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Full text of "Letters from prison; socialism a spiritual sunrise"

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LETTERS FROM PRISON 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 

SOCIALISM A SPIRITUAL 
SUNRISE 



BY 

BOUCK WHITE 

Pcutor of the Church of the Social Revolution 

AUTHOR OF "THE CALL OP THE CARPENTER," "THE 
CARPENTER AND THE RICH MAN," ETC. 




BOSTON: RICHARD G. BADGER 

TORONTO: THE COPP CLARK CO., LIMITED 



Copyright, 1915, by Richard G. Badger 
All rights reserved 



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INTRODUCTION 

Bouck White was born in Middleburg, a village in the 
Catskill Mountains, October 20, 1874. His father was a 
retired merchant. On both sides he came from work- 
ing class stock; his paternal grandfather was a farmer, 
his maternal grandfather a blacksmith. On his father's 
side he is of Scotch and English descent ; his mother, Mary 
Bouck, was Holland Dutch. 

It is of interest to note that the charge of alien blood 
brought against so many Socialists here in America, does 
not apply in Bouck White's case. He not only traces his 
ancestry through a long line of New England's strain, but 
on his mother's side goes back through many years of 
Dutch ancestry in the valleys of the Hudson and the Mo- 
hawk. Furthermore, one of his ancestors in the primeval 
Catskill woods fell in love with an Indian maid and mar- 
ried her. Therefore there is a strain of aboriginal stock 
in him. In the person of this ancestor he is American of 
the Americans. In them as his representative he stood 
on Plymouth Rock and welcomed the Pilgrims; further 
back still, he was on the shores of San Salvadorc and wel- 
comed Columbus to these shores. This Indian strain in 
his blood perhaps accounts for some of the native poetry 
in his composition; a poetry not so much in the faculty 
of the rhymester as in that gift of imagination which vivi- 
fies whatever it touches. 

The Middleburg of his birth is a town in the western 
foothills of the Catskill region, a typical rural center en- 
vironed with picturesque mountains and yet in a valley 
so fertile that the wealth of it removed his boyhood from 
the most pressing stress, and gave him educational oppor- 
tunities. He was graduated from the high school in that 



4 INTRODUCTION 

mountain village; and later from Harvard University at 
the age of twenty-one years, being well nigh the youngest 
in the class. 

While in college he trained himself for a career in jour- 
nalism. It is significant to bear this in mind, as indicat- 
ing, back in that formative period, the natural bend of his 
mind. After his graduation, following up this plan, he 
became a reporter on the Springfield Republican, choosing 
a paper of so high a journalistic character because of the 
educational opportunities offered thereby. Nor was he 
mistaken in this. He makes the remark that he counts 
that year of daily journalism one of the most important 
in all the years of his mental training and civic discipline. 

It was while in Springfield that there came to his soul 
the call to the ministry. He had previously received the 
religious training found in rural districts generally, but 
was without any special bias in that direction. Calls to 
the ministry from an unseen Power, are supposed to be- 
long to an ancient and now quite overpast day. In his 
case that notion is disproved. The call that came to him 
was sudden, unexpected, and of almost dramatic intensity. 
It had in it, moreover, a number of features that were un- 
welcome to him. There had come to him the temptation, 
and from the worldly point of view, the opportunity of 
his life: a successful career as a lawyer for a great cor- 
poration, wealth, and with these the fulfillment of Love's 
young dream, all were his for the taking. But when he 
realized that this meant a service, not to protect the poor 
from the injustice of the law, but to protect the great cor- 
poration from paying to the poor what they would justly 
receive under the law, he made his final choice, and decided 
to serve his Master in the ministry. Yielding to that 
inner Voice, he gave up also his career in journalism, and 
took up his ministerial studies, first in Boston Theological 
Seminary, and later in the Union Theological Seminary in 
New York City. 

In the late twenties of his life, while at the latter insti- 



INTRODUCTION 5 

tution, he had a missionary field, which he tended during his 
vacations, in the Ramapo Mountains back of West Point. 
Here was a mountaineer community which had been for- 
gotten by the tides of civilization setting in on every side. 
Realizing their spiritual and social needs, he stayed with 
them for more than a year after his graduation, living in 
a wood chopper's cottage, in a clearing in the forest far 
from railroads and quite shut in. That year of com- 
parative solitude, following his life in daily journalism 
and in study at Union Seminary in the heart of the me- 
tropolis, deepened his life appreciably. From there he 
went to the Thousand Islands, and became pastor of the 
Congregational Church of the Thousand Islands at Clay- 
ton, New York. The St. Lawrence River people are much 
behind in the march of progress, and Bouck White, be- 
cause of his exceedingly advanced ideas, quickly became 
a conspicuous figure on that frontier post. He organized 
the Clayton Boys' Club. It had what would be known 
now as institutional features, added to his regular pas- 
torate. The dwellers thereabouts were astounded to see 
a bowling alley put into the basement of the church, along 
with a shower bath, a printing press, a library and other 
similar features. However, the people in the summer col- 
ony most loyally cooperated with him, and the work be- 
came a pronounced success. 

After nearly four years at Clayton he returned to New 
York, and took a position as head of the Men's Social 
Service department in Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 
Brooklyn. Here he remained five years. These were five 
years of intense mental activity, and of spiritual develop- 
ment. Until this experience he had been only in long 
range contact with the social problem in our great cities. 
Now he saw the thing at first hand. The tenement dis- 
tricts of the metropolis, with their alien hordes and their 
unceasing round of privation, contrasting so sharply as 
in New York, with rich, broad avenues where the moneyed 
mighty live sumptuously, gave him a new slant on the so- 



6 INTRODUCTION 

cial question. It quickly modernized his conception of 
the task of religion in the terrific day that is upon us. 

A work from his pen entitled, " The Book of Daniel 
Drew," published about this time, hastened this transition 
of his mind and spirit into the modern era. That book 
is a freely rendered biography of Daniel Drew, the foun- 
der of modern Wall Street finance. It is a study in the 
psychology of that money mart, and afforded abundant 
play for Bouck White's power of humor and subtle irony. 
This same Daniel Drew, who made his millions by crook- 
edness on the " Street," was likewise the founder of Drew 
Theological Seminary, a Methodist institution in Madi- 
son, New Jersey. Drew Seminary writhed under the irre- 
pressible shafts of sarcasm; yes, still writhes; for the 
book is a standing arraignment of a state of religion that 
will use the name of perhaps the most iniquitous man the 
Western hemisphere has produced ; the behest of the money 
powers speaking with the note of entreaty. In order to 
curry favors with mammon, the Methodists have thus far 
evaded the issue presented by that book. But it is doubt- 
ful if they will succeed permanently in this conspiracy of 
silence, now that Bouck White and his message to the 
world are entering into a prominent place in the minds of 
men. 

Another book written by him during his work at Holy 
Trinity was " The Call of the Carpenter." " In the ' Call 
of the Carpenter,' " he states, " we address ourselves to 
view Jesus of Nazareth from the viewpoint of economics; 
a different viewpoint from that usually held. But we shall 
be rigorously historical. This is not a work of the im- 
agination; it is a piece of cool scientific history. If the 
portrait of the Carpenter here unearthed differs from the 
one commonly viewed, may it not be because accretions 
of time have defaced the picture, blurring its aforetime 
sharpness? incrustations that are now peeling off by 
grace of the critical scholarship of our day, revealing 
some vivid tints in the portrait. This is an attempt at a 



INTRODUCTION 7 

restoration. It follows closely the ancient records, and 
only attempts to retrace the picture as it was at first." 

These writings, and the study that led up to them, as 
well as his daily work in caring for the social debris thrown 
down by the grinding of the economic machine, rapidly 
brought Bouck White into the Socialist position. He 
joined the movement and quickly became one of its speak- 
ers. His work soon attracted the attention of the press. 
He became a target for attack. The vestry of Holy Trin- 
ity Church became alarmed at his uncompromising 
position, and when he refused to yield to their request that 
he soften his attacks upon the moneyed oligarchy, his 
resignation was asked for. 

Removing to New York he completed a work partly 
beg;un at that time, " The Carpenter and the Rich Man." 
This is a companion book to the " Call of the Carpenter," 
and carries the message of that work into the deeper teach- 
ings spoken by Jesus. The earlier book is a biography 
of Jesus as a working man; this is a study of his words 
from the same point of view, the economic. Jesus was 
as interested in bread and butter questions, labor and 
capital, taxes, social revolution, as we are to-day. Bouck 
White shows in vivid and absorbing fashion Jesus as the 
leader of the great proletarian surge of his time. The 
immorality of being rich when other people are poor, is 
the keynote of this book, and the author bases it on the 
message of the Carpenter as found in the parables. 

Another book finished about this time was " The 
Mixing; Tale of a Town that Found Itself." Published 
serially in Country Life in America, it is the narrative 
of the civic and social regeneration of a rural village. 
The author took his native town in the Catskills as the 
scene of his narration ; and pictured it fictionally as aris- 
ing from a state of lethargy into a thriving and wide- 
awake country district. The inhabitants however re- 
sented the pictures made of them in the pages of this book, 
and no little stir was caused by its publication. Indeed 



8 INTRODUCTION 



* 



so violent was the hostility against the book and its au- 
thor, in his native town, that he has been warned by 
friends not to return there until the excitement has had 
time to settle itself. 

The principal work of Bouck White, however, after his 
removal to Manhattan, when Brooklyn would no longer 
shelter so intense a foe of our present social system, was 
the founding of the Church of the Social Revolution. Be- 
ginning with a few who met to sing some Socialist songs 
on Sunday afternoons in a studio on West Twelfth Street, 
the Church held its first public meeting in Berkeley 
Theatre, Easter Sunday, April 5th, 1914*. Deep interest 
was manifested from the start. It was felt that here was 
something new and of large significance in the social move- 
ment of the day. The congregation grew and the in- 
terest deepened, until a thriving Sunday afternoon gather- 
ing was built up. 

Just at this time, however, occurred the Ludlow tragedy 
wherein one hundred and forty-seven of the miners and 
their wives and children were shot down by the armed 
gunmen of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. A Con- 
gressional investigation traced the controlling ownership 
of this Company to John D. Rockefeller and his son, of 
the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church of New York. This 
church is not far from the Berkeley Theatre. The 
former represents the richest of the world; The Church 
of the Revolution, the poorest. Perceiving the turbulence 
that was being aroused by the excitement of the masses 
when the news from Colorado came tingling over the 
wires, and deploring their lack of a constructive pro- 
gram (their sentiment was purely a resentment against 
the Rockefellers, personally), Bouck White proposed to 
the Fifth Avenue Church a joint meeting of the two con- 
gregations for the discussion of the situation, in order 
if possible to lift the affair out of the hands of wild com- 
mittees in the street, into a spiritual plane where some 
peaceable and permanent remedy for what was going to be 



INTRODUCTION 9 

a grave situation, might be found. Receiving authority 
from his Church so to do, Bouck White wrote a letter to 
that Fifth Avenue pastor, Dr. Woelfkin, stating that he 
would visit them in person on the following Sunday morn- 
ing and convey this greeting and invitation. Mailing this 
letter by special delivery two days ahead, and receiving no 
reply, he went the following Sunday to the Fifth Avenue 
Church and at the time set down for notices in the printed 
service, he arose and began to convey the greeting and 
invitation from his Church. (It was later perceived that 
a room adjoining the auditorium of the Church was 
packed with a platoon of police, numbering over a score 
of uniformed men, besides plain clothes detectives scat- 
tered through the audience.) Bouck White rising to his 
feet and addressing the pastor said, " Dr. Woelfkin, as 
the pastor of a neighboring church I am here to " when 
he was seized by the detectives, dragged from the church 
and placed under arrest. The following Tuesday he was 
tried in a police court, wherein he was given but slender 
opportunity for defense. After a farcical hearing he was 
found guilty of disorderly conduct, and given the 
maximum penalty of the law six months at hard labor 
on Blackwell's Island. 

Without opportunity to consult his friends, or settle 
his affairs, he was thrust into a prison van with other 
convicts and was taken to the Island. There he was 
locked in a cell with forty criminals the sweepings and 
refuse of the streets of the great metropolis, with its 
hordes of mental and moral deficients from all parts of 
the earth. After some weeks at Blackwell's Island he 
was transferred to Queens County Jail, on the mainland 
opposite. 

Efforts were made to secure an appeal from the de- 
cision which Magistrate Campbell had pronounced 
against him. Amos Pinchot, a wealthy and public 
spirited citizen, enraged at so manifest a perversion of 
justice and of all equity, interested himself in the case. 



10 INTRODUCTION 

Through his generosity, former District Attorney Os- 
borne, the greatest criminal lawyer in New York, was re- 
tained on the case. A number of other citizens of stand- 
ing in the community also joined in the effort to secure 
his release. Re-trial was sought in a higher court; but 
to no avail. The powers political, the powers financial, 
the powers ecclesiastical, united to deny him a hearing; 
and he was condemned to prison for the entire term. 

When all legal attempts had proved in vain, his friends 
without his knowledge commenced a nation-wide move- 
ment to petition the Governor for his pardon. As soon 
as the prisoner heard of this however, he refused to permit 
it, and wrote the letter to the Governor which appears in 
the correspondence hereinafter given. 

On the 13th day of May, 1914, Bouck White was 
sentenced ; six months later on the twelfth day of Novem- 
ber, he was released. A company of his loyal followers 
meanwhile had kept the church going during his absence. 
The loyalty of the members to the Church in the absence 
of their leader is shown by the fact that during his im- 
prisonment the membership increased from less than two 
hundred to over five hundred. A Church whose pastor is 
in prison and in disgrace with the powers that be, is 
supposed to be in the hour of its destruction and dissolu- 
tion. But not so The Social Revolution Church. Perse- 
cution did but cement the fellowship more firmly and in- 
flame the zeal of its people the more brightly. Therefore 
it was a large and enthusiastic company that welcomed 
him at the gates of the jail on the morning of his re- 
lease. 

A taxicab, owned by a workingman who had followed 
the story in the papers, was loaned for the occasion. It 
bore the banner of the Church in front and in the rear, 
and to this waiting vehicle Bouck White was earned by 
his followers. The next night, November thirteenth, he 
was given a reception in Carnegie Hall, and spoke the ad- 
dress given later in this volume. 



INTRODUCTION 11 

When it was found that his term of imprisonment had 
not taken the spirit out of him, but that he was deter- 
mined to continue his work as pastor of the Church of the 
Social Revolution, the ruling class, through their official 
organs, the public press, began a campaign of vituperation 
and misrepresentation against him. This has proceeded 
to the present time and promises to continue. The tide 
of invective has not been permitted to alter Bouck White's 
determination, or to embitter his spirit. With poise and 
power he has continued the work, and now he is in demand 
from outside places to tell the message with which he is 
so highly charged. Inquiries are also coming in as to the 
possibility of forming branches of the Church of the Social 
Revolution in other communities. The efforts made in 
New York to stamp out the fire of this Church have but 
scattered the sparks ; and now that which was but a local 
name, has become known over a wide area. Already the 
Church is showing a missionary spirit, and is reaching 
out a hand to those communities where the literature of 
this new kind of Church is in demand. 

The Church of the Social Revolution has its meetings 
on Sunday afternoon at three o'clock at Bryant Hall, 
725 Sixth Avenue, between Forty-second and Forty-first 
Streets, New York. Sunday school at half-past two. On 
Sunday evenings from seven o'clock till nine a meeting is 
held at the Church headquarters, 165 West 23rd Street, 
at which all are welcome. 

While in prison Bouck White wrote the latest produc- 
tion from his pen, entitled " Church of the Social Revolu- 
tion," in which he gives a " Message to the World," as fol- 
lows: 

" The nowaday world is topsyturvydom. That is on 
top which ought to be at the bottom; and that is at the 
bottom which ought to be at the top. The object of this 
Church is to turn the world upside down, to the end that 
it may go thereafter right side up. The true God is God 
of fellowship and is a mighty terrible one against them that 



12 INTRODUCTION 

drive down the poor. 

" Let not the word ' Revolution ' make you afraid. 
Revolution is normal. Both evolution and Revolution are 
heaven's way of getting mankind forward. 

" Our Church is a foreordination. In this black and 
dark night we are fashioning a world-order to take the 
place of this world-chaos. We are creating a new thing 
in the earth, a race that shall rejoice in fellowship as 
misers in their gold, as a drunkard in his cups. Impos- 
sible to change human nature ? To achieve the impossible 
has the Revolution Church been born. In our singing you 
will detect a joyousness to tingle the ears of the Eternal. 
Ofttimes impoverished, yet we are rewarded with a more 
pleasant and precious riches. Obscurity, houndings, im- 
prisonment, find us to be comrades knit for adversity. A 
Corpus Christi are we, to get the hell out of this earth and 
let a little of heaven in. 

" There shall be no folk of the common sort. Our God 
has grace enough to make every man a nobleman, every 
woman beautiful. The off-scouring and the refuse shall 
have inheritance with us. 

" Bad are the pains of poverty. Bad, the ennui of 
riches. Both shall be done away. We exalt the laborer 
and abase the leisurist. The producer shall not as now 
bring his neck under the yoke of an owning class. In glad- 
ness shall he create, and seek his immortality in what his 
hands have wrought. The toiler shall eat and be satis- 
fied. But idlers, be they in rags, be they in tags, be 
they in velvet gowns, shall have hunger of bread. The 
craftsman shall be in great praise. Honor and majesty 
shall be laid upon him. Man shall not labor to be rich. 
Man shall labor to be creative. And earth shall be quick- 
ened to a rebirth in beauty. Beyond all conjecture is the 
sumptuousness that is laid up for earth, when man shall 
have dilated to the dimensions of an industrial democrat. 

" With a plea for beauty, then, this message takes leave 
of you. It has brought you by now to see that the Church 



INTRODUCTION 13 

of the Social Revolution is not a disintegrator. We are 
pathmakers, preparing a way for mankind when, from its 
orgy of blood, it awakes in a bewildering to-morrow. For 
the religion of dogma, we give the religion of democracy. 
For superstition, we give science. For the creeds, we give 
the Carpenter, cornerstone of romance and divine adven- 
ture. For war, the pure, the gracious, the plentiful arts 
of peace; and God, Friend of Freedom, shall be prince 
forever." 

On the day of the formation of the Church of The Social 
Revolution, a street meeting was held, which is known to 
the Church and the public as the Mud-Gutter Meeting of 
the Church of the Social Revolution. They are usually 
held in much frequented districts, as Times Square and 
Broadway, and at other points. 

Those desiring to take part come to the Church about 
an hour before the indoor meeting takes place. We form 
a line behind the standard bearer; a scarlet banner with 
the inscription upon it in white letters " Church of the 
Social Revolution," and the other an American Flag. A 
signal for a marching song is given by the leader, and 
the procession of men, women and children join in singing, 
and march to the assigned corner. When the place is 
reached the participants form a circle and one of the 
speakers begins to tell the purpose of the meeting to the 
crowd that invariably gathers. 

As soon as the address is delivered, another song is sung 
and the crowd thus gathered is requested to take part. 
Speaking and singing continue from twenty to thirty 
minutes, while the crowd attracted by the songs and 
speeches is ever increasing. The last speaker then an- 
nounces the indoor meeting at Bryant Hall, and invites 
the listeners to fall in line and march thither. As a mat- 
ter of fact they do fall in line regardless of their previous 
state of mind in respect to the teachings of the Church 
of the Social Revolution. It thus happens that when the 
little group which started out for the Mud-Gutter Meet- 



14 INTRODUCTION 

ing returns, it succeeds in bringing back from five to six 
times the number which left the church. 

An estimate of our leader by Lee Mitchell Hodges in 
the Philadelphia North American is of value as showing 
the spirit that animates the Church. 

" Bouck White is a Thinker the capital letter is 
used purposely and a leader. Also as a necessary 
premise to these two achievements he is a worker. He is 
one of those social service captains who are helping 
mightily to lead us into a real land of promise where we 
shall be fed upon the milk and honey of Justice, that's all. 
Seven letters that would solve all our problems if only we 
would let them. Bouck White lives in New York, where 
Justice is supported on one side by Harry Thaw of Pitts- 
burgh and on the other side by the estimable owners of 
the Triangle Shirt Waist factory who have settled for 
the lives lost in their famous fire at $75 per soul 
any one will admit that this is a bargain for the 
estimables. But when Bouck White's books have been 
more widely read one of them now is in its tenth edition 
and the seeds of Justice by them planted have sprouted 
in men's minds and hearts, such bargains will not be in 
good form. The book in question is " The Call of the 
Carpenter." It is a life of Jesus ; but not like any other 
such life ever written. It is a biography of the working- 
man. All I have said thus far is intended as a sort of 
preface to the presentation of the Creed which White has 
written. Here it is: 

" * I believe in God, the Master most mighty, stirrer-up 
of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus the Carpenter of 
Nazareth, who was born of proletarian Mary, toiled at 
the work bench, descended into labor's hell, suffered under 
Roman tyranny at the hands of Pontius Pilate, was cruci- 
fied, dead and buried. The Power not ourselves which 
makes for freedom, he rose again from the dead to be 
lord of the democratic advance, sworn foe of stagnancy, 
maker of folk upheavals. I believe in work, the self-re- 



INTRODUCTION 15 

specting toiler, the holiness of beauty, freeborn producers, 
the communion of comrades, the resurrection of workers, 
and the industrial commonwealth, the cooperative king- 
dom eternal.' ' 

LUCY WEEKS TRIMBLE. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

WHY HAVE THEY PUT ME INTO A CAGE? . . . .21 

BOUCK WHITE'S LETTER TO THE FIFTH AVENUE CHURCH 24 

WHY I AM IN PRISON 28 

LETTER TO Gov. GLYNN 33 

LETTERS TO His CHURCH 

No. 1. He Wishes No Pardon 35 

No. 2. An Unspiritualized Revolution Will Go 

Off into Violence 38 

No. 3. Socialism is a Fellowship 42 

No. 4. A Socialism of the Heart 45 

No. 5. Outbreak of the War in Europe ... 49 
No. 6. Call to a Dangerous and Divine Adventure 54 
No. 7. In Place of Bloodshed We Give Brother- 
hood 57 

No. 8. Prison Pictures 59 

No. 9. The Progressive Party Belongs in Our 

Camp 61 

No. 10. Socialism Set to Music 64 

No. 11. The Strong Contagion 69 

No. 12. Missionary Measures 72 

No. 13. Man is God's Younger Brother ... 78 

No. 14. America's Blending of the Races . . .81 

No. 15. A French Revolution in Berlin? ... 84 

LETTER TO THE NEW YORK INDEPENDENT 88 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

AN OPEN LETTER 91 

THE COMRADES SEND GREETING 93 

THE RELIGION OP REVOLUTION 97 

BAPTISTS DIVIDE ON THE SOCIAL ISSUE 107 

How TO SOLVE UNEMPLOYMENT 110 

BOUCK WHITE ON BLACKWELL'S ISLAND 114 

THE CHURCH AND THE CRISIS 123 

REVOLUTION RITUAL 140 

REVOLUTION MARRIAGE RITE 142 

CONSECRATION OF CHILDREN 145 

REVOLUTION CATECHISM , 14-7 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 



WHY HAVE THEY PUT ME INTO A CAGE? 

Why have they put me into a cage? 

I am shut up as a predatory beast. 

You have been to the park where animals are kept; 

The quadruped house is known afar by the smell. 

There entering, you gasp at the stench. But you harden 

your nostrils 
'Tis the animals' native odor, against which no cleanliness 

can avail. 

Between the barred pens on either side, you pass; 
Where within, beasts of the jungle look forth. 
They are wild things. Hate is in their eye. 
A growl menaces. They will not be tamed. 
But you are unaffrighted. They cannot harm. 
Bars separate sturdily between you and them; 
Tested bars of wrought iron; flawless. 
Also the door of each den is of stalwart stuff; 
It swings on huge hinges ; and is padlocked. 
He is well fastened in, that four-foot from the jungle. 
Restive, he treads the narrow cell with lithe eager pace; 
But makes no effort to break through. The walls are 

stout. 

They pass food in to him daily. And in the corner, 
A heap of straw is for a bed at night. 

Tiger-like, I also am locked in. 

His imprisonment and mine have much in common ; 

Except that his cell is roomier than mine; 

And the huge sirloin they toss to him each day, 

21 



22 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Costs the city, I'll bet, more than the food they serve to 

me. 

Yes, and they have clothed me in parallel stripes, 
The bands passing around my body tiger-fashion. 
To and fro, like him, I pace the stone floor, 
With springy tread; for I no sooner start than I must 

turn back. 

Both he and I were built for wide spaces ; 
And this pent inclosure frets the soul. 

I am sloughed in like a ravening beast. 

My cell-neighbor on the one side is a forger; 

On the other side, down the tier, three burglars. 

And the other day a murderer joined us. 

Into society's lowermost hell, I am thrust. 

Here are the very sweepings of the city. 

Amid walking disease I pass my days 

The pick of an international host for vileness. 

The stink is everywhere; filth of body; 

Tongues unpurified since the primal birth. 

Girt with garbage, I eat the food of felons. 

At night I lie on my bunk. I hear padded steps draw- 
ing near. 

It is the soft-footed keeper. As he passes my den, 

He looks in, and flashes a light in my face. 

A shriek tears the air. I think I know whence it comes. 

It is from the plumber they brought in yesterday after 
a long spree. 

He told me the Horrors were coming to him ; 

And asked me to stay near him, for he dreaded the night. 

I hear his yelp of terror now, but cannot get to him. 

On another tier, a drug-diseased man is calling for cocaine. 

Why have I been decreed unto a descent into hell ? 

" A dangerous man," spoke the judge, pronouncing 

verdict. 
" Dangerous ? " I cried aloud the miseries of the poor. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 23 

I pointed to vast fortunes piling up ; 

Rich revenues that grandest foe of fellowship. 

For voiceless ones, I lifted up my voice 

For Colorado miners coldbloodedly shot down. 

Unto an America grown fat and cowardly, 

I evoked a remembrance of oldtime valiant days. 

Is that dangerous? 

I taught the strong teachings of the Carpenter, 

Expounding from the mud-gutter the record holy. 

Time was when, to follow him, meant fetters. 

Is it that once again an era of the masterclass approaches, 

When to proclaim the wrongness of extortionate wealth, 

Shall loose upon a man the terrors of the state? 

The religion of the rights of man, I propagated. 

From their dividends, I called men to democracy. 

I announced an age when workers shall be great. 

Toilers I called to grandeur and to freedom ; 

Expanding the hearts of men with impulses to liberty ; 

Into the beautiful kingdom of God, recasting society. 

Of a gospel thus patterned I am the evangelist. 

Dangerous ? 

The keeper closes the door with clangor of iron; 

I hear the chain clink, with which he makes it fast on the 

outside ; 

Then the sound of his feet retreating down the corridor. 
I am alone. I pass to the grating. 
I put my face against the bars, and peer out. 
Why have they put me into a cage? 



BOUCK WHITE'S LETTER TO THE FIFTH 
AVENUE CHURCH 

My dear Dr. Woelfkin: 

This resolution was passed by the Socialist Church, of 
which I am pastor : 

" Resolved, That we extend to the Fifth Avenue Baptist 
Church, in person of its pastor, a request to meet our 
pastor in joint debate on this topic: ' Did Jesus Teach 
the Immorality of Being Rich? ' we to uphold the affirma- 
tive and assume all financial responsibilities. Resolved 
further, that we attend that Church this coming Sunday 
morning, May 10th, to present this. And that we request 
our pastor, because of the spirit of evasion shown in that 
Church when our members attended their Friday meeting, 
May 1st, to request an answer in open meeting." 

I am sending you this, my dear Dr. Woelfkin, ahead 
of time, in order to assure you of the very real friendliness 
with which we are coming to you. We are quite aware 
that a visitation from a church to its neighbor is a bit 
unusual, and that the presentation of a greeting in open 
service is likewise something out of the ordinary. But 
we submit to you that the times just now are quite extraor- 
dinary and demand extraordinary modes of meeting the 
issues presented for solution. The topic in our meeting 
Sunday afternoon, in the Berkeley Theatre, is to be, 
" Galilee and Colorado." That will open up the entire 
question of riches and the industrial situation in our coun- 
try at the present time. Furthermore, I am sure you will 
agree with me that the findings of the Congressional In- 
vestigation Committee, of recent date, connect some in 
your church membership in a quite intimate way with the 

Ludlow Massacre. Therefore, the issue is one which we 

24 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 25 

do not think you will wish to evade, when you have 
thought it over with regard to all the tremendous conse- 
quences involved. 

