The Torture Tunnel -- The Underground Way -- From God's Altar to Hell's Sweatshops, August 3, 1912 Also known as: Our National Politics, August 3, 1912


The Torture Tunnel - The Underground Way--From God's Alter to Hell's Sweatshops

Behind Convent Wall with Heart Interest from the Cincinnati Convent of the Good Shepherd on Price Hill-- THe Huge "Bank Street Laundry" --Sweatshop Shirt Factory-- The Terrible Overalls Shop

By H. GEORGE BUSS, Staff Correspondent.

Cincinnati is, indeed, one of the most beautiful of all our American cities. Perhaps with the exception of New York and Boston, Cincinnati has more points of interest for strangers than almost any other city in America.

With renewed interest I again viewed the massive Post office building in Government Square; again I admired the Fountain in Fifth avenue, presented to the city by Tyler Davidson; again I entered the wonderful Romanesque Public Library building with its more than a quarter of a million volumes; once again in appreciative silence I stood in St. Peter's cathedral before Murillo's masterly picture, "St. Peter Delivered" -- a glorious conception.

In meditation again I stood and viewed number twenty-one on East Eighth avenue, where, on a wintry afternoon, November 21st, 1864, T. Buchanan Read wrote that deathless poem, "Sheridan's Ride"; again, mindful of the sweet memories that cluster around their immortal and God-blessed songs in every Christian heart, I journeyed out to beautiful "Clovernook" and stood with bared head before the former home of Alice and Phoebe Cary, now the Home for the Blind.

In Garfield place once more I admired that superb equestrian statue of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States (from whom my own son can claim descent), and, mindful of historic interest I went down the river to North Bend to the old Harrison home, now sacred to the memory of the hero of Tippecanoe.

On the ride to Price Hill, via the Warsaw car, is one of the finest specimens of ingenious engineering I have ever seen -- made necessary by the extraordinarily steep grade.

From one of the many elevations on Price Hill a wonderful scene caught my eye -- all of beautiful Cincinnati in Nature's own magnificent amphitheater below. I was still thinking of this grand panorama when the conductor called: "Hawthorne" -- and touching me on the shoulder said, "There's the gate to the convent grounds, sir, just follow the driveway."

Following your assignment, faithful to my promise to the editors, and through them to the vast army of Menace readers, a quarter of a million strong, I was on my way to explore the mysteries of one of the greatest, most notorious, most feared, most worshipped, most hated, most loved, most poverty-stricken, most profitable, apparently most innocent, yet best guarded and shrouded in secrecy -- of all convents in America.

I succeeded. What I saw there I shall tell, kindly as may be, and yet fearlessly -- for, readers all! you were unconsiously looking through my eyes; what I saw, you of The Menace army shall see. And yet, one word with you before we, together, you and I -- shall walk those long, dark halls, or peer suddenly into many rooms with locked doors, or stand before the holy shrines, or stare into a long, dark, cemented tunnel or gaze into the dumb souls that peer darkly out from the suffering eyes of countless little children!

Let us divest ourselves first, of all malice -- all hatred -- all personal bitterness. Let us distinguish in our civic wrath and righteousness indignation, between the individual and the Roman system that makes that individual its self-sacrificed victim, and its dumb-driven slave. Let us have mercy and human sympathy for the victim, the slave; even as we demand and enforce the political extinction of the Vatican system in America.

The hot summer sunshine beat down pitilessly from above as I pushed aside the iron gate of the driveway and entered the grounds of the Cincinnati convent of the Good Shepard. The grounds comprise one of the many high points of Price Hill; a board fence some ten feet in height extends around the enclosure which contains eleven acres.

A few steps -- and I discovered that I had entered a beautiful place. Great widespread trees cast a graceful shade. Trees and grass everywhere. A hundred feet farther -- and above the trees a great, gray, four-story building towered in massive silence. A second glance and I saw a second building, perhaps half a city block to the rear, three stories in height and built of red brick.

About the second building were walls and high board fences extending in several directions, forming various yards. But now I was nearing the great gray building, and was sauntering leisurely up the cement walk and admiring the beautiful flowers that bloomed in luxuriant profusion beside the walks.

In my pocket I carried a "permit" to tour the convent, in the form of a letter of introduction from an influential Catholic source, and further requesting that my investigation be thorough. How did I secure this? Well, I -- but what's the use -- you really don't want me to tell you "out loud" do you? We may want another, you know.

