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SAMUEL MILTON JONES: THE GOLDEN-RULE MAYOR.
BY ONE Who Knew Him.
corruption exposed in high places, bitions were concerned, he wrought faithwhen newspapers and magazines are fully among his fellow-men, who were all filled with stories of the robbery of the rich and poor alike-his brothers to people by those whom they have trusted, whom he was bound to give loving serto turn to the life of the man, Samuel vice. This service represented his hopes, Milton Jones, known the world over as his desires, his aspirations, and no bribe The Golden-Rule Mayor; the man who however tempting and subtly offered, believed in the governing power of Love could ever have made him false to them and acted always in accord with that be- or change their color and expression. lief. To read of one who so persistently The life of such a man has in it a lesson and fearlessly obeyed the law of the Mas- invaluable in character-building. To ter, as he saw it, in all of the affairs of his know the circumstances and environment busy life, is to gather inspiration for a of his earlier as well as of his later
years, greater effort to reach the high ideals is to gain some understanding of the prowhich he showed in a practical way to be cess by which his intellectual, moral and possible of attainment.
spiritual nature was moulded into the In the life of Thoreau by William Ellery strength and nobility that enabled him Channing is written these words concern- finally to exert such a powerful influence ing the poet-naturalist:
over all with whom he came in contact.
It was the absolute sincerity of purpose “ Never eager, with a pensive hesitancy underlying his simplest action which imhe steps about his native fields, singing pressed itself upon everybody entering the praises of Music and Spring and
into his presence,
That he should be Morning, forgetful of himself. . . . No bribe could have drawn him from his he expressed in the introduction to one
so trusted was his earnest longing, which native fields, where his ambition was
of his books: a very honorable one-to fairly represent himself in his works, accomplishing “Sometimes I think that nothing so as perfectly as lay in his power what he completely separates the soul from God conceived his business.”
as the distrust, doubt and suspicion of
our fellow-men that is the distinguishing The spirit of this affirmation, if not the letter, may well be applied to the life commercial and political; and I am sure
feature of our present-day life, social, of Mr. Jones, especially of his later years. there is no compensation or reward that He was a man who, from comparative I so earnestly long for as the consciousobscurity, stepped into the lime-light of a national and even an international pub- Doubt my wisdom, question my judg
my fellows believe in licity. Curiously enough, this
ment, deny the truth of my propositions, brought about, not by any of those things if you will, but for your own sake, and that usually give name and fame to in- for the sake of humanity, I ask that you dividuals, but by his belief in the possi- will not charge that I am false.” bility of following the teachings of the great Master in all of the affairs of life, In a larger degree than comes to most and his persistent effort to make this ideal men who are so constantly before the a proven reality. The business world public, came to him, finally, the unqueswas his “native field,” and therein, for- tioning faith in the purity of his motives
which he longed for and so dearly prized. by the tramp of the feet of the tenantry Those who for years distrusted him; who that have polished them through their believed him actuated solely by the selfish service, the main result of which has been motives that move most men to action; that they have earned rent for the landwho thought his persistent expressions of lord and incidentally have eked out an love and service to his fellows were what existence for themselves. I am glad that are roughly termed “playing to the gal- I left the place at such an early age that leries,” came at last, for the most part, to I cannot recall any of the hard experiunderstand that his every-day life was ences that my parents must have had simply the flowering of a sincere desire there." and earnest purpose to follow in his Master's footsteps, and this in the most literal The family emigrated to the United way possible. What has been said of States when the boy was but three years him is absolutely true, that he was en- old, coming across in the steerage of a tirely free from conceit and acted without sailing-vessel, then going in a canal-boat the slightest reference to appearances. from New York to Utica, and finally by To one who was familiar with his every- wagon northwest into Lewis county, day life and action, as was the writer, he where were extensive stone-quarries in seemed to possess the simplicity of a which his father found work. As soon child studying the problems of unfold- as he was old enough, Sam., as he was ing experience, a simplicity replaced called, was sent to the village-school, but when necessary by the keen judgment of a his attendance there was limited to thirty successful man of affairs. This charac- months. teristic made him unconscious of any When he was only ten years old he inequality with his fellow-men, whether worked for a farmer at three dollars a they were rich and aristocratic, or poor month, getting up at four o'clock in the and perhaps criminal. He met all upon morning and only ceasing his labor at the ground of human brotherhood, and sundown. He hated farm-work inthus, in the end, drew out the best in tensely, and was in constant revolt against those with whom he came in contact. the injustice of being compelled to do
Mr. Jones was a Welshman by birth. that which was so distasteful. It was the In one of his books entitled The New memory of these days which gave him Right, he says with regard to this event: always a ready sympathy with the boys
and girls who were being forced into call“I do not know of what particular con- ings for which they had neither inclinasequence it is to the people who read this tion nor fitness. He believed that many book just when, or where, or why I was lives, which might have been prosperous born, but quoting from Copperfield and and happy, and of service to humanity, following the general custom, I will say have been distorted and perhaps ruined that I was born, as I was told and have by this process. reason to believe, on August 3d, 1846, It is not necessary to follow minutely in a small stone house, still standing, these earlier years of his career, further known as Ty Mawr (big house) about than to show that the boy was father to three miles from the peaceful village of the man, possessing in full the qualities Bedd Gelert, Caernarvonshire, North of pluck and courage that belonged to Wales. Three years ago I had the privi- his later years. At fourteen he was worklege and pleasure of visiting the rude ing twelve hours a day in a saw-mill which house where I was born, the floor of which was more in accord with his mechanical was composed of rough flagstones, rough- turn of mind than farming. Then came er by far than any I have ever seen used what seemed to him a wonderful opporin a common sidewalk-yet worn smooth tunity,-employment upon a steamboat, about the engine of which he hoped to gained what the world terms success. learn enough to become an engineer. In 1892 he married Helen L. Beach, After spending three summers in this way, of Toledo, and soon after moved thither the whole current of his life was changed in order to develop in the larger place by the advice of one who saw something some of his inventions that he had vainly of what was in the lad. “Sammy," he offered to the Standard Oil-Trust. Here said, “you are a fool to spend your time he built a beautiful home in which, with on these steamboats; you should go to his wife—a woman of rare intelligence the oil-regions; you can get four dollars and dignity of character and an accoma day there."