I am one that holds and that is what makes of me a 
kindred spirit with yours that the arbitrament of this 
entire revolutionary upheaval should be lifted into the 
religious realm. There alone, as you and I both know, 
can it find constructive treatment. It is to that end that 
the church of which I am pastor was formed. We feel 
that the Carpenter of Galilee was never more needed 
in the world than at the present moment. Therefore, we 
are organizing ourselves with the purpose of making him 
the avowed leader and inspiration of this labor agitation. 
Inasmuch as your church and ours together bow before the 
same Master, it surely would be advantageous if we could 
establish something of a fraternal relationship one with the 
other. I am not concealing from myself or from you 
that we probably hold different views as to the teaching of 
that Carpenter. On the contrary, it is for that reason 
that we wish the joint debate. We can think of no surer 
and happier way of arriving at the truth than by such an 
orderly exchange of opinions. And we believe that you 
and yours are as sincerely desirous of the truth as we are. 
It may not be out of place for me to state that our Social- 
ist Church holds most enthusiastically to the modern 
Biblical science as it was taught me at Harvard and at 
the Union Theological Seminary. And it will surely be 
helpful to some in the churches of the older school to get 
our viewpoint as to the discoveries which scholarship is 
making concerning the economic side of the teaching of 
Jesus. 

I beg you to believe that I am one who holds a high 
opinion of the good will of many in the privileged class. 
It is not at all true to say that the industrial troubles of 
our time are due to the personal cruelty of the masters in 
control. At our Church of the Social Revolution, we 
proclaim the doctrine that the present deplorable situation 



26 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

is not due to individuals, but to the system wherein individ- 
ual rich men are hopelessly enmeshed. Therefore, we 
feel that if they could be made to see the situation from 
this point of view, together with the economic message of 
the Galilean, it might be the means of winning them to 
the cause of social reconstruction. For not all of them 
are wedded to their dollars. And these would prefer the 
riches of fellowship to riches of silver, if persuaded that 
the Master unconditionally and for statesmanly rea- 
sons demands it. 

I beg leave to state that one of the purposes of the 
Socialist Church is to constitute itself a center of media- 
tion and mutual understanding between the warring 
classes. And I submit to you that this friendly visitation 
of our church to yours might be the means of a concilia- 
tory work of perhaps far-reaching consequences. We are 
very near neighbors; our church holds divine services at 
the Berkeley Theatre, West 44th Street, and yours at 
West 57th Street. Furthermore, we represent the down- 
most man, whereas your church represents the wealthiest 
of the world. Therefore, in this social crisis which is 
gathering its thunder so menacingly to-day, it is entirely 
thinkable that, by some relationship that will permit an 
interchange of views, a friendliness of feeling could be 
brought about that might be the means of a happy issue 
out of all our social afflictions. We are bold to go to you 
this Sunday morning for a further reason, and one more- 
over of so recent discovery as to have precluded much 
preliminary consultation with you and yours: words have 
reached us from more than one source that some of the 
wilder spirits in the revolutionary movement are planning 
some kind of concerted affront to you and your church. 
We of the Socialist Church deeply regret these turbulent 
committees that so evilly obscure the large principles, and 
drag the issue into the mire of personal animosities and 
vituperations. Therefore we are offering you Sunday 
morning our assistance in quelling, so far as we are able, 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 27 

any wildness that might be maturing. And this we do, 
not altogether out of friendliness to you, but out of 
loyalty to the Socialist movement, because that movement 
has everything to gain by being kept in the realms of or- 
derliness and constitutional procedure. 

Indeed, it is in part because of these wild suggestions so 
abundantly proffering themselves, that we have been 
stirred to make you the offer of a joint debate on the 
fundamental issues involved. We hope thereby to satisfy 
the turbulent spirits. You and yours occupy a semi-pub- 
lic position because of the exemption of your church prop- 
erty from taxation (and this makes us all, to some degree, 
supporters of your church). If you are persistent in 
your attempt to avoid an issue now so critically come to 
a head, it is entirely thinkable that the wild element re- 
ferred to will be stirred perhaps to desperate means and 
will attempt to justify violence by the assertion that a ra- 
tional and orderly exchange of views was not possible. 

I ask you to believe that we come to you in all comity. 
The hand we hold out bears no weapon ; but is open in an 
earnest desire to clasp that of a sister church, in all friend- 
liness and courtesy. 

I beg to be, fraternally yours in the fellowship of the 
Carpenter, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



WHY I AM IN PRISON * 

Issues of some magnitude were involved in my visit to 
the Fifth Avenue Baptist (the Rockefeller) Church, and 
for which I am now in prison stripes. 

The exemption of church property from taxation, the 
rights of the public in a tax-exempt church, the status of 
absentee landlordism in the light of our country's official 
ethics, were some of the questions interwoven with the 
affair. 

Yet Magistrate Campbell, in a New York police court, 
entertained no doubt of the competency of his tribunal to 
pass upon these issues. He devoted the whole of nearly 
twenty minutes to the trial. He found me instantane- 
ously and heinously guilty ; pronounced me " a dangerous 
man " because I had dared to raise these questions into the 
glare of publicity. 

I have been sloughed into a prison cell. Appeal to a 
superior court has been hilariously denied me. My finger 
prints have been taken. I am numbered with the felons. 
For the space of 185 days I am being fed with the bread 
of affliction and with the water of affliction. 

Did I have a right in that church? That depends in 
part upon the announced somewhat ostentatiously an- 
nounced policy of brotherliness by the Baptist Church 
to other congregations. (I am a minister ordained by the 
Congregational denomination.) It depends also on the 
legal standing of the public in tax-exempt churches. The 
consolidated property of the Baptist Church in question 
amounts to well toward a million dollars. Its freedom 
from taxation now through long years of its life means 
that all the people of New York City have been compelled 

* Reprinted from the New York Independent. 

28 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 29 

by statutory enactment to contribute to the support of 
that church a sum aggregating many ten thousands of 
dollars. For years, therefore, I have been a financial con- 
tributor to the upkeep of that place of worship. In re- 
turn for my monetary support (I mentioned this fact in 
my letter) I asked the right, once in a lifetime, to bring 
before that church a matter which I deemed of ethical and 
spiritual import. I am in felon stripes. 

A convict locked in a cell near to mine was arrested for 
selling fraudulent butter. Brought before a police court, 
the magistrate informed him that the case would have 
to be tried before a higher court. Police courts are 
adapted for " drunks," horse beatings, window breakings 
and vagrancy cases. In an affair involving several pounds 
of butter, the law provides that the accused is entitled to 
be heard in a court whose procedure is sufficiently ma- 
jestic to give him a patient and respectful hearing. Since 
my imprisonment, also, I have seen pickpockets come in, 
stay a few days, and be released by writ, or go for a new 
trial. The law notoriously is tender toward butter cases 
and pickpockets, dignifying them with a hearing at the 
bar of an august and learned tribunal. In public interest, 
at least, the deed for which I am jailed was not inferior to 
theirs. It was telegraphed very widely. It even got onto 
the cables and was sent to far coasts of the earth. But 
the only hearing that has been permitted me was twenty 
minutes in a police court, amid a calendar of " drunks " 
and " found sleeping on doorsteps." I understand that 
the magistrate who so expeditiously found me guilty and 
sonorously sentenced me, is being put forward this fall for 
the Supreme Court, by a political party that is peculiarly 
tender to magnates of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Com- 
pany sort, and grateful to " serviceable " handlers of the 
law. 

A debate between our church and the Rockefeller church 
on the thesis, " Did Jesus teach the immorality of being 
rich? " was a suggested form of the relationship we cov- 



30 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

eted to establish, and for proposing which I am in jail. 
The query presents itself, Would it not have been wiser 
in Dr. Woelfkin to give the knockout to religious radical- 
ism once for all, by accepting the challenge? The debate 
would have furnished him a resounding platform from 
which to triumph over us and establish for all time hence- 
forth scriptural sanction of vast private possessions. Of 
a surety the occasion would have been dignified with con- 
siderable publicity. The mere challenge to it as I 
stated got onto the ocean cables. The event itself 
would have opened to the Rockefeller theologian a wide 
auditory. It would have made the New Testament a news 
item of double column, front page importance. And his 
demolition of our arguments would have been a historic 
event, incalculably buttressing the conservative school; 
'twould have asserted the divine right of riches in the hear- 
ing of tens of thousands reached by Associated Press dis- 
patches. 

Can it be that Dr. Woelfkin and his supporters feared 
the issue? Some of the facts in the case give color to the 
suspicion. Platoons of police, the extreme sentence of the 
law, and now a triple row of prison bars between me and 
freedom, suggest in them a state of mind far from one of 
poise; yes, one of near-panic. Hardly could the pastor 
of that church contemptuously have accounted me an an- 
tagonist unmeted for a learned man to encounter. The 
pronunciamento of the magistrate against me is clear on 
that point : " A man the more dangerous because of his 
education and churchly orders." My books on the eco- 
nomic interpretation of the life and message of the Gali- 
lean bear the imprint of publishers one of whom is Amer- 
ica's ambassador to England. My academic standing is 
officially certified by our country's oldest university and 
her premier school of divinity. 

The inference is unavoidable that organized Christianity 
is afraid of the Bible. Modern scholarship is making that 
book, in these times of social break-up, what James Rus- 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 31 

sell Lowell declared it to be toward the slave system, " the 
most revolutionary book in literature." To dampen down 
the explosiveness so thickly strewn through it, the pulpi- 
teers who preach for hire and look to millionaric support, 
are put to more and more desperate shift, stopping not at 
bonds and imprisonment of those who ask embarrassing 
questions. No one more than they realizes the extent to 
which the churches to-day are honeycombed with doubt 
and open skepticism. I have a letter recently sent to me 
by a member of the Baptist Church in question, in which 
he admits the hollowness of the whole institution. I quote : 
" Christianity (when it produces anything, for it usually 
leaves a person with his moral, intellectual and spiritual 
aspirations untouched, or in a state of decay) produces 
weaklings, people not interested in government, poor 
fathers, missionaries doing ridiculous things, people who 
have never had their proper development of mind." I am 
quoting one of the milder passages in his letter, lest I 
should seem to be overstating. And the writer of it is not 
only a member of the Rev. Dr. Woelfkin's Baptist Church, 
but is a teacher of a class in the Sunday school there, 
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., being another of the teachers. 

To this pass of insincerity, the established religion of 
Christendom is come. It has long been known, even con- 
ceded, that the Church of Rome operated on a principle 
of suppression, permitting only the portions of truth to 
percolate to the masses which she thinks safe and expedi- 
ent. It may come, however, as a surprise to many to 
learn that the Protestant Church she who was founded 
to blab the words of truth utterly has switched over 
and is now a zealous adjutant of Rome in keeping the 
verities of scholarship from the populace. And the Bap- 
tists are not alone in the business. 

" We are due for the greatest spiritual crisis in the his- 
tory of mankind," states Professor Eucken, of Jena. To 
prepare for that crisis, by organizing the new order of in- 
telligence and the new spiritual understanding that will be 



32 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

requisite in the world of to-morrow, is the purpose of the 
Church of the Social Revolution, of which I am the pastor. 
We hold service in a hired hall in New York, for we own 
no sanctuary. A quality of fearlessness, so visitors say, 
attaches to our meetings and activities. Over two hun- 
dred new members have been added since I have been be- 
hind prison bars. This is the covenant we take : " I en- 
list under the Lord of the blood-bright banner, to bring 
to an end a scheme of things that has enthroned Leisure 
on the back of Labor, an idle class sucking the substance 
of the poor. I will not be a social climber, but will stay 
with the workers in class solidarity till class shall have 
been done away in fellowship's glad dawn. I will seek re- 
cruits for the Church of the Social Revolution, unto the 
overthrow of present-day society and its rebuilding into 
comradeship." We hold that religion and economics are 
terms that have grandest agreement; conjoined, they make 
a live organism ; divorced, they are a soul without a body 
and a body without a soul. On my release, November 12, 
I shall resume my work as leader of this church ; to lay the 
mudsill, as it were, for the new heaven and the new earth 
that are preparing. I shall go out of the prison gate 
with more endurance for the task than when I came in. 
And with more certitude likewise. The breaking down of 
present-day civilization, in the catastrophic clash in Eu- 
rope, tells that we have no moment to lose in beginning 
preparations for the new spiritual order. Though prison 
continue to menace me, I cannot give up my work. 

Queens County Prison, New York. 



LETTER TO GOVERNOR GLYNN 

To His Excellency, Governor Glynn, 
Executive Mansion, Albany, N. Y. 

Word has just reached me that petitions are being made 
to you for my pardon. A New York weekly paper urges 
it editorially, on the grounds of humanity ; intimating that 
I have suffered enough, and that imprisonment has now 
wrought in me the hoped-for repentance and amendment. 
I am indeed desirous of freedom. Life in an iron cell is 
not to my liking. Nevertheless, honesty requires me to 
inform you that I am not repentant. The deed for which 
I am jailed, broke no law either of God or man. As a 
financial supporter through many years now of the Bap- 
tist Church that has put me behind the bars (the exemption 
of the churches from taxation makes every resident of the 
city a contributor to their upkeep), I was within my legal 
rights in carrying to that Church a greeting at the time in 
their service set apart for " Notices." And as to the moral 
right : sir, I could not look my God in the face, had I as 
one of the citizen-rulers of this country permitted one 
hundred and fifty of my fellow-workingmen to be shot 
down at Ludlow, Col., without making effort to bring the 
thing home to the conscience of the absentee landlordism 
that did the shooting and to the Church that solaces those 
absentee landlords with spiritual consolation. 

" Repentant ! " I am, sir, the most unrepentant pris- 
oner a New York City jail ever sloughed into a cell. Let 
another Ludlow massacre happen, I would repeat my deed 
to-morrow. So far from life in prison having wrought in 
me a penitential work, it has tightened and reenforced in 
me a remonstrant mood. 

I am glad of friends that so fervently covet my release 

33 



34 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

as to petition you for a pardon. Nevertheless, honor 
forbids me, by keeping silent, possibly to lure you into 
granting their request, in ignorance of my mind and will 
toward the deed I committed. In a political offense 
and mine is such a pardon implies that the offender has 
turned from his former way and will be favorable hence- 
forth to the state. But I have not turned from my for- 
mer way; nor am I favorable to the state as at present 
constituted. I am holding with a certitude which aug- 
ments daily that our present ordering of human affairs 
is uncivilized and uncivilizing. When I am released from 
prison, I expect to resume the leadership of the Church of 
the Social Revolution of which I am pastor; whose pur- 
pose is to agitate and educate for the overthrow of pres- 
ent-day society, and its rebuilding into fellowship. 

I cannot ask favor of a foe. Nevertheless there is some- 
thing that you ought to do in this affair; something 
necessitated by the rules of the game that this civilization 
you uphold professes to play. It is, that you use influ- 
ence with the appellate division of the Supreme Court of 
this State to get my case on the calendar before my sen- 
tence expires. I desire a trial. I have not had one as 
yet. The only hearing I have had has been in a police 
court twenty minutes, sandwiched in between " drunks " 
and " found sleeping on doorsteps." Thus far the powers 
ecclesiastical, financial and political, in league against 
me, have combined to deny me a hearing in a superior 
court. When the Appellate Division re-sits in October, 
it will be too late to save me from nearly six months of 
imprisonment. But it can vindicate my name and that of 
the Church. Vindication is what we desire. And to it 
we are entitled. 

I am, sir, 
Respectfully yours, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



LETTERS TO HIS CHURCH 

NO. 1 
HE WISHES NO PARDON 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL, 

NEW YORK CITY. 
Comrades : 

I wonder if you know what it means, that this Church 
is going on so prosperously, barely a jar when I was 
suddenly lifted from you and clapped into prison? It 
means this : that a Power other than Bouck White brought 
you together into a church, and now that Power is carry- 
ing you on, quite without my presence. To some this 
phenomenon may seem a slight thing. But I say unto 
you, historic meanings are wrapped up in it. Not the 
executive committee with all of their enthusiasm, nor Sol 
Fieldman and his capabilities are keeping you together in 
so compact and effective a fellowship. The Unseen is the 
operating Hand back of and behind it all. And, when 
that Power begins to work, history begins to be written. 
It is a Pentecostal time here in my prison cell, whenever 
tidings reach me of the Church's concord and prosperity. 
For you are my life henceforth. Friends of former time 
write me, asking for permission to visit me. I reply by 
referring them to you and stating that you, and not I, 
have that and kindred matters in hand. Dearer to me 
than flesh and blood, are you. To-day I got a letter 
from my sister. She signs herself, " One of your people, 
and incidentally your sister." 

These conversions that are being wrought and these 
enthusiasms and loyalties are no human doings. And I 

bow my head in awe and adoration. 

35 



36 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Concerning a practical matter. I am affrighted at 
the petition to the Governor for pardon. Of course you 
have taken pains to safeguard it from any hint of suppli- 
cation. But the newspapers will give it that squint. 
Furthermore, news reaches me that some Baptist con- 
vention is planning a like petition. You know a plea was 
already made to the Mayor, on the grounds " that Bouck 
White has now been punished sufficiently." 

Would it not be better to concentrate our fight on the 
Court of Appeals? A pardon! I wish no pardon. A 
trial is what I want. Clemency! We ask no clemency 
from this ungodly civilization. We ask justice. Six 
months in prison ! I'll stay sixty times six months rather 
than make terms with the rulers and magistrates that own 
this present world. Between them and us a great gulf 
sunders. We will neither truckle nor fawn nor suppli- 
cate. The God I am revealing unto you is a Man of 
War, a Captain, a fighter and the Leader of fighters. 
Were we to knuckle under for the sake of material gain, 
such as a shorter prison term, He would avert His face 
from us in sorrow, or spurn us from Him in anger. 

A pardon implies that I am in a chastened mood, re- 
gretting at last my deed. But I do not regret my deed. 
I'm the most impenitent prisoner the New York jails ever 
clanged their doors upon. And I grow more impenitent 
daily. I am entreating you to a gentle and forgiving 
spirit toward one another. But that is in order that you 
may be a more effective fighting instrument against this 
mammonism which is our common and terrible enemy. 
When I find in you this no-surrender mood, then I skip 
for joy, and my sleep is sweet unto me. 

Life in jail is worse than I had conceived it to be. The 
indignities we receive as our daily lot bring one down very 
near to the animal estate. None the less, I'd rather en- 
dure prison life a hundred fold than be released on terms 
that would sacrifice in the slightest degree the principle 
I'm here for. Woelfkin is in Europe; I'm in prison. He 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 37 

is at the summit of human comfort and luxury and bliss ; 
I am in society's lowermost hell. But I'd rather be where 
I am at this moment, than where he is. 

The daylight that filters into my cell is now dying, and 
very quickly I'll be in darkness. But the bars that screen 
me in from the world outside do not screen me in, Above. 
And, from there, comes down the light that never was on 
sea or land. And my cell is quite flooded then with 
brightness. 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. % 

AN UNSPIRITUALIZED REVOLUTION WILL GO 
OFF INTO VIOLENCE 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL, 

NEW YORK CITY. 
Comrades : 

An event has happened, I read, since my last letter, 
which casts a revealing light on the fermentation that is 
loose in the land, and which by the contrast discloses the 
essentially conservative and constructive quality of our 
church. I mean the bomb tragedy of July 4. It ap- 
pears that the protest against the money lords, and in 
especial the money lord of the Colorado Fuel and Iron 
Company, has darkened off into a sanguinary thing, 
wherein the misadvised protesters have followed a steeply 
descending course, until their inflamed mentalities came to 
believe that blood-letting is the only cure for the social 
malady. And in maturing which, they met their death. 

Why this mournful happening, that has draped the radi- 
cal movement in black? I will tell you why. That wing 
of the revolution divorced themselves from God. Openly, 
or in secret, they scoffed at things unseen and spiritual. 
This affair of last Saturday was being engineered by the 
same folk who conducted the unemployment gatherings at 
Rutgers Square the past winter, and who more recently 
have carried through a series of agitations at Tarrytown 
and affiliated places. Beyond doubt, those leaders were 
moved by a sincere pity for the poor of the land, and by 
a fine indignation against the arrogance of power. But 
they incorporated into their doings no recognition of a 
spiritual kingdom overlying the world of outward deeds. 

38 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 39 

They and their followers beheld not the unseen causes of 
the despotism that is upon us. They beheld only the out- 
ward incarnations of that despotism. Accordingly they 
directed their wrath against persons rather than against 
principles. They thought to take the kingdom of heaven 
which is within by force. And the blow, aimed at 
another, has landed on themselves. 

Violence is an inevitable accompaniment of revolution 
propagated along irreligious lines. Irreligion means 
blindness to powers that are invisible a holdfast only in 
things that the eye can discern and the fat hands of flesh 
can handle. Therefore when a sorrow like the Ludlow 
sorrow transpires, people of this materialist cast of mind 
see only an individual as the cause, and aim their fury 
against the Tarrytown magnate. As though a bomb ex- 
ploding him and his estate into hell would remedy the 
Colorado crisis one iota, or make a repetition of Ludlow 
impossible. It's a terrible thing to foment revolutionary 
passions, without coupling up those passions with the de- 
votional spirit, which alone can keep them sweet and con- 
structive. A church without social revolution is to-day 
a toy and dilettante thing; so in the opposite direction 
social revolution without church is a snake-haired, bomb- 
casting fury. 

The violence and slaughter into which this school of 
revolutionists inevitably runs off, disgust the other wing 
of Socialism with revolution, and drive them into " safe 
and sane Socialism " that is to say, political reform. 
And the terminus where they end is equally depressing. 
They go off into that politician's paradise dickering 
for votes, the emoluments of public office. Both wings 
are destitute of a spiritual discipline and insight. There- 
fore they both come to sorry pass. 

To each of these abortive policies, the Church of the 
Revolution comes with a program different from either. 
We refuse to lose faith in the revolution, and permit this 
mighty folk uprising to flatten off into only a reform party 



40 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

of office-hungry politicians. Neither will we suffer the 
revolution to inflame into a delirium of wildness and blood. 
We will persist in revolution. But it shall be a revolution 
in the awful kingdoms that are within, and from whence 
are the issues of life. As I said in my letter to Woelfkin, 
our warfare is not against John D. Rockefeller. Our 
warfare is against principalities and powers in the realm 
invisible. Not against flesh and blood fight we; but 
against wrong ideals and principles and beliefs, a devil's 
brood of distorted, timorous, crawling ideas that have 
taken possession of man's mental universe and now are 
nagging the entire human family into insanities and self- 
ishnesses without number. 

Comrades, I say it unto you, the Church of the Social 
Revolution is going to prove itself the most statesmanly 
thing that has happened in many generations. We are 
radical of the radicals ; and yet are safer, we are actually 
more conservative than Bill Taft himself. We are the 
saviors of the state. And will be so recognized when at 
last the dust of battle shall have lifted, and our methods 
and motives shall come to be judged in the calmness and 
sunlight of r .son. 

Which le^as me to a practical point. I am dawning 
to the fact that my life here in prison is bringing as one 
of its by-products some fine economies. I'm not spending 
any money. New York City is spending it for me. Yes- 
terday my total outlay was one cent, for an evening paper. 
Board and clothes and laundry and barber and soap and 
lodging the tax-payers of New York City supply me 
with these. Not very elaborate board, to be sure; and 
as to the clothing and bedroom accommodations, the less 
said about these, the better. But I'm not spending money 
for other board, that's the point. And I wish the Church to 
be the gainer our church, where alone resides the secret 
for a happy issue out of the afflictions now upon society. 
I'll keep some track of what I save every week, and send it 
to you. " Self-denial money," I'll call it. 'Twill be fun. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 41 

The unspeakable clothes I wear will transform into a 
modish suit, if I know that you all are the gainers ; and 
the prison fare (it almost chokes me at times) will take 
on a flavor of honey dew and milk of paradise. So here's 
my check. I figure that, by cutting out butter and eggs 
and sugar and steaks and cake and pies and car fare this 
past week, I've saved about $3.65. Also, as I was plant- 
ing grass seed under the warden's apartment yesterday, 
some one opened a window and, apparently taking com- 
passion on the poor convict toiling down there in the yard, 
threw me a quarter. I took it in silence, for convicts 
are not permitted to talk back. And am sending it on to 
you my check for $3.90. 

Yours for the Revolution Church, where alone is revolu- 
tion indeed, 

BOUCK WHITE. 






NO. 3 
SOCIALISM IS A FELLOWSHIP 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL, 

NEW YORK CITY. 
Comrades : 

On his visit to me the other day, Comrade Fieldman 
said, " There's something strangely unique about this 
church, Bouck White. When I speak to them, I get a 
response that I've never received from a Socialist audi- 
ence. They are not the ordinary Socialist crowd. With 
their Socialism they blend something else. Or rather, it is 
Socialism of an emotional swing and sweep. It is what 
we have long been in need of." 

From a full heart, I echoed the sentiment back to him. 
Comrades, we are building up a new thing in the world. 
Fieldman, with his fine sensitivity, and coming freshly to 
us, has perceived it; and with sound judgment has weighed 
it. This union of Socialism and song is promissory of 
something mightily worth while. It has long been admit- 
ted that Socialists are an intellectual set, very much awake 
on the brain side; but alas, the heart within them was not 
equally developed. Hence their hard contentious quality, 
and the monotonous intellectualism of their meetings. 

With our appearing, however, this criticism no longer 
obtains. Now, the heart within us is obtaining its quota 
of attention and nutriment. We yield not to the most 
mentalized Socialist anywhere, in the tightness and firm- 
ness of our intellects. But we don't stop there. We 
carry that intellectualism to its fruition in emotion, and 
imagination's divine leap and play ; as the stalk of a plant 
is little interesting or beautiful until it has climbed into 
flower. Socialism in bloom that's what we are. The 
phrase hits us off patly. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 43 

And the immediate effect of it is to be found in the 
warmth and fellowship we cherish one to another. To be 
sure there still are scrappy spirits in our number; which 
introduce sometimes a note of discord. But this is be- 
cause we are as yet a youngling. We have not had time 
to develop our type of Socialist. These contentious 
spirits are no product of ours, but have been handed over 
to us ready made. We shall transform them, however, 
into our own image. Or else as I guess is already hap- 
pening they drop away one by one and go to their own. 
Which loss to us is no loss. Our church is at this moment 
bearing the battle's brunt. We are at grips with this 
devil's civilization that now controls the world. They own 
the judges, the police, the law courts, the jails and jailers. 
And all this organized might is arrayed against us. A 
glow of solidarity welding us each to the other is now of 
the first importance. And to it every other issue must 
give way. At a time like this, discordant spirits within 
our group could strike a mortal blow. In the gracious 
and heart quality which our meetings should display, a 
genial and sympathetic camaraderie, Besides our dis- 
tinctiveness. 

The church program will go limpingly, without money. 
By skimping on my diet and clothes, I've saved this 
past week about $3.30. Furthermore, I have cut out 
a visit to Coney Island, which I usually pay about this 
time every year. (Not altogether voluntarily, you un- 
derstand; the warden stated that prisoners are not per- 
mitted to go near the place strict orders from the de- 
partment.) The trip, counting car fare both ways, 
admission to Steeplechase, pop corn cakes, Shoot the 
Shutes, Trip to the Moon, and the Fat Family, would 
esaily have cost me a dollar. So here's my Self-denial 
Money for the week $4.30. 

In a letter from one of our members recently, and I 
value these letters from you all, for they tell me of the 
matters I should touch upon in my letters to the church 



44 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

week by week I have been asked, " What is the rela- 
tion of our church to the organized Socialist movement? " 
I will try to answer this query in my note to you next 
week. 

May our God of the Social Revolution keep us in the 
fellowship forevermore. 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 4 
A SOCIALISM OF THE HEART 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL, 

NEW YOKK CITY. 
My Comrades: 

From one of you has come the query : " What is the 
relation of our Church to the Socialist Party?" The 
comrade stated that it had been put to her by an outsider 
with whom she was doing propaganda work for the Church. 
Indeed, the matter suggested itself also to Comrade Field- 
man's active mind. In his visit to me he said, " Bouck 
White, this Church is destined to growth beyond what 
you dream. It will go wherever the Socialist Party has 
gone ; it will be a sister movement to the Party." 