Fifteen or twenty little girls were sedately playing under the trees. Another, some eight or nine years old, came suddenly out of a side entrance near me. In answer to my question as to where I would find the "Mother Superior," she said, "I'll call her for you," and pressed a button at the door. I passed on into a small, bare reception hall. A door opened softly and a woman, clad in white robes from head to foot, entered. To her I introduced myself and explained my mission, giving her my letter of introduction, which was addressed to "Mother Xavier."

"But," said the lady in white, looking up from reading, "I am not Sister Xavier, I am sister Aurelia." "Yes," said I, "I am so glad to meet you, for I have heard you spoken of quite often. I believe you have charge of the smaller girls, the 'Preservates,' do you not?"

"Yes," said Sister Aurelia, "and I shall be delighted to show you all through my part of the building, and then introduce you to Sister Xavier, who will be so pleased to show you all the rest."

And with that she led the way to the massively arched front entrance of the building, past a still lovlier profusion of flowers, up the steps, down a corridor, and then I was "behind Convent Walls." The interior of this building is rather plain in finish, but is kept in the best of repair. Sister Aurelia is soft of speech, her voice has the sweet lilt of old Ireland; she is of medium height, and, perhaps, forty years of age, and as she looked at me, as we ascended the stairs to the second floor, I suddenly became aware that her eyes were large, handsome, but keenly gray.

I must hasten, and will be brief in describing the younger girls' department. These girls, from six to twelve years of age are classified as "Preservates" and are supposed to be kept seperate from the older girls. I noticed that every door, almost without exception, is kept locked, and Sister Aurelia had difficulty with some of the keys she carried -- they failed to fit some of the locks.

Soon we encountered another lady in white (white robes form the distinctive garb of the sisters of the Good Shepard). She was introduced to me as Sister Vincent. She was evidently in authority -- I since strongly suspect that she is in reality Sister Xavier herself -- but whoever or whatever she may be, I shall long remember her quiet dignity, her gentle courtesy, and agove all, her deferential diplomacy.

She carried one key -- and every door opened to that key. I was shown the school rooms. Two small and one rather large. Mentally and rapidly I counted the small, plain, painted desks -- not enough for a third of the one hundred and sixty to two hundred little girls constantly in this department.

One after another I passed in and keenly scanned the sleeping dormitories -- from thirty to seventy small iron beds in each, placed about two feet apart, painted windows, kept closed. We passed into the "recreation room" -- a large, plain room filled with empty chairs. At one end an alter with sacred and wonderfully sculpted images. A half dozen disconsolate little girls in checked calico aprons, busily knitting red yarn winter caps.

We passed into the chapel -- and there, amid the "dim religious light" at the far end was God's alter, gleaming and glistening in white beauty. Again the striking marble figures, among them, even the Son of God, the true "Good Shepard." Save for the figure of a woman in black robe kneeling silently midway of the room, the chapel was deserted. Yet, as I gazed, I wondered if God was in His holy place behind the alter.

Some other time I may tell you all I saw in this building, but just now will omit all that intervened until Sister Vincent said, "Now, we will go to the other bulding, and we will show you through our laundry and our sewing rooms. You know we own the Bank Street laundry. You understand, of course, that children must have some work for their own welfare and development, so we provide them employment for their own good."

I had the cue now, and I discoursed so eloquently on the absolute necessity for the employment of children, etc., ad lib., that as we emerged from the rear entrance of the main building and made our way toward that fateful red brick building, my companions were actually delighted, and we all three waxed quite enthusiastic.

We paused by a large stone basin where floated pond lillies, amidst which many goldfish glided and played. "Beautiful! Beautiful!" I exclaimed. "Yes," Sister Aurelia answered in those soft Irish accents, "the children do so love to come here and watch the fish -- and do you see our teeter-totters and our swings? Oh they have some grand times playing here."

(There were two "teeter-totters," and I think three swings!)

Even here the ground under our feet was trembling in unison with the constant rumble that surged and roared from the other building.

Now Mr. -------, we will go in if you like," said Sister Vincent, leading the way. Being courteous by nature, (perhaps for other reasons also) I took pains to keep both my conductors in front of me whenever possible. Very probably they will not even dream, until they read this article, how much I really saw, nor how closely I was watching.

The outer door was locked -- so was the inner. And now a deafening crash smote our ears, and then died away to a steady hum, like some giant bee above us. "Ah!" said Sister Vincent, "see they have shut the power off -- they are through for today." "And yet," I remarked, "'tis early -- not more than five o'clock, is it?" (I have the cue again.) "Why, no," said Sister Vincent, pulling a watch from a fold in the white robe and showing me the time with a satisfied smile, "it is just a quarter to five." I had suspected the "frame-up!" (I was very duly impressed.)