plished musician—and his two sons he The outcome was a journey to Titusville, once more found happiness. Pennsylvania, when the oil excitement was At this time came his first awakening at its height. He had just fifteen cents to the great wrong of the existing social in his pocket when he started out to find and industrial conditions. His eyes besomething to do. He often spoke of the gan to open with the crowds of applicants sense of desolation which he had while for work when the wheels were set in tramping from place to place seeking but motion at his factory. He learned that finding no work. In his autobiography men were working elsewhere for less than he calls it “the most disheartening of all a dollar a day, and he studied upon the errands that any child of God ever under problem of how they could live decently took, looking for a job among strangers- upon such wages. Yet he found those a task, too, that I do not believe God in- who plead for the chance to toil under tends that a man shall waste his time on, this condition. In his own factory he for I fancy that in the Divine order, in ordered that his men should be paid acthe Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, in the cording to what the business would allow condition of social justice that is yet to and without reference to the scale in prevail, there will be such a scientific other factories. Good wages and short ordering of the affairs of society that no hours were his rule as an employer. man will waste time tramping from door Growing more and more troubled over to door in the heart-breaking, soul-de- social conditions, he came upon an article stroying business of begging for work, by George D. Herron upon the philosophy looking for something to do."
of the Lord's prayer, which impressed Mr. Jones finally found a place in the him greatly. Our Father” means that oil-fields, and his energy and industry all men are brothers; the tramp is brother gave him remunerative employment until of the railway president, the wild-hearted the time came when he was able to dig for woman of sin is the sister of the clergyoil himself, in which his ventures were man, and her shame is his because she successful. In 1875 he married-in his is his sister. He had never thought of it own words—“as sweet and helpful a soul that way before, even though he had often as ever inhabited this world of ours." said the prayer at his mother's knee, and For ten years they lived a happy life to- repeated it in the church in later years. gether, and then came the sorrow of his Continued dwelling upon the wrong little girl's death, followed soon by that of social conditions impelled him to of her mother.
action. He said: Almost overwhelmed by these successive blows, he sought relief by removing “For me to be contented with existing with his two sons into new scenes, first conditions would be to blaspheme the to Bradford, Pennsylvania, and then to sacred name of Christ, and moreover Lima, the center of the oil-fields in Ohio. would be a treason to the republic itself. In the latter place he entered extensively I know the republic cannot endure and into the business of development and our mock Christianity must perish from the face of the earth unless those of us Other measures that he introduced who claim to be both patriotic and Chris- were social gatherings by which he hoped tian are able to demonstrate by the sac- to break down what he called "the abrifice of service that our claims are well- surd notion of social distinction between founded."
employer and employed”; the shortening
of the term of labor to a fifty-hour week; He inaugurated about this time at his profit-sharing at Christmas-time when, own expense, a series of addresses by with the dividend, he sent to his employés noted speakers along these lines, given a letter upon such subjects as “Peace on in the church of which he was a member Earth and Good Will to Men," and the and the minister of which was in sym- “Christ Principle of Overcoming Evil pathy with his growing thought. It was With Good.” at one of these lectures, that given by He caused to be placed in the office of Washington Gladden, I believe, that I the factory, a box in which letters of critifirst saw Mr. Jones. He was beginning cism might be put by his workmen. to attract attention by his peculiar ideas These could be anonymous, or signed, regarding business and the Golden Rule, as the writers chose. He himself wrote but had not then become “dangerous.' them letters from week to week regarding I had also heard stories of nightly rides their relations to each other, which were through the poorer parts of the city when enclosed in their pay-envelopes. the mercury was hovering around zero, The vacant land next to his factory he to discover and relieve suffering.
