The Tenure of Property
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Ezra H. Heywood. "The Tenure of Property." Banner of Light.
The Tenure of Property.
Editors Banner of Light—We are readers of your widely circulating journal, and note with especial interest its occasional references to the vassalage of labor, particularly your feeling appeals in behalf of the destitute working-women of our cities. The Labor Reform League, of which mention is made in your issue of Feb. 4th, was instituted to discover the causes of those evils, and secure their removal. The extract which you reprint from the Boston Post, representing us as saying "property is theft," is a sheer falsehood, which the editor of that paper should have ascertained to be such before he attempted to sit in judgment on so grave a matter. No public or private expression of the League, or of any of its invited speakers, ever warranted such a statement. What we have asserted is this: That labor is the source of wealth, and hence that interest, rent and profits, or dividends, are inadmissible, except for work done or risk incurred—a proposition which intelligent political economists, from Adam Smith down, have not denied, and which is constantly affirmed on our platform without a shadow of refutation. As the abolitionists, though maligned as disorganizers, were seen in the end to have been the true defenders of liberty and order—except so far as they favored the war—so ours was the first organization in America to assert the essential rights of property. But this affirmation brings us at once in conflict with false claims to wealth, and the Post, as of old, seems likely to be on the wrong side of the impending battle. Regarding as morally indefensible the special legislation and class devices which aim , by arbitrary power, to determine the hours of labor, and exclude Chinamen and other destitute competitors, we strike directly at the speculative system which resolves wealth into cunning but unproductive hands, while the great masses are always at work, and always poor. Since the cost of money is less than one per cent., those State and federal laws which maintain a currency monopoly, by making free money a penal offence, are a stupendous fraud on business men, and ultimately on all creative workers. We have asked a hearing on this point before the Massachusetts Legislative Committee on Banking, when our distinguished friend, Prof. Denton, who endorses most heartily the views and debts, with others is to speak.
Our organization numbers in its membership productive capitalists as well as other laborers, and welcomes to its platform opponents not less than adherents. Speakers are neither "allowed" nor forbidden to "condemn everybody and everything," but are desired to utter freely their own opinions, whether they agree or not with ours. There certainly was no intention to indulge in unfair criticism of Spiritualists or other sects, for most of our people are believers in spirit communication. If any wrong statement was made, the platform was free for any one to correct it on the spot. Since, unintentionally I am sure, you have given circulation to statements which do us great injustice, by inserting this explanation you will greatly serve the labor cause and
E. H Heywood.
Princeton, Mass., Feb. 8th, 1871.