That image of " brother and sister " is not bad. It 
pictures the two walking side by side, each holding the 
hand of the other; mutually aiding, counseling, comfort- 
ing in a word, supplementing each other ; as do brother 
and sister, when knit in the glow of sweetest fellowship, 
each being stronger because of the other ; therefore I was 
grateful to him for the figure. But I expressed the rela- 
tion more intensively still. " Yes," said I to him, " you 
have hit it patly : the two are to be side-partners ; but it 
is more than a pal-ship; something even closer than that 
of a sister to a brother. The Church of the Revolution 
is destined to be the soul, of which the Socialist Party is 
the body." 

What the body is without a soul, that is what Socialism 
was before we appeared; which confirms the word with 
which Fieldman followed up his declaration. " As soon 
as I saw this Church," said he, " I discerned that it is the 

thing we have for long time been needing." And his dis- 

45 



46 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

cernment was sound. The body, when there is no soul 
inside, begins to die. And in like manner unmistakable 
tokens of mortality had been manifest of late in the So- 
cialist movement. Not in loss of numbers. No; nu- 
merically her growth has been astounding. But it has 
been attended by a loss of conviction. She has been de- 
clining into a reform party. More and more, she has 
waged her campaigns by promising to the electorate, if 
put into power, to tinker up many a weak place in the 
present order. 

Now I am a believer in political action. The settle- 
ment of a dispute, in the orderly method of counting 
noses votes dropped in a hat is the one civilized and 
civilizing mode. We need to capture the political ma- 
chinery. But we need likewise to capture humankind's 
mental machinery. A Socialism of the hand, and a So- 
cialism of the heart there is the full-orbed program 
which now for the first time we offer to the world. Until 
the Revolution Church, Socialism hobbled like a man with 
one leg. Now the other leg is added; and will more than 
double his speed and strength and usefulness. The ma- 
terial-minded crowd, therefore, who hail with joy our 
church's advent as a means of rounding out and illuminat- 
ing the party's economic propaganda, are wise and of great 
understanding. 

But as the body is dead without a soul inside to shine 
through, so in the contrary direction the soul is helpless 
without a body as its organ and instrument. This puts 
a difference between us and churches of the old sort. The 
religion they foster is a disembodied thing, having no con- 
tact with actuality; it is thin, anemic, ghost-like, hover- 
ing over the habitation of men, but eluding all attempts 
to harness it to the uses of the world. Therefore the 
spiritual-minded crowd are rallying to the Revolution 
Church as the channel through which their pent-up ideal- 
ism can flow down into the thirsty landscape of earth. 

Will the Socialist Party take kindly to this attempt to. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 47 

put a soul under its ribs, that shall intensify it into a 
non-compromising revolutionary stand at every moment? 
Well, some of them will not. Already they are fighting 
us. They perceive in us something new in the history of 
the world, and are distrustful. They would be content 
to capture merely a man's vote. We go gunning to cap- 
ture the man entire, from toe to top, inside and out. We 
insist that a man's Socialism must be as big as the uni- 
verse. It is not something he can put on and off for elec- 
tion day only, like a suit of clothes ; but is a new outlook 
upon life, and must affect all his acts, and every thought 
he thinks. Perhaps this kind of Socialism will not win 
mayoralty campaigns as quickly as the other kind. But 
it will be a victory worth the winning when it does arrive, 
instead of the commonplace and disillusioning thing some 
of our premature victories on election day have been. 

Others in the party, perceiving this need for a redder 
and deeper Socialism, are welcoming our church. I per- 
ceive that the party in New York is thinking of naming 
me as candidate for Congress. That is a tribute to our 
church; and as such I am glad. My ideals for my own 
life-work are not at all in the direction of political office. 
Politics does not create. It merely expresses the view- 
point that has already been created in the mind of the 
people. I am ambitious of having a part on the creative 
side, leaving to others to write it into laws and acts of 
state. None the less, I should be happy at the honor paid 
to our church if I were named for the office. Because it 
would demonstrate that the Socialists, even in infidel New 
York, are perceiving the substantial contribution that will 
come to the movement when, to the party of social revo- 
lution is added the Church of the Social Revolution; a 
combination that will spell revolution indeed. 

There is still a further way, and a most direct one, 
wherein our church will help the Socialist Party and the 
movement for social reconstruction generally ; that is, by 
connecting this movement with the positive, the believing, 



48 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

the faith side of human nature ; and so redeeming it from 
the squint of irreligion and infidelity that has formerly 
attached to it. But this is a big subject, and I'll try to 
devote an entire letter to it, unless you send me queries 
covering other points you wish me to touch. 

My self-denial check this week is for $3.95. Fifty 
cents of it was real self-denial, for the other of course is 
only make-believe, since I couldn't buy butter or sugar or 
eggs if I tried. The mosquitoes of the night have been 
very predatory in this neighborhood of late. Our cells were 
not exactly architectured to promote ventilation or cool 
slumbers on a hot night, being dry goods boxes of plate 
iron, open at one end; tier upon tier, like cells in a honey- 
comb. (Whenever a prisoner turns over in his cell at 
night and hits the plate-iron siding, the reverberation 
booms through the whole prison. ) Well, the only protec- 
tion one has from mosquitoes is to cover himself, head and 
all, under the blanket; which, being a thick coarse horse 
blanket, makes the hot cell hotter. (If only we had a 
sheet to crawl under, it wouldn't be so bad ; but it has been 
so long since I've seen a bed with a sheet on it, I've forgot- 
ten what they look like.) Therefore I was planning to 
invest fifty cents in some citronella, to rub on me as pro- 
tection from the winged visitors, and so be able to lie all 
uncovered. Then I thought, " Here's a chance the first 
you've really had, Bouck White, to save some money 
by real self-denial." So I turned the temptation down. 
And would you believe it, that next night it turned cool 
and delightful. Not a mosquito sang in my cell all night ; 
and I had the first good sleep in several days. Which 
shows that it is profitable to save and turn money into the 
Church. And now comes word that some mosquito netting 
is being sent me by mail. So even this self-denial didn't 
prove to be the real thing. 

Yours for the sacred rebellion, and the Church that is 
to ignite and protect and control it, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 5 
OUTBREAK OF THE WAR IN EUROPE 

NEW YORK CITY. 
QUEENS COUNTY JAIL, 
My Comrades: 

The news from Europe must have put to every one of 
you the query, What bearing has it on our Revolution 
Church? It is a fact of high significance, that we and our 
church program are concerned whenever an event trans- 
pires in the world. A bomb explosion, an election, a war 
whatever it be, we instinctively ask, What light does this 
throw on the soundness and, permanency of the principle 
around which our church fellowship is organized? It is a 
sign that we are square in the explosive center of twentieth 
century affairs. Lines of contact radiate from us to 
every department of life. Whatever touches humanity 
touches us. Modern of the moderns, the cross currents in 
this rushing, impetuous age sweep upon us. For we are in 
the midmost thicket of affairs. We refuse to be cloistered 
in monastic aloofness. In reverence I say it: the news- 
paper is our bible; the God of our worship is the Spirit 
of the time, the Soul of this wonderful, tumultuous To-day. 

The war that embroils Europe is nothing less than the 
breaking down of European civilization. We Socialists 
have long been saying that this thing called civilization 
was not civilization at all. Based on competitive strife, 
it was purely the law of the jungle taken over by humans 
as their rule of action. Laughed to scorn, we persisted 
in our affirmation. And now the scoffer turns to us with 
apology ; he scoffs no longer. In one week the mask with 
which commercialism had for so long disguised itself, is 

rent asunder. And the savagery underneath comes hide- 

49 



50 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

ously to vision. Nations which plumed themselves to be 
of Christ, are seen to be anti-Christ ; their civilization was 
veriest uncivilization ; that which called itself Christendom, 
was in reality devildom. Long back we were saying this ; 
and were the world's derision. Now hell has burst out, 
and all the devils are loose. 

This discovery of how thin and insubstantial a thing 
is present-day civilization, brings home the necessity of 
our church, as nothing else that has happened in a hun- 
dred years could have done. Sooner than was expected, 
the old order is breaking up. And with a crash that lends 
almost a note of melodrama. We looked for a long and 
slow decline in the patient. His end promises to come, 
the rather, in fashion brusque and thrilling. 

With the passing of the old, a new order of intelligence 
will be needed. The Revolution Church came up not a 
moment too soon. For we are the constructors of the 
humanity of to-morrow. The Socialist Party will build 
the new economic system. We in turn are building the 
new type of man to work that system. Our appearing 
is a promise that the world will not be left void and naked ; 
titanic war is stripping from the human race its old and 
tattered clothes ; we meanwhile are sewing a new garment, 
when the old shall have been rent away. As a tree de- 
nuded of leaves by the winds of winter, the tree leafless 
would present a bleak appearance; but inside, a tide of 
strange warm sap sets in; green buds appear; and the 
tree is raimented anew. What springtime is to a forest 
worn by the decays of autumn and desolated by the wild 
gales of winter, our Church of the Revolution is to human- 
kind in this hour of her bereavement and crisis. 

That this nine-power war in Europe sounds the passing 
of the old regime and the coming of a new and democratic 
ordering, is the testimony even of so conservative an or- 
gan as the New York Times. Many of you read those 
editorial words in it this morning. From such a source 
they are of premier importance; and I quote them here: 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 51 

" The war is the direct and apparently the inevitable re- 
sult of competitive armament. Such armament has been 
dictated in large part by the ruling classes, who are least 
exposed to the terrible consequences of war, and who have 
conceived or inherited ambitions, animosities, appetites, in 
which the common people do not consciously share. It is 
not at all beyond the limits of reasonable speculation to 
infer that by this lesson the general mind of the world 
may be so deeply revolted that the political systems in 
Europe that have left the precious welfare of the common 
people to a class that do not share the common burdens, 
may be cast off." 

Positively, we are living in the most wonderful age in 
history. It is a culminating era. The old is dying. The 
new is struggling to be born. In a theater wide as the 
world, the drama is being staged ; and amid an impressive 
setting of properties and scenery. To be living at a time 
like this, is privilege. But to have a part in the drama 
that is very heaven. This joy is the possession of 
every member of the Revolution Church. We are in the 
middle of the stream; are caught in the eager, splendid 
current. On this account, people of low mental and spirit- 
ual vitality are frightened away from us. They desire 
a church where they won't have to think and they can 
find that sort a-plenty. Our conception of Church is an 
engine that gears onto the time's centermost machinery. 
We alteringly affect the flow of the ages. We are making 
new ideals for a new world that is hastening to birth. We 
will recast humankind, when it shall have been dismem- 
bered and shattered by the strife of nations. 

Signs are many that the general war now at blaze across 
the ocean is going to shift the center of civilization from 
Europe to America. It is a melancholy way in which to 
lift oneself at the cost of another's downfall. But facts 
will be what they will be. Already in the space of a week 
we are becoming chief among the nations as carrier of the 
world's commerce. With the stoppage of industry abroad, 



52 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

our factories will belch an augmented breath of flame and 
smoke. The world's banking center will shift to our 
shores. And this probably for all time. The war will 
lay Europe panting in the dust ; whichever side wins, there 
will be a legacy of sores and hates and envies that will 
perpetuate the sadness and the prostration. 

This shift to us of the world's center of gravity in 
things material will be accompanied by a like shift in things 
in the empire of the mind. The universities of Europe, 
her schools of every kind and degree, her halls of science, 
her art and literature, all the finer flowerings of the mind 
of man, will suffer eclipse in the night of blood that is 
darkening over her. Her Socialism will share in the same 
fatal collapse. Hitherto we have looked to Europe as 
the guide and formative influence in the Socialist move- 
ment. But the comrades there are going to be sucked 
down in the whirlpool that is engulfing every other part 
of Europe's life. Witness the taking off of Jaures, not 
least of last week's packed and crowded sorrow. 

This means thai as America henceforth will take a world 
leadership in nearly all things else, so she will be called 
upon from this time forth to be the leader in Socialism 
also. We will no longer be able to look to Europe to 
formulate our doctrines. Europe, and the rest of the 
world as well, will begin to look to us. And what shall be 
America's contribution to the theory and practice of So- 
cialism? Something in the realm of the economic? Hardly 
shall anything new be added to the ground plan in the 
realm dealt with by Lassalle and Engel and Marx. I am 
clear that America's distinctive contribution is going to be 
in things of the spirit. The genius of America anyway 
is shot through with a religious tang and coloring. It is 
our mission, now that world leadership is being thrust upon 
us, to summon Socialism out of the low ground of a purely 
materialistic program, to the uplands of aspiration, 
where the spirit can stretch its wings in its native ether. 
Comrades, the Church of the Social Revolution, from New 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 53 

York City as its cradle, and in this most important era 
in history, is of parentage other than mortal ; she has been 
born to fulfill a large destiny. 

I have saved $4.00 this week and gladly contribute it 
to her treasury. 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 6 

CALL TO A DANGEROUS AND DIVINE 
ADVENTURE 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

I'm wondering if you appraise as weightily as it de- 
serves, the fact that every week since my arrest has seen 
new members signing The Covenant and j oining themselves 
to our church. It means courage and no trivial degree 
of determination. To be sure, even from our first meet- 
ing we emphasized the dangerousness of the mission into 
which our church summoned the people. But by some 
this was not taken seriously. They joined the Church 
lightly, as one joins a social club. Then came our first 
clash with the rulers of this present world. Instantly, 
the faces of some in our membership went pale as an oys- 
ter. One, holding official position, made feverish haste 
to resign, and ran to cover, out of the reach of peril that 
might be impending. And a number of the others caught 
a severe cold in the feet. 

Now at last the perilous and contraband quality of the 
movement we are initiating is known of all. Heroism is 
positively an essential in any one entering our church. 
Without any help on our part, the standard of entrance 
has been automatically tightened. Some no doubt pre- 
dicted to themselves that, with its leader in prison, our 
church was as good as killed; for no one would dare to 
join. 

But what say the facts? On the first Sunday of the 
prison chapter in our history, two score valorous souls 
fought their way to the platform in their eagerness to join. 
And altogether over two hundred have added their splen- 
did names to our roll in these last three months. 

54 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 55 

Had a like number joined one of the middle-class 
churches, the fact would have received headlines in their 
denominational paper. The contrast gains an augmented 
significance when it is remembered that to join a middle- 
class church is to enter the ranks of respectability. 
Whereas to join us means to make oneself of no account, 
renounce social climbing, and embrace danger, even out- 
lawry, in the terrific pathway of revolution. 

Say I not rightly, therefore: They who join our church 
now, and the aforetime members who have not faltered in 
this our march into the danger zone, are a choice and 
sifted company. Great events are impending upon earth. 
The Revolution Church shall have a part therein. Our 
membership is made up of those who dare to stand for the 
right when the right is unpopular. Souls of that texture 
are the makers of history. 

A greeting, therefore, to all the former comrades that 
have stuck, and to the newcomers among us. Of refined 
and tested metal you are compounded. It will be a high 
moment in my life when I am permitted to feel your hand 
in mine. In the testing time you have not been found 
wanting. Together we shall do a day's work of some 
greatness, for our God and his blood-bright banner. 

It must be increasingly clear to all of us, that the Con- 
tinental War now ablaze in Europe, makes the Revolution 
Church not only possible but imperative. For a few 
weeks, probably, our path will be made more thorny. We 
shall share in the eclipse that overtakes all things of the 
spirit and of mental culture, when war smoke rolls up and 
cannons boom. But the net result is going to be favor- 
able to us. The war is training the imagination of men 
to vision things on a scale of some scope and grandeur. 
That is a direct preparation for our gospel ; for our gospel 
is not understandable except by minds of wide outlook, 
and disciplined to think in world terms. 

Also the passing of the old order ("passing" is too 
mild a term ; this present world is being exploded from off 



56 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

the face of the earth; victim of its own inventiveness, in 
devising high-powered methods of cutting each other's 
throat), the passing of old institutions, will make new ones 
requisite. Have you noticed how negligible has been the 
Roman Catholic Church in this business? The crisis has 
published to the world the impotency of that hierarchy, as 
an influence longer in human affairs. An old man sits in 
the Vatican, pathetic in his powerlessness, as he sees mil- 
lions of his own people on each side prepare bloodily to 
exterminate each other. It declares that, over large areas 
of the earth, and areas once ultra-Romanist, the Church of 
the Tiber is a spent force, living in the past ; an old age of 
decline and swift decrepitude. We shall be well advised 
to gird ourselves to take over the spiritual guardianship 
and moral nurture of the peoples, when the Roman Church 
with dying hand lets go. When this catastrophic war is 
terminated, we shall hear not only the cry of kings upon 
their crumbling thrones ; the noise of falling may be heard 
also from the papal monarch. In this war the passing of 
Roman Catholicism is foreshadowed. Of that) world-wide 
institution we shall be the supplanter. 

My self-denial check this week is for $4.05. 

Your leader in the perilous, the sacred, the glorious 
adventure. 

BOUCK WHITE. 

Don't send me any more Calls. It seems that the 
warden has stopped daily papers. But magazines are 
reaching me. The covers are stripped away, so that I 
know not the senders. Please thank the Comrades, for 
me and for the other grateful convicts here, to whom I 
pass the good things along. 

B.W. 



NO. 7 

IN PLACE OF BLOODSHED, WE GIVE 
BROTHERHOOD 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

I have a few minutes in my cell, after the noonday meal, 
ere the keeper calls our gang to the afternoon's work. 
Am seizing the moment to telj you that I am thinking of 
you; and often. 

Indeed, the news from Europe [the war] throws me back 
upon our church and the Revolution, as the one release 
from the mess capitalism has made of things. Moreover, 
there is a family connection between the Colorado war and 
the European war. Both had their rootage in economic 
causes. Both were inevitable, so long as civilization is 
permitted to remain on a basis of competition. Throat- 
cutting is the term business men apply to their trade 
rivalries. And that is also war's exact picture and defini- 
tion. 

The world-conflict now at rage promises to get 
worse before it can get better. It will continue to suck 
in to itself the interest of every intelligent intellect, ab- 
sorbing the lion's share of attention. 

Here is a difference between us and the churches of 
capitalism. To them this war is humiliation unspeakable. 
They have been the moral monitors, the ethical teachers 
of Christendom. And this is the outcome of the brand of 
morality they have handed out. With us, on the other 
hand, the war is a vindication. It attests the sureness of 
our prophecy and the wisdom of our course. I tell you 
truly, more minds than we realize are turned toward us 
to-day and to our proposal to revolutionize the basis of the 

57 



58 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

world's life; and they are some of the soberest and bril- 
liantest minds in the country. There is nothing now can 
keep our church from victory, if we will but hold fast our 
fellowship one with another, and be loyal. Every shot 
fired on the battlefields of Europe, every life that is taken, 
every house that is demolished, every harvest field that is 
trampled, every bridge that is destroyed, is an argument 
for the Church of the Social Revolution. And brings our 
triumph nearer. 

Check of self-denial, $4.00. 

Yours for the Overturn, that shall supplant this world 
of bloodshed with a world of brotherhood. 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 8 
PRISON PICTURES 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL, 

NEW YORK CITY. 
My Comrades: 

Have just opened the basket of fruit brought to me in 
your name this morning. Naturally, therefore, am writ- 
ing this in a most cheery state of mind. The basket 
contains nine oranges, three pears, six bananas, and two 
packages of raisins. Who wouldn't be happy? Of 
course, this will be the only basket allowed me for the next 
ten days. I will have to go a bit miserly with it. But it 
divides up into one orange and twelve raisins each and 
every day, with sometimes an extra. 

It would astonish you, when one is deprived of sugar 
whole months at a time, how toothsome is a piece of fruit. 
The other day one of the convicts that works in the 
kitchen had some prunes in his pocket and gave me some. 
I guess the keeper must have locked the storeroom now, 
for he never appears with any more. Once a week we 
have a supper of five prunes apiece, a hunk of dry bread, 
and black unseasoned coffee. The only other sign of 
sweets in the whole week is dried apple sauce the 
teeniest, weeniest portion for supper on Sunday nights. 
A report was spread from one of the prisoners in the store- 
room gang, last week, that maggots had got into the dried 
apples. But I couldn't find one in mine Sunday night; 
the dish tasted perfectly fine. Dried apple sauce is looked 
down upon, by people out in the world. But I can tell 
you, we don't despise it here. Why, that Sunday night 
supper of apple sauce and dried bread is looked forward 
to the whole week long. I sometimes wish, on cold fall 
or winter nights, they would give me more bed clothing. 

59 



60 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

All we have is two blankets each. One of them you have 
to fold up to sleep on, as a bed. Which leaves only one 
solitary blanket to cover you. And you can't get out of 
your cell to shut windows, if a cold windy wave should come 
up in the night. You just have to lie still and take it; 
unless you are able to get a keeper to shut it for you. 
Keepers are not very popular among prisoners. Not al- 
together a keeper's fault either. He has a thankless job. 
Suspiciousness is his normal state of mind. Sometimes 
when I am awake at night, and the keeper coming along on 
his rounds steers a flash light in on me, and into my eyes, 
I get enraged enough to hit him plumb in the face, if I 
could only reach him through the bars. But then, on 
reflection, I am compelled to admit that he is in the right. 
His job is to see that we are all here. And he has to pry 
with his searchlight into every cell. 

Comrades, in some way we have got to reach the pris- 
oners now in a thousand prisons. Our church believes in 
getting down to the lowermost man. We are not strong 
on kid gloves, but are strong on a warm hand held forth to 
the people struggling at the bottom. I am sure I shall 
never forget the prison lad, now that I am in contact with 
him on so friendly and constant a footing. Perhaps that 
was one of the purposes of the Most High, in causing me 
to enter into this place. Sights are searing themselves 
into my brain, that will be with me at all times henceforth. 
Our church is called to a many-branched and marvelous 
work. And one of these must be to " them that are in 
prison." For the most part they are normal. Circum- 
stances, more than aught of incurable badness within, have 
brought them here. Many of them, I am certain, will re- 
spond to an appeal such as our church will know how to 
frame. I am not now suggesting methods. I wish the 
rather to get your minds working along this line; to the 
end that some helpful sparks may be struck. Self-denial 
this week, $3.75. Yours in the Faith, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 9 

THE PROGRESSIVE PARTY BELONGS IN 
OUR CAMP 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

Comes a request this morning that I deny a statement 
which seemingly has been put in circulation, that I have 
accepted the nomination of the Progressive Party, for 
Congress. I here make the denial. Even the news of 
such a thing had not reached me. 

The affair brings to my pen a matter of which I have 
been wishing to write you for some time. The Progressive 
Party is dying. Those of you who have been following 
the newspapers (every member of our church should read 
a daily newspaper) know that evidences of the death agony 
of the Bull Moose are plentiful. A vote fast dwindling 
to the vanishing point; the Hinman fiasco at Saratoga; 
the resignation of their candidate for Governor in Pennsyl- 
vania, in favor of an old Party nominee; fusion in New 
York City these are the death rattle of the Progressive 
Party as a political entity. 

Which event has, if you will consider attentively, an 
immediate bearing on our church. For these Progres- 
sives, when the tree-trunk now bearing them falls to earth, 
must go somewhere. Some of them will go over to the 
Party of President Wilson. Some few will go back to the 
Republicans. A great mass of them ought to drop into 
the Socialist basket. Provided And here is where the 
Revolution Church enters the transaction. 

The Progressive Party is made up in large part of 
people who are essentially religious. Their first conven- 
tion in Chicago, where they sang hymns and proclaimed 

61 



62 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

themselves an Armageddon host battling for the Lord, 
gives vivid and unmistakable evidence. Their numbers 
were swelled, to be sure, by many disgruntled politicians 
that had failed of preferment in the old parties. But, 
making every deduction, it is safe to say that no politi- 
cal movement in our history ever assembled so many of 
the devoutly idealist temperament, as did the National 
Progressive Party. The natural path for these to take, 
now that their present campi is breaking up, is Socialism. 
But Socialism, to their mind, has come to be coupled with 
an anti-religious temper. Nor can one blame them for 
such a notion. Many a, Socialist speaker and writer has 
given the world full reason to hold such a belief concerning 
us. They have gone out of their way to affront the 
deeper, the reverential instinct in the human heart. So 
that Socialism, in the minds of the outside world, has come 
to be identified with a hard and doctrinaire materialism, 
sordid and graceless. 

At no time did such a picture do us more harm than it 
is doing at present. For it is likely to keep thousands of 
Progressives out of our ranks, now at a time when natu- 
rally we could look for them to turn their faces hither- 
ward. At present they are attracted by Socialism's politi- 
cal idealism; but are repelled by the materialist meta- 
physic with which we have coupled up that politicalism. 

It is in such a juncture our church can render to 
Socialism a memorable service. We are a refutation of 
the libel that Socialism and infidelity are natural-born 
mates. Our existence declares to the world that the red 
host international is very God of very God. We deny 
that Socialism is anti-religious. We go further. We 
deny that it is even non-religious. Basing our position 
upon modern biblical scholarship, and the most recent 
findings of psychologists and historians, as well as the 
testimony spoken by our own souls within us, we affirm 
Socialism to be the lineal offspring of the worthiest re- 
ligious tradition of the ages ; and that it is pioneering 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 63 

the path which mankind to-day must take, in order to re- 
gain unshakable foundations for faith, and a spiritual 
understanding and vision. 

Comrades, it is the psychological moment for such a 
proclamation. The Progressive Party is looking for a 
new home, a new expression of its spirit. If we can utter 
our message with a continental voice, we shall turn thou- 
sands of them into the Socialist fold. We have not a 
moment to lose. Their minds now are at teeter, in the 
crisis of indecision. If we keep silent, or utter our message 
feebly, most of them will go over to the Democratic Party, 
that hopeless home for their spirits; there the fine flame 
of idealism now glowing within them will by little and little 
be quenched. And the world will be defeated of the con- 
tribution to its aspiration and upreach, which they had it 
in them to make. 

From a hundred directions, signs and voices are con- 
verging to declare that the Church of the Social Revolu- 
tion has come to birth at an opportune hour. Never did 
the interests of mankind speak more loudly. Never was 
a Church called into being by needs so manifold and so 
piteously pleading. The call presented to us by the crisis 
at this moment in the Progressive Party, is the one to 
which I confine my pen this week. And it is not a slight 
call. Some of the ablest intelligences and finest spirits in 
America joined the Bull Moose movement. Their inclu- 
sion in Socialism would bring to the comrade cause an 
accession of brain and heart and executive power, beyond 
price. 

Self-denial check this week, $4.05. 

Yours in the Holiest and Highest task of our Genera- 
tion, BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 10 
SOCIALISM SET TO MUSIC 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

" Tell us, Bouck White our leader^ what you desire ; 
and what we can do for you," is the proffer that comes to 
me by letter and word of visitors. All right, I'm going to 
tell you: I greatly desire that, when I go back into the 
world of the free, I shall find you a Church of singers. 
I shall not care a hill of beans about the artistic quality 
of it. But the volume and heartiness and spontaneity 
in a word, the folk-singing fire and sweep in it is what 
I shall look for. And I entreat you not to disappoint me. 

Singing is our distinction. It redeems us from the 
commonplaceness of the platform pattern of meetings. 
If the Revolution Church had been nothing but a lecture 
center, how suddenly would it have disorganized when I 
was taken from you! I am not sure but the speaking is 
the subordinate side of our movement. To be sure we 
couldn't get along without it. The intellect must be fed. 
But neither could we get along without the singing. For 
the emotions too have claims and must be fed. Singing 
has been lamentably tossed into the discard by Socialism 
of late. And it is a sign of her slump from the inspira- 
tions of former times, down into the glamour of materialism 
and a politician's paradise. 

Music is wing power. Working with me in the prison 
yard is an old German, who was in the Franco-Prussian 
War of 1870. Telling me of his experiences, he related 
the other day how, when they went into the battle, " the 
music," as he termed the military bands, kept in a safe 

place. " Because," he explained, " if the music should be 

64 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 65 

killed, what should we do? On a long day's march when 
we were ready to drop, the music would start up ; and then 
we could step twice so well as before." 

Comrades, unto a great work have we separated our- 
selves. We proclaim a Socialism big and deep and many- 
sided as the soul of man. Economic theory is all right 
for the brain. But the human animal is gifted also with 
a heart. Music is the language of the heart. Always, 
when the feelings mightily are stirred, music is the vehicle 
of expression. The dirge for sorrow. The joy song, for 
the lyric expansive hour. The trumpet tones for battle. 
The paean, to celebrate a victory. And marching music 
in our journey ings. 

