Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.

An Election Campaign in New York
(From “The House of Bondage”)

Reginald Wright Kauffman

(American novelist, born 1877)

FOR many days previously, any outsider, reading the newspapers or attending the mass-meetings in Cooper Union and Carnegie Hall, would have supposed that a prodigious battle was waging and that the result would be, until the last shot, in doubt. There were terrible scare-heads, brutal cartoons, and extra editions. As the real problem was whether one organization of needy men should remain in control, or whether another should replace it, there were few matters of policy to be discussed; and so the speechmaking and the printing resolved themselves into personal investigations, and attacks upon character. Private detectives were hired, records searched, neighbors questioned, old enemies sought out, and family feuds revived. Desks were broken open, letters bought, anonymous communications mailed, boyhood indiscretions unearthed, and women and men hired to wheedle, to commit perjury, to entrap. Whatever was discovered, forged, stolen, manufactured—whatever truth or falsehood could be seized by whatever means—was blazoned in the papers, shrieked by the newsboys, bawled from the cart-tails at the corners under the campaign banners, in the light of the torches and before the cheering crowds. It would be all over in a very short while; in a very short while there would pass one another, with pleasant smiles, in court, at church, and along Broadway, the distinguished gentlemen that were now, before big audiences, calling one another adulterers and thieves; but it is customary for distinguished gentlemen so to call one another during a manly campaign in this successful democracy of ours, and it seems to be an engrossing occupation while the chance endures.