Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, December 29, 2013

That Was The Year That Was: 1877

by Michael Ceraolo

The divine right of kings was so seventeenth century;
the nineteenth century needed new nomenclature
for the new power brokers:
the divine right of robber barons

Cornelius Vanderbilt:  "What do I care about the law?
                                  Ha'nt I got the power?"

Jay Gould:  "I can hire half the working class
                   to guard the other half."

John D. Rockefeller:  "God gave me my money."

And hundreds of other similar statements
now disappeared into the myth-mists of history

The chief culprits in the seemingly compulsory corruption,
the most conspicuous conspirators against the commonweal,
were the rulers of the railroads
(see above
                  Ad Nauseam)

Their skills were breathtaking:
brilliance at bribery
(whether giving or receiving),
the consistent conflation of their private gain with the public good
And thus it was no surprise
that the railroad workers would be the first to rise up

The centennial of America had recently been celebrated
with considerable pomp and circumstance
(and self-congratulation),
the continuing economic depression,
the worst to date in the country's history

(definition of economic depression

-when people who have made money without working for it
are now making less than they were,
are even in danger of having to go to work)

"The laborer is the author of all greatness and wealth
Without labor there would be no Government,
or no leading class,
                             or nothing to preserve"
So said the recently-retired President Grant
the people still in power didn't feel the same way
We didn't make no stinking mistakes
And even if we did,
you don't expect us to pay for them, do you?)
Wage cuts piled on wage cuts:
"I don't live
I am literally starving
We get meat once a week,
the rest of the week we have
dry bread and black coffee"

"organization or extermination"
                                                The workers chose

In city after city workers went on strike
for a living wage,
occupying train stations and train yards
                                                             State governors,
owners of railroad stock and in no danger of starving,
called out their militias
                                    And then,
the militias sympathized with the strikers,
they asked for federal troops
                                            And the troops,
recently redeemed from having to enforce equality,
were now free to protect privilege

this they did with a vengeance:
more than a hundred people,
strikers seeking a decent living,
yet another American revolution
met the same fate as all but the first one had


  1. bravo ..... well appointed issue...

  2. Yet we still hope for some fine knight to come save us from our plight.
    Waiting on too, long voting lines to choose, one leader to rule over all.
    Which man can meet the task assigned, and uncorrupted by power, influence, and authority, stand tall? As usual, en pointe. Wishing you a year filled with poetry. Is there anything else more worthy? : )