I know, there is in Socialist Party circles an assembly 
of mockers. They deride aught that savors of sentiment. 
But we heed not their scoffing. We will not permit them 
to outface us. A songless Socialism is a wrangling, con- 
tentious, dismembered thing. A singing Socialism will be 
a socialism triumphant. 

Song means that the depths within have been reached. 
It is peculiarly fitting for a world movement such as ours. 
And particularly in the day of crisis and culmination that 
is now upon us. Have you noticed, since the war now at 
blaze, the increase in the output of poetry in the news- 
papers and magazines? And the prose too, has taken on 
a tone of solemnity and exaltation that is near kin to 
poetry. It is because mankind is so profoundly moved. 

What poetry is to prose, music is to the spoken word. 
Poetry and music are natural mates. They signify that 
the soul is functioning that divine agitation from which 
alone proceed all work of genius, and all changes of per- 
manency in human affairs. 

Of all mankind, we of the Revolution Church have the 
most right to sing. We are the light of the world. In 
this bewildering day, we alone have the clew, and the sure 
authentic pathway. Defenders of this present order are 
in dire perplexities. Listen to these words from Ex- 



66 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

President Eliot of Harvard, in this morning's New York 
Times: "Thinking people in all the civilized countries 
are asking themselves what the fundamental trouble with 
civilization is, and where to look for means of escape from 
the present intolerable conditions." We of the Revolu- 
tion Church are the means of escape for which he and his 
are eagerly looking. In a day of spoiling and slaughter, 
and the tempest of death, we are in possession of the 
serene secret. It ought to make us joyful with a joy 
raised to the singing point. 

The Churches of the old school are harassed by doubt. 
Their theologies don't square with science. They are in 
collision with the universities. So that they recite their 
creeds more and more stutteringly. And in all their chant- 
ing there is a suggestion of the minor key. We, on the 
contrary, are delivered from doubt. Those interior con- 
flicts ravage us not. We are in unison with science. The 
colleges and universities are in partnership with us, pre- 
paring ten thousand minds to receive our gospel. Isn't 
that an occasion for song? 

And then see how wonderfully our church in its short 
six months of history has flourished. We are known. 
California has heard about us. Florida has heard about 
us. The city and the countryside have heard about us. 
Said Howard Crosby, " Woe to the Cause that has not 
passed through a prison ! " We have met the test of 
prison, and have not been found wanting. Of all the 
protesters against the Ludlow business, our Church has 
been in the forefront. For all time henceforth, our church 
is implicated with the sorrows and the strivings of the dis- 
inherited. And all of this only in the initial six months 
of our history. We have withstood antagonism from 
without, disruption from within. And we are, in every 
essential point, stronger to-day than we were at any other 
moment. The gate of the prison, that seemed at the time 
so grievous, is turning out rather unto the progress of our 
gospel. It has served to concentrate public opinion, and 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 67 

focus public interest. Comrades, if we haven't the right 
to sing, who has? 

Then let us lift up our voice, as the noise of a host. 
"Boldness, and joy and zeal" that is our trinity of 
blessedness and triumph. All things are ours. Our ap- 
pointed time is accomplished. Unto us is this world given 
for a possession. The old order passes. The depths are 
breaking up. Unto our cause of industrial democracy, the 
day of glory dawns. With such a message sending its 
fire into our bones, we cannot be silent. We will shout 
it from the tops of the houses. Let scoffers scoff. We 
are stiffhearted. We are as adamant harder than flint. 
They that strive against us shall perish. We go forth 
into the mudgutter. Our lips disperse knowledge to them 
that are ignorant. We awaken the sleeper. 

I do not write this, to persuade you to sing. Music is 
of its nature spontaneous. It cannot be made to order. 
But the music is already in your hearts. I am entreat- 
ing that you take off the lid and let the music out. Give 
your soul a chance. In this day of decorums and stiff 
proprieties, the feelings have been too much repressed. 
Commercialism and middleclassdom are stifling to the soul. 
Shake off these weights. Let the stifled spirit free. We 
have the greatest, grandest message that has come to earth 
for two thousand years. The Revolution Church is So- 
cialism set to music. Ours it is, to open the blind eyes 
and unstop deaf ears. The days, one by one, bring us 
good tidings. Our wagon is hitched to the stars in their 
courses. And upon truth our feet are planted, a fir- 
mament that shall not be moved. 

Then let our spirit rise up in all its might. Lift up 
your voice with strength. The world will take account 
of us when they perceive that our message has kindled 
into song. In this so memorable day, it is fit that the 
fountains of the great deep inside of us should break up. 
Once let Socialism begin to sing, Capitalism will tremble. 
Music is the deeps calling to the deeps. And will do more 



68 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

to arouse a generation of shop-keepers, than carloads of 
logic and forensic oratory. Comrades, I speak the truth : 
If, when I come out, I find you a singing church, these 
months of imprisonment will be accounted the most fruit- 
ful of my life ; and the happiest. 

Check this week, and for the next six weeks, will be 
$3, or $30 in all. Which I'll send to treasurer Wheelock, 
in order that he may square the office rent at 48 Wash- 
ington Square for this month and next. The faithful 
ones there toiling are under a heavy load. If I take the 
rent anxiety from off them, it will ease the pressure a little. 

Yours for a Church bursting with music, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 11 
THE STRONG CONTAGION 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

From Connecticut and New Jersey, letters reached me 
last week, stating that the writers are desirous of starting 
a branch of the Revolution Church in their town. 

This is of interest. The fact that already, whilst the 
parent church in New York is itself but a babe in arms, 
the contagion of the idea is spreading to other places, tells 
of hot high-pressured vitality in the seed we are ripening. 
The fact that we are doing our deeds in the metropolis, 
in part accounts for this. New York is a city set on a 
very high hill of publicity and popular interest. Small 
goings-on in New York bulk bigger than a large doing in 
Augusta, Georgia. Whether we wish it or not, our work 
cannot be hid. More eyes than we believe, and across a 
wider sweep of country, are observantly upon us. 

But the contagiousness of our Church is not explain- 
able purely on those mechanical grounds. The idea 
around which our doings crystallize, is big and alive and 
timely. For one thing, we bring the revolutionary move- 
ment of the day to self-consciousness. Had you ever 
thought of it, we are the only organization that puts the 
word revolution boldly in its title. There are other bodies 
that propagate revolution. But they don't say so ap- 
parently they don't dare to say so in the name by which 
they designate themselves. With us there is no conceal- 
ment. We do our doings in the daylight. We proclaim 
revolution. And with so forthright and open a spirit as 
to write it in the very signboard that we tack up over the 

entrance to our shop, where every passer-by can see. 

69 



70 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

I predict that this fact of itself is going to have conse- 
quences which perhaps may get into history. It is dis- 
tinctly a point gained, when a combat gets out from cover 
and lines up in the open. What was until then a guerrilla 
affair, shifty and uncertain, elevates itself now into de- 
clared warfare, with the dignity and manlier stouter 
nobler tone which characterizes war when it is formally 
announced and openly entered upon. 

That is the service our Church is rendering to the social 
war. For some time now a revolution has been in prog- 
ress. But it wasn't recognized as such. We come upon 
the scene, and tag the thing with its true label. Thereby 
we lift it from an affair of bushwhackers into a line-up 
of two contending world-philosophies. So that they that 
take part, do so now with understanding and a heart of 
bold demeanor. 

It is an enormous advantage gained when a revolution 
reaches the point where it calls itself by that name. Few 
people are able to know their own day. As when passing 
judgment on a mountain or a huge building, distance is 
necessary for perspective. Always an age of revolution 
is one of confused and perplexing tendencies. It is a 
time of cross-currents. In this kind of a day, thousands 
of people live and die without knowing that a revolution 
has been taking place. In the Paris of 1793, life in the 
main went on in customary grooves. The bakers baked, 
and housewives washed each week their basketful of 
soiled linen. Dullards lived in that mighty day, all blind 
to the grandeur of it. They merely paused to note that 
politics were more stormy than usual, and the guillotine 
was claiming a larger number of victims than for some 
time past. Then they returned to their humdrum, and so 
missed participation in one of the most momentous eras 
that ever came to awaken the race. 

Such another age is ours. And many thousands in like 
fashion are dull to the majestic meanings of it. Our 
church comes to such with a lantern to light up the dark- 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 71 

ness of their minds. Picture what happens inside of them, 
when their eye lights on our name in a news column or on 
a throw-around : " Church of the Social Revolution." 
Without a word of argument, it infects them with the 
idea that a revolution is either in process already, or is 
imminent. They may not accept the idea. Nevertheless 
they can't shake it off. And a ferment is set going in 
their brain tracts that soon or late will land tens of thou- 
sands of them in the revolutionary camp. 

Yes, we are in possession, comrades, of a big and thun- 
dering idea. If we did nothing more than just keep going 
and hold up that name, " Church of the Social Revolu- 
tion," before the eyes of the people, we would be doing a 
day's work fruitful of largest consequences. 

Therefore it is not to be marveled at that people out- 
side of New York are catching the splendid contagion, and 
are asking, " Why not a Church of the Social Revolution 
here in my town too? " 

I'm going to suggest the steps to take and methods to 
pursue, in starting a branch Church in one's own locality. 
But that will have to be in a letter by itself. 

Yours in the great and holy work, 

BOIJCK WHITE. 



NO. 12 
MISSIONARY MEASURES 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

I spoke last week of the letter that had just come from 
a comrade in New Jersey who wishes to organize a branch 
of our church in his town. In replying I mentioned to 
him some practical ways of going about such an under- 
taking. It may be of worth to repeat them here. For 
we have in our New York meetings, to a degree, a migra- 
tory audience. The industrial break-up sends our people 
hither and yon. They who, in our New York City center, 
have caught fire with our flame, will on moving elsewhere 
wish to carry the burning coals to that new habitation. 
What are the steps to take? 

Well, in the first place let the missionary who thus starts 
out to plant the powerful seed in any city or town, be as- 
sured that he has hold of a live wire. " Church of the 
Social Revolution " is a name that will make a community 
sit up and take notice. Probably some reports of us have 
already reached their ears. For in a short six months, 
tidings of us have traveled across many hundreds of miles 
of the map. Therefore, let the name be blazoned across 
every move that is made. Print it large on any cards that 
are issued. Let the letters stand out in white, against a 
field of red, to be the banner in all assemblings. 

In the next place, don't try to get the Socialist Party 
officially to help you. The trend of an institution, once 
it attains to some establishment, to harden into con- 
servatism, is terribly, terribly real. The Socialist Party 
is not escaping that trend. From raising up a generation 
that shall be Socialists every day in the year, they are 

72 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 73 

more and more content to raise up a generation that shall 
be Socialists only on Election Day each year. It is easier 
to socialize a man's ballot than to socialize him in heart 
and mind and spirit. Therefore the Party tends nat- 
urally to go off into the easier and quicker job, and looks 
with coolness on us ; lest our propaganda of a Socialism of 
the heart, cut in on their propaganda of a Socialism only 
of the ballot. It will take time to show them that we 
are the best friend and coadjutor that ever arose to help 
their cause. Meanwhile we shall have to go ahead on our 
own initiative. We shall have to save the Socialist Party 
in spite of itself. The time will come when they will rise 
up and call us blessed. 

In starting the propaganda, bear in mind that our 
church is founded on a great idea, and a new idea. 
Namely, that the Power of the universe is passionately on 
the side of the toiler, against the idler. That puts a dif- 
ference between us and the churches of the Respectability, 
a difference great as day from darkness, or summer's fruit- 
ful heat from winter's driving cold. It is a difference 
furthermore that is structural and fundamental. It puts 
life and the universe in a wholly changed and fresh aspect ; 
a change so deep and central that it reaches an altering 
hand into every department of existence, and makes all 
things new. We cannot compromise, therefore. Nor tin- 
ker up the present establishment. New wine demands new 
wineskins. 

This gospel of ours, while new to men to-day, is not 
however an innovation or an adventurous untried experi- 
ment. It was fundamentally the viewpoint of the great 
spirits that wrought the deeds recorded in the Bible and 
wrote its pages. The discovery of this fact is known as 
the higher criticism; the scientific mind and the scientific 
spirit, applied to the study of the Bible. Therefore we 
enter a town, not as emotional fanatics, decrying the in- 
tellect and directing our appeal purely to unthinking 
minds. We have a message that is adapted to the most 



74 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

highly educated intellects. We demand a hearing, not 
only from the man in the street but from the college profes- 
sor as well. We speak the word of historical science and 
sound scholarship. They who seek to refute us are the 
ignoramuses. For they know not modern science. Their 
viewpoint is that of a European peasant to-day, or of 
people in the dark ages ten full centuries ago. Therefore 
both dignity and invincible boldness should characterize 
our goings-on. 

As a practical method of getting this new and revolu- 
tionizing message into the hearts of the people, the " Call 
of the Carpenter," and its recent companion book, are in- 
valuable. Every copy of those books let loose in a neigh- 
borhood, is a missionary active in our behalf. A low- 
priced edition, practically at cost price, has been issued. 
From some particular street corner, on certain nights 
every week, the book should be sold. With the banner 
of the Church afloat. And with spoken words ex- 
planatory of the gospel we are preaching and the world 
movement we are organizing. 

With that book circulating in the community, it will 
not be long before individuals will become interested in us. 
The message uttered in its pages has a way of dyna- 
miting the mind and spirit. It starts a flood of questions. 
Provokes to conversings and discussions. And a Sunday 
afternoon conference, in some private house at first, and 
advertised in the papers or by throw-arounds, can easily 
be made to follow. 

From then on, the way is clear. It is only the first 
step that costs. After that, helpers volunteer. And un- 
suspected avenues of opportunity open up. Public de- 
bates with ministers and Catholic priests can be arranged. 
Because we tap all the sources of contemporary life, we 
can use the columns of the local newspapers, by means of 
articles about timely happenings, and leading up to the 
message our church is propagating. Many boys and 
young men are floating away from the old-time Sunday 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 75 

Schools teaching an antiquated creed. With us, however, 
they will find a tightness and soundness of intellect, an 
up-to-the-minute mind, and a virile participation on life's 
dangerous firing line. Therefore a class of young people, 
to study these great new truths, will be ofttimes a possi- 
bility. Also, classes for children. Children make ardent 
propagandists. Let one true-spirited boy or girl in a 
sleepy, middleclass home become inoculated with our gos- 
pel, he or she will overset the entire household, and be a 
light bearer of no mean capacity. All the time, song 
as soon as an earliest group has been gathered, after the 
initial seed-sowing must be a part in our assemblings to- 
gether. Music keeps a meeting from going off into dry 
intellcctualism or harsh and futile wranglings. Music has 
power to sooth the savage ; split the heart of hardest rock ; 
melt heads that are a very cabbage. Yes, let us be known 
as a singing people. It will give wings to our propa- 
ganda, to carry it into places little dreamed of, and to 
hearts that hitherto were inaccessible to Socialist teach- 
ings. 

Is it worth while to take the pains thus to start a branch 
of the Revolution Church in a community? Well, each 
heart must answer that for itself. The person who prefers 
to give his off time and strength to croquet or bridge or 
checkers, tango teas or the baseball bulletin, will be un- 
magnetized by the offer of service we hold out. Friv- 
olously they live, frivolously they will die, and frivolously 
be snuffed out hereafter. To them however that weigh 
their lives earnestly, work of this kind offers a harvest 
richer than any other I know of or can think of. Picture 
the average town and city now : sunk in middleclassdom ; 
without idealisms; engrossed in money-grubbing; the old 
religions ebbing; life going ever and ever more flat, more 
meager, more unprofitable; the workers declining into a 
serfdom that deepens and darkens at every minute ; no out- 
look ahead; the universe shrinking into a cellar of muck 
and spider webs. 



76 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

With the coming of the Revolution Church, however, 
notice the change that takes place. We proclaim an over- 
setting of the false philosophies that were holding the 
people back. Boldness takes the place of fear. The 
workers straighten up their backs. The mudgutter, for- 
merly a spot for senseless profanity and more senseless 
obscenities, echoes with a chorus of full-hearted, full- 
throated singers. Eyes once dull in torpor, become phos- 
phorescent with hope. Interrogation awakes. The intel- 
lect comes to birth. Life takes on significance. Why? 
Because from highest heaven a mighty Overturn is prom- 
ised, that shall turn the universe right side up at last, and 
permit the natural beauty and joy and splendor of life to 
become manifest. 

Yes, comrades, to spend and be spent in such a work, is 
worth while. Impoverishment shall not stay us, nor shall 
defeat discourage us. Many ten thousands of hearts are 
hungering for the gospel that has been entrusted unto us. 
If we were slothful in carrying it to them, how could we 
escape condemnation. Since beginning this, a letter has 
just come. Listen to it: 

Bouck White Dear Comrade : 

I have read your books and know of your church, 
and I am interested. I think more such churches should 
be established. I am a member of the First Baptist 
here, but have talked with the pastor about a change. 
I would like to know more about your church and be a 
member " at large," perhaps, and turn in what little 
support I can for the cause and not against it. 

Yours for the Social Revolution, 

GEO. E. ALLEN, 
S. State St., Painesville, Ohio. 



An appeal so genuine and spontaneous must not go un- 
heeded. We and we alone have the words of eternal life, 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 77 

unto this lost generation now upon earth. There is cheer 
in that thought. And also, what a responsibility ! 

Yours forever, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. IS 
MAN IS GOD'S YOUNGER BROTHER 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

The newspapers announce bomb attacks on two New 
York churches. And that, as a consequence, a guard has 
been placed over the Fifth Avenue Baptist (the Rocke- 
feller) Church. Inasmuch as I am in prison for having, 
as your minister, sought to call the attention of the 
churches to their responsibility in the social war whose 
skirmishes are so ominously setting in, I deem that a state- 
ment from us would be timely. Assure the Baptist Church 
in question that they are in no peril physically from 
us. We deplore recourse to dynamite as much as they. 
Indeed, to elevate the social question out of the realm of 
violence into the plane of reason and light, is a chiefest 
objective for which our church of the proletary masses 
was instituted. 

Thus, though we yield to no one in condemning recourse 
to dynamite, nonetheless that event in St. Patrick's Ca- 
thedral this week is prodigiously significant. It tells 
if revolutionists were the doers of it that the people are 
at last awaking to the part theology is playing in the 
social war. Members of the red host international have 
been arguing that the churches are a negligible factor in 
the battle for freedom we are waging. Ritual and altar 
and pulpits they have pooh-poohed, as a force too remote 
from every-day affairs to merit our notice. 

The St. Patrick's bomb, on the anniversary of Ferrer's 
assassination, is evidence that a change of mind in this 
matter is taking place. The organized religion of a peo- 
ple is the one most potent factor in shaping that people. 

78 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 79 

Theology and sociology are brothers, and linked by as 
vital a ligature as were the Siamese twins. One affects 
the other. The position our church has taken is invinci- 
ble, namely: the religious life tells energetically on the 
economic life. And the latter cannot be altered until the 
former is altered. 

Herein stands the fundamental mischief of our time. 
We have a democratic state and a monarchical religion. 
And it is a dislocation that is perverting and enflaming 
every function of the organism. The Catholic Church is 
not alone in displaying an anti-democratic pattern of the- 
ology. The Protestants to the extent that they still 
retain any tenacity and consistency of belief preach 
equally a monarchical potentate over the universe; and a 
groveling posture by man towards that potentate. 

The Fifth Avenue Baptist people were in panic when 
we suggested a conference with them on this theme. These 
six months of felon stripes for me bespeak in them nought 
else than a delirium of terror. And with reason. They 
knew they could not meet the issue. More truly than the 
people know, the Ludlow massacre in Colorado was ripened 
in that church where Mr. Rockefeller receives religious 
nurture. Not consciously, of course, either on his part, 
or the pastor or people. Exactly in the subconscious- 
ness of the process, resides the deadly efficacy of it. Every 
hymn and sermon, every prayer and chanting and recital 
of the creed, was a factor whereby in Mr. Rockefeller was 
wrought a state of mind of despotism towards his work- 
men in Colorado. He was desirous, of course, to make it 
into a benevolent despotism; just as the god that was fig- 
ured before his vision was a benevolent despot, using his 
absolutism for the good of his subjects. But a despotism 
nevertheless. And it was against despotism, even of the 
benevolent kind, that those Ludlow miners revolted. The 
Fifth Avenue Baptist people little realized it, but every 
prayer from that pulpit was a cartridge in the guns of 
them that slew the one hundred and forty-seven working 



80 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

folk in Colorado. We in New York have to aid that kind 
of church with our taxes. And, if we question, so much 
as by a friendliest word, we are cast into jail, without trial 
and without redress. 

That bomb in St. Patrick's cathedral is going to 
reverberate a sound that may get into history. The re- 
ligious realm is ever the area where revolutions flame the 
most vehemently. And it is going to be so also with the 
revolution to-day. The mission of our church is to carry 
the issue over into this religious field; and then, to keep 
it from going off into violences. We have not a moment 
to lose, to speak the sobering word to those now going 
off into these mad excesses. I thirst for my November 12 
day of release, that I may get by your side once again in 
the work. 

St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Fifth Avenue Baptist 
Church are indeed enemies to industrial freedom. They 
are two armored strongholds squarely blocking the path 
that leads to liberty. And they must be reduced before 
the armies of the light can appreciably advance. But 
here the military likeness ceases. For, unlikei a fortress 
of steel and concrete, these spiritual towers of menace and 
slavery can not be reduced by gunpowder. 

Bombs explode in a backward direction; and hurt the 
attacker more than they hurt the attacked. Ideas can 
only be combated by ideas. Let us proclaim more loudly 
and energetically than ever our gospel of a consecrated in- 
dustrialism ; a religion of valor to supplant the exist- 
ing religion of toadyism and fear. In order that there 
may be engendered a liberalism of the spirit to companion 
the liberalism in our forms of government. And so the 
present dislocation of a monarchical soul in a democratic 
body may be remedied and for all time done away. 

Yours in the Carpenter, that strong red god of Galilee. 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 14 
AMERICA'S BLENDING OF THE RACES 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades: 

I took a census of the nationalities of some of the pris- 
oners here, the other day. Each tier has seven cells. Tak- 
ing my tier, I found that the other six prisoners were as 
follows : One Russian Jew, one Greek, two Irish, a Swede, 
and an Italian. We were six different nationalities. Yet 
all melting into one citizenship and speaking or trying 
to speak one language. Taking the entire prison, we 
have, or have had this summer, representatives of well nigh 
every race and nation north of the equator. Medley of 
Poles and Germans and Polacks and Negroes, Scotch and 
Irish and English, French and Italians, the Mongolian 
and the white man, Jews from the Orient and Scandinavi- 
ans you never saw a more miscellaneous lot. 

They are a cross section of the American-race-that-is- 
to-be. No better place than a j ail, to visualize the migra- 
tion of mankind hither to these shores in the West. 
Strangers in a strange land, they are what the French 
call deracinees. They live all uprooted from the associa- 
tions that in the old country held them to a moral life. 
Their ignorance of this new country, also, is a contributing 
factor. So that they are enmeshed in the police court's 
dragnet to an unusual degree. Indeed the other day in 
the mess hall I got talking with a poor devil of an Italian 
from Southern Italy who got into jail largely because his 
English was inadequate to defend him. 

I am focussing your attention on this, because of a very 
practical bearing it has on our work. 

This transplantation of peoples from all the earth is the 

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82 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

most stupendous movement of populations ever witnessed, 
and will have consequences for a thousand years to come. 
Historians trace the modern era in Europe to the blending 
of the peoples that took place in the Teutonic invasion of 
the ancient Latin world. Italy, France and Spain were 
the result, as well as the Anglo-Saxon nations. In Amer- 
ica a new blending is in progress. And as it is on a larger 
scale than that earlier transmigration, its effect promises 
to be proportionately greater. 

Well, we as a church are in the midmost thick of this 
business. New York is the cosmopolis of the world. Her 
geography, at America's port of entry for the racial tides 
from Europe, makes of her a gathering place for the na- 
tions. New York is the largest Jewish city on earth. 
And I bet the figures would show few Italian or Polish or 
German or Irish cities in the home countries that would 
total more than those racial ingredients within New York's 
population. 

To mingle these in a new and mighty citizenship is a 
commanding need of the times. Herein I see where the 
Church of the Social Revolution can do a day's work that 
nobody but us can do, in reaching these divergent peoples 
and blending them. For one thing, in their transfer to a 
new continent, the social revolution has already taken 
place with them. The old has perished for them irre- 
vocably; mental furniture left behind, when they tore up 
their stakes and came to this new world. Therefore our 
church with its name and covenant announcing an Over- 
turn that shall make all things new, frightens them not. 
Their physical migration has wrought in them readiness 
for a mental migration. They are in a condition of 
spiritual preparedness. It is a priceless moment for plant- 
ing in them our seeds of a world-changing reconstruction. 
We come to clarify before their vision and consecrate 
the revolution through which they, each of them person- 
ally, have been passing. 

I am bold in pressing this upon your thought. Because, 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 83 

so far as I know, the point has never before been touched 
upon by Socialist thinkers. They dwell much and justi- 
fiably on the change brought to pass in the economic 
world by machine production supplanting the hand method 
of old, necessitating a like revolutionary change in man's 
mental processes and possessions. The American migra- 
tion has wrought in many millions of people a physical 
transition and upheaval in some respects more compre- 
hensive, and certainly more swift and dramatic, than the 
change in the world industrial. An emotional stress of 
this intensity heats the soul into a molten state; man's 
nature can then be run into new and wonderful molds, 
and so remodel human clay into patterns impossible in 
the old unplastic state. 

No other church than ours is fitted for reaching this 
incoming host. The Roman Catholic is shut out from Jew 
and Protestant and the Greek and Russian peoples, by the 
animosities bred in their bone through long centuries in 
the old land. The Greek Catholic is limited in like fashion. 
And the Protestant churches also. A new people, in the 
new land, and under new industrial conditions, have need 
of a new religion. To such we come with a new and living 
gospel. Shall we not take inspiration from the world 
movements in the thick of which we have our being, and 
propagate our message with unquenchable zeal? 
Yours in the holy task, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



NO. 15 
A FRENCH REVOLUTION IN BERLIN? 

QUEENS COUNTY JAIL. 
My Comrades : 

At present the doings of our church are little heeded. 
It is the day of the cannon. The howitzers' loud roar 
swallows all other voices. Sweet reason pines, when guns 
begin. And we shall have to abide in loneliness and neg- 
lect for a season. But the drama that is developing is 
going to prosper our gospel. Lest you go bewildered and 
blinded by the swift march of events to-day, I desire you 
to see with me some of the salient features. 

War is pregnant with surprises. And it is within the 
possibilities that Germany shall win. That outcome would 
make the Church of the Social Revolution a prime neces- 
sity. True, it would then be a most dangerous cult to 
avow. For Deutschland, flushed with victory, would be 
a military power in the world, and would repress mightily. 
But ofttimes an open foe is for democracy an asset. Not 
tyranny's overt enmity, but mercantilism's polite chloro- 
form, is freedom's fatalest danger. And the call to make 
stand against Prussian militarism would kindle the fires of 
the spirit in many breasts, and prepare them for the com- 
ing of our church. 

But I predict that Germany is not going to win. At 
present writing, many of the facts are against me. But 
I offer the statement : The war will terminate either in a 
draw, or in Germany's downfall. In either case, I look to 
see a second French Revolution, but in Berlin this time. 
The outraged German people, after burying three million 
of her sons, and after the bankruptcy of her once proud 

commercialism, and the loss of colonies which were begin- 

84 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 85 

ning to belt the globe, will awake with indignation in their 
marrow. And they will make Wilhelmstrasse and Unter 
den Linden scarlet with the blood of their autocratic blun- 
dering caste. 

That revolution will spread its fires to every horizon. 
A hundred years ago the nations were but slenderly teth- 
ered one to the other. Yet the doings in Paris reverber- 
ated to all corners of the globe, and shook monarchy 
everywhere on its base. To-day the nations are well nigh 
as one. Communication is swift and manifold. With the 
lighting of the flame in Germany, instantaneous will be the 
report in all parts of the earth. A popular awakenment 
will billow like a tide coming in from the sea, and will fill 
many an inlet in the recesses of human minds now closed 
against us. 

The tidal wave thrown up by that eruption will prove 
an irrigation for the seed our church is sowing. " Church 
of the Social Revolution " sounds terrifying to many. But 
in that awakenment we will appear what we really are, the 
savior of a world in dissolution, the healer of a civiliza- 
tion sick unto death. 

