“A General Survey of Important Matters” by Dr. H.D. Stewart, from the June 16, 1916 issue of The Monroe Journal. From Schools and Roads to Venereal Disease.
(An address delivered by Dr. H.D. Stewart before the Woman’s Club of Monroe, March 8, 1916)
Ladies of the Woman’s Club of Monroe: I am glad to have this opportunity to address you on some topics of vital concern. I observe that all those present here this afternoon are married women. Some things I shall discuss should be heard by every girl that is old enough and intelligent enough to use wisely the information to be furnished.
The Woman’s Club is the greatest body that has ever been organized in Monroe, as future events will prove. It was not meant for fun. It is not a social club. It is not a leisure club, nor a good-time club. It was organized for business, for work, and for the various features and phases of community development.
The more time one devotes to pleasure and to pastimes, the less he contributes to the real running of the world. The great secret of successful community building is co-operation. The only way we can get some people to co-operate with us is to co-operate with them. Get them started along right lines and then join them. It is much easier to lead people than it is to drive them. The human mind is naturally rebellious. We must devote ourselves unselfishly to the common welfare. We cannot operate for good through selfish eyes, with selfish hands, and selfish hearts. We cannot live unto ourselves; we must secure all our blessings through the community route. He who attempts to benefit himself by injuring others, or by injuring his community, always curses himself. This is a divine law as well as a natural consequence.
Most Men Mean Well
We must let self sink out of sight, and in its stead, breathe forth that generous spirit of service to others, which always measures one’s real value to his community. The Woman’s Club has not heretofore received the encouragement it deserves from the men as well as from the women. There are those who are disposed to class you as notoriety-seekers, suffragists, women who do not know what else to do, and various other uncomplimentary things. Pay no attention to this. The devil will always fight back at first. Corner him. Those who have done wrong never like to be told about it. Run down all public abuses and bring them to light. Then you will have public opposition. No reform was ever launched, no great progressive measures were ever carried through without great opposition. Don’t let this deter you. Be sure you are right, then go ahead. Don’t give up the ship. Most men mean well. You can explain most opposition to progress with the word ignorance written in large bold type.
The Woman’s Club of Monroe should have 300 members. Go after them. Every doctor’s wife, every preacher’s wife, every lawyer’s wife, every teacher’s wife, every business man’s wife should be a member. You can get them and use them in community building. You can do anything you try to do.
Bury the Hatchets
I deplore the fact of the lack of co-operation in this community. I am very sorry indeed that there are some women in this town who do not like some other women; that there are some members of the church—christian ladies, if you please, who will not even speak to each other. The same is true of some of the men. This is not Christ-like. I am afraid St. Peter will not know just how to admit both factions because one side is bound to be wrong. And maybe, both are in the wrong.
All hatchets should be buried on earth and not before the gates of hell.
We should never oppose a good thing because some one we do not like has proposed it. This is extreme aggravated littleness. We should not oppose another because he is in the same profession, business or occupation. Why not co-operate with him for the good of us all? A good way to become friendly and remain friendly is to work together for the common good.
We cannot benefit ourselves without first benefitting our community. Keep that in mind, will you?
Men have always first spoken lightly of women reformers and women community builders.
Men say women are great joiners. They join every club that is organized. They like to get their names in the Monroe papers, and the Charlotte papers. You need pay no attention to people who make fun. They are a necessary part of every community. The Lord made them—I reckon He did. You can explain their attitude with the words “ignorance and prejudice.”
Community building or civic welfare may be conveniently divided for discussion into seven heads (1) The home; (2) the government; (3) the church; (4) the schools; (5) the roads and streets; (6) the social life; (7) the business life.
All these are inter-dependent and no one of the seven can secure the best development and expression without all the others.
The home is the earliest form of government known to history. You can travel through any country on earth and correctly judge the true status of that country by the moral and physical and intellectual development of the homes.
Every home that can should have a music and art room, a library and reading room, a gymnasium, a domestic department, a living room and sleeping room. When a family can not have these advantages of happy community home life, the municipality should furnish them in so far as it is possible to do so.
Each home should have good music, works of art on the walls, quotations and mottoes on the walls—all of these help to make lasting impressions on the young mind in the formative period of life.
Every boy and girl at the right age and the right time should be given a room in the house, to be called his or her room. It should be kept tidy and in order and he should be encouraged to take a pride in his home.
Certain principles of character should be grounded into every child by his parents. The child should be taught that it is wrong to steal; that it is wrong and injurious to self, mother, father and all to appropriate to one’s own use that which rightfully and naturally belongs to others, whether it be riches, personal property, realty, honor, deserved credit, position or place. The child should be constantly reminded that it is not right to lie, to deceive, to disappoint, to strike one that is down, to kick one that is downward bound, to laugh at the misfortunes of others, to encourage evil tendencies.