turned into a park and a playground for At the close of the address, which was the children. He named it Golden Rule the concluding one of the series, the chair- Park, and there, every Sunday, talks, man of the meeting spoke of the value of often by men and women of national repwhat had been given through the gener- utation were given, attended by the workosity of Mr. Jones, and asked him to speak. men with their families, and such of the A man, keen-eyed, strong-featured, with townspeople as believed in “Jones” and modest but earnest bearing, stepped re- the principles which he was trying to luctantly forward, and in a few brief sen- apply to life. tences told of his object in bringing these As a business man he had the peculisubjects before the people, and of what arity of an absolute disregard of recomseemed to him were some of the crying mendations. When men applied to him social needs of the day. I went away for work, presenting at the same time the impressed with the thought that here was written good-word of some former ema man to be, in some way, reckoned with ployer, Mr. Jones would refuse to look in the future.
at it, saying: “If you have recommendaAs yet, however, he had not gotten his tions, anybody will help you to a place. bearings, only that he knew and persist- I must help men who have none.” Someently declared that the Golden Rule times he added to this refusal: “Your could be applied to every relation of life, face is good enough for me.” He was a and in so far as this was done, the irregu- keen judge of character and rarely wrong larities which bring sin and suffering in his estimate. would disappear. This was the only Naturally these things, so different rule which he allowed placed upon the from the usual methods, attracted the walls of his factory, nor would he ever attention of the public, but it was by a permit the placard bearing the words seeming accident that he received the “ No More HelpWanted” to be hung Republican nomination for mayor. To there, because he desired to see all who the politicians this was a matter of astonwere out of work and find if he could not ishment, that this man, a resident of give them help.
Toledo for only four years, and wholly
unknown in the field of politics, should was not a shade more of deference to the jump over the heads of those who had moneyed man or powerful politician than been toiling for many weary years to serve to the laboring man, or the unfortunate the party. He himself believed his nomi- and penniless. All were just people nation was due to “a little effort put forth and his brothers, and each was spoken to deal justly with his fellow-men. with in his turn. He never turned away
Mr. Jones was elected, although vigor- from anyone who asked for help, regardously opposed by the saloon-keepers be- ing his wealth as a responsibility from cause they feared a drastic policy, and which, if it could be rightfully done, he by the wealthy class who considered him would have gladly shaken himself free.
dangerous on account of his belief in It is well known that he gave away each the Declaration of Independence.” The year far more than the salary of his office. story of his reëlection again, and yet Each day he lived in accord with this again, upon an independent ticket, in the simple statement: face of the most violent opposition of the
that I have no other purRepublican leaders and the newspapers, has been many times told and need not pose than to be a Christian on the basis
of loving my neighbor as myself, whether be here repeated, although it is full of
my neighbor is a church-member, or a interest.
non-church-member; a saloon-keeper or His methods in his public career were
a store-keeper; a gambler or an oppressor the same that he used in his private, suc
of labor; always remembering that he is cessful business. From what he believed was right he never swerved no matter my neighbor, God's Child and my brother how strongly it might seem to militate brother just the same.”
-an erring brother, perhaps, but my against his personal interests. He proved in both the possibility of making an every
At all times and seasons he was studyday application of the Golden Rule to ing the problems of living, those which every affair of life. His factory flourished seemed to him of vital moment to the and his wealth constantly increased, well-being of “all the people.” He was though money passed through his fingers an eager listener to the conclusions of like water. His conduct of public busi- others, weighing their arguments withness won for him among the people a out prejudice, easily taking the attitude constantly increasing confidence, while of a learner. Frankly he expressed his his reputation abroad grew apace.
own convictions whether of agreement It is true that in his own city he had or difference, but with a simplicity that bitter opposition. Good men could not precluded offense. understand his ideas regarding the treat
His faith in the individual was supreme. ment of criminals nor his attitude with He saw in the poorest and lowest that respect to saloons and gambling-houses. something which will make for good, if It was repeatedly affirmed that the latter aroused, and this was always his purwere allowed to run wide open, contrary pose. One day a poorly-dressed man to law, and that crime increased during came into the office and asked of him his mayoralty. This was believed by money enough to pay his railroad fare to those who did not know the facts. The a place where he hoped to secure the records declare the contrary. Official work for which he had been vainly seekfigures show the number of saloons de- ing in Toledo. Instantly Mr. Jones' creased and that there was less crime, in- hand went into his pocket, but, as was stead of more, in the growing young city. often the case because of his quick gen
His conduct of affairs in his official erosity, he found nothing there. Applicapacity was unique. Everybody was
cation to his clerk and his secretary proreceived kindly and courteously, but there duced no result. Then he took out his