I send a cheer to you, O comrades. In an opportune 
moment we are come up. Big is the outlook, and cries for 
bigness in us, who are to meet it. 

Yours in the sacred task, 

BOUCK WHITE. 

(And let me send also, as to Germany's part in prepar- 
ing the way for us, some verses that have come to me in 
the silent hours of the night, with, I'll bet, something of 
truth in their foreshadowings.) 

DEUTSCHL.AND USER AI/LES 

Launch now our thund'ring host. 
In men of iron we boast. 
Up, helmets ! Shout the toast 
Deutschland uber Alles. 



86 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

We can no longer rest. 
Our Destiny, supprest, 
At length is manifest 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

Our poor, brought to a crust, 
Share not the battle lust, 
Drive them with saber thrust 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

Brass buttons here bear rule. 
Civilian ! He's a fool ; 
We'll use him for our tool 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

Our culture must prevail. 
Spread it with fire and flail. 
We virile are, and male 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

Sheer force alone is law. 
Weaklings we overawe, 
Full sharp th Eagle's claw 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

For treaties give no thought. 
Moralities are naught. 
A higher code we're taught 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

Victoriously we go. 
We'll push a fleeing foe. 
Old Sky-King wills it so 
Deutschland iiber Alles. 

Base unbelievers laugh ; 
God and the General Staff 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 87 

Shall scatter them like chaff 
Deutschland uber Alles. 

The cannon shall be king ; 
Fodder for it we'll bring. 
Empire ! Empire ! we sing 
Deutschland uber Alles. 

What! 'Gainst us an earth arrayed! 
Our ranks give ground, dismayed. 
War's bitter price is paid 
Deutschland nieder Alles. 

Now kings and kaisers pine. 
Democracy divine 
Is the chorus on the Rhine 
Deutschland lebt fur Alles. 

The people take control ; 
Seek empiry of the soul ; 
Veto the warrior role 

Deutschland beliebt bei Alles. 

BOUCK WHITE. 



LETTER TO THE NEW YORK INDEPENDENT 

QUEENS COUNTY PRISON, 

NEW YORK CITY. 

SIR: The elevated tone for which the Independent has 
become renowned, ill prepared me for the low editorial 
level you were content to occupy in discussing our Colo- 
rado protest at the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church. You 
condemn my deed as a violation of " law and order." I 
am prepared to waive all defense on that point. The case 
is new in jurisprudence. We have no precedents. While 
there concededly was legal color for my arrest and im- 
prisonment, there are so many and so weighty considera- 
tions on the other side, that the courts, had they been so 
minded, could have found ample grounds for an acquittal. 

But neither my article in your magazine stressed the 
legal side, nor does our case rest upon it. Legality ? All 
the loftier deeds produced by history have been illegal. 
The doings of Garrison and Lovejoy and Phillips were 
supralegal and ofttimes contralegal. " The higher law," 
said Seward, defending these lawless agitators. And the 
New York Independent in that day echoed his fine defiance 
of the sordid prudences of mercantilism, so that your 
journal became well nigh a folklore throughout the 
country. 

Law is always a standpatter. It consecrates the status 
quo. It is the clearing in the forest, the outpost to which 
civilization thus far has reached. Every advance of the 
moral frontier has been extralegal; a journey forward into 
the unmapped ; and with the law-abiders sputtering them- 
selves red in the face. Show me a land where everybody is 
legal, and I will show you a land sunk in stagnancy and 
slothful satisfaction. There are times when to be illegal 
is the ethical categorical imperative. And this fat and 

88 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 89 

coward day is such a time. Not that this is to be cheap- 
ened into mankind's customary and common code. I ex- 
pressly wrote to Dr. Woelfkin beforehand, explaining that 
the times, being extraordinary, demanded extraordinary 
measures. 

Amos Pinchot, defending our deed in the public press, 
drew the parallel of the temple-cleansing in the gospel nar- 
rative. Was that purging of the money-changers accord- 
ing to "law and order"? "John Brown's body lies 
a-mouldering in the ground ; but his soul goes marching 
on " so we sing, and so sang and exulted the New York 
Independent in that heroic day. Was John Brown's pro- 
test at Harper's Ferry a notable addition to the chronicles 
of " law and order "? 

Jesus, when uttering the Parable of the Illegal Steward 
who confiscated the property of a rich man and divided 
it up with the poor was he therein a tower of strength 
for " law and order " ? And how about that Parable of 
the Agricultural Magnate who tore down his barns to build 
bigger? Revolution thunders along in it so ominously, 
that even the Revised Version dares not print the Car- 
penter's language nakedly, but falsifies the translation. 
The magnate in that parable was handed over to be dealt 
with by the populace, and met his death by an armed up- 
rising in the night. " Law and order? " 

As to Dr. Woelfkin's apologetic that he received not my 
letter announcing our visit until a few minutes before the 
service, the plea was accounted by me unworthy of serious 
rebuttal. During half a week preceding, the New York 
dailies teemed with the announcement of our proposed visit 
and of the letter I was sending. That Sunday morning 
accordingly saw an expectant throng around the church. 
Reporters had cameras ready focussed on tripods. Plain 
clothes men sentinelled the doorway. Inside the church 
were thirty or forty policemen in uniform. The congre- 
gation was electric with expectation. That the receipt 
in these circumstances of a special delivery letter from me 



90 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

was sincerely deemed by him a thing whose perusal could 
fitly be deferred till after the morning was over, is beyond 
credence. The mystery of the letter's delay in reaching 
him has not been cleared up. We have been denied a trial. 
I have been sloughed in prison after only a " hearing " in 
a police court, and without any privilege of appeal. Tak- 
ing Dr. Woelfkin's plea at its face value, does it seem in 
accord with America's spirit of fair play, that I should be 
sloughed in jail for six months because of a mistake by 
the New York postoffice in delaying a special delivery let- 
ter nearly forty -eight hours? 

" We Preach Christ Crucified," stands carven in bold 
letters on the facade of the church in question. They stop 
not at prison fetters and the heaping of infamy, to defend 
the master class in our day, which did the Golgotha busi- 
ness in that day. Their fellow Protestant Christians of 
all denominations approve their deed by tacit consent or 
open plaudit, and organize conferences meanwhile to dis- 
cover why spirituality is so alarmingly at ebb in the mod- 
ern world. 

Yours, etc., BOUCK WHITE. 



AN OPEN LETTER 

To the Pastor and Members of the Fifth Avenue Baptist 

Church, New York City. 
Greeting: 

The imprisonment of our pastor, Bouck White, will end 
November the twelfth. The Church of the Social Revolu- 
tion will publicly celebrate his homecoming at Carnegie 
Hall on Friday evening, November the thirteenth, at eight 
o'clock. Naturally on that occasion your church will be 
in the minds of many. Lest you should fear some mood 
of bitterness on our part, we write this to assure you. 
And if you care to be represented at that service, we will 
accord to such a person a place in the evening's pro- 
gram. Your personal card will admit you and your 
friends to our platform. 

In the letter sent you last May after the Ludlow mas- 
sacre in Colorado, we stated : " We are very near neigh- 
bors, our church and yours. Furthermore, we represent 
the downmost man, whereas your church represents the 
wealthiest of the world. Therefore in this social crisis 
which is gathering its thunder so menacingly, it is entirely 
thinkable that by some relationship that will permit an 
interchange of views, a friendliness of feeling could be 
brought about that might be the means of a happy issue 
out of all our social afflictions." 

Your answer to that was to clap our minister in prison. 
We refuse to believe that such a reply represents your 
loftiest and ripest judgment in the matter. Since then 
nearly six months have elapsed months of felon pun- 
ishment for our pastor, months of mellower rumination 
by you. It cannot be that you will reject forever the 
hand we hold out. 

There is an added reason why we extend this invitation. 

91 



92 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

The Colorado insurrection is yet far from settled. The 
news columns report a degree of heat on both sides that 
may blaze into a flame angrier than the first. The atten- 
tion of the people is at present drawn to another part of 
the world. But the Colorado fires have lost none of their 
potentiality for mischief; and whose spread might make 
even the war in Europe of the lesser importance. 

Our minister is now in prison garb because he cried 
aloud that the social war is a religious question and must 
religiously be settled. When he rejoins us on November 
the twelfth the issue will have to be reopened. (As you 
must certainly know by now, prison bars never solve an 
issue ; they but postpone its solution with interest.) 
We deem it seemly and just that you be represented at a 
meeting where in all likelihood reference to you will have 
to be made. 

Fraternally yours in the fellowship of the Carpenter, 
Committee, Church of the Social Revolution. 



THE COMRADES SEND GREETING 

My Dear Comrade White : 

Greetings to you on your release ! My hand is in yours 
and I hold you in comradely embrace. You have borne 
yourself with supreme credit to yourself and to us all and 
every true comrade in the land joins in the celebration of 
your splendid victory. Truly, you have conquered, for 
you have upheld the cause in a trying hour and borne the 
brutal persecution to which you have been subjected in the 
serene spirit of the Nazarene comrade, which can never 
know defeat. 

I am extremely sorry not to have been able to be in New 
York to greet you at the prison door. It would have been 
a joy to me indeed. Comrade Fieldman did all he could 
to arrange a date that would enable me to be there, but the 
fates willed otherwise. Yet my heart, you may be sure, 
was there as you walked into the outstretched arms of your 
comrades. Henceforth the prison house wherein you 
served is a holy shrine. 

I am just leaving for the West. This note is hurried, 
but I am always with you, as I know you are with me. 
Dearer than ever are you to us now for the price you have 
paid and the fitness you have shown in an hour of real 
trial, to worthily serve the great cause. 

With increasing regard and attachment I am, 

Yours always, EUGENE V. DEBS. 

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. 
My dear Comrade Bouck White: 

I am unknown to you personally, that is a detail, but 
I want to be one of the great host who will greet you with 

words of welcome as you return to the fighting line, where 

03 



94. LETTERS FROM PRISON 

foundations of a new heaven and earth are to be estab- 
lished, nay, are being established. 

I have read and re-read your clarion " Call," and other 
books, I am one with you through and through, I admire 
your invincible courage, your uncompromising, irrecon- 
cilable spirit, and, above all, the really, vitally, religious 
element which permeates your social revolt. 

This seems to me the only Gospel which meets the mod- 
ern situation, philosophically, socially, and economically, 
the great mystic Humanism focussed in the Galilean Car- 
penter. Thanks, a thousand times; it has been a mighty 
stimulating vision to many of us ; Godspeed to you all 
around. 

With all good wishes, 

Yours in the Social Upheaval, 

H. J. ADLAND. 
Adams Memorial Church, Dunkirk, N. Y. 

PS. I spoke for one hour and forty minutes last night 
on " The Call of the Carpenter " in a small town near 
here your work goes on. 

HORACE, Kansas. 
Mr. Bouck White, 

New York City. 
Dear Comrade : 

I wonder if you know that out here on this wind-swept 
prairie, in this little unattractive town, many hearts looked 
forward eagerly to the morning of the twelfth, when Com- 
rade White would be liberated from his prison cell, and I 
write in behalf of our local to tell you how through the 
long days of waiting our hearts were with you in your 
prison, and were proud to know that for the truth's sake 
you had not only obeyed Christ's injunction to visit him 
in prison, but had gone in and stayed with him, and shared 
with him, and fared with him his lonely prison life. We 
wrote the Governor, and have bought your books, and 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 95 

helped spread the message you have given, but it seems that 
was all we were allowed to do. It would do your heart 
good, though, to know how many people accept your mes- 
sage so readily and gladly, and are finding in your re- 
discovered Carpenter a new meaning in his life and mes- 
sage which will fill their lives forevermore. 

In the article which you wrote in the Independent, in 
giving the vow taken by members of your church, you 
say it is the duty of each member to bring others to the 
Church (I am quoting from memory and may not have it 
exact). That is what I am writing you for information 
about. Will you tell us what we may do in the thousand 
little towns and villages which are longing to have such 
a church, and yet are so far away from our magnetic 
gifted leader. I left the church I was raised in because 
of its narrow sectarianism. I cannot endure the Sunday 
Schools, because if you take any modern scientific view- 
point of the bible in their so called bible study lesson you 
are branded as a heretic and unbeliever and are plainly 
informed that if you want to worship in their church you 
must keep your views to yourself. I have a little four- 
year old boy who should have some spiritual instruction, 
but I will not send him to the church at hand. I have 
been told that somewhere in Chicago is a Christian So- 
cialist paper which interprets the Sunday-school lesson 
from a modern scientific standpoint am trying to lo- 
cate it to-day by mail and I am wondering why Com- 
rade Bouck White could not write a service every week to 
be used in the churches of the Revolution which would 
spring up all over the land at his call. The message might 
be written a month ahead, one for each service weekly 
or whatever would seem best to the wisdom of our leader; 
this in connection with a bible study not always neces- 
sarily from the bible, but a story from any great or lowly 
life, nation or civilization would make a service that 
with local talent in music could be inspiring and helpful, 
not only to ourselves but the children for after all that 



96 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

is the bitter part. Many comrades have severed! all rela- 
tions with the old churches and are bringing up their chil- 
dren without any spiritual or moral guidance, and it surely 
can not be good in the long run. Of course we would 
want it to be thoroughly remunerative to you, to com- 
pensate you for your time and effort but think, Com- 
rade White what a field for labor! The harvest is 
surely white. 

I trust my suggestions may not seem ill-timed to you. 

Yours for the Revolution, with greetings from all the 
Comrades. 

MRS. LlLIIAN K. Bui/LARD. 



THE RELIGION OF REVOLUTION * 

The editor asks me for an account of the Church of the 
Social Revolution, and of my imprisonment on Black- 
well's Island, which followed so promptly the founding of 
that church. 

The Church of the Social Revolution announces a pur- 
pose audacious in the highest degree; namely, to revolu- 
tionize the world's idea of religion. The accepted notion 
is that religion has to do with the weakness that is in the 
world. We propose a religion that shall have to do with 
the strength that is in the world. The two ideas are in 
flat opposition. They cultivate opposite traits of char- 
acter, and with widely different methods. Between the 
religion of weakness and the religion of strength stands no 
reconciliation. They travel in opposite directions, seeking 
opposite goals two trains on the same track and speed- 
ing to fateful world-transforming collision. 

The religion of weakness is established in the churches 
of the traditional type. It sings in their hymns, speaks 
through their sermons, dictates their prayers, and breathes 
its breath into every chant and collect and liturgy. It is 
a whining, suppliant, belly-crawling spirit. It stands not 
with straight back, on two feet, upright; it grovels, wor- 
ships a god that can be coaxed. It imagines it will be 
heard for its much begging. 

As I write this in my cell, the Sunday morning church 
service is being held in the corridor outside. The preacher 
is sincere according to the lights that are in him. But 
there is scripture for it that sometimes the light that is 
in a man is darkness; which is to say, the steam in the 
engine is of excellent power, but is being used to draw the 

* Reprinted from the Christian Socialist. 

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98 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

train in the wrong direction. What wretches in prison 
stripes need, is not weakness, but strength. Weakness has 
been their undoing. The more I rub up against them the 
more I am persuaded that the criminal is essentially a 
weakling weak in mind, weak in imagination, weak in 
will. Above all things else, he needs vigor, snap, grit, in- 
tensity, self-respect. But the religion being handed out 
to him at this moment the songs and prayer and sermon- 
izing seeks still further to soften him : and if it should 
gain any proselytes this morning, would make them tenfold 
more children of the devil of flabbiness than they now are. 

This glorification of weakness has brought it to pass 
that religion is thought of by the world generally as some- 
thing softish, a mendicant mood of soul and an unbraced 
attitude of the intellect. It is presented as a resting place 
for the tired, an asylum for the broken, an opiate for the 
oppressed, a lifeboat of escape from a shipwrecked world. 
So that the religious area of the population is reduced to 
those of slender understanding; or, when a religious man 
of intellect is found, he defends religion half cynically as 
an engine of social control to keep the masses quiet. 

Now it is an axiom that when religion becomes shame- 
faced, it is in process of extinction. Boldness is its vital 
breath. Let it cease to be bold, it ceases to be vital. 
When men of mind can no longer be devout, except in slink- 
ing and furtive fashion, religion is on its deathbed ; though 
its dying agonies may be prolonged, its demise with certi- 
tude is decreed. 

FOUNDED ON STRENGTH, NOT WEAKNESS 

To do away this apologetic brand of devotion, and 
breed' a race that shall combine spiritual-mindedness with 
force, is the purpose of the Revolution Church. We seek 
the revolution of religion, in order to a religion that shall 
breed revolution. Strength, not weakness, is the founda- 
tion on which it builds. And this determines every part 
of the structure. We intend to change the world's idea 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 99 

of God. The one whom we worship is not a fatherly po- 
tentate dispensing titbits to those who beg the loudest. 
Our God is a Man of War ! He has a fight on his hands. 
Things as at present constituted are not at all to his 
liking. 

"The world is very evil; 
The time is waxing late; 

Be diligent, keep vigil, 
The Judge is at the gate," 

sang Bernard of Clairvaux as the middle ages were draw- 
ing to an end and the new era was making its first feeble 
birth movements felt in the womb of time. Once again 
we are in one of the world's transition moments. And the 
manifest token that the old era is playing out is the moral 
slump so visible to-day. Not that it shows itself mainly 
in a tidal wave of crime and open sinning, though some 
appalling statistics could here be marshaled. The dark- 
ness rather is taking the form of a let-down in moral hero- 
isms. Men no longer stand and fight and die for principle, 
as they did in the heroic time. A day of Philistinism is 
upon us, a lowering of standards, a debasement of tone, a 
letting-down of the spiritual level. " In Gold we trust," 
is the new rendering. There is a weakening of confidence 
in the Unseen; and a terrible turning of the population 
towards the kind of salvation promised by Mammon a 
salvation in terms of pleasure and comfort and animal se- 
curity purchased at any price ; for to-morrow we die. 

Thus the Unseen Leader we follow is a warrior. He is 
opposed by a doughty foe and is in the midmost of a 
crucial and hard-fought conflict. Therefore his call for 
volunteers is couched in terms of hazard and trial and 
hardship. No longer that old invitation : 

" Art thou weary, art thou languid, 

Art thou sore distressed? 
Come to me," saith One, 

" And coming, be at rest." , 



100 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

The call of our Lord God to those who would follow him, 
is in a different key: 

" Art thou valorous, art thou willing, 

Art thou leal and true? 
Come to me," saith One, 

" I'm fighting, and need you." 

" But how can we be sure that this God will win the 
victory ? " inquires some one. " If we enlist under Him 
we may be enlisting under a losing leader and will have 
given our lives to a lost cause." Precisely, and it is ex- 
actly that element of risk which constitutes for us the at- 
tractiveness of the service. If the battle were predestined 
to victory it would be no battle, but a mere sham affair, a 
stage performance. In the uncertainty as to the outcome 
lies the zest of the conflict, its piquancy and pungent joy. 
This universe does not as yet belong to God. But we are 
determined that it shall. We are capturing it for him, 
with him personally in the field as our Commander. All 
the discoveries of science, all contributions of knowledge, 
the splendor and majesty of the intellect's advance, every 
triumph in the realm of morals, all achievements of eco- 
nomic and political betterment, progress in the industrial 
arts, the beautifying of the world, growth in the graces 
that polish and adorn life these are all parts of the 
campaign of conquest whereby our God is wresting the 
universe out of the control of chaos and making it his own 
possession. To have a conscious part in that campaign 
is deemed by us the glory of life, its excellency and coro- 
nation. 

Manifestly, thus to couch God's invitation to man in 
the language of strength and service, rather than of weak- 
ness and safety, is a revolution in the idea of religion. 
Therefore we call our church The Revolution Church. 
We spread the name on our signboard, blazon it on our 
banners, publish it widely as the name by which we delight 
to be known. It is not a mere revamping of the religion 
handed down. Rather, it is a religion new-modeled in 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 101 

every part and feature, and demands for its expression a 
new type of song and sermon and ritual, a new kind of 
devotion, a new conception of prayer. The change is so 
fundamentally altering, with such implications wrapped 
up in it, that no other word than revolution can ade- 
quately phrase it. 

MUST CHANGE IDEA OF MAN 

But for another reason also are we a Revolution 
Church. This change in the idea of God carries over im- 
mediately into the human area and involves a change in 
the idea of man. The old-type religion let human society 
pretty much alone. The salvation offered by it was in 
terms of escape from a wicked world : " Come ye apart 
and be ye separate. O, think of the home over there." 
Their Father in heaven paternally stretched out arms of 
refuge to shelter them snugly from the wickedness and the 
sorrow and the casualties. 

But when God is seen as a Man of War who sallies forth 
and offers battle to the evils that are in the world, straight- 
way a new type of the religious life results. It translates 
devotion no longer in terms of the passive, but of an ac- 
tive, energetic career. Now the man of God, instead of 
enduring the ills of life with patience, goes out against 
those ills with militant zeal ; for this type does not under- 
stand religion as merely a contemplative life, but a career 
of action. 

When this religion of strength turns its attention to 
human society what does it discern? A society whereof 
Mammon is in control. It needs no unusual gift to per- 
ceive that money is the master of the world. Food and 
raiment, houses and lands and good books and schools, all 
products of science and the beautiful arts ; marriage and 
children and the joy of a home; doctors for health, recrea- 
tion for the mind, amusement and travel, friends and in- 
fluence ; these are in Mammon's right hand for him to dole 
out to those who serve him best. 



102 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Gold, Gold, tyrannous Gold! 
A god that is growing ever more bold. 
Foe of virtue from days of old; 
For it our souls in the gutter are rolled. 
On history's page loud its sinnings are told; 
In the marriage mart our daughters are sold. 
A master whose heart is ruthless and cold; 
Gathering men into Satan's own fold 
Gate of a prison, to pen and to hold; 
Fashioning men into hell's brutal mould. 
God will not rest till its passing is told. 
Hateful, defiling, omnipotent Gold ! 

At present, God is at the bottom, and Gold is at the 
top. To reverse that ordering, whereby God shall be on 
top and Gold at the bottom could there be a blesseder, 
diviner overturning? 

Exactly that is what is meant by social revolution. 
And it is the creed of our church. 

" Lord of the blood-red banner " may need a word of 
commentary because many have got the notion that So- 
cialism's flag of red is symbolic of a bloody assault against 
the upholders of the present order. The truth is quite 
the contrary. The red in our banner emblemizes the one 
blood that is in the veins of all the people of the earth. 
Outwardly the nations and tribes in the world are 
of different aspect. Color and features and hair and stat- 
ure and manners and speech are so many wedges doing a 
divisive work. But prick under the skin and you will find 
in them all a blood of one and the selfsame color. So that 
it becomes the natural emblem of unity, a scarlet thread 
internationalizing the tribal banners now so bloodily ar- 
rayed each against the other, and forecasting a day when 
the world family will be a fact and not purely a fiction 
of the poets. Could the Democrat of Galilee, who left 
his carpenter's bench to lead his fellows to freedom, find 
a fitter employ to-day than as Captain of this red-ban- 
nered host, whose battlewords are peace and justice and 
brotherhood ? 

Which is not to say that Socialism is a movement of 



LETTERS FKOM PRISON 103 

universal, unenquiring amiability. The Irishman who an- 
nounced that he meant to have peace in his house if he 
had to fight for it, displayed therein a very real measure 
of insight and philosophic grasp. " Peace at any price," 
is a counterfeit thing; an affair of outward profession and 
inward aversion. We of the Revolution Church recognize 
the presence of economic classes terribly in the world; a 
presence which makes for discord and not for harmony. 
Never were inequalities of human fortune more steep than 
to-day. And hourly they are becoming steeper. To sing 
" God's in His heaven, all's right with the world " is to 
stamp oneself a lying prophet. God's in his heaven 
quite true. But all is not by any means right with the 
world; and it is becoming more unright with each day that 
adds its fatal quota to the calendar. Rich and poor is a 
relation of master and slave. To-day the rich are becom- 
ing richer with fatalest momentum. Thereby they are 
growing more masterfully master, and the poor are going 
into an ever more cruel and desperate bondage. And this, 
notwithstanding the personal kindliness of many in the 
master class. Charity covers a multitude of economic 
sins, has been the principle of these. But it is fast losing 
its power to hypnotize. The people are waking to the 
deadly workings of an unjust economic law. And no 
amount of benevolence in the disbursement of an income 
will much longer atone for extortion in the origin of that 
income. 

Therefore the militant clauses in the covenant one signs 
upon joining the Revolution Church. We are hostile to 
the present scheme of things, for it is a scheme that makes 
for the survival of the brutalest. A competitive civiliza- 
tion glorifies the acquisitive type of man and makes for 
the extinction of the type in whom altruism and a regard 
for the gracious, kindly, unselfish arts are uppermost. 
Against such a civilization we are in utter antagonism. 
And this, out of a passionate affection for fellowship. 
The Prince of Peace we follow is for that very reason a 



104 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Captain of War. He is of sagacity to know the folly of 
attempting to live on peaceful terms with the federated 
destroyers of the public peace. 

Ours, therefore, is the Church of Social Revolution. 
We purpose an alteration in society's structure from the 
ground up. The fault is not in this feature or in that. 
The very plan upon which the present edifice was built is 
the devil's plan. All against each, and each against all. 
Therefore the change must be radical, extending clear 
down to the foundation upon which the building reposes. 
Reform will not avail. You can't change a gatling gun 
into a printing press by piecemeal process. The two ma- 
chines are designed on a different pattern, to turn out a 
different product. An attempt to alter the gatling gun 
into a printing press would only result in spoiling it as a 
gun without making it into a press. There is a way 
whereby the transformation can be effected. The gatling 
gun must be melted up and its metal poured into new 
molds. 

So with the attempt to cure our ills by tinkering up the 
present order. Social reformers have been at the task 
now for long years. And with what result? Steadily 
the social distress has been mounting. The chasm be- 
tween the Haves and the Have-nots is widening. Widen- 
ing, moreover, at a constantly accelerating rate. The 
only performance accomplished by the school of social re- 
formers has, been to create a wide amount of friction in 
the workings of the present machine, without giving us 
any other. Reform is powerless. Competition as the 
formative idea for human society has come to its perfect 
work. It was the devil's idea and has been found want- 
ing. It must give way to God's idea, cooperation, let the 
cost be what it will. 

To organize the world's life upon a principle so squarely 
different from the one now in use, means a tremendous 
change. And that is why we call ourselves Church of the 
Social Revolution. No other word is strong enough to ex- 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 105 

press the intensity and extensity of the alterations that 
are required. " Revolution " has in many minds an as- 
sociation of blood and turbulence and all manner of wild- 
ness. But this quality of rashness and headlong fury is 
not essential to it. The word is exactly used when it is 
made to mean a deed of completion and thoroughgoing- 
ness, wherein no compromise is accepted and no distraction 
permitted. To such a work of completedness, a mood of 
poise and circumspection is not only possible but essen- 
tial. 

Indeed, it is in order to assure that poised and orderly 
state of mind in the work, that we couple together the two 
parts in our name, " Church " and " Social Revolution." 
Each needs the other. Too much has the Church in times 
past withdrawn its mellow richness of dream-power and 
its sobering weight, from contact with the tumults and the 
rcugh-and-tumble of folk uprisings. On the other hand, 
the uprisings of labor in the past have withdrawn them- 
selves too much from the ripe historicity and stern sobrie- 
ties of the Church. And the divorce has told miserably on 
both parties to the estrangement, blasting the Church with 
sterility and abandoning the folk movement to wild and 
irresponsible leadership. 

The Church of the Social Revolution seeks to reunite 
the divorced couple. To the folk uprising it brings divine 
sanction and enriching gifts from the kingdom that is 
spiritual. To the Church, in the contrary direction, it 
brings fructifying contact with, the world of living men, 
the solid wholesome realities of the life industrial; over- 
laying the earthliness of things economic, with the halo of 
a light that never was on sea or land. 

In so doing we believe we shall accomplish a dual 
purpose. We shall both make the social revolution a 
certainty, and at the same time steer its energies into 
beneficent constructive channels. Religion is always a 
principle of intensity. Coupled up hitherto with the con- 
servative faction, it has made that conservatism into a con- 



106 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

servatism indeed, solemnizing the status quo into a sacra- 
mental and fire-girt Sinai, whither the impious feet of the 
innovator dare not come. Coupled up with revolution, 
its intensifying power will be equally manifest. It will 
consecrate the revolution against all thought of compro- 
mise or surrender, and gear it to the omnipotent enginery 
of the skies. 

