Q. What is your business?--A. I am a mule-spinner by trade. I have worked at it since I have been in this country --eleven years.
Q. Are you a married man?--A. Yes, sir; I am a married man; have a wife and two children. I am not very well educated. I went to work when I was young, and have been working ever since in the cotton business; went to work when I was about eight or nine years old. I was going to state how I live. My children get along very well in summer time, on account of not having to buy fuel or shoes or one thing and another. I earn $1.50 a day and can't afford to pay a very big house rent. I pay $1.50 a week for rent, which comes to about $6 a month.
Q. That is, you pay this where you are at Fall River?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you have work right along?--A. No, sir; since that strike we had down in Fall River about three years ago I have not worked much more than half time, and that has brought my circumstances down very much.
Q. Why have you not worked more than half the time since then?--A. Well, at Fall River if a man has not got a boy to act as "back-boy" it is very hard for him to get along. In a great many cases they discharge men in that work and put in men who have boys.
Q. Men who have boys of their own?--A. Men who have boys of their own capable enough to work in a mill, to earn 30 or 40 cents a day.
Q. Is the object of that to enable the boy to earn something for himself?--A. Well, no; the object is this: They are doing away with a great deal of mule-spinning there and putting in ring-spinning, and for that reason it takes a good deal of small help to run this ring work, and it throws the men out of work because they are doing away with the mules and putting these ring-frames in to take their places. For that reason they get all the small help they can to run these ring frames. There are so many men in the city to work, and whoever has a boy can have work, and whoever has no boy stands no chance. Probably he may have a few months of work in the summer time, but will be discharged in the fall. That is what leaves me in poor circumstances. Our children, of course, are very often sickly from one cause or another, on account of not having sufficient clothes, or shoes, or food, or something. And also my woman; she never did work in a mill; she was a housekeeper, and for that reason she can't help me to anything at present, as many women do help their husbands down there, by working, like themselves. My wife never did work in a mill, and that leaves me to provide for the whole family. I have two children. And another thing that helped to keep me down: A year ago this month I buried the oldest boy we had, and that brings things very expensive on a poor man. For instance, it will cost there, to bury a body, about $100. Now, we could have that done in England for about 5 pounds; that would not amount to much more than about $20, or something in that neighborhood. That makes a good deal of difference. Doctors' bills are very heavy--about $2 a visit; and if a doctor comes once a day for two or three weeks it is quite a pile for a poor man to pay.
Q. Will not the doctor come for a dollar a day?--A. You might get a man sometimes, and you sometimes won't, but they generally charge $2 a day.
Q. To operatives?--A. Oh, all around. You might get one for $1.50 sometimes.
Q. They charge you as much as they charge people of more means?--A. They charge as much as if I was the richest man in the city, except that some of them might be generous once in a while and put it down a little in the end; but the charge generally is $2. That makes it hard. I have a brother who has four children, besides his wife and himself. All he earns is $1.50 a day. He works in the iron works at Fall River. He only works about nine months out of twelve. There is generally about three months of stoppage, taking the year right through, and his wife and his family all have to be supported for a year out of the wages of nine months--$1.50 a day for nine months out of the twelve, to support six of them. It does not stand to reason that those children and he himself can have natural food or be naturally dressed. His children are often sick, and he has to call in doctors. That is always hanging over him, and is a great expense to him. And then if he does not pay the bill the trustee law comes on him. That is a thing that is not properly looked after. A man told me the other day that he was trusteed for $1.75, and I understood that there was a law in this State that a man could not be trusteed for less than $10. It seems to me that there is something wrong in the Government somewhere; where it is, I can't tell.
Q. How much money have you got?--A. I have not got a cent in the house; didn't have when I came out this morning.
Q. How much money have you had within three months?--A. I have had about $16 inside of three months.
Q. Is that all you have had within the last three months to live on?--A. Yes; $16.
Q. How much have you had within a year?--A. Since Thanksgiving I happened to get work in the Crescent Mill, and worked there exactly thirteen weeks. I got just $1.50 a day, with the exception of a few days that I lost--because in following up mulespinning you are obliged to lose a day once in a while; you can't follow it up regularly.
