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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Tunnel Horror continued: The Selfish Millionaire

Last Saturday, we saw the October 5, 1882 Edward Kemble comic, The Recent Disaster in the Fourth Avenue Tunnel, involving a deadly two-passenger train collission on William Vanderbilt‘s railroad lines. The collision was caused by the exact same safety concern as other recent deadly crashes on Vanderbilt lines (the Spuyten Duyvil references), directing public anger at him, for his resistance to spending money on safety issues, in essence exchanging his patrons’ lives for greater profits. 

Below, by artist Friedrich Graetz, is the centerspread from the October 4, 1882 issue of Puck magazine, titled Discrimination — The Selfish Millionaire — How He is Taken Care of, and How He Takes Care of His Patrons. Tackling the same issue as Kemble the next day, it charges railroad baron William H. Vanderbilt with using young boys rather than mature men, to monitor what tracks contain trains, and to signal to incoming trains which tracks they should take. (The collision involved one passenger train at full speed, plowing into another passenger train stopped on that same track). Vanderbilt hired boys rather than men, because he could pay them less. Graetz explicitly spells this out within the left edge inset cartoon, where we see Vanderbilt tallying his savings: Man — $30.00. Half Grown Boy — $10.00. Profit $20. Behind Vanderbilt hangs a sign, Boys Wanted to do Men’s Work.

Click on the pictures below, to open larger, easier-to-read versions.

Below, from the same issue, Puck’s editorial text piece, accompanying the above Graetz cartoon. Puck’s prose laments that only legislation can force the corporate monopolies to take the proper safety measures — and how this is unlikely, as the monopolists control the legislatures. (We can thank our current conservative activist Supreme Court judges, for heading us back towards this same direction again, after they nullified more than a century of established election reforms, starting with those of Teddy Roosevelt.)

Below, yet another cartoon inspired by the crash, attacking Vanderbilt for his use of young boys to save money. By artist Michael Woolf, on page 11 of the October 14th, 1882 issue of Judge magazine, Vanderbilt is shown warning a signal boy, that if a couple such crashes occur, he might be forced to replace him with someone competent. (The “torpedoes” held by the young boy, were were used to set warning signals to oncoming trains to slow down because of something — such as a stopped train — ahead.)

Tomorrow, more from Judge on Vanderbilt’s Tunnel Horror.

Doug Wheeler

financial reform NYPuck JudgeMag TrainHorror Frederick Graetz


Doug

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2 Responses to “The Tunnel Horror continued: The Selfish Millionaire”

  1. Super I.T.C.H » Blog Archive » Vanderbilt’s Tunnel Horror, Part 3 Says:

    [...] tragic event was translated into cartoon form, on October 4th, 1882, by artist F. Graetz’s Discrimination — The Selfish Millionaire — How He is Taken Care of, and How He Takes Care of His… appearing in Puck magazine, and, on October 5th by Edward Kemble’s The Recent Disaster in the [...]

  2. Super I.T.C.H » Blog Archive » Child Labor: Wall Street Frauds Make Wonderful Cartoons #106 Says:

    [...] Children were not the only ones endangered when they were employed as industrial laborers. Above, from the centerspread of the October 4th, 1882 issue of Puck magazine, we have Discrimination, The Selfish Millionaire — How He is Taken Care of, and How He Takes Care of His Patrons, by Frederick Graetz. It depicts the September 23rd, 1882 collision of two passenger trains (one moving at full speed, the other stopped). It’s direct cause was the failure of a flag operator to signal the moving train to switch tracks at the correct moment. The underlying problem, though, was that rather than employ adults, who wanted a wage high enough to support their families, W.H. Vanderbilt hired less expensive children. Children who, standing around all day waiting for the correct moment to switch track settings, became easily bored & distracted, and didn’t fully comprehend the consequences of inattentiveness in such a work environment. Note the inset cartoon, showing four hired boys watching, as Vanderbilt tallies on a sheet of paper, “Full Grown Man — $30.00. Half Grown Boy — $10.00. Profit $20″. Behind Vanderbilt is a sign reading “Boys Wanted to do Mens’ Work”. Below the inset panel, we see two signal boys playing jacks, rather than paying attention to what is happening around them. To see more cartoons on the above incident, click here. [...]

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