a great leader, and drunk the sweets of power and fame. He knows what it is to be the hero and the master of surging multitudes; to draw forth their applause by a word, to hush them into silence with a wave of his hand; to be garlanded with flowers; to be drawn in triumph through crowded streets; to be attended wherever he went by a retinue of reporters and correspondents; to rise every morning to find the newspapers filled with him; to have men, who would not have noticed him had he stuck to his dray, slink by night to his house, or solicit his favors by go-betweens; to look upon high officials as the creatures of his making; to be known and talked about, not merely through the whole country, but over the world! Whatever becomes of Kearney - and it would be rash to predict that his career is yet over - this lesson will not be lost: The wave rises, curls, and subsides, and, where was its white crest, are but some spumes of foam. But the impulse is perpetuated, and another wave swells up. When, under institutions that proclaim equality, masses of men, whose ambitions and tastes are aroused only to be crucified, find it a hard, bitter, degrading struggle even to live, is it to be expected that the sight of other men rolling in their millions will not excite discontent? And, when discontented men have votes, is it to be expected that the demagogue will not appeal to the discontent, for the sake of the votes? It is useless to blink the fact. Nothing is clearer, to whoever will look, than that the political equality from which we cannot recede, and the social inequality to which we are tending, cannot peacefully coexist. Nothing is surer than that all the inventions, and improvements, and discoveries, of which our time is so fruitful, are tending with irresistible force to carry mere political democracy into anarchy."

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