Poor vs the Rich, The

Every now and then we hear of the rich oppressing the poor and these attacks come periodically. Now why is it? At times we are quiet and then this disease, as it were, breaks out again. There must be a cause for all this which never has been known, else the disease could be eradicated. It generally makes its appearance just before an election so that the cause must be in the electioneering. Now are the rich so oppressive to the poor or is that a lure to keep some designing politician in office? There is an element in mankind that is overbearing and aristocratic, but it is not confined to the rich any more than it is to the poor. It is an element in us and if we are poor it chafes us and makes us envious. Give us money and it acts like a stimulant. It excites and brings out the aristocratic element and we become overbearing. Our nature is not changed but money stimulates our passions.

If we are poor and have no envious feeling, riches will not change us any. Like intoxicating drink, it excites the ruling passion in man. Some years since there was a political party called The Know Nothings. Now what gave rise to that party? It was because the Democrats let the Irish vote, not because of the envy of the poor towards the rich. There is and always will be a set of demagogues in the country who are too lazy to work and too proud to beg, who are always contriving to excite the poor and envious against the richer part of the community. There is as much aristocracy in the lowest hod-carrier as there is in the wealthy merchant. The one is poor and envious and the other rich and aristocratic. The demagogue knows that his salvation depends on setting the poor against the rich and he makes no distinction in individuals but calls the rich as a class all aristocrats who want to grind the poor, and in this way these demagogues get the votes of the poor.

The foreign population have been worked upon by these demagogues and the Democrats have got nearly the whole of the Irish under their control and that gave rise to the Know Nothing movement. Now let the poor stop and think if it is for their interest to oppose the rich, simply because they are rich. All this talk is just to create an excitement and turn someone out or to get someone into office. The mere getting one or more persons in or out of office is nothing of importance, but to set one class against another leads to bad results. This is seen by the rebellion by setting the whites against the blacks which was only for the benefit of the political demagogues. The rebellion was caused and now they are getting their reward. All demagogues who would set the poor against those who are giving them employment are doing an act that will someday rebound against them.

To say the rich cannot live without the aid of the poor is erroneous. If I have money enough, I can live just as I please, but if I am poor, I must work, beg, steal, else die. Now if a man has capital and is willing to help the poor and thus help and benefit himself, he is the poor man's friend rather than his enemy, and it is as much for the benefit of one as the other for they have a mutual sympathy in the cause and he who would destroy this sympathy between them is a low demagogue and not fit to be trusted by any class. He sets the very element of progression at variance, for if the rich will not employ the poor, it reduces them to slaves, while the rich become an aristocracy. Beware of the demagogue who will set the employee against the employer. You only see them just before an election, at which time they have a great deal of sympathy for the poor, but all they want is some office themselves or are tools of someone else who does. But after election is over and the smoke clears away, you return to your employers ashamed for having abused them when you had nothing in reality against them and merely acted as you did from political excitement.

September 1864