And then, as Jurgis came out from this meeting, some one handed him a paper which he carried home with him and read; and so he became acquainted with the “Appeal to Reason.” About twelve years previously a Colorado real-estate speculator had made up his mind that it was wrong to gamble in the necessities of life of human beings: and so he had retired and begun the publication of a Socialist weekly. There had come a time when he had to set his own type, but he had held on and won out, and now his publication was an institution. It used a carload of paper every week, and the mail trains would be hours loading up at the depot of the little Kansas town. It was a four-page weekly, which sold for less than half a cent a copy; its regular subscription list was a quarter of a million, and it went to every crossroads post office in America.
The “Appeal” was a “propaganda” paper. It had a manner all its own—it was full of ginger and spice, of Western slang and hustle: It collected news of the doings of the “plutes,” and served it up for the benefit of the “American working-mule.” It would have columns of the deadly parallel—the million dollars’ worth of diamonds, or the fancy pet-poodle establishment of a society dame, beside the fate of Mrs. Murphy of San Francisco, who had starved to death on the streets, or of John Robinson, just out of the hospital, who had hanged himself in New York because he could not find work. It collected the stories of graft and misery from the daily press, and made a little pungent paragraphs out of them. “Three banks of Bungtown, South Dakota, failed, and more savings of the workers swallowed up!” “The mayor of Sandy Creek, Oklahoma, has skipped with a hundred thousand dollars. That’s the kind of rulers the old partyites give you!” “The president of the Florida Flying Machine Company is in jail for bigamy. He was a prominent opponent of Socialism, which he said would break up the home!” The “Appeal” had what it called its “Army,” about thirty thousand of the faithful, who did things for it; and it was always exhorting the “Army” to keep its dander up, and occasionally encouraging it with a prize competition, for anything from a gold watch to a private yacht or an eighty-acre farm. Its office helpers were all known to the “Army” by quaint titles—“Inky Ike,” “the Bald-headed Man,” “the Redheaded Girl,” “the Bulldog,” “the Office Goat,” and “the One Hoss.”
But sometimes, again, the “Appeal” would be desperately serious. It sent a correspondent to Colorado, and printed pages describing the overthrow of American institutions in that state. In a certain city of the country it had over forty of its “Army” in the headquarters of the Telegraph Trust, and no message of importance to Socialists ever went through that a copy of it did not go to the “Appeal.” It would print great broadsides during the campaign; one copy that came to Jurgis was a manifesto addressed to striking workingmen, of which nearly a million copies