Q. Thirteen weeks would be seventy-eight days, and at $1.50 a day, that would make $117, less whatever time you lost?--A. Yes. I worked thirteen weeks there and ten days in another place, and then there was a dollar I got this week, Wednesday.
Q. Taking a full year back can you tell how much you have had?--A. That would be about fifteen weeks' work. Last winter, as I told you, I got in, and I worked up to about somewhere around Fast Day, or may be New Year's day; anyway, Mr. Howard has it down on his record, if you wish to have an exact answer to that question; he can answer it better than I can, because we have a sort of union there to keep ourselves together.
Q. Do you think you have had $150 within a year?--A. No, sir.
Q. Have you had $125?--A. Well, I could figure it up if I had time. The thirteen weeks is all I have had.
Q. The thirteen weeks and the $16 you have mentioned?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. That would be somewhere about $133, if you had not lost any time?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. That is all you have had?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. To support yourself and wife and two children?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you had any help from outside?--A. No, sir.
Q. Do you mean that yourself and wife and two children have had nothing but that for all this time?--A. That is all. I got a couple dollars' worth of coal last winter, and the wood I picked up myself. I goes around with a shovel and picks up clams and wood.
Q. What do you do with the clams?
A. We eat them. I don't get them to sell, but just to eat, for the family. That is the way my brother lives, too, mostly. He lives close by us. . . .
Q. Why do you not go West on a farm?--A. How could I go, walk it?
Q. Well, I want to know why you do not go out West on a $2,000 farm, or take up a homestead and break it and work it up, and then have it for yourself and family?--A. I can't see how I could get out West. I have got nothing to go with.
Q. It would not cost you over $1,500.--A. Well, I never saw over a $20 bill, and that is when I have been getting a month's pay at once. If some one would give me $1,500 I will go.
Q. Is there any prospect that anybody will do that?--A. I don't know of anybody that would.
Q. You say you think there are a thousand men or so with their families that live in that way in Fall River?--A. Yes, sir; and I know many of them. They are around there by the shore. You can see them every day; and I am sure of it because men tell me. . . .
Q. Do you see any way out of your troubles--what are you going to do for a living--or do you expect to have to stay right there?--A. Yes. I can't run around with my family.
Q. You have nowhere to go to, and no way of getting there if there was any place to go to? --A. No, sir. I have no means nor anything, so I am obliged to remain there and try to pick up something as I can. . . .
Q. Is there anything else you wanted to say?--A. Nothing further, except that I would like some remedy to be got to help us poor people down there in some way. Excepting the Government decides to do something with us we have a poor show. We are all, or mostly all, in good health; that is, as far as the men who are at work go.
Q. You do not know anything but mule-spinning, I suppose?--A. That is what I have been doing, but I sometimes do something with pick and shovel. I have worked for a man at that, because I am so put on. I am looking for work in a mill. The way they do there is this: There are about twelve or thirteen men that go into a mill every morning, and they have to stand their chance, looking for work. The man who has a boy with him he stands the best chance, and then, if it is my turn or a neighbor's turn who has no boy, if another man comes in who has a boy he is taken right in, and we are left out. I said to the boss once it was my turn to go in, and now you have taken on that man; what am I to do; I have got two little boys at home, one of them three years and a half and the other one year and a half old, and how am I to find something for them to eat; I can't get my turn when I come here. He said he could not do anything for me. I says,--"Have I got to starve; ain't I to have any work?" They are forcing these young boys into the mills that should not be in mills at all; forcing them in because they are throwing the mules out and putting on ring-frames. They are doing everything of that kind that they possibly can to crush down the poor people--the poor operatives there.