Some twenty or thirty girls from twelve to eighteen years old were visibly here and there in the laundry -- some folding sheets in a desultory way, some sitting here and there reading books, others doing fancy work. But there is no bookcase visible in this building, and the girls doing fancy work had only the thread or silk on their needles--not a spool of thread or a skein of silk visible anywhere! Get the idea? It was wellstaged only it was too well done.

"You see, Mr. -----," said Sister Vincent, "when they finish they may do as they like, read or sew or crochet until supper time at six o'clock, then they have two hours play time until bed time at eight-thirty." Magnificent!

And the laundry is one of the largest and best equipped I have ever seen. It takes two hundred girls to operate its machinery! And the work of course is perfect. Every modern and automatic machine known to laundry science is found here.

The laundry work done here comes from corporations, fashionable clubs; and wealthy citizens from all over the city, gathered and delivered by the  wagons bearing the sign:


Glancing at the record sheet for the day I also saw the names of some hotels and restaurants. Then after visiting every department of this immense laundry I was shown upstairs and taken through every department of the "sewing rooms." The first we visited was  the shirt factory. Here are, perhaps, fifty power sewing machines -- every machine designed for its especial task -- at every machine sat a little girl -- and some were such little girls! With bowed heads and stooped shoulders these female infants toiled and toiled.

I thought of Hood's "Song of the Shirt," but as I walked amidst the grinding, shrieking, wirring bowl of these merciless power machines and saw the tired, bent, thin, anaemic bodies of the girl-children and saw the bent, crippled fingers and gazed at the pitiful little checked calico aprons, all alike, my thoughts changed. All the beauty and all the glory with which Catholicism would invest that white altar, I saw in the chapel, fell away as filthy rags. My heart whispered the burning, blighting, biting Truth --

"This is one of hell's own sweatshops. In that laundry, little human girls wash other folks' dirty, stinking clothes, in tears. Here the shirts that are made by childish fingers are black with the blood of slavery in God's eyes!"

These machines are owned by Rauk & Mack, shirt manufacturers, who are located on Sixth street, between Sycamore and Main, this city. Their shirts are marked "R. & M.," -- "Avondale" -- and "Famous," which is their leader. The Menace dares this firm to print the true, sworn price named in their contract, with this convent for the making of these shirts. If they don't, The Menace might.

Just here the Protestant people have been asleep. Look carefully at the label of the next shirt you buy. Oh! Protestant fathers of little darling girls. Oh! you Big Brothers of tiny sisters. If one of these brands of blood be on the next shirt you buy, and you can deliberately buy it after reading this article, may it burn you like the mark of Cain! Unapid, imprisoned child labor!

We passed next -- these sweet slave-driving sisters of Heaven leading the way -- into the overalls factory! And ye Gods! 'twas only going from hades into hell! A great battery of perhaps forty power overalls machines -- at each a miserable little girl slave, working feverishly twelve hours, six days in the week -- for what? To finish her "stunt" of forty or fifty dozen pieces each day that she may not lose her pitiful supper of two slices of bread, a piece of cold meat (perhaps) and a cup of chicory coffee, or weak tea, and drugged, at that!

I have used other means of gaining inside information besides this visit. It is little wonder that these girl-slaves present such a peculiar physical appearance, as they do, when we learn that numbers of the former inmates swear that saltpeter and drugs are fed daily in the poor grade of waste food given them, drugs that prevent sexual and womanly development, and so kill all spirit and remove all self-confidence.

No wonder that in every act and look I noted the craven, dog-like obedience, born of this diabolical scheme hatched up in hell and worked upon helpless, imprisoned little girls by Rome's she-slavers.

Oh! What a grist of blood and sweat and tears and prayers and souls is ground into the pulp of hell every year in this mill! And all possible only because Protestants slumber, while Rome never sleeps.

The juvenille court, presided over by poor hen-pecked Catholic scarred and Rome-hunted John Caldwell, is the great procuring agency in Cincinnati for the Price Hill "House of Good Shepard." The juvenile court as located at Court and Main streets. Go there and yet again, oh! fearless Menace army. Haunt that judge -- help him -- protect him from the influence of Rome's agents!

In addition to the helpless girls railroaded to this immense, white-washed sweatshop through the juvenile court of Cincinnati by the efforts of Catholic spies and agencies over the city, hundreds of their victims are received from juvenile courts and from "press-gang" methods from Hamilton, Columbus, Dayton and all over this state, and from many other states, seventeen luckless girls being received in one consignment from far-away Florida. Their system hardly needs an "underground railroad" so long as non-Catholics either sleep or stand by, cravenly cowed or supinely indifferent. This condition of Protestantism alone makes possible this awful slavery of the innocents by Catholic sweat-shops.