The child should be taught to help the weak; not to impose on others, whether they be kin-folks, friends or bitter enemies.
All children should be taught to work and to produce more than they consume. Children must be made to respect age, womanhood and serious sacred things. They must be required to behave in public places; to obey and respect teachers. Every boy should raise his hat to teachers, ladies, old people and worthy individuals in high places.
Teach the boy what it is to be a gentleman and the girl what it means to be a lady.
The boy and the girl should be taught to render help to those in trouble; to lift up those who are down; to be a friend to those who are friendless and ready to give up the struggle.
The mysteries of life should be tactfully and wisely taught the boys and the girls in right manner, at the right time by the proper persons.
Children should be taught not to waste time or money—not to be sluggards or spendthrifts—
“Count that day lost,
Whose low descending sun
Views from thy hand
No worthy action done.”
The form of government will largely determine the welfare and the happiness of the people of any country. The republic is the best for humanity as a whole. Absolute monarchies, limited monarchies, oligarchies and plutocracies ae all a curse to humanity.
May the good Lord soon deliver all the people of the earth from the accursed reigns of selfish monarchs, from the greed, the lust for power, and the wicked rule of ungodly sovereigns and crooked politicians. The ideal for the municipality, the county, the state, or the nation. Politicians and grafters are the curse of our government.
The greatest evil in every city government is green-horns and grafters. The green-horn in office will waste thousands of dollars of public funds. The grafter will steal all he can. It is to the interest of every city to keep green-horns and grafters out of office. Every city in the world has its old grafters who are constantly and continually planning some way to get a stealthy hand into the public treasury. Let’s steer clear of the two g’s.
Every government must seek two things—efficiency in public service and economy in operation. The current expenses must be carefully watched. Public buying and selling must be done by an expert market man. Public utilities and public improvements must be conducted by honest, trained experts who can and will do the right thing at the right time. Every government must avoid the two g’s—green-horns and grafters, and seek the two e’s—efficiency and economy.
The Part of the Church in Community Building
May the good Lord deliver us from any community where there is no church. Our lives would not be safe. Our property would be taken by robbers. God is the only power and the church the only agency that can deliver us from the demons of greed, lust, desire, hate and envy. The church is a safeguard and a safety valve against destruction. There is always hope for the man who goes to church.
Every father should take his children to Sunday school and to preaching every Sunday in the year.
I am not much of a denominationalist. Some people let denominanationalism loom greater in their religious life than they do Christianity. The one should never be substituted for the other. All Christian denominations should work together for the common good and against the common enemy. The greatest good of denominations is competition or righteous rivalry in building up the cause of Christ on earth. It is very useful in this. The denominations spur each other to greater effort in saving humanity.
Competition is the life of trade, the life of accommodation and the life of religious work.
Schools as Community Builders
It is a horrible calamity to be devoid of useful knowledge. Our schools are right next to our homes. It is here that one must be prepared for life.
It is a sin to tamper with the destiny of a child. Teaching is a serious, solemn business. It should always be a profession rather than an occupation.
No one should be allowed to teach as a pastime or to collect spending money on which to dress or have a good time. Teachers should be required to follow the profession not less than five years. They should be required to take the best magazines on teaching as well as on science and literature. They should be paid more money and then be required to earn more. Some teachers are underpaid and some are over-paid. We need schools of pedagogy and all teachers should be required to attend them. Many teachers right here in Union county ought to be in school themselves all the year around.
We need a teachers’ library and a teacher’s reading room in every community, rural or urban.
Our own county ought to have the best educated, the best trained, the best equipped and the best qualified superintendent of education to be found anywhere in the United States even if he costs us $5,000 a year. Even at this figure he would pay 1,000 per cent in community dividends.
In Union county there are more than 700 men (mostly young men, too) and probably 1,000 women who cannot read and write. Can’t even read reading! This is a sad state of affairs. They are in prison; they are blind and cannot see.
Cannot the Woman’s Club undertake to establish special schools for these people? Nigh Schools, lectures, letters; they could be taught to read, spell, write and count.
Some of the greatest men, even some of our United States presidents, learned to read and write after they reached 21 years.
All our schools should have lectures, music and other educational advantages.
Schools and politics should be kept apart. Efficiency should be the watchword.
School boards should consider it their conscientious duty to find teachers that can fill jobs, rather than to find jobs for friends, kins-folks or members of their church.