But precisely in so doing it will take from revolution 
the conflagrating fury that hitherto has made it a menace. 
A revolution that has Lord God in it will be a revolution 
indeed. But it will be a beneficent revolution a jolly 
earthquake, if the reader will permit the phrase ; an intelli- 
gent cyclone, directing its tempestuousness against the 
refuse and sparing the beautiful things that life has erected 
through a long succession of experimenting and fine en- 
deavors. The revolution is going to come. Be very sure 
of that. The only question is, shall it be a revolution up- 
ward into the light, or a backward lurch to savagery and 
primeval dark? The Church of the Social Revolution is 
an attempt to bring the former of those alternatives to 
pass. We are summoning the people of education and 
talents and culture and social position to enlist in class 
alignment in whole-hearted self-commitment to labor's 
high redemption. There are times when social reconstruc- 
tion is the holiest task in which a man can invest his ener- 
gies and his influence. 

BOUCK WHITE, 
City Jail, New York City. 



BAPTISTS DIVIDE ON THE SOCIAL ISSUE 

Reverend Dr. Cornelius Woelfkin, 

Fifth Avenue-Calvary-Baptist 

Church, 57th St., at Sixth 

Avenue, New York City. 
Dear Sir: 

The announcement that the Fifth Avenue and Calvary 
Churches are to sunder relations, has been made the occa- 
sion by the papers once more to couple my name with 
yours. I see that they are attributing to my six months' 
imprisonment one of the causes for the failure of the plan 
to merge your two churches and with the present decision 
that your church shall go back to its Fifth Avenue site in 
order that the Calvary Church may be unencumbered by 
associations with the name of the rich. It is also being 
hinted that such a move is a moral victory for me. 

I beg you to believe I am moved by no spirit of gratifica- 
tion. Rather I am writing this letter to suggest a way 
out of a situation that apparently is proving to you more 
and more embarrassing. I have been told that you made 
the statement while I was serving my Blackwell's Island 
term that if it were possible you would gladly serve three 
of my six months yourself. Naturally such a remedy of 
that grave miscarriage of justice was and is impracticable. 
There is, however, a way in which you can atone for the 
sadness of that whole affair, and that is by accepting now 
the request I made to you last spring, namely, that your 
church and ours hold a joint session at some time and 
place to be mutually agreed upon, in friendly conference 
on the subject: Did Jesus Teach the Immortality of Be- 
ing Rich. 

I repeat here what I said in my letter to you last May : 
It is the firm belief of our Church of the Social Revolution 

107 



108 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

that the tragic situation in which our industrialism finds 
itself to-day is not due to the personal malice of any in 
the masterclass, but rather to a false and pernicious sys- 
tem in which the rich are hopelessly entangled. I am an 
ardent disciple of Jesus the Carpenter; his teachings as 
rediscovered by modern biblical scholarship hold the key 
to the solution of this entire problem. 

If you grant this request, I shall be glad to forgive and 
forget my six months behind prison bars. Indeed I would 
then count them six months of valuable service rendered 
by me to the social problem. For your church represents 
the richest of the world ; our church represents the poorest 
of the world. We are near neighbors. The chasm be- 
tween the rich and the poor is each day growing more 
portentous. It is not at all an idle dream that if we 
could get together in a joint meeting such as I have 
pleaded with you to grant, and so lift this at present angry 
situation into the realm of the spiritual, a happy issue 
out of our social unblessedness might be the result. 

In so doing you as the pastor of some of the master- 
class of our day could perhaps relieve them from a situa- 
tion which they are finding progressively uncomfortable. 
The discovery that riches and poverty side by side in the 
same society means mastership for the rich and servitude 
for the poor, is growing very widespread; resentment 
against those who consent to be rich in a world where 
other people are poor, is augmenting daily. Great lone- 
liness on the part of the rich is resulting. I know of few 
spectacles more piteous than of that home at Pocantico 
Hills so sorrowfully debarred from contact with their fel- 
low human beings. If they could once learn that The 
Carpenter of Galilee unto whom they are so devoutly at- 
tached, taught the immorality of great riches side by side 
with great poverty, they would surely turn from their 
idolatry of money and employ their wealth to transform 
our society into one of fellowship instead of as at present 
one of cleavage and dismemberment. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 109 

I would gladly come before your congregation this com- 
ing Sunday morning and convey to them in person (as I 
was going to do last Spring) this invitation to a joint 
meeting of our church and yours. However, remember- 
ing Sunday, May 10, last, of course I will not present my- 
self unless you invite me so to do. Kindly note my change 
of address. Also of my phone number, Chelsea 3738. I 
ask leave to remain, 

Faithfully yours in the fellowship of The Carpenter, 

BOUCK WHITE. 



HOW TO SOLVE UNEMPLOYMENT 

CHURCH OF THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION 

165 West 23rd St., New York City. 



To the Mayor, John Purroy Mitchel, 

City Hall, New York City 
Honorable and dear Sir: 

An imperfect report of my address on the unemploy- 
ment situation, at the Church of the Social Revolution last 
Sunday afternoon, has got into the papers. By resolu- 
tion of the Church I am directed to send to you an au- 
thentic abstract of my words: The proposal I brought 
forward is a remedy for unemployment by Municipal In- 
dustries. It is, that New York City shall establish a 
Department of Municipal Industry, and through this shall 
take over as many of the idle factories as shall be neces- 
sary, run them at full time, pay the current rate of wages, 
and distribute the product with the motive of social bene- 
fit rather than primarily profit. The City through pub- 
lic and private channels is preparing to spend a large 
sum of money to cope with the unemployment problem. 
I beg leave to state that in no other way could that money 
be disbursed with as efficient a return in the shape of social 
peace and human well being. 

There are two other methods of meeting the unemploy- 
ment evil. One is by the method of relief, such as soup 
kitchens, free lodgings, and bread line; and secondly, mu- 
nicipal works, by which is meant out-of-door tasks, like 
sewers, water works, and streets. The latter is imprac- 
ticable; the great bulk of the unemployed are industrial 
workers ; to ask indoor workers to undertake out-of-doors 
tasks, particularly in the winter season, is impossible. 
Many stenographers for example are on the verge of desti- 
tution ; to ask one of these to take a pick and shovel and 

110 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 111 

earn her living in a sewer trench the public work solu- 
tion is hardly a rational thing for a modern municipality 
seriously to propose. As to the other alternative, soup 
kitchens, I say to you that we have passed the stage in 
democratic development when charity can take care of an 
industrial breakdown. The unemployed ask not for free 
soup. They ask for work. 

I recognize that municipal industries at first hearing 
strike the listener as a most revolutionary proposal. But 
we are in the midst of a situation quite out of the ordi- 
nary; and extraordinary measures are demanded. In an 
address before the ministers of Baltimore a week ago I 
brought forward the question along the lines I am here 
stating it. If you will consult the Baltimore American of 
the last few days, you will perceive that Municipal In- 
dustries are being seriously discussed as the remedy for 
Baltimore's unemployment. The situation in our City at 
this moment probably surpasses in the extent of unemploy- 
ment and in the degree of misery caused, any previous 
condition New York has known. The war in Europe 
which is partly only partly responsible for the situa- 
tion, means the breakdown of large areas of our civiliza- 
tion. In a crisis of this kind, I submit to you, sir, that 
the time has come to break with traditional modes of 
thought and approach the problem with a totally fresh 
handling. 

I need not remind you of the dangerous quality in the 
present situation. I am the minister of a church that is 
in close contact with the workers. I speak therefore with 
the authoritative note that comes from first hand knowl- 
edge ; and I say to you that unless something is done, 
danger is threatened. Tens of thousands of self-respect- 
ing citizens at the present moment are in destitution and 
degradation, that is not only deteriorating the moral char- 
acter, but is proving and is going to prove a fertile seed- 
bed of many kinds of criminality. I am informed that the 
armories in our city have received instructions from the 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Governor of the State to bring their regiments and equip- 
ment up to a fighting force of one hundred per cent, 
efficiency; the reason being that the social disturbances 
that this winter of unemployment is likely to bring forth 
will perhaps make unusual demands upon the military arm 
of the city and state. I appeal to you, Sir, and through 
you to the civic mind and social heart of this metropolis, 
that repressive force is not the proper approach to the 
handling of this question. 

It would indeed require a broad sentiment among the 
people to back you and your advisors in undertaking 
municipal industries. But I believe the time is ripe for 
such a sentiment to focus. The ministers of the various 
churches are rapidly awakening to the fact that social 
conditions are a legitimate and necessary field for min- 
isterial activity. The moral decadence resulting from the 
present unemployment is breaking down the standards of 
order and decency in wide areas of our population. With 
the churches ready to back you and with the civic agencies 
of a voluntary sort likewise tired of the old remedies which 
do not remedy, the moment is psychological for a construc- 
tive method at last to be undertaken. 

In my address last Sunday, after pointing out the dan- 
gerousness of the present situation, I stated that if New 
York City refuses to undertake the opening of these idle 
factories and has nothing better to offer than apathy and 
the blunderings of previous years, the workers would be jus- 
tified in entering an idle factor}*- and setting it in operation 
themselves. True, this seizure of a dead industrial plant by 
workers, though for purposes of constructive activity and 
not at all for purposes of devastation, would be extra-legal ; 
but that such a seizure by a band of the unemployed would 
be anti-legal, I do not believe. Suicide is forbidden by 
statutory enactment. The slow suicide which is taking 
place on the part of many thousands of our people at this 
moment, through cold and privation and famine, is dis- 
tinctly unconstitutional and illegal. For a man to starve 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 113 

to death peaceably, is a crime against himself and against 
society. But that is quite what is taking place. If to 
prevent that large and wide-spreading illegality, the en- 
tering of a factory by force and the starting of its wheels 
without the consent of the established authorities, should 
be undertaken, the worst that could be said against it 
would be that it was the lesser of two illegalities. 

I recognize that such an entrance of an idle fac- 
tory might have consequences as far reaching as the as- 
sault upon the Bastille in Paris, July 14, 1789. But I 
am compelled by the sights that I daily witness, to per- 
ceive the slow starvation and the consequent moral de- 
cadence of tens of thousands of our people. And in pres- 
ence of this awful fact I am bold to urge measures that 
are unconventional but are not unrighteous. I ask you 
to believe, sir, that I am animated by a constructive spirit. 
New York City has brains enough, and money enough and 
heart enough to establish a Department of Municipal In- 
dustries if it will but once awaken to the terrible need. 
Take shoes as a type. The people need shoes. The ma- 
chinery is here for the making of shoes. The workers are 
dying for the privilege of entering and starting the idle 
machinery. To ask that New York City set itself at once 
to bring these three facts together and thus transform a 
situation which is now a social hell into a vivified orderly 
and industrious society, is not to ask aught unreasonable. 
An awakened civic conscience is all. If I and the Church 
of the Social Revolution can be of any assistance to you 
in bringing to pass this awakening, we are at your service. 

Faithfully yours, 
BOUCK WHITE. 



BOUCK WHITE ON BLACKWELL'S ISLAND* 

I remember as an undergraduate in Harvard, going 
one day on a tour of investigation down to Deer Island, 
your Boston penal colony, here in the harbor. On the 
boat were a batch of prisoners being taken down ; the grist 
of that day's grinding by the Boston police courts. As 
I passed by the pen in the boat where the prisoners were 
herded, I looked in. The sight of that mass of humanity, 
unkempt, unwashed, in every stage of vagabondage and 
decrepitude and disease and filth, massed together in a 
room four times too small to accommodate them, for all 
the world like dogs in a kennel (except that dogs in the 
kennel have more breathing space than these), the sight 
made on my young mind an impression of horror and re- 
vulsion. That I should myself ever be thrown into such 
a den, as a part of that human wreckage, was unthinkable 
to me. 

And yet that was the fate that awaited me when I was 
taken from the New York City Jail over to the penal 
colony on Blackwell's Island in the East River. A steam- 
boat of about the same size as the one that plies in Bos- 
ton Harbor awaited us at the City Dock. 

We were marched down the gangplank; a great iron 
door rolled back upon its hinges; and we were thrust 
into a pen amidships in the boat, a room about half the 
size of this platform from which I am speaking to-night ; 
it was fifteen feet square and about eight feet wide. In 
that tiny room, a room too small to be the bedroom for 
two persons, we were thrust in, forty of us. Locked in, 
we were left to steam and stew in there for a space of two 

* From an address entitled " Prisons and Progress," delivered by 
him in Tremont Temple, Boston, December 21, 1914, under the auspices 
of the Boston School of Social Science. 

114 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 115 

hours. It was the worst single experience of all of my 
six months' imprisonment. 

After the prisoners get over on the Island, and have 
had the bath with hot water and soap which is given to 
every comer, they get rid of the old clothing, and put on 
the prison uniform, which at least has the merit of clean- 
liness. The conditions then are tolerable. But this, 
you will remember, was on the way to the prison. Those 
forty in there with me were the sweepings and refuse of a 
metropolitan city, representing many nationalities, and 
all degrees of dirt and drunkenness and social disease. 
Some were on the verge of delirium tremens, the result 
of a prolonged spree, which the strong but kindly arm of 
the police had abruptly terminated, to the regret of the 
poor chap himself, but in some cases to the saving of his 
life. The filth was indescribable. One poor fellow, a vic- 
tim of drugs (I believe he died in the prison hospital 
the next day), was stretched out on a bench in a state 
of dying stupor. Vermin was on the clothing of a num- 
ber, the result of days and nights of vagabondage, wherein 
they had had no place to sleep, or to remove their clothing, 
to say nothing about taking a wash. 

To touch the garments of these was to be infected with 
the vermin that were crawling over them. Yet one could 
not help touching them, for we were so closely crowded 
that we had not even room to turn around, so thickly were 
we packed. 

The worst part of the whole experience, however, was 
the absence of ventilation. There may be some pretext 
of an excuse offered for the neglect of the authorities in 
failing to provide a larger room for the prisoners. 
(What excuse can be offered I know not, for the boat was 
big enough to have provided ample quarters.) But no 
excuse whatever can be advanced for the absence of ven- 
tilation. 

There were two small windows, the sash opening 
slightly from the top. We tried desperately to open the 



116 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

lower sash, but found that no provision had been made 
for that possibility. The danger of escape cannot be 
pleaded, for ample bars were across the window on the 
outside. Furthermore, the absence of knowledge of the 
unhygienic conditions cannot be pleaded; apparently 
warnings had been issued to the authorities in time past; 
for on one side of the room, on a shelf, was an electric fan. 
Apparently, in warm weather, so many of the prisoners 
had fainted from lack of air that the authorities had been 
stirred to the point of installing this fan. But a fan 
does not bring in new air; it merely stirs up the air that 
is already in there. Outside of that room, sweeping up 
and down the East River, were life-giving currents of air 
from the great ocean. Tides and tides of oxygen, but we 
were effectively shut from it; and it seems never to have 
occurred to the politician mind of the New York City 
Department of Correction to open a space and let in the 
air. The only remedy was the costly one of providing 
an electric fan to stir up the dead air inside. A carpenter 
in half a day could fix those windows so as to open them 
top and bottom, and thus provide a circulating current. 
But in all the years that New York City has been trans- 
porting prisoners to Blackwell's Island it has never oc- 
curred to the authorities to set that carpenter at work. 
I am bold to state that diseases were contracted, during 
these two interminable hours in that worse-than-the-Black- 
Hole-of-Calcutta, which remained with some of those poor 
wretches to contaminate all the rest of the years of their 
lives. Moreover the reason for the imbecility of the au- 
thorities in this matter is not far to seek. Prisoners are of 
a class that have no voice to articulate their wrongs in the 
public press, and therefore the condition goes on without 
amelioration. One of the best pieces of social service 
which a person of intelligence can render, is to get him- 
self arrested occasionally, in order that he may experience 
prison life from the inside, and bring the situation into 
articulated form before the public. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 117 

Arriving at the Island we were marched two and two 
across the yard, and into the great prison. There we 
were stripped and given the bath; and then clad in 
prison garb; even the underclothing was of prison make. 
The garb, as you know, is of horizontal stripes, thus 
giving to the chap who wears it a very good resemblance 
to a hyena. These horizontal stripes extend even to the 
cap which is given him. And inasmuch as all other cloth- 
ing is forbidden him, this garb provides a very effective 
safeguard against escape. 

The shoes present the one unhygienic feature, since 
they are not changed after each individual's use of them, 
but are thrown back into the common pile. The shoes 
that I drew were in a condition of dilapidation quite be- 
yond description. They had been worn by I know not 
how many generations of feet, before they were handed on 
to me. No attempt apparently is made to sterilize the 
shoes, and they present an uncleanly spectacle that is bet- 
ter not described, if any of you have tender ears. A pass- 
ing incident while I was trying to fit my feet into shoes 
mateless and matchless from the pile, remains with me. 
At my side on the bench was an elderly man, white of hair, 
and showing even in the ruins the marks of a once fine 
manhood. The prison doctor had apparently detected 
the need of attention in his case, and had sent him a po- 
tion from the hospital. 

It came by the hand of an attendant while I was at his 
side. The man however was so far gone in the early 
stages of delirium tremens, that he could not pick up the 
glass, his hand being too unsteady to lift the liquid from 
the tray to his mouth. He therefore had to ask the at- 
tendant to do it for him. That was a sample of the dis- 
eased mass of humanity that is packed together in that 
den of a prison ship, nearly half a hundred men, in a 
room only large enough for ten. 

From the bath and dressing room we were taken to our 
cells. Mine was No. 79, up on the top tier. It was a 



118 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

room of some capaciousness, and contained thirty-eight 
or forty prisoners besides myself. Iron shelves let down 
from the wall on hinges, swinging from a chain, and on 
these we slept; except that some of the floor space in the 
middle was taken up with iron cots. Mattresses of course 
are out of the question in prison. Our bedding consisted 
of two blankets, one to sleep on to cover the springs, and 
the other to cover oneself with. There seems to be no 
attempt made to wash the blankets after one prisoner is 
discharged, and the blankets are handed on to another. 
Therefore those that I slept in had been used by I know 
not how many criminals before me, and their state of un- 
hygienic dirt is quite beyond proper narration. I 
speedily caught an infectious disease around my neck, ap- 
parently from these blankets, which eruption lasted with 
me off and on during most of my six months in jail. 

Why an incoming prisoner is not given a clean set of 
blankets is a mystery that the authorities should be called 
upon to explain. Hot water is in abundance, laundry soap 
in this day is not costly. The bringing together of these 
filthy blankets and hot water and soap ought not to be an 
undertaking beyond the mentality of those in charge of our 
prisons. But it seems to be so at present. An explana- 
tion may be found in the political control of our great 
cities to-day ; they are run by the master class for the 
benefit of the master class ; and the poor dogs at the bottom 
get but scant attention. Unless public rumor is a public 
liar, the present head of the prisons in New York City, 
Miss Katherine Davis owes her appointment to John D. 
Rockefeller who contributed a large sum of money to the 
election of the present mayor, and in return asked the 
mayor to appoint his personal friend, Miss Davis, to be 
the head of the present department. 

In saying this I do not mean to indicate that Miss Davis 
is personally incompetent. I do say, however, that in any 
point where there would be a clash between the interests 
of the rich at the top and the interest of the wretches at 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 119 

the bottom, the wretches at the bottom would be the losers. 

The motley crew who were my cellmates in No. 79 there 
in the Blackwell's Island prison, would demand the pen of 
a Tolstoi or Gorki competently to describe. They repre- 
sented many phases and degrees of criminality. There 
were drug fiends, pick-pockets, sex criminals, wife beaters, 
drunks, forgers, gunmen; indeed nearly the whole gamut 
of crime in its picturesque and unpicturesque phases; 
many nationalities, colors and ages, youths and old men, 
men from refined families and wretches from the mud gut- 
ter we were all huddled together. 

There was no toilet, and no drinking water. Locked 
in that cell all night as we were, the only toilet facilities 
consisted of filth buckets, and the only drinking water was 
in a wooden pail which we filled each evening before the 
great iron gate was shut upon us. The state of that 
room with those filth buckets, by the time morning came, 
can only be arrived at by those with a realistic imagina- 
tion. 

Ventilation was by means of windows ; but this was most 
inadequate, for the reason that while those whose bunks 
were near the slop buckets would plead incessantly through 
the night for the windows to be opened because the stench 
was beyond human endurance, those convicts whose cots 
were near the windows in many instances refused to have 
them opened, pleading that they could not stand the 
draught. 

The vermin were not so bad for those whose beds were 
the movable cots on the floor. Their method of steriliza- 
tion, while primitive, was more or less effective. The oc- 
cupier of the bed would build a fire of old newspapers on 
the cement floor of the cell, and then hold his bed over the 
flame until the bugs had been roasted. But we who had 
bunks on the shelves fastened by hinges to the wall one 
above the other, could not adopt this method, and the 
state of our bunks after generations of prisoners had oc- 
cupied them, was such as would perhaps better not be 



120 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

described before an audience where some nerves are per- 
haps susceptible. 

The conversation among my cell mates was one of the 
redeeming features of the whole affair, for it was of a 
profanity picturesque beyond anything I have ever known 
elsewhere. Profanity, when it is of an original sort, in 
a way ceases to be profane, and mounts into the realm of 
literary creation. Their phrasings were not so much pro- 
fanity as the poetic imagery of minds primitively en- 
vironed, and for the most part devout believers in saints 
and angels and deity and devils. Had I but had the leis- 
ure to take notes, I could have gleaned from the pro- 
fanities, which swirled and flowed round about me, a har- 
vest of literary gems that would make the fortune of a 
fiction writer. When it is remembered that a good part 
of the time inside their cell is spent by the prisoners in 
quarreling with each other (for the confinement produces 
a state of irritability which the prisoners vent on each 
other when the jailers are not available), it will be seen 
that the opportunity for the creation of profane phrases 
is irresistible. 

In the daytime we go to work. Roused in the morn- 
ing at 5.30, we put on our shoes, and are then ready for 
the day ; for as you have probably guessed, we sleep in our 
clothes, and thus are not out of our clothing day or night. 
When the cell door is opened we troop down to the wash 
room, and there in long trenches perform a hasty wash 
of face and heads and hands. Then comes breakfast, 
which sometimes consisted of nothing but dry bread and 
undrinkable coffee, served in a tin can. Then to work, 
in whatever gang one happened to be. Mine was the 
baker gang, and my work consisted of passing the dough 
over from the kneading board to the oven. Also I as- 
sisted in carrying the loaves to the store room as they 
came from the ovens. Part of the time also I was in the 
wood gang, and chopped wood for the ovens. Towards 
the latter part of my imprisonment I did some carpenter 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 

work. That always gives me pleasure, the experience 
which taught me the feel of the same kind of tools in the 
same kind of work as was done by the Galilean carpenter 
whom I have chosen as the Master of my ways and works. 

After some time on BlackwelFs Island I was trans- 
ferred to Queens County Jail on the mainland. Here 
each prisoner had a cell by himself. In the adjoining cell 
on one side of me, I remember, was a check forger, and 
the three cells on the other side were occupied by bur- 
glars. Murderers were also a part of the composite 
medley that made up our prison personnel. The solitary 
cell has advantages, in that it permits of privacy after the 
day's work is done ; but it has the disadvantage of cramped 
quarters. Let those, who think that their hall bedroom 
is too small for them, imagine that space reduced nearly 
one hundred per cent., and they will get an idea of the 
amount of space in a prison cell ; the narrowness of which 
is augmented by the fact that the iron door which is the 
only means of egress is slammed shut by the jailer out- 
side, and is clamped by chains, the clanging of which one 
can hear ominously from within. 

I remember getting on rather intimate terms with the 
chap in the cell adjoining mine. He had been a New York 
gangster for many years and knew the underworld. Rec- 
ognizing the gigantic powers that were arrayed against 
me, and coming to take a personal interest in me, 
he pleaded as I was about to leave prison at the end of 
my term, that I take care not to go unnecessarily into 
danger. I asked him what he meant, ano! he intimated 
that there were alliances between wealthy predatory in- 
terests and the gangster crowd in the underworld. Fol- 
lowing up the clew, I asked him point blank one day if 
he meant that it is possible to hire men in New York City 
to commit murder ; he said it was not only possible, but had 
become reduced almost to a commercial commodity. He 
said he knew leaders of gangs who controlled in the ag- 
gregate something like four or five hundred followers, 



122 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

any one of whom would take a man's life for a stipulated 
sum. " What is that sum? " I asked him; and he replied: 
" Anywhere from twenty-five dollars up, according to the 
risk involved and the amount of protection which the fel- 
low could expect after he had done the deed." 

It is a pleasure to me to report that part of my time at 
Queens County Jail was engaged in making flower beds, 
and in beautifying the prison yard. Also I obtained the 
Warden's permission to bring in some of the flowers in 
boxes, when the time of frost came in the autumn. I like 
to think of these flowers as now relieving to a slight extent 
the tedium of life there this winter, for those sad-faced, 
homeless, friendless chaps I left behind there, when the big 
gate opened, November 11, to let me out. 



THE CHURCH AND THE CRISIS * 

My friends: Last spring in the coal mining region of 
Colorado, there took place the most pitiful and momentous 
event in America's social history. At present the drums 
and tramplings in Europe hold the popular mind. But 
though national war be more spectacular, it is the social 
war that is writing the real and permanent pages of his- 
tory. It highly befits us, therefore, amid the tumult 
and the glare and the shouting, to pause and give thought 
to these deeper currents. The event referred to was the 
combat between the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and 
its employees, wherein seven score and over of the latter 
were slaughtered by hired gunmen of the company. 

The insurrection arose through restiveness of the miners 
and their families, in giving their bodies and their brains 
and their health, to enrich a group of absentee owners 
whom they had never seen, of whom they rarely heard, 
and who appeared in the life of Colorado purely as a huge 
grasping palm, getting ever, giving never ; a vast tentacle, 
fastened upon every miner's home, and sucking into itself 
all the richness and marrow and joy of their existence. 
A Congressional investigating committee traced the larg- 
est of these absentee landlords, in fact the controlling 
ownership of the company and therefore the chief extor- 
tioner of them all, to a man of colossal wealth living here 
in the East, in his Pocantico Palace. This Croesus is a 
leading member of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church on 
West 57th Street in this city. The Church of the Social 
Revolution, of which I am pastor, was at the time on West 
44th Street, a very near neighbor of that other church, 
and representing the workmen's side in the Colorado af- 
fair. For as the Fifth Avenue Church included in its 

* Carnegie Hall, Dec. 13, 1914. 

123 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 

membership this richest man in the world, we in turn are 
of the poorest in the world. Therefore we thought to 
help the situation by establishing an interchange of views 
with that neighbor church. It is here we enter the nar- 
rative. 

We of the Revolution Church take the matter of re- 
ligion seriously. We hold that a man's religion, and there- 
fore his view of the universe, is the most important thing 
about him. For it is the mold in which his thinkings are 
shaped. And thinking is the root of all doing. 

We did this Baptist Church, therefore, the honor to 
believe that the type of religion it propagates is influ- 
ential in modeling the type of conduct lived by its mem- 
bers. That is a point indeed upon which they them- 
selves put much stress. " Join our Church," say they ; 
" and it will pattern you into its likeness." You can de- 
termine what a Church teaches by what its people prac- 
tice. In this I am not saying that a Church can be held 
chargeable for the deeds of all of its members. To infer 
from an intoxicated man that the church of which he might 
conceivably be a member inculcates intoxication, would 
be obviously unjust. When, however broadly all the mem- 
bers of a church, not in one place or time but in all places 
and at all times, pursue a course of conduct, it is valid to 
infer that the church teaches that course of conduct. 
Yes, it is complimentary so to infer. Otherwise that 
church would be ineffective in getting its doctrines in- 
carnated in the lives of its people; and therefore would 
forfeit its right to existence. 

Extortion is, among the Baptists, a course of conduct 
thus broadly universal. Among the Methodists likewise, 
for that matter ; also among Episcopalians, Congregation- 
alists, Presbyterians, and the residue. But it is a Baptist 
Church that has figured in my life during these last six 
months. Therefore I confine the narrative to her. 

