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William Allen White, of the Emporia Gazette, contributed to the Saturday Evening Post for July 11, 1914, an article entitled “How Kansas Boarded the Water-Wagon.” In it he proved, by his own figures, that Kansas had found happiness and prosperity as a result of her prohibitory laws.
On October 24th the same publication gave space to a reply by IIugh F. Fox, Secretary of the United States Brewers' Association, and on November 12th a further reply by the Hon. Royal E. Cabell, former United States Commissioner of Internal Revenue, was published in Leslie's Weekly. As Mr. White's claims are made evident by Mr. Fox's reply, it is unnecessary to repeat them here.
That a trained newspaper man should fill an article with State statistics and deliberately avoid the Census Bulletins is at least disingenuous, if not willfully misleading. Mr. White quotes none of his authorities; and yet, whatever they are, they bear out his contentions better than official figures. Let us take his statements in order, and answer them categorically.
1-Mr. White states: “The prohibitory law is now enforced in one hundred of the one hundred and five counties of the State", in all the counties, in fact, except Leavenworth, Atchison, Sedgwick, Crawford and Cherokee. Yet Mr. White's own paper, the Emporia Gasette, February 7, 1914, contains an article headed : “Plenty of Booze in Emporia”; March 2, “Emporia, Kansas, Not a Dry Town !-Prohibition Only Keeps Liquor Out About a Month at a Time"; March 4, "Booze and Cards for Kansas Women Society in Prohibition State Mixes Bridge and Booze"-an article by Mr. White himself.
2–Mr. White states: “The brewery has been a crumbling ruin for twenty years.” And 3—“The wholesale liquor house has vanished.”
Page 185 of the Report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for 1912 shows that Kansas had in that year one brewery, five hundred and thirty-one retail liquor dealers, seven wholesale liquor dealers, seventy-six retail dealers in malt liquors and twentyfour wholesale dealers in malt liquors—a total of one brewery and six hundred and thirty-eight licensed dealers in various kinds of liquor, all in a prohibition State, under whose laws the possession of a Federal license is prima facie evidence of liquor selling. That they are there the United States knows; but Kansas cannot catch them,
4—Mr. White states: “There is not a great difference in population between Cook County, Illinois, and the State of Kansas." One, however, is made up of the city of Chicago and its suburbs, covering 993 square miles, and the other is made up of agricultural communities covering 81,700 square miles. The comparison, in any case, is not a proper one; but Mr. White states there are more inmates in insane asylums in Cook County than in all the insane hospitals, penitentiaries, jails and institutions for the feeble-minded, combined, in the State of Kansas.
According to Bulletin 119, Bureau of the Census, page 10, the total number of insane in Kansas enumerated January 1, 1910, was 2,912. The total insane in Cook County on the same date was 2,174. Kansas population was 1,690,949; Cook County population, 2,405,949. See pages 35 and 37, Abstract of Census, 1910.
5-Mr. White states that the murder, homicide and accidental death rate of Kansas is 4.5 to a hundred thousand. How Mr. White secured his figures one cannot say. No figures of an official character exist. Kansas is a non-registration State, so that mortality statistics are not available. Covering the year 1912, a few places in Kansas were included within the registration area. There are no figures covering murders, homicides and accidental deaths for those places, but there are figures covering violent deaths and suicides.
The total population of Kansas cities in the registration area, given for the first time in 1912, was 289,000. The number of violent deaths and suicides registered in these places in 1912 was 369 -or 127.6 to a hundred thousand, instead of 4.5, as Mr. White claims. See page 56, Mortality Statistics for 1912, U. S. Census Bureau.
6-Mr. White states: "Kansas has fewer deaths from kidney diseases than any other State.” Since about one-half of the United States, Kansas among them, are outside of the registration area, Mr. White cannot know whereof he speaks, and therefore lays himself open to the charge of manufacturing evidence.
7-Mr. White states: "Forty-eight Kansas counties sent no persons to the penitentiary in 1913; eighty-seven Kansas counties sent no insane to asylums in 1913; in fourteen Kansas counties no jury has been called to try a criminal case in ten years; fifty-three Kansas jails have no inmates; thirty-eight Kansas counties have empty poorhouses.” Yet on June 1, 1914, Kansas had 892 penitentiary inmates ; 3,427 insane in hospitals in the State; the county jail population on that date was 4,883: These are the figures given by the Kansas State Board of Control-only totals furnished; not enumerated by counties.
But some Kansas counties have practically no population. Five have less than two persons to the square mile, and thirty-four show a decrease in population, between 1900 and 1910, of from 6 to 15.9 per cent. It is easy to see why some counties are not represented in State institutions. Incidentally, is it not rather fatuous to cite empty jails in proof of prohibition as a reducer of crime? On January 1, 1910, there were forty-seven empty county jails out of a possible ninety-one in Nebraska, a license State.