No school can secure the best results without the intelligent, unselfish co-operation of parents and teachers.
Roads and Streets
No community can make rapid progress without good roads.
In order that farm products may have the best market value and the farmer secure the greatest profit, there must be easy access to good markets.
Good roads lower the cost of marketing, enhance the value of land, bring school communities, church communities and social life closer together.
Daily mail can be had. It is easier to keep in touch with the outside world. Distance is annulled and everybody becomes our neighbor.
Road building is the work of engineers and experts. It cannot be entrusted to green-horns. The result will always inevitably be much money wasted and still no roads.
There are too many branch line roads throughout the country and two few well constructed highways. Permanent roads should be built. All construction of paving should be permanent. It should be durable, beautiful and useful. Our city streets and pavements should be second only to our homes and yards in beauty.
The Social Life as a Community Builder
Our social life should be based on standards of purity, honesty and general upright living.
There should be no double standard. The woman who has fallen is just as good as the fallen man. She should not be rejected; she should be lifted up.
The attitude of the woman who is still standing has not been what it should be toward her fallen sister. There has been a disposition to throw them on out and to kick them on down. Many of these women are absolutely crushed until they are hardened by sin, cigarettes, whiskey and evil associations. The time to reclaim them is in the first stage. In later days they see no light; they have no hope. They feel the personality of an outcast. Many of them at times long for deliverance. No creature is too low to lift up. Any human being on earth is good enough to speak to.
I fear that some good people are too afraid of contamination.
There is a deplorable tendency of members of many churches and in many social gatherings to group themselves into classes of supposed difference of social standing. All should mingle and greet each other. Then co-operation will be easier to secure.
There are clubs and clubs. It is hard to “keep up with Liz.” I have known women to organize a new club just to get to leave out or to slight some one they didn’t like or wanted to get rid of.
I am now going to talk to you briefly on “The Social Diseases.”
It is said that almost 75 per cent of the married women that go to hospitals for treatment or for operations have to go because they have been infected by their husbands with gonorrhea. The conditions are alarming.
A young fellow infected with gonorrhea, against the advice or over the protest of his physician, married a young lady of the community. She may be your daughter, your sister or mine. She is the picture of health. She is ignorant. She little suspects that the fellow who professes to love her and promises to keep her in sickness and in health is about to ruin her for life.
It is my opinion that the doctor or the family physician should call a halt right here.
Many women have been killed by their husbands.
It is said that as high as 25 to 60 per cent of blind people (of whom there are half a million in the United States) were rendered blind by gonorrhea of the eyes when they were new-born babes. The husband infected the wife and mother and the baby’s eyes. The doctor failed to cure or prevent.
Then these blind people marry and 60 per cent of their children are born with hereditary blindness.
Syphilis is a Great Black Plague
It has many obscure manifestations. It causes aneurism, paralysis, baldness, insanity, dementia and mental defects in the children and many other evil effects. A friend of mine has just told me about the case of a noble young woman that married a syphilitic. He was rich and belonged to a prominent family in a Southern city. She married him for wealth and family name and social position. He infected her with syphilis. Within two years she died a terrible death.
You would be astonished to know the truth about some social tragedies that have been enacted right here in Monroe.
It is alarming how many people have syphilis. It is claimed that 75 per cent of the negroes and many white people have it.
I am candidly of the opinion that marriage should be denied to the confirmed, uncured syphilitic, to the chronic gonorrheaic, to the epileptic, to the habitual drunkard, to the mental defective, to the insane; to anybody with any incurable disease of mind, body or moral nature.
The right to marry should be denied to pseudomaniacs, nymphomaniacs, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, monomaniacs and to just everyday ordinary Union county or North Carolina Anglo-Saxon maniacs.
The application for a marriage license should be required to furnish the Register of Deeds a certificate of health and fitness from three reputable physicians. One physician would not do because there are some who would swear to a lie for $10, but you could scarcely find three such culpable medical men at our county seat.
The Business Life in Community Building
In order that any community or any municipality may develop rapidly and marked progress be had the business men must co-operate. They are the ones who control the finances. They must work together to secure railroads, manufacturing enterprises and the best class of settlers.
We need more educated people in Monroe and Union county. The standard of intelligence is too low. The intelligence of the average citizen is too low.
Our business men can build up our community where others might fail.
We don’t have enough educated farmers. Isn’t it a pity that every educated man has to go to the city—to become a “professor” or a lawyer or something else?
It is necessary for the individuals of every community to give attention to the business of making a living. Occupation, vocation, earning capacity, living expenses, book-keeping should be taught to children.
There are two vital ideas that must forever hold each other in restraint.