In bringing the charge of extortion, believe me I 
am. speaking neither in malice nor vituperation. The 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 125 

Baptists themselves admit the charge. Yes, they take 
glory in it. Extortion means, squeezing all you can out 
of the other fellow. Go to any business man who is a 
Baptist, and he will plead to the indictment. " Most as- 
suredly I get all I can," he will tell you. " Do you think 
I'm in business for my health? I buy in the cheapest mar- 
ket, and sell in the dearest. If I didn't I'd be in the re- 
ceiver's hands quick. Business is so organized that one 
is obliged to be an extortioner. It's a game of dog eat 
dog. Naturally I choose to be the eater rather than the 
eaten. Nothing illegal about it. It is quite within the 
bounds of statutory procedure. To overreach, is com- 
mercialism's a b c, and x y z. Yes, I'm an extortioner." 

This is the business code taught by the Fifth Avenue 
Baptist Church. Successful extortion is the type of con- 
duct she delights to honor. The Standard Oil magnate 
is a case in point. By squeezing every cent he could out 
of the other fellow that is, by extortion he has 
amassed the most far-extending private fortune known to 
history. And he is also clothed by his Church with every 
preferment in its power to bestow. His membership on 
their roll is celebrated with anthems of joy. Not a post 
of honor in that organization but would be conferred upon 
him with bell-ringings of delight. The Fifth Avenue 
Church has given to extortionate riches a clean bill of 
health. Yes, has enhaloed it with a radiance from the 
heaven of the highest; consecrating the code with sanctions 
the most holy within the mind of man to conceive or within 
the heart of man to cherish. 

I would not that there should seem to attach to my 
tones any suggestion of bitterness. Therefore I make 
haste to soften the guilt. It is only within recent date 
that extortion has come to light as one of the cardinal 
wickednesses forbidden by the Bible. Before the era of 
modern scholarship religion, even the religion of Prot- 
estantism was an affair of fog and unrealism. The Bible, 
read with uncritical gaze, was deemed a book of conso- 



126 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

lation; a means rather of emotional detachment from the 
scenes of time and space, than of civic duty and austere 
moral imperative. 

It is scientific scholarship that is disclosing the indus- 
trial note sounding through every page of the scripture 
record. Thanks to scholarly research, we now know that 
the bible is not primarily a book of religion. It is pri- 
marily a book of economics. Or, more correctly, the two 
are fused into an organic blend, so that the religion of the 
bible mobilized its energies unto economic tasks ; and eco- 
nomics drew its inspirations from the vital breath of re- 
ligion. 

Jesus, we now know, was a workingman. His spiritual- 
ity was inseparably interwoven with the carpenter's bench 
where he spent his young manhood. A toiler, and of a 
nation of toilers, the life industrial was woven into the 
bone and brain of him. His thought apparatus was de- 
termined on the side of the working poor and against the 
exploiting rich. His life coincided with the formative era 
of the Roman Empire. That empire was a coalition of 
the master-class in all of the countries against the working- 
class in all of the countries. The extension of that em- 
pire to Palestine menaced him and his fellow toilers with 
slave status. Long he endured the threat and the increas- 
ing degradation. Then his forbearance came to an end. 
He laid aside his carpenter's tools, surrounded himself 
with twelve other workingmen, and stepped 1 forward into 
a campaign of agitation the equal of which for popular 
arousement has nowhere else been marked down in his- 
tory. " The common people," we are definitely informed, 
" heard him gladly." So gladly, in truth, that the wrath 
of the privileged orders swiftly flamed against him. From 
Galilee to Golgotha they hounded him. When finally they 
had him in Pilate's court, the indictment drawn against 
him was, " he stirreth up the people." Nor did he at- 
tempt to deny it. Amply his guilt was established. He 
was convicted as an inciter of the populace. He met an 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 127 

agitator's death. 

" The most inHammatory book ever written," exclaimed 
James Russell Lowell of the bible. And exact scholar- 
ship is confirming the pronouncement. I have some ac- 
quaintance with the writings of such men as Karl Marx, 
Ferdinand Lassalle, Mazzini, Proudhon, and Henry 
George. Yet I say unto you, never in any of them have 
I found so vehement an indignation against swollen for- 
tunes, and so invariable a class-conscious fellowship with 
the toiling poor, as in the recorded utterances of Jesus the 
carpenter of Nazareth. 

But these researches of scholarship have not as yet 
reached Churches of the old school. So that they with 
entire innocence are teaching an outworn ethics in a day 
of modern illumination. Here is one of the tragedies of 
our time. The age demands a social morality. But the 
Churches are hammering along with the old private moral- 
ity. So that we see men who are personal saints and pub- 
lic sinners. Thereby religion is made a laughing-stock; 
and the whole idea of a spiritual life is brought under 
condemnation. 

In these circumstances, we of the Church of the Social 
Revolution sought to extend to the Fifth Avenue Baptist 
Church the light of modern biblical scholarship, in con- 
nection with the social crisis that is gathering its menace 
so portentously to-day. In a letter to its pastor I an- 
nounced our visit, to invite their congregation to a joint 
conference with ours, at some time and place to be mu- 
tually agreed upon. 

Dr. Woelfkin states that, for some mysterious reason, 
this special delivery letter was delayed nearly two days, 
so that it reached him only a few minutes before the morn- 
ing service, and too late for him to read. An intimation, 
is it not? that if he had received it and thus had 
known of the friendliness of our intentions, a different 
sort of reception would have been ours. In which case 
I ask him why, in the police court the following Tuesday, 



128 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

after he had had two additional days to read and re-read 
the letter, his attitude was still one of hostility? One 
word from him, or from his Church board, would have 
changed the tenor of the entire court proceedings. Not 
only did they refuse to utter that word, but they assisted 
the prosecution and helped powerfully to convict me. 

A question is perhaps in the minds of some of you: 
What right had we to pay that visit? Was it not a 
strange procedure; illegal, an act of wildness, savoring 
rather of barbarism than of the pleasant usages of culti- 
vated society? 

My friends, when I recall the circumstances amid which 
our visit was paid, that methodical massacre at Ludlow, 
I marvel at the restraint we showed on the occasion of our 
visit to that church. In Colorado, one hundred and forty- 
seven of our fellow members of the disinherited class lay 
dead. Life was as dear to them as to any. They in- 
cluded men and women, boys and girls, and babes. I have 
received from there the picture of a rag doll of one of the 
girl victims, that had come out of the inferno of fire well 
enough preserved to be photographed. They were fel- 
low humans, those people that were slain. As you and I, 
so they had their hopes, their day-dreamings, their thirst 
for a home and for happiness and for love. In the vigor 
of health, they planned their days; they looked forward 
into the coming years with expectation. Then the blow 
descended. Upon their camp the hired assassins of the 
Colorado Fuel and Iron Company fell. The torch was 
applied. The report of guns rang out. And when the 
smoke cleared, there the bodies lay; among them women 
holding infants in arms that, mother-fashion, had sought 
to defend them first of all. Meanwhile the instigator of it 
was safe in his palace here on the Pocantico Hills, amid 
a lavishment of wealth huge beyond estimation. And his 
Fifth Avenue Church was assembling at stated intervals 
in the name of the crucified Carpenter, to chant the praises 
of the rich and to inculcate upon the poor a proper do- 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 129 

cility of subordination. 

Wildness on our part, that visit of ours to the Church 
that had nurtured him into this grotesque and hellish 
code? I say unto you, as over against that Ludlow busi- 
ness, our deed was of lamblike sweetness and moderation. 
Not the wildness of it, but the mildness of it, excites my 
astonishment. Had we gone and stormed that church 
level with the ground so as to drive a plowshare through 
the ruins, it would have been a tame affair in comparison 
with Ludlow. For how should a few stones be held in 
the same reckoning with living, sentient beings in Colo- 
rado dashed to death? 

No, my brother, tax us not with exaggeration in our 
deed. If you chide us at all, chide rather the too, too 
gentle procedure in the face of a massacre that called 
to highest heaven for protest. We to hide our heads ! 
Let those the rather hide their heads who lived contempo- 
rary to such a happening, and uttered no syllable of re- 
monstrance. And if any of you were in that number, 
this night pray the piteous Heart-of-God to forgive you 
for being a coward and a nonentity and a blank ; and to 
make you from this time forth a figure that shall count 
in your day upon earth. 

I referred a moment ago to the Tarrytown magnate 
as the instigator of the Ludlow slaughter. Possibly that 
provoked a mood of query in some of you. This man, you 
say, was two thousand miles from the scene. His prop- 
erty in Colorado was managed by agents on the spot. 
These, and not he, hired the gunmen and are chargeable 
for the tragedy. 

My friends, if you say that you know not social ethics. 
He who receives the profits of a business, is answerable for 
the methods employed in running that business. And 
now we are cutting close to the heart of the economic 
issue of these times. Great wealth means absentee own- 
ership. Here is the boundary line between a proper and 
an improper fortune. Wealth becomes swollen wealth, 



130 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

when the owner of it is no longer able personally to super- 
intend and administer it. When a man no longer can 
know each of his workmen by name, with the wife and 
children of each, he has too many workmen. Absentee 
ownership, always and everywhere, is inhuman ownership. 
Such wealth becomes terribly depersonalized; a machine 
for grinding out profits. There are no human sympathies 
to temper it, no tenderness to soften the harshness of its 
exactions. Therefore it extorts with a perfect extortion. 

There is nothing so merciless under the stars of heaven, 
as a property administered by agents. The owner is at 
a remove. He sees not the cruelties that are enacted. 
And the agent is but a hired man. Where then shall be 
found chords of sensibility to feel the tragedy ; or a voice 
to uplift, and stay the devastation ? A popular song tells 
of a lonely girl : she lived in the city that is without pity ; 
the city that has no heart. But more pitiless than an 
alien city, is absentee wealth. It has a gigantic brain, 
but no feelings. Which is exactly the definition of a 
monster. 

The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company is a pat illustra- 
tion. I am told that the owner in Tarrytown is a man of 
quick and tender heart. The superintendent in Colorado 
is also, most like, a man of family, and with natural hu- 
man sympathies. But this finer and human side of neither 
of them was permitted to be operative. 

Says the owner to the superintendent, " I have pro- 
moted you to this coveted post. Now it is up to you to 
make good. The superintendent before you jacked the 
dividend up from 4% to 6 per cent. See if you can do as 
well." 

" Will do my best," replies the superintendent. " I '11 
keep an eye on the dividend; be sure of that. Of course 
there is er the workmen and their families. Just 
what procedure do you er think " 

" What procedure? " exclaims the owner. " Adopt the 
Christian procedure. I've got a heart, I have. Be good 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 131 

to the workmen." 

" Er even at the expense of er lowering the 
dividends, sir? " 

" Now, see here, Mr. Superintendent, I've appointed 
you to the management of an industrial plant, not to the 
head of a charity. I keep my business and my philan- 
thropy distinctly separate. Business means dividends." 

" And the heads of families? " 

" Give them all you can. But don't reduce the divi- 
dend." 

"The women?" 

" Treat the women well. But don't reduce the divi- 
dend." 

"The boys and girls?" 

" Be tender towards them. But don't reduce the 
dividend." 

The Dividend is the one deity in the business kingdom. 
To that, every eye looks up, in all homage, all worship. 
That superintendent in Ludlow knew that a cut in the rate 
of the dividend would cost him his job. Therefore he 
turned heaven and hell to maintain it. The dividend de- 
manded that he debauch politics. Therefore he debauched 
the politics of the entire State of Colorado. The dividend 
demanded that he employ children of school age. So he 
cast schoolhouses on the scrap heap. It demanded finally 
that he commit wholesale murder. Here likewise he hesi- 
tated not a moment. Maintain the dividend even at the 
price of massacre, was the order that came, directly or 
indirectly, from Tarrytown. He did as he was told. He 
multiplied murder 147 times. Thus he kept his job. Po- 
cantico Hills got its dividends. And the Fifth Avenue 
Church, its pew rent and missionary contribution. 

But, they tell us, there wasn't any provision in law for 
your visit to the Fifth Avenue Church. Well, was there 
any provision in law for the slaughter of those 147 people 
in Ludlow? An unprecedented situation demanded of us 
unprecedented measures. And it is the lawlessness of 



132 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

wealth, continued now through a course of years, that has 
brought to pass this unprecedented state of affairs. It is 
a proverb, " Law is a spider's web that catches the little 
flies, and lets the bumblebee break through." Money has 
debased the electorate, corrupted our legislatures, bedev- 
illed our courts, besmirched our municipalities, polluted 
all the springs of our civic life. 

" Law and order " is their cry to us and their everlast- 
ing exhortation. Yes ? Harry Thaw's escape from Mat- 
teawan, and subsequent residence amid luxury in New 
Hampshire was it according to law and order? The 
pardon of Morse from the Federal prison in Atlanta, per- 
mitting him to regain his forfeited millions according 
to law and order? The lobby at Washington that so 
powerfully dictates some desired decree of Congress 
according to law and order? The State government in 
Colorado, is it at the present hour according to law and 
order; or has it been for one moment since the Colorado 
Fuel and Iron Company engaged in politics? The motor 
rides of a millionaire convict in Sing Sing according to 
law and order? Law and order, my friends, has come to 
be largely a formula for excusing the rich and powerful, 
and for accusing the lowly. 

But I wish to take higher ground than this, in justify- 
ing the deed where I, and the Church of which I am leader, 
have been brought in question. Statutory enactment is 
not for ethics the court of last appeal. Time was, when 
chattel slavery stood legislated into our federal constitu- 
tion. Against it, the doings of Lovejoy and Garrison and 
Phillips were avowedly illegal. But to-day those men are 
glorified. John Brown's deed at Harper's Ferry was 
hardly a contribution to the chronicles of legality. But, 
though his body lies a-moldering in the ground, his soul 
goes marching on. Jesus when he entered the Jerusalem 
temple and with whips drove out the gang of extortioners 
there confederated, was a law breaker. There are times 
when, to break the law, or rather, to go beyond the law, is 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 133 

man's divinest duty. 

By temperament I am disposed to the pathways of or- 
derly procedure. And if I seem to speak slightingly of 
man-made statutes, it is out of reverence to heaven-made 
statutes which man-made laws were stupidly ignoring or 
openly contradicting. One of these laws engraved on the 
statute books eternal, is the law of truth. Which law the 
Fifth Avenue Church in question was grievously violating. 
And is. It teaches the righteousness of swollen fortunes, 
and affects to base that teaching on the life and words of 
the Carpenter of Nazareth. A more perfect falsification 
was never fabricated to mislead the children of men. 

" Once upon a time," said that Carpenter, " there was 
a certain rich man that was clothed in purple and fine 
linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And a certain 
beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate full of sores, 
and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the 
rich man's table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his 
sores. Now it came to pass that the beggar died and was 
carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich 
man also died and was buried. And in hell he lifted up 
his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, 
and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, 
' Father Abraham, I pray thee have mercy on me, and 
send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water 
and cool my tongue. For I am tormented in this flame.' 
But Abraham said, ' Son, between us and you is a great 
gulf fixed.' " 

Jesus, you will take note, does not send him to hell be- 
cause he was an immoral rich man, an uncharitable rich 
man, or an illegal rich man. To the contrary, all the 
intimations in the parable portray him as a good rich 
man, more than commonly high-minded and tender of sensi- 
bility. None the less, for him the abode of the damned 
swings wide its gate. And all prayers, all supplications 
to the heart of heaven, were unavailing to mitigate the 
dread sentence so much as by one cooling drop of water. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Do you recall the parable of that other rich man? he 
who gave himself up to the lust of acquisition, joining 
field to field and property to property until he had not 
where to bestow his goods. " This will I do," said he ; " I 
will pull down my barns and build greater ; and there will 
I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to 
my soul, * Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many 
years ; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.' ' Well, 
that same night he met his death. And do you know to 
what kind of a death Jesus surrendered him? Both the 
accepted and the revised versions purposely soften it. The 
real translation is, " Thou fool, this night they are de- 
manding thy life of thee." In other words, he was put to 
death by an uprising of the populace. 

Nor are these exceptional or isolated passages. The 
speech of the Carpenter is pregnant with the economic 
upheaval of the time. This Jesus, whose birthday all 
Christendom will in a few weeks celebrate, who has redated 
the calendar and whose personality is the cornerstone of 
cathedrals and churches girdling the globe, was the most 
uncompromising foe of private riches that ever trod this 
planet. Wheresoever he passed, an uprising of the multi- 
tude was not long in following. He touched the times to 
revolutionary hope and high expectancy. For the toiler 
he had beatitudes. But to the privileged classes living 
at ease on the backs of the poor, he portioned out earth- 
quake and eclipse in this world, arid a gehenna of destruc- 
tion in the world to come. 

To take the name of such a one, and pervert it to a 
glorification of the money caste, is the ungodliest, the in- 
decentest piece of business the sun has looked down upon 
in many a year. Yet that is what our Fifth Avenue 
Church has done. It has put its O. K., its official im- 
primatur, on the perpetrator of the Ludlow slaughter. 
And then has the effrontery to engrave on its front, in 
letters sunk into the solid stone, " We Preach Christ Cruci- 
fied." It's a lie. And if they will not change it, some- 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 135 

body will have to change it for them. " We Preach Christ 
Falsified," is what it will have to be altered into. 

No right to carry the light of truth to that Church! 
If by that they mean that there is no statutory provision 
for such a deed, or that it is contrary to custom, they per- 
haps are right. But the statute book does not contain 
the whole duty of man. And as to the unusual and dis- 
turbing quality in our deed, I say unto you, This age 
needs to be disturbed. To stir up this dull and soggy 
generation, is quite the most salutary deed that could be 
wrought. And if thus to awaken a world sunk in com- 
fortable slumber, carries with it a jail sentence, we will 
take the consequences. When human law clashes with 
divine law, prison becomes a house of prayer, and they 
alone are truly free, who are fast behind the bars. 

But wait a moment. Our deed was outside the law. 
But was it contrary to the law? I beg to remind you 
that churches are a semi-public institution. Not fully 
public, as is a park or a highway. Nor yet fully private, 
as is a residence or a clubhouse. In our jurisprudence 
they occupy a status between. And for this reason: 
churches are exempt from taxation. Which means, to 
that extent they are subsidized by society. Every one 
of us is a contributor. 

Now taxation without representation is inimical to the 
spirit and history of American institutions. To be sure, 
the point is too nebulous a one to establish for our deed a 
legality beyond all peradventure. But I do say that it 
makes it a debatable issue, a case distinctly with two sides. 
The public, contributing of its taxes to the maintenance 
of a church, acquires thereby an equity in that church. 
So that our visit, whatever else it may have been, was not 
an intrusion. And the judges who hilariously refused to 
listen to our defense and who bundled me off to prison 
without any privilege of appeal and practically without 
a hearing, added no luster to the New York courts nor re- 
deemed the bench from the suspicion of subserviency to 



136 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

wealth, which is creeping into many minds to-day. 

But, legally or illegally, the Christian Church has got 
to be shamed out of its attitude of a coward and skulker 
on these economic issues. It must be dragged into the 
open. Some weeks ago, one of the Socialist Party leaders 
in New York wrote to Dr. Woelfkin, offering to arrange 
a public debate between him and me on the question, " Did 
Jesus Teach the Immorality of Being Rich? " That min- 
ister wrote back refusing, on the ground that he was by 
no means a defender of riches ; in fact, was not sure of his 
mind on this matter. But that was not the question. 
The subject proposed was not as to Dr. Woelfkin's atti- 
tude towards wealth, but as to the attitude of Jesus of 
Nazareth toward wealth a historical question purely, 
and verifiable from the records. What pitiable, pitiable 
spirit of evasion ! And from Protestantism, which once 
stood forth the champion of truth to all the world, and 
challenged the devil to his face. 

Strangely enough, the gentleness of tone in the letter 
sent to the Fifth Avenue Church has been made the ground 
of an additional accusation against me insincerity. 

" Bouck White did not mean a word of his letter," ex- 
claim a chorus of carping critics. My friends, I ask 
you to have faith enough in me to believe that I both am 
capable of sincerity, and that I displayed the trait on that 
occasion. There is a group of agitators who lay the eco- 
nomic sinnings of our day at the door of rich men in- 
dividually. But we of the Socialist creed hold differently. 
All the rich men in the world could renounce their incomes 
to-morrow; the game would be taken up by others, and 
the extortion go on. Not individuals, but the system, is 
at fault. We must lay the ax at the root of the poison 
tree. To lop off branches here and there is futile. 
Therefore in our efforts to find a remedy for the sick- 
ness of society as seen in the Ludlow breaking out, we 
went beneath all personalities, all surface cures, to bed- 
rock, namely, the false religion and ethics, from which all 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 137 

other falsenesses flow. 

Consider the situation: Agitators were holding the 
Standard Oil magnate individually responsible for the Lud- 
low affair. There was an invasion of the privacy of his 
home. There were threats against his life ; so that he was 
a prisoner in his own house, venturing forth only in a fast 
automobile, and with curtains drawn. Efforts were being 
made also to organize a committee in New York to pur- 
chase rifles and ship them to the miners in Colorado, to 
foment a civil war. In such a juncture, we wrote to the 
Fifth Avenue Church, saying: " Let us get together, and 
lift this entire question out of the realm of personalities 
into the realm of eternal principles, whence alone deliver- 
ance can flow." Their reply was to clap me into prison. 

Disorderly ? I say unto you, that Fifth Avenue Church 
was the true disorderly one. And we were the people of 
orderliness and elevated decorum. I do not blame the 
rich for their covetousness. I blame the Church that has 
taught them the falsified gospel that covetousness is ethi- 
cal and christianly. There is going to be more hope for 
John D. Rockefeller at Judgment Day than for Cornelius 
Woelfkin. Rockefeller is an offender against humanity. 
But he doesn't know it. Jesus in his day sentenced rich 
men to hell without reprieve. That was because in that 
era the commandment to a life of democracy and human 
fellowship was clear. So that the rich in that day sinned 
against noonday light. But to-day the plain mandates 
of the bible against swollen fortunes have been covered 
up and softened down and explained away by a convenient 
and decorous clergy. So that right and wrong have been 
made veritably to change places. 

Rockefeller is a moral idiot. He is not accountable 
for his acts. And therefore will be tenderly dealt with 
when he comes to his final account. I mean that in all 
kindness. Through the perverted religious teachings in 
which he has been immersed since boyhood, he is stone 
blind to the price in the misery of multitudes, that has 



138 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

been paid for his wealth. Ruthless as Attila or a Genghis 
Khan, he has trampled upon others, leaving behind at 
every step a trail of bankrupts. As Indians used to deco- 
rate their wigwams with the skulls of the vanquished, so he 
could paper all the walls of his house at Tarrytown with 
the bankruptcy proceedings of his victims. But he doesn't 
perceive it. He and his master-class group, with their 
commercial warfarings, avarice internationalized, cov- 
etousness magnified to a cosmic diameter have let loose 
the thunderclouds that now are clashing in Europe. And 
thereupon, with entire innocency, an absence of the sense of 
humor, he sends over shiploads of food for the districts 
ravaged by the war. Millions for philanthropy, but not 
a cent for justice. And why, this spectacle so sublimely 
ridiculous? It is because the Christianity that has nur- 
tured him has made of him, as to his moral judgments, an 
imbecile. For it has preached almsgiving instead of 
equity. Upon her, therefore, and not upon him, must fall 
the condemnation. 



This, my friends, is the history of that Fifth Avenue 
Church affair, told in all candor, all truth. What of the 
future? The newspapers at the time of my conviction 
last spring prophesied that it would work in me a whole- 
some amendment; and that I would come back, when the 
sentence had expired, to be a chastened and docile member 
of society thenceforward. 

The prophecies were outside the facts. They thought 
that half a year in prison would take the speed out of 
me. It has not taken the speed out of me. Six months 
of fettered inactivity detaches a prisoner as in a sort of 
watchtower, from which he can observe the world's drift 
and trend with a truer perspective than those who are in 
the thick of it. Twenty-seven weeks spent in that watch- 
tower have persuaded me, with a more grounded certitude 
than ever in the past, that this present order of society is 
doomed. It makes not for peace but for war. Its seed 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 139 

and root is the avaricious instinct, which instinct makes 
for conflict inevitable. Given that root, the cataclysm 
which is now destroying Europe is the natural growth and 
fruitage. Competition, the cornerstone; world war, the 
culmination. Capitalism's back is broken. Social sur- 
gery may devise some kind of a splint to keep the patient 
going for a while. But it will be on a descending path- 
way. Its vitality will be charted on a falling curve, 
The spinal column is fractured. 

When a world is hell-bent, Revolution, that is to say, a 
right-about-face, is the only thing that can save it. Ac- 
cordingly, to that holy task of social overturn, I dedicate 
my life. Nor in this stand I solitary. Protestantism is 
not wholly given over into the money power. That group 
of ministers who dared to defend me when I was in felon 
stripes, are a saving remnant about which a new spiritual 
formation shall gather. We have, furthermore, in a con- 
gressman-elect on this platform to-night, the evidence of 
a new type in America's political life, that shall be an in- 
calculable security in the troubled times that are ahead. 
Civilization is in the melting pot. The hour has struck to 
recast mankind into a nobler mold. " I enlist * under the 
Lord of the blood-red banner, to bring to an end a scheme 
of things that has enthroned Leisure on the back of La- 
bor, an idle class sucking the substance of the poor. I 
will not be a social climber, but will remain with the work- 
ers in class solidarity till class shall have been done away 
in fellowship's glad dawn. I will seek recruits for the 
Church of the Social Revolution, unto the overthrow of 
present-day society and its rebuilding into fellowship. 

* Covenant of the church. 



RITUAL 
CHURCH OF THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION 

ORDER OF SERVICE 

1. Song (People seated). 

2. Song (Seated). 

3. Leader : " To sing the folk upheaval and grow a 

Socialism of the heart, we are assembled. Unto us 
has been entrusted the high glad gospel of de- 
mocracy. Therefore with joy, with beauty, with 
strong devotion, let all the doings of this hour pro- 
ceed. That so the revolution may be wrought in 
sweetness and in majesty. Till the Lord-of-the- 
uprising-of-labor shall have been enthroned o'er all 
the earth, and the people be established." 

4. Song (Seated). 

5. The Covenant in unison (Standing). 

6. Song (Seated). 

7. Notices (by the Leader and the heads of committees 

and departments). 

8. Treasurer : " Church-of-the-Revolution comrades : 

The holiest cause that has come to earth in eighteen 
hundred years, asks you for a money offering. The 
martyrs that have gone before prepared for this 
day, by their faithfulness even unto impoverish- 
ment and death. Let us in this our time give with 
equal devotion." 

(Consecration of children to the Cause of Human 
Freedom.) 

9. Song (Standing). 

10. Address. 

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LETTERS FROM PRISON 141 

11. Invitation into the Fellowship; and singing the Cove- 

nant. 

12. Song (Standing). 

13. Silence. 

14. Leader: " And now may the Lord-of-the-uprising-of- 

labor keep us in the Fellowship." 

15. Congregation: " Forevermore." 



REVOLUTION MARRIAGE RITE 

Church of the Revolution, Comrades: 

We are about to consecrate the joining of two souls in 
wedlock. Marriage is a joyful event. It adds to the man 
and to the woman fullness of living, and to society the 
blessedness of an unending perpetuity. It is not good for 
man to be alone. It is not good for woman to be alone. 
Each has need of the other. Each rounds out the other. 
Many lives have come to a day of downfall, because they 
attempted to go solitary through the wilderness of this 
world, and in loneliness wandered astray. By cosmic de- 
cree, man and woman are fractional parts of a human 
being. In each other they find their completeness. 
Therefore we should glorify their union. We should lift 
it into the light of recognition; and rejoice on an occasion 
like the present, with a public rejoicing. The ongoings 
of life and of civil society shall not fail, so long as wed- 
ding bells shall ring and man and woman join themselves 
in splendid dedication. 

This occasion, while it has its joyous side, must also not 
be divested of the solemnity that befits it. The uniting 
of two lives is a matter in which not alone the partners are 
interested, but is an event likewise in which society is vitally 
concerned. Therefore, they who have a sense of civic re- 
sponsibility will neither lightly renounce marriage nor 
lightly enter marriage. Frivolously to refuse it, frivo- 
lously to undertake it, is equally a sorrow to the race. 
Therefore abating no part of the joyousness of this event, 
we must in like measure deepen our thoughts to the pro- 
found significance of the deed we are here enacting. 