Lastly, I know this -- as a matter of simple, legal truth -- no commitment to such private institutions of girls underage, will stand in law in Ohio! And, if the Protestants and justice-loving non-Catholics of Cincinnati will arise and demand the release of these four hundred girl slaves who sleep tonight behind prison walls in penal servitude, abused and exploited, condemned for no crime -- if you demand legally, and publically that those thirty-six Roman female taskmasters liberate these helpless girl-children, Rome will howl, 'tis true, but the four hundred would be freed before another night fell.

I have only opened this campaign lightly this week -- just touched upon the surface of the mass of material all around me at my command. I dare Rome to deny! More will follow.

Personally it matters little the fate of just one soldier on the Firing Line -- I may die in this fight -- but the die is cast. Rome will lose in this fair land, as always and everywhere she has lost before.

It's Not the Laity

Readers of The Menace sometimes seem to become so confused as to the policy of the paper that it is necessary to reiterate our position time and again. Let it be understood that we have no ill will whatever for a man simply because he is a Roman Catholic. This is a free country and a man is at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his consience, and this paper will fight to the last ditch to protect him in that right, be he Catholic, Protestant, Agnostic or what not.

The writer of this article himself has Catholic relatives and Catholic friends. Among the adherents of this faith we can recall some of the most lovable characters we have ever known. With these -- the laity -- we have no quarrel. Our feelings toward them is that of sympathy, and The Menace would be the last paper under the sun to malign, slur or insult them, but it is desperately in earnest in its efforts to help them throw off the yoke of fear, tyranny and supersition under which they are vainly struggling. Any system, religious or otherwise, which crushes and stultifies the individual, demanding cringing obedience and lickspittle subserviency to a dishonest and grafting hierarchy is wrong, and wrongs thus afflicted are grievous to be borne.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy is deaf, dumb and blind to the character, desires and ambitions of the deluded hosts who pay it tribute, and the Roman Catholic political machine is the deadliest menace to American liberty and civilization.

It is this machine that we are fighting, and we welcome with open arms the Catholic from whose eyes the scales have fallen, "for greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend."

Havelock Ellise, the greatest authority on diseases of the nervous system says that a very large proportion of the most eminant male saints who lead a conventional life were in the highest degree [illegible], and proceds to show that convent life is emotionalism flowing into abnormal channels. Thus the grand old church from which has come any chivalry that this century may show to the weaker sex," to quote Bishop Conroy, has taken advantage of the emotionalism which is organic in women and turned it to the use of holy mother church -- an organization for the support of a gang of celibates.

Father Quinn, of the Q. and Ans. Dept. of the Pittsburgh Observer, is getting nettled at having to explain and defend the doctrine of papal infallibility so often. "As a matter of fact," he says, "philosophy has no right to insist on being answered when it combats this doctrine of ours, and we would be right if we refused to discuss it with human reason: for in a matter that is dependent upon the will of God, reason has no ground on which to justify the intrusion of its opinions and prejudgements." But alas, this is a skeptical age -- there are people who won't believe the moon is made of green cheese!

Hypatia, the first teacher of Eugenics, was chopped to pieces with oyster shelves before the alter of Holy Cyrill, bishop of Alexandria. The Catholic pulpit and press are today unanimous in denouncing eugenics, which is merely the scientific consideration of the supreme function of woman -- the bearing of children well equipped mentally and physically. When women understand this subject they will no longer believe the priest when he tells them that an afflicted child is the result of marrying a Protestant, or of not going to mass regularly, or is a judgement of God for having fallen away from the church; and he will no longer dare to ask them the unspeakable obscene questions given in the priest's manual.

Exorcism, the driving out of evil spirits, one of the most primitive of religious customs, still obtains in the Romish church. Among barbarous peoples it has always been of great importance, generally used in treating the sick. The Dakota Indian's chant "Hi, le, li, lah," to the accompaniment of a great rattle until the possessing spirit is supposed to come out of the afflicted body and take flight, when men in wait at the tent door fire guns at "it." In the 16th century the great Catholic, Sir Thomas Moore, ordered lunatics to be publicly flogged in order to drive out hte demon. This belief in demonology survives in the present Catholic ceremony of baptism in which the priest twice orders the Prince of Darkness to "come forth out of him who is about to be baptized."

The press dispatch from Washington announces the fact that President Taft is soon to issue an order which will change the design on