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Source: Seventy-Eighth Annual Report of the American Tract Society
Source type: book
Document type: essay
Document title: “Interior Agency”
Author(s): anonymous
American Tract Society
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication:
Pagination: 90-106 (excerpt below includes only pages 103-05)

“Interior Agency.” Seventy-Eighth Annual Report of the American Tract Society. New York: American Tract Society, [1903]: pp. 90-106.
excerpt of essay
Leon Czolgosz; Cleveland, OH.
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Jesus Christ; William McKinley.
From title page: Presented at New York, May 13, 1903.


Interior Agency [excerpt]



     For more than ten years the Society has maintained a colporter among the Polish population of Cleveland and Detroit. It was here that the unfortunate assassin of President McKinley was reared, and received the little learning he possessed in a Romanish parochial school; served a ward boss, aided in stuffing ballot boxes and terrorizing honest voters; in fact, received the training which is making our worst criminals. Our colporter writes as follows:

     “My field is among the Polish population, who number about 80,000 souls. I visited 5,548 families during the year as a missionary colporter, and spoke of personal religion in all but 25 of these homes. I estimate that 1,000 of the homes that I visited were Protestants, regular in church attendance and living in the spirit of Christ; 625 families claimed to be Protestants, but did not attend either public worship or religious instruction at any church or mission; and 850 claimed to be Roman Catholics, but seldom or never went to mass or communed. The other 3,073 were utterly indifferent to religion or hostile to it. Their meeting places are beer halls, where infidelity and anarchy seem to be the sentiment, if not the expression, of the orators who hold forth and emphasize their addresses with profanity. They are all laboring people, working in oil refineries, railroad shops, on the streets, and doing any odd jobs they can find. Brought up in a country that had few schools for working people, they are very illiterate. Catechised in the Roman faith only, they are ignorant of truths common to all average Bible readers. Bigotry, intolerance and superstition rule their minds most pitifully. They have lectures, if it is not an absurdity to call such garrulous nonsense as is to be heard there by so dignified a name. Befuddled with beer, hundreds of women and men will cheer to the echo of the wildest, most unreasonable and foolhardy statements made by men who have no more idea of religion than a Patagonian savage. Yet such people presume to discuss economical subjects, matters that are worthy of the most careful investigation, requiring the study of the best minds through the ages; denouncing all who differ with them as rogues, fools and tyrants. Yet these conceited declaimers are more ignorant of the history of this country, and even of the land in which they were born, than many little school children attending our public schools. All that is needed to destroy their influence is to get the Polish children into the public schools and bring among them Bible knowledge and plain, every-day facts. My experience is that if I can only get time to explain to these people truths so plain that every one ought to know and admit them, and so evident as to admit of no controversy, they are easily won. One old man said to me: ‘The Church and State, both, taxed us into poverty and left us in ignorance; we fled here from their tyranny. Shall we buy Bibles and nourish another serpent to sting our hearts?’ I asked him if he knew what was the oldest question that had troubled man? He shook his head. ‘It is how to live together and live in peace,’ I replied. ‘Jesus answered it by giving us the Golden Rule, which is, Do ye unto others as ye would have others do unto you.’ The Bible is composed of illustrations explaining and enforcing the benefits of obeying and living this law, or the awful consequences of violating and neglecting it. If every one loved God and his neigh- [103][104] bor, the world would become a heaven. The Bible gives us advice which we ought to constantly study, and every day pray to be helped to obey and assimilate.’ I opened my Bible and read to him that it was sin and the violation of the Golden Rule that brought on national calamities, and that that was the serpent that stung men’s hearts, not God’s religion. He was so impressed that he took to Bible reading, and recently has been attending a Sunday-school.
     “Cleveland is a city filled with people engaged in honest labor and large producers of all things which add to the comforts and happiness of the human race. It is thought that about one-half of its people are foreign by birth or parentage; this is possibly not an overestimate. The Americans are largely engaged in the supervision of trade and the mechanical arts; the laborers, mechanics and their helpers are mostly composed of foreigners. The churches of all denominations of Christians are well represented. A great many people are attendants at churches and a great many children are in the Sunday-schools, but when they are compared with the men and women and children that never enter any place of religious instruction or worship, we have to confess that our city is far from moral in religious life and worship. This is especially true of the foreign element of our population: not one out of every ten individuals of foreign birth or parentage regularly attends any church or place of worship. The disposition of the foreign population is to throw off all church restraints, both in the home and daily life. The common belief of superficial observers has been that the Roman Catholic churches controlled the foreigners; this is found to be a mistake. Custom and curiosity bring many out on fast days and special occasions, but Romanism has no hold on their judgment or conscience. Change of surroundings, a skeptical literature, a tyrannical priesthood and worldliness have wrought sad change of opinion. Women and small children still attend the Romish mass, and many men still yield a formal recognition, but within my memory I have not met more than one or two men who ventured to even hint that they were believers in the dogmas of Romanism. Literature has much to do with this falling away in faith and practice; any reformation must make literature its weapon of attack upon the awful indifference and unbelief in religion existing in the minds of the foreign people. We find two distinct classes to be reached: the older people who read only foreign languages, and the young people who have learned English in the public schools, together with indifference from the newspapers. The American Tract Society has with rare wisdom given us a most excellent and varied literature in Polish, Bohemian, Slovak, Hungarian and German, which are spoken by more than 80,000 men and women in Cleveland. I circulate the Bible in all these languages, and to some extent awaken interest in many minds in favor of God’s Word, which alone stands secure amidst the ages. The greater part of my circulation of religious literature is in German and English. This goes into the hands of the young people, who are greatly interested in the religion of the Americans and who want to know more of the Bible for no other reason than that the Roman priests seem to be bitterly opposed to their reading it. They are in a receptive condition. This is a hopeful state, and my labors are to introduce literature which will explain and illustrate the great doctrines of Christianity from the standpoint of the Holy Scriptures. There are some fruits from evangelical labors in churches and missions of Bohemians, Poles and other foreigners; to lead the way and help on their influence is my work here. It is a difficult but hopeful work. A people without religion is a description that many of the beer-hall agitators, who grow in numbers and influence with the growth of skepticism, love to give to the foreigners of Cleveland. In those meetings, where beer flowed and Sunday was desecrated by drunkenness and profanity, the wildest theories were advocated; vent was given to all that was vile and riotous and destructive in an unsanctified nature. [104][105] It was amongst such scenes that the wretch Czolgosz got his inspiration in evil that ended in the assassination of President McKinley. Heaven only knows how many other crimes were conceived under such promptings. But the murder of a President opened the eyes of the authorities and showed what any people without the moral restraint of religion were likely to become.”



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