Human Exploitation in the United States

By Norman Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
LAND AND THOSE WHO LIVE ON IT

The history of the United States could almost be written in terms of a gigantic real estate speculation. Kings claimed titles to lands which they never saw and gave them for a consideration to loyal subjects or chartered companies which as a matter of course regarded themselves as landlords entitled to make all that they could out of the uncharted wilderness. By and large the men who did the work, who cleared and settled the wilderness, who built great cities, and connected them by roads and by steel rails across rivers, and plains and mountains, have paid enormous tribute to that singular institution known as absentee landlordism. Where the landlord was not altogether an absentee, as he was not and is not even to-day, his rewards were out of all proportion to any risk he took for staking his tenants or any energy he expended in directing their activities.

The Dutch East India Company bought Manhattan Island for $24 from the Indians. In 1929, before the great depression, the assessed value of this land was $4,765,047,235. In 1931 it had risen to $5,488,688,395! No man living can accurately compute the total rent-roll taken by landlords from this one small island in the 308 years since the Manhattan Indians made a better rather than a worse bargain than some of their fellows with the grasping white men. All this rental value was a social creation and all this vast wealth was the result of the labor of men with hand and brain. Yet at the height of the golden epoch of American prosperity the characteristic home of one group of the workers who have built and

-i-

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Human Exploitation in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Human Exploitation in the United States *
  • To My Wife *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter I Land and Those Who Live on It i
  • Chapter II Real Estate Vs. Homes 13
  • Chapter III Farming for Exercise 4
  • Chapter IV Men and Trees 72
  • Chapter V Mines and Miners 92
  • Chapter VI New Sources of Physical Energy 119
  • Chapter VII Working for Wages 137
  • Chapter VIII Working Conditions 164
  • Chapter IX Unemployment 183
  • Chapter X Women in Industry 215
  • Chapter XI Exploiting Our Children 231
  • Chapter XII the Negro 258
  • Chapter XIII the Labor Struggle 284
  • Chapter XIV the Consumer Pays 304
  • Chapter XV Little Owner, What Now? 327
  • Chapter XVI the Government as Exploiter 357
  • Chapter XVII in Conclusion 374
  • Bibliography 391
  • Index 399
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