It had given the Y.M.C.A. world a larger outlook in religion and it may be that it will yet become a pioneer in giving it a larger sociology.
I was one of two men to address the board of directors one night and I stated the case at more length than I do here.
“What shall I tell those workingmen you stand for?” I asked. “Do you believe in the right of the workers to organize? If you do, say so, and, as your representative, let me tell them that you do.”
[Illustration: The Lunch Hour in an Interborough Shop]
The next time I addressed a big shop meeting I gave the musician all the minutes save three. Several hundreds of men stood around me—disorganized, poorly paid men.
“Men,” I said, “there is in this city a thing called the Civic Federation. Its leaders are directly the owners of this shop. In it are also leaders of labour, Mitchell and Gompers. There are several bishops of various beliefs. Now the Civic Federation tells us—tells the world—that it believes in labour unions. What I want to suggest is this: A dozen of you get together; write a note to your masters and ask them if that belief applies to you?”
Of course I knew it didn’t apply to them, but I got very tired merely telling the slaves to be good, and ended my service there in that way. A spy at once informed the superintendent, and I was told—the Y.M.C.A. was told—that I could never enter their shops again. The man who succeeded me as a speaker at that shop, the following week, went much further; he positively advised them to organize, for hardly in the United States could one find greater need of organization.
I INTRODUCE JACK LONDON TO YALE
The last piece of work in New Haven was a master stroke. It was an inoculation. Jack London was in the East and I persuaded him to pay the comrades in New Haven a visit and make a speech. The theatres were all engaged, so were the halls.
The new Y.M.C.A. hall could not be rented—for London. There was only one hope left—Yale. I knew a student who was a Socialist. We outlined a plan. London was a literary man; Yale had probably heard of him. The Yale Union was canvassed. It was a Freshman debating society. Certainly; they had read London’s books—“The Call of the Wild,” “The Sea Wolf,” etc.
“Well now, boys, here’s your chance. Jack London can be had for a lecture.”
The Union had no money and Woolsey Hall cost fifty dollars. “That’s easy,” I suggested, though I didn’t have fifty cents at the time. That seemed fine. “Of course,” I said, as I remembered the empty Socialist treasury, “we’ll have to charge an admission fee of ten cents.” That, too, was all right. In case of frost or failure I promised to make good so that the Union would have no responsibility. I meekly suggested that as compensation for “risk involved” I would take the surplus—if there was any.