When the history of labor's struggle for emancipation is written, the name of John Swinton will illumine some of its darkest as well as some of its brightest pages. He stood forth in the defense of the poor and pleaded their cause at a time when he was not half understood and not appreciated at all.
The grand figure of John Swinton looms before me as I write. Twenty-two years have passed since first I met him. He had been one of my heroes long before.
During the darkest days of the Pullman strike John Swinton was one of its staunchest champions. He stood face to face with Wall Street and charged it with its infamous crimes, and when John Swinton spoke the people listened. He had been the friend of Greeley, Raymond, Thurlow Weed, the elder Bennett, Charles A. Dana and other eminent journalists of that time and had served as editorial writer and editor-in-chief of New York's principal daily papers. After Greeley he was the only radical in that group of journalistic celebrities; the only one among them to denounce the crimes of the ruling class and to espouse the cause of the common people. He was profoundly respected by his associates, notwithstanding he told them the truth about themselves and their servility to the powers that corrupted the government and plundered the people. His response to the toast "The Independent Press," in which he declared that the vaunted "independent" press was a myth and that he and his associates were far better qualified to celebrate the prostitution of the press, has become a classic. He did not mince words and his eminent associates took no exception to his scathing indictment.
But it was as a distinctive champion of the working people that John Swinton found his chief inspiration and delight, although it cost him dearly in a material sense. He had it in his power to command the post of editor-in-chief of any of the great New York dailies and might easily have become one of their owners had he been so inclined, for Wall Street, though he hated it and fought it bitterly, appreciated fully his great force of character and commanding ability, which the working people he loved and passionately served appreciated not at all.____________________