8—Mr. White states that Kansas' annual death rate is 7.5 to a thousand inhabitants. Once more official figures do not exist. Deaths from all causes in twelve Kansas cities in the registration area were covered for the first time in 1912. See page 56, United States Census Bureau Mortality Statistics, just issued. The total population of these twelve cities, according to census of 1910, was 303,443; the total deaths from all causes in 1912 was 4,796–15.8 to a thousand inhabitants, instead of 7.5.
9-Mr. White states: "Bank deposits in Kansas have increased in ten years from $100,000,000 to $220,000,000"—yet the 1913 Report of the Comptroller of Currency, page 58, shows the total bank deposits of Kansas on June 4, 1913, to amount to $179,424,502.44, and not $220,000,000.
10—Mr. White states: “The average holding of taxable property is $1,666.92"—yet Financial Statistics for 1912, just issued by the Census Bureau-see page 334–show that Kansas is assessed on from ninety to one hundred per cent of the full, true value of the property of the State. Page 44 of the Census Bureau Bulletin, on Wealth, Debt and Taxation, credits Kansas with $1,468 a head, and not $1,666.92.
Mr. White quotes the Wall Street Journal as stating the average property holding per capita in Kansas to be the largest in America; but the Census Bureau Bulletin credits Nevada with $5,214 per capita, and lists twenty-three States higher than Kansas.
11-Mr. White states that Census Bureau reports show that the Kansas death rate decreased faster than that of any other State. As already explained, only a small part of Kansas is included in the registration area, and Census Bureau reports have no comparisons whatever as to increase or decrease in the Kansas death rate.
12—Mr. White states: “Kansas has more students in colleges, according to population, than any other State in the Union.” Here, again, his claims are wholly at variance with official figures. Kansas, according to 1910 population, had one student in college for every 272.5 persons; Iowa had one for every 202.6 persons-a difference of thirty per cent. in Iowa's favor. See page 123, Alstract Census, 1912.
Perhaps these corrections are sufficient to show that Mr. White's conclusions, however interesting in themselves, are not based on accurate figures.
For evidence that the prohibitory law is not successfully enforced, Mr. White is respectfully referred to articles published in his own paper on January 14th, 16th, 31st; February 30, 7th, ioth, uith, 14th; March 2d, 3d, 4th ; July 8th, 9th, and other dates in 1914.
All that Mr. White has shown is that for thirty-four years Kansas has been struggling—perhaps more sincerely than any other State-with prohibitory laws; and that her success is still open to question. He has also proved that Kansas is mightily pleased with herself; that she modestly concedes her own superiority and patronizingly invites less fortunate states to imitate her.
HUGH F. Fox, Secretary of the United States Brewers' Association.
MR. WHITE'S REJOINDER On November 14th, Mr. White came back with an additional statement-which begins as follows:
The opportunity to reply to Mr. Hugh F. Fox, Secretary of the United States Brewers' Association, gives me great pleasure; and much of the pleasure is derived from the fact that it gives me an opportunity to correct a mistake in my original article. Mr. Fox properly calls attention to the mistake in what we may call indictment number four of his reply. That statement is incorrect and should not have been made; it was taken from figures furnished by the Kansas State Board of Control of Charitable Institutions; and, though it was exactly correct at the time it was made, several years ago, the shifting of the population of the paupers and insane in the Cook County and the Illinois State asylums has rendered the figures incorrect for use to-day. This I did not know when I wrote the article to which Mr. Fox so ably replied. The remaining eleven of his twelve indictments, however, are utterly worthless and will not bear investigation.
For instance, indictment number one declares that an article headed “Plenty of Booze in Emporia” appeared in the Emporia Gacette of February 7, 1914. No such article appeared; but one did appear headed "Bootleggers Confess and Draw a Fine and a Jail Sentence.” Mr. Fox charges that on March 2d an article appeared in the Gazette headed “Emporia, Kansas, Not a Dry Town! Prohibition Only Keeps Liquor Out About a Month at a Time.” No heading of that kind, or any heading like it, appeared in the Gacette of that date or of any other date. The charge is without the slightest substantiation in fact.
He declares that on March 4th an editorial appeared, written by me, headed "Booze and Cards for Kansas Women; Society in Prohibition State Mix Bridge and Booze." The only editorials in the paper on March 4, 1914, written by me or by anyone else are these three: One praising President Wilson, one about using vacant lots for gardens, and one on Kansas Bull-Moose politics. But, assuming that Mr. Fox may have his dates mixed, I will say that no editorial under that heading ever appeared in the Gasette, nor did thao heading ever appear on any page of the Emporia Gasette. The files of the Gazette are in the Kansas State Historical Society, open to everyone.