To the Man and to the Woman 

You have come to me as the leader of this Church, that 
I may unite you in matrimony. It is incumbent upon me 

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LETTERS FROM PRISON 143 

however in all candor to inform you that no word that I 
may speak or rite that I personally can celebrate, is of 
power to bring that state of affairs to pass. Marriage 
is an interior uniting, or it is not a marriage. A joining 
of spirit to spirit, alone can make you husband and wife. 
Because of forgetfulness of this fact, marriages more than 
one have come to disastrous termination. The divorce 
courts testify with pathetic abundance that a marriage 
which is consecrated only by exterior celebration and not 
by spiritual union, is no marriage but is a mockery and a 
sorrow. Where love is, marriage abides. Where love is 
not, marriage is not. No clergyman has the right to bind 
a man and a woman together so long as life shall last ; but 
rather, so long as love shall last. Neither wedding day 
solemnities nor offices of earnest friends, nor all the power 
of Heaven itself shall be of* potency to keep together two 
souls that are not themselves resolved to be one. There- 
fore if the marriage here beginning is to be permanent, 
you yourselves must make it permanent. I need not tell 
you of the tragedy that is inflicted upon personal life and 
public well-being, by the sundering of homes and the break- 
ing up of families. I rather devote this moment to a word 
of caution and exhortation. To the end that love may 
last as long as life shall last, and marriage be coterminous 
with them both. 

Happy marriages are a growth; and are the result of 
that indwelling affection which leads to constant compro- 
mises one to the other, whereby with the passing of the 
years the soul of the man and the soul of the woman ad- 
just themselves mutually; like twin vines which have en- 
wrapt each other for so long that now any tearing of them- 
selves apart would be fatal to them both. Only in this 
will-to-permanency, can an enduring tie be wrought. 
Therefore I ask you now, are you determined each of you 
to make this marriage so far as in your power shall lie, an 
institution that by its lastingness and wholesomeness shall 
bless mankind long after your day is done? 



14*4 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

The man and the woman answer each: 
" I am so resolved." 

Do you cheerfully undertake the duties that come from 
the uniting of two lives and the setting up of a home in 
the midst of society? 

The man and the woman each: 
" I undertake those duties." 

In sickness as well as in health; in poverty as well as 
in plenty ; in dark hours as well as in the day of prosperity, 
will you cleave to one another and by your mutual faith- 
fulness lighten the common sorrow? 

The man and the woman each: 

" I will." 

[The leader places the right hand of the man in the right 
hand of the woman, and with his left hand upon their 
joined hands, says] : 

With this clasp of the hand, under the heaven of The 
Highest and in the presence of this company of witnesses, 
I pronounce you husband and wife. From this hour may 
holy thoughts attend you, and faithful friends enfold you, 
and the Everlasting Arms be round about you. Forever- 
more. 



CONSECRATION OF CHILDREN 

Church of the Revolution, Comrades : 

We are about to celebrate the rite of infant consecra- 
tion. From immemorial antiquity, the coming of a child 
into the world has been made the occasion of a stated and 
sacred ceremony. Such a celebration is eminently befit- 
ting 1 . In the animal kingdom the coming of an individual 
into existence, and his passing out, receive no recognition. 
Man has differently ordained, and thereby has invested 
human life with dignity. We of the new age and order 
depart widely from the old. But we do not destroy the 
old. Rather, founding upon the past, we carry the build- 
ing to a nobler and more glorious height. The morbid 
fear of the universe upon which the ancient rite of baptism 
was based, is forever passed away. But the beauty and 
utility of celebrating the advent of a new soul into the 
abode of the living, shall never pass away. It is not upon 
the child but upon us, and particularly upon the parents, 
that the present service is of value. I entreat you, there- 
fore, to give to this rite your cooperating aid, and to the 
child, from this time forth, your neighborly thought and 
affection. 

To the Parents : - 

You have brought this child for consecration. Do you 
hold with us that the present ordering of the world is evil, 
and needs to be supplanted by a new? 



Parents. 
I do. 



" I do." 

Will you strive by precept and example, to rear up this 

145 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 

child into moral courage, into self mastery, and into de- 
votion to the commonwealth? 

Parents. 
" I will." 

Leader (addressing the child, or children) : We wel- 
come you into life. A dark day is upon the world; may 
you be a light in the darkness. A day of bloodshed is 
upon the world; may you be a herald of peace. A day 
of hate is upon the world; may you be a bringer of fel- 
lowship. 

Will the congregation stand; and let us remain for a 
moment in silence. Leader [placing both palms on the 
head of the infant]. 

Russell Palmer, under the heaven of the Highest, and 
in the presence of this company of witnesses, I dedicate 
you to the cause of human freedom. From this hour may 
faithful guardians instruct you. May Heaven tenderly 
cherish you. And the Everlasting Arms be round about 

FOREVERMORE ! 



REVOLUTION CATECHISM 

Q. In what sort of an age are we living? 

A. We are living in an age of Revolution. 

Q. What is the nature of the present Revolution? 

A. It is a Social Revolution. 

Q. How does Social Revolution differ from political 
Revolution? 

A. Political revolution is confined within national boun- 
daries ; Social revolution disregards national boundaries. 

Q. Is the social revolution something tJiat is going to 
come? 

A. It is not something that is going to come; it is al- 
ready here. 

Q. Are there visible signs by which its presence can be 
detected? 

A. Social revolution has no visible signs. Unlike po- 
litical revolution, it is a combat of ideas. 

Q. How then can we know tliat The Revolution is taking 
place? 

A. We know that The Revolution is taking place be- 
cause of the change in the thoughts and habits and lives of 
the people. 

Q. 7* Social Revolution accompanied by bloodshed, as 
political rerwlution? 

A. Bloodshed is not an essential accompaniment of So- 
cial Revolution. Its domain is the invisible realm of 
thoughts and customs and institutions. 

Q. Is Social Revolution ever accompanied by the taking 
of life, or the destroying of property? 

A. Social revolutions in the past have been thus ac- 
companied. But these are not necessary parts of social 
revolution. 

Q. What is the difference between social evolution and 

social revolution? 

147 



148 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

A. Revolution is evolution hurried up. 

Q. Are both evolution and revolution normal? 

A. Both evolution and revolution are normal, each being 
a part in nature's ongoing. 

,Q. Why is our time a time of revolution and not of 
evolution? 

A. Ours is a time of revolution rather than evolution, 
because of the extent of the changes and the rapidity with 
which they are taking place. 

Q. What is the fundamental fact of The Revolution? 

A. The fundamental fact of The Revolution is the 
change from a civilization of and for the idle class, to a 
civilization of and for the workers. 

Q. Who are the workers? 

A. The workers are all who do productive toil. 

Q. Does this include brain workers, as well as hand 
workers? 

A. Yes; brain workers are a part of the producing 
class, and therefore are a part of the working class. 

Q. Who are not included? 

A. The kept people are not included ; by which is meant 
all able bodied people who consume without producing. 

Q. Does this change from a leisure class to an industrial 
class civilization, cause many consequences? 

A. Yes, the revolution of our time is causing an altera- 
tion in most of the departments of life. 

Q. What are the departments of life affected by the 
revolution? 

A. Besides industry, the departments affected by the 
revolution are the home, art, education, and statecraft. 

Q. What is the revolution that is taking place m the 
home? 

A. It is a revolution whereby the private family is being 
merged in the human family. 

Q. What is meant by this merging of the private family 
into the human -family? 

A. It means that people shall no longer think of their 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 149 

household first, but shall think of the human family first. 

Q. Who are your brothers and sisters? 

A. My brothers and sisters are all the people of all the 
world. 

Q. Does this supremacy of the human family do away 
with the need of private families? 

A. No. Marriage and private homes are necessary; 
but we must no longer limit our fellowship to blood rela- 
tives. 

Q. What does this supremacy of the human family mean 
as to children? 

A. It means that every child which comes into the world 
has a claim upon society, for its support, education and 
proper upbringing. We are no longer permitted to care 
only for children of our flesh and blood ; all children are 
our flesh and blood. 

Q. Does this conception of the human family alter the 
marriage relation? 

A. It alters the marriage relation to this extent that 
love and not financial support is to be henceforth the only 
basis of union between man and woman. 

Q. Does this mean then that marriages other than love 
marriages are unrighteous? 

A. It means that marriages other than love marriages 
are utterly unrighteous. 

Q. Is divorce then a good institution? 

A. Neither a loveless marriage, nor the divorce of peo- 
ple held in a loveless marriage, is good. Divorce is a sor- 
row to mankind; but when it is the only alternative to a 
marriage that has become loveless, it is the lesser of two 
evils. 

Q. // then neither a loveless marriage nor divorce is 
good, how shall marriage be made a thing of love and 
perpetuity? 

A. Marriage can be made a thing of love and perpe- 
tuity, only if the husband and wife resolve to maintain 
watchcare continually, and by constant compromises one 



150 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

unto the other, to blend their natures and so keep love 
from dying. 

Q. Is an unbroken 'marriage preferable? 

A. Unbroken marriages are always preferable, provided 
love is a dweller in that home. 

Q. What is the change that The* Revolution makes m 
art ? 

A. The Revolution is changing art from fine art to 
applied art. 

Q. What is meant by fine art? 

A. Fine art is that which is decorative without being 
useful. 

Q. What is applied art? 

A. Applied art is that wherein useful things are 
wrought into a shape of beauty. 

Q. How can applied art come to pass? 

A. Applied art can come to pass only when the work- 
ers are free and thus are permitted to be artists ; finding 
in one and the same task self-support and self-expression. 

Q. Which will beautify the world, fine art or applied 
art? 

A. Applied art. Fine art is for the leisure class. But 
applied art means the beautifying of the work and the 
lives of the workers. 

Q. What is the change that The Revolution is making 
in the realm of education? 

A. The Revolution is changing education from a 
preparation for a life of leisure to a preparation for a life 
of joyous work. 

Q. What will this demand, as to the training the 
schools shall give? 

A. It will demand that the schools shall train people 
for creative labor either with the hand or with the mind 
or with both, instead of training people away from labor, 
as much of the education now trains them. 

Q. How is The Revolution changing statecraft? 

A. The Revolution is changing statecraft by making 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 151 

government a thing of and by and for the workers, instead 
of, as at present a thing of and by and for the well-to- 
do. 

Q. What does that mean as to politics? 

A. It means that politics is a necessary field of activity 
for every member of the working class. 

Q. Name again the departments of life that are changed 
by this social revolution? 

A. The home, art, education, statecraft, and industry. 

Q. What is the fundamental cause of the social revolu- 
tion that is thus changing life so profoundly? 

A. The fundamental cause is twofold: First, the in- 
dustrial change that is coming to pass by machines, sup- 
planting hand labor. And second the advent of science. 

Q. What is meant by the first change machine in- 
dustry? 

A. Machine industry means that hand labor is for the 
most part gone. But machinery is a thousand fold more 
expensive than the old hand tools. Therefore workers no 
longer own their tools as they did in the former age. 

Q. What has happened by this loss of the ownership 
of his tools by the workman? 

A. This loss of the ownership of his tools, has made the 
workman the chattel slave of the man who owns the ma- 
chine. He who owns the means whereby I earn my daily 
bread, owns me. 

Q. What then is the cure for this industrial slavery? 

A. Ownership of the machinery is alone the cure. 
Whereby the workers shall once more own the tools they 
work with. 

Q. How is this industrial change bringing to pass a 
revolutionary era? 

A. This industrial change is bringing to pass a revolu- 
tionary era, because the workers, awakening to the fact 
that they are slaves, are banding together to socialize the 
ownership of the machinery. This uprising of labor 
means the downfall of the leisure class, that formerly 



152 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

dictated laws for the home, for art, and for education and 
for statecraft. 

Q. In what way has science become the other factor in 
introducing the folk upheaval? 

A. Science has become the other factor in introducing 
the folk upheaval, by revealing the economic root of all 
history. 

Q. What is meant by the economic root of history? 

A. It means that in all ages the working class has been 
the important factor. Thus the history of the world will 
have to be rewritten from the point of view of labor, in- 
stead of as at present from the point of view of leisure. 

Q. Does this mean that biblical history will also have to 
be rewritten from this point of view? 

A. Yes, biblical history will also have to be rewritten 
from this economic point of view. 

Q. What is this materialistic conception as applied to 
biblical history called? 

A. It is called modern biblical scholarship. 

Q. What is another name for it? 

A. The higher criticism. 

Q. What is the higher criticism? 

A. It is a scientific study of the way the bible came to 
be written. 

Q. What is the bible as reinterpreted by scientific 
scholarship? 

A. The bible as it is thus reinterpreted, is the record of 
an industrial people called the Jews to maintain their 
freedom against the oppression of masterclass empires 
from without and of a masterclass forming within. 

Q. Who was Moses? 

A. Moses was the organizer of the brickmakers in the 
brickyards of Goshen in Egypt. 

Q. What did he do? 

A. He stirred in them a sentiment of self-respect, 
whereby they refused any longer to be the slaves of 
Pharaoh, and went forth in search of industrial freedom. 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 153 

Q. Where did they go? 

A. They went to a land in Western Asia called Pales- 
tine, and there set up an industrial nation called the 
Jews. 

Q. Did the working-class nation thus set up mamtam 
its freedom forever? 

A. No. Some of the Jews became rich and formed an 
owning class, which began to enslave their fellow country- 
men. 

Q. Who then arose to protect the poor of the nation? 

A. Statesmen arose, commonly called prophets. 

Q. Who were some of the prophets? 

A. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, and others. 

Q. Did these men have an easy time? 

A. They had a most difficult time. They were treated 
with neglect and with persecution, much as agitators are 
treated to-day. 

Q. Who was Jesus? 

A. Jesus was a carpenter of Nazareth, a village in Gali- 
lee, in the land of Palestine. 

Q. How long did he work m a carpenter shop? 

A. He worked in the carpenter shop until he was about 
the age of 30, when he became an agitator. 

Q. Why did he not continue as a carpenter all of his 
life? 

A. Because of the coming of the Roman Empire, in- 
vading his nation. 

Q. What was the Roman Empire? 

A. The Roman Empire was an alliance of the master- 
class in all of the countries, against the working class in 
all of the countries. 

Q. What were the workers under Roman rule? 

A. Under Roman rule the workers were slaves. 

Q. Why was the Roman Empire formed? 

A. The Roman Empire was formed in order that the 
owning class in all of the countries could merge their 
separate armies into a united military force, that could 



154 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

be sent in its entire strength to put down an uprising of 
the slaves in any country. 

Q. Was the extension of the Roman Empire to Pales- 
tine welcomed by the people? 

A. It was not welcomed by the people but it was wel- 
comed by the Jewish millionaires in Jerusalem. 

Q. Why did the Jewish workers refuse to welcome the 
Roman Empire? 

A. They refused to welcome the Roman Empire, be- 
cause it meant their degradation, from free workers to 
slaves. 

Q. Was Jesus also in this danger of slavery? 

A. Yes, the iron collar of slavery was riveting about his 
own neck. 

Q. What did he do? 

A. When the Roman invasion had become unendurable, 
he left his carpenter's bench, surrounded himself with 
twelve other workmen, who were called apostles, and 
started forth to arouse the people against the Roman 
peril. 

Q. Did he succeed in arousing the people? 

A. Yes, he was greatly successful. The common peo- 
ple heard him gladly. 

Q. Did all in the Jewish nation hear him gladly? 

A. No. The millionaires in Jerusalem hated him and 
sought his life. 

Q. What was the event that brought upon him their 
greatest hatred. 

A. His cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. 

Q. What was this cleansing of the Temple? 

A. The Temple was the Capitol building of the nation. 
It was in the possession of a band of robber nobles, who 
from that as a center pillaged the people by unjust taxa- 
tion ; and in return for the support of the Roman Armies 
in this pillaging, permitted the Roman conquerors to an- 
nex the nation. 

Q. What did Jesus do? 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 155 

A. Entering Jerusalem at the head of a band of his 
working class followers, he went into the Temple and 
drove out those pillagers. 

Q. What did they do? 

A. They formed an immediate conspiracy against him. 

Q. Was this conspiracy sue cess fid? 

A. Yes. They caught him one Thursday night when 
the people were asleep and rushed him to death early the 
next morning, before the people had heard of it, and 
could come to his rescue. 

Q. Was it then the Jewish nation that put Jesus to 
death? 

A. No. It was a band of renegade Jewish millionaires 
in league with the Roman invaders, that put Jesus to 
death. 

Q. Who sentenced Jesus? 

A. Pilate the Roman Governor, at the request of the 
Jewish robber nobility, gave the death sentence. 

Q. In Pilate's court, who were those who shouted 
against Jesus, " Crucify Him "? 

A. They were a crowd of court hangers-on, who were 
coached by their rich employers to make this demonstra- 
tion. 

Q. How was Jesus put to death? 

A. By crucifixion. 

Q. Was this the Jewish method of capital punishment? 

A. No. The Jewish method of capital punishment was 
by stoning to death. 

Q. Of what people then was it the form of capital pun- 
ishment? 

A. With the Roman people. Crucifixion was Rome's 
method of putting rebellious slaves out of the way. 

Q. What happened after the death of Jesus? 

A. After the physical death of Jesus his spirit still 
animated his followers. And they went throughout the 
world, apostles of social revolution; preaching an over- 
throw of the world whereby the masters at the top should 



156 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

be dethroned and the workers be in the seats of power. 

Q. Did they meet with opposition? 

A. Yes. First the Jewish millionaires in Jerusalem 
sought to stamp out the Revolution. Then the Roman 
authorities took up the task. 

Q. In Rome where did this persecution of the early 
Christian revolution take place? 

A. In the Coliseum. 

Q. In what form was the persecution inflicted? 

A. The Christian revolutionists were put to death in the 
Coliseum by fire and by sword and by crucifixion and by 
wild beasts. 

Q. Did this persecution stamp out the movement? 

A. No. The death of a martyr raised up others to take 
his place. Thus the movement spread. 

Q. How then was the revolution finally put down? 

A. It was put down when a Roman citizen by the name 
of Paul annexed himself to the movement and reinterpreted 
the life of Jesus from that of a workingman into the career 
of a mystical personage aloof from the economic facts of 
life. 

Q. Did Paul have opposition in thus reinterpreting the 
work and message of Jesus? 

A. He had much opposition from Peter and the other 
Galilean workingmen with whom Jesus had surrounded 
himself from the beginning. 

Q. Which side in this controversy finally triumphed? 

A. After 200 years of struggle, the school of thought 
started by Paul vanquished. 

Q. What happened then? 

A. Christianity having become a system of philosophy 
instead of a social revolution, was accepted by the Ro- 
man Empire and became the official religion. The Ro- 
man Empire then transformed itself into the Roman Cath- 
olic Church. 

Q. Is the Roman Catholic Church founded on Jesus? 

A. No. It is founded on the Roman Empire which 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 157 

killed Jesus. 

Q. What is the Social Revolution of our time in its 
deeper phase? 

A. The Social Revolution of our time, is the rediscovery 
of this economic basis beneath the religion of the bible. 

Q. Does the Social Revolution destroy religion? 

A. No. It renews and revitalizes religion. 

Q. What is true religion? 

A. True religion is democracy touched with emotion. 

Q. What is meant by democracy? 

A. Democracy is self-rule, as distinguished from rule 
from without. 

Q. When we die, do we die as a dog or a horse, and pass 
from existence? 

A. No. They who serve the cause of human freedom 
are conquerors over death. They enter the realm of the 
immortals. 

Q. What is another name for this realm of the immor- 
tals? 

A. Another name is heaven. 

Q. Is heaven a place? 

A. No, heaven is not a place. 

Q. What then is it? 

A. Heaven is that spiritual order which overhangs the 
world of sense and with which the higher self in each of us 
is continuous. 

Q. Does the Social Revolution destroy the idea of God? 

A. No. The Social Revolution gives to the world a 
true idea of God. 

Q. What is the true God? 

A. The true God is the power not ourselves that makes 
for freedom. 

Q. What is another name for God? 

A. The name for God in the bible is, The River of Life. 

Q. What is this River of Life? 

A. It is the totality of all the heroic spirits that have 
ever lived. 



158 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

Q. Does this River of Life increase with the passing of 
the years? 

A. Yes. Each new heroic life that is lived upon earth 
flows into God, and finds therein its immortal continuance. 

Q. Does this heaven or God that overlays the world of 
sense, speak to us by outward audible sound? 

A. No. It speaks to us with the inner voice, whose 
other name is conscience. 

Q. Did this God we worship, create the universe out of 
nothing? 

A. The universe has always been here. 

Q. What then is the relation of God to the Universe? 

A. God is the industrial leader of the human race in 
rebuilding the universe out of chaos into a cosmos. 

Q. What is chaos? 

A. A chaos is disorder. 

Q. What is a cosmos? 

A. A cosmos is what the universe will be, when the dis- 
order has been changed into beauty and orderliness. 

Q. In making the universe over from chaos into cosmos, 
does God proceed by miracles? 

A. No. Miracles are the interruption of natural law; 
and science teaches that there are no interruptions of nat- 
ural law. 

Q. How then does God proceed in his efforts to rebuild 
the universe? 

A. He proceeds by working through human beings, 
operating in the inner parts, their mind and their heart. 

Q. What are some other names for God? 

A. The other names for God are, the Great Com- 
panion, The Most High, The Unseen Comrade, The Mas- 
ter of the Democracy, The Lord-of-the-Uprising-of-La- 
bor, The Foe of Stagnancy, The Stirrer-up of the people. 

Q. What is this Unseen Power trying to do for the 
earth? 

A. He is trying to establish his heaven upon earth. 

Q. What is earth at present? 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 159 

A. The earth at present is the abode of a disorderly 
and uncivilized mass of people, fighting each other in a 
strife after material goods. 

Q. Is such a strife necessary? 

A. It is not necessary. The earth produces enough 
food, clothing and shelter for all. 

Q. Why then do all the people clash one against the 
other in these fierce competitions? 

A. It is because they have not been taught the true re- 
ligion. 

Q. What is the true religion? 

A. The true religion is fellowship, whereby under the 
leadings of the Great Companion, all the members of the 
human race shall become a united band, conquering the 
elements and building a world whose riches shall be owned 
by all the people in common. 

Q. What is another name for such a world? 

A. Another name for such a world is, the Cooperative 
Commonwealth. 

Q. What does cooperative mean? 

A. Cooperative means a state of society where people 
work with and for each other, rather than a competitive 
state of society wherein each works for himself. 

Q. Are all the people of the earth eager' for this co- 
operative commonwealth? 

A. No. The idle class is fighting every attempt to 
establish the commonwealth. 

Q. Why are they thus fighting it? 

A. Because in the commonwealth they will be put to 
work. 

Q. Is work a curse? 

A. No. Work is not a curse. It is a blessing. 

Q. Why then do the idle object to work? 

A. Because of the false education, whereby they have 
been taught that leisure and not labor is the goal of hu- 
man striving. 

Q. What then is to be done if this idle and privileged 



160 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

class oppose The Commonwealth? 

A. The Commonwealth must be established against their 
opposition. 

Q. How can the workers establish the commonwealth 
against this opposition? 

A. By standing together in solidarity. 

Q. What is another word for this clash of interest? 

A. Another word for it is the class struggle. 

Q. What is the class struggle? 

A. The class struggle is the fight of the workers to 
establish the Cooperative Commonwealth upon earth, 
against the leisure class who wish to preserve their pres- 
ent comfortable position of privileged idleness. 

Q. Is it our duty to take part in the class struggle? 

A. It is our duty to take part in the class struggle on 
the side of the workers. 

Q. On which side is God in this class struggle? 

A. God is on the side of the workers, and is vehemently 
against the idlers. 

Q. What is a social climber? 

A. A social climber is a person born among the com- 
mon people, who climbs out of it into a position of com- 
fort and security among the leisure class at the top. 

Q. Is a social climber a noble figure? 

A. A social climber is an ignoble figure, hated by God 
and man. 

Q. Does this mean that we must not strive to attain 
power and influence? 

;,- A. Power and influence are good, if so be that we still 
Iteep comradeship with the common people, and use our 
power and influence on their side in the class struggle. 

Q. What is the masterclass? 

A. The masterclass are those few who own the bulk of 
the land and buildings and machinery and produce of the 
earth. 

Q. In taking sides in class struggle against the master- 
class, do we hate the masterclass? 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 161 

A. We hate the system on whi<jh a masterclass is based, 
but we do not hate individuals in the masterclass. 
Q. Why do we not hate individuals? 
A. Because individuals in the masterclass are not per- 
sonally responsible for the system. No change of them 
individually would avail. The system must be changed. 
We war not against personalities, but against principle. 
Q. What is the Church of the Social Revolution? 
A. The Church of the Social Revolution is a band of 
men and women, who have signed the following covenant: 

I enlist under the Lord of the bloodred banner, 
to bring to an end a scheme of things that has en- 
throned Leisure on the back of Labor, an idle class 
sucking the substance of the poor. I will not be a 
social climber, but will stay with the workers in class 
solidarity, till class shall have been done away in 
Fellowship's glad dawn. I will seek recruits for the 
Church of the Revolution, unto the overthrow of 
present-day society and its rebuilding into comrade- 
ship. 

Q. What is the bloodred banner mentioned m that 
covenant? 

A. It is the banner of the International Host of Free- 
dom. 

Q. 7* it bloodred because it seeks to shed blood? 
A. No. It is the bloodred banner of brotherhood ; and 
is red because red is the common color of the blood of all 
races and tribes and nations on the face of all the earth. 
Q. What does the Revolution Church strive to do? 
A. It sings the folk upheaval, and grows a Socialism of 
the heart. 

Q. What is meant by a Socialism of the heart? 
A. A Socialism of the heart is an enthusiasm for hu- 
manity and a zeal for fellowship, implanted in the thoughts 
and habits of each individual, in order that the socialism 
of the ballot box may be reenforced and beautified. 
Q. What is the object of the Revolution Church? 



162 LETTERS FROM PRISON 

A. The object of the Revolution Church is to gather up 
the spiritual unrest, and turn the times to fellowship. 

Q. Why is there spiritual unrest to-day? 

A. Because the established religions have lost their 
power. 

Q. How does the Revolution Church give to the world 
once more a religion of power? 

A. By connecting the life spiritual with the life 
economic. 

Q. What is meant by connecting the life spiritual with 
the life economic? 

A. It means that the idealism and aspiration of the 
human soul shall express itself in bettering the world in 
which we live and the society of which we are a part. 

Q. What is the prevailing form of spirituality in the 
established churches? 

A. It is a spirituality that is unconnected with material 
things. 

Q. What is the prevailing principle in the radical move- 
ments of our time? 

A. It is of a materialism unconnected with spiritual 
power. 

Q. Which of these two forms is correct? 

A. Neither is correct; spiritual power without a ma- 
terial objective, and a material objective without spiritual 
power to inspire it, are equally helpless. 

Q. Can you point to an example of their helplessness? 

A. Yes ; the war of the nine nations, now raging in Eu- 
rope. Materialistic Socialism as found in Germany was 
not courageous enough to oppose the war. The worldly 
religion, as found in the churches, also was not courageous 
enough to oppose the military spirit. 

Q. Which then was to blame for the war? 

A. Both materialistic socialism and unmaterialistic 
Christianity were at fault. 

Q. What tlien is needed? 

A. There is needed a union of the two, spirituality and 



LETTERS FROM PRISON 163 

socialism. Now they are sundered, as a body without a 
soul and a soul without a body. 

Q. Where is this union of the material and the spiritual 
side to be found? 

A. In the Church of the Social Revolution. 

Q. Does the Church of the Social Revolution commit 
the mistake of established churches in developing a reli- 
gious life separated from this world? 

A. No. It seeks a religious life that shall express it- 
self in terms of this world. 

Q. What is another illustration of this union of the ma- 
terial and the spiritual? 

A. An illustration of it is a bird, which cannot fly if 
either wing is cut off. Both a person who lacks the spirit- 
ual, and a person who lacks the material vision, is lop- 
sided; and, like a bird with only one wing, cannot fly. 

Q. Is the Church of the Revolution necessary then in 
our time? 

A. It is very necessary. From no other quarter comes 
the light ; here only is the blending of the material and the 
spiritual, which is needed to make a balanced man and a 
perfect social order. 

Q. Is it our duty then to belong to this Church? 

A. It is the duty of every public spirited man and 
woman, boy and girl, to belong to this church, and to work 
for its welfare and extension. To the end that the folk 
upheaval may be wrought in sweetness and in majesty, 
till the Lord-of-the-uprising-of-labor shall be enthroned 
over all the earth and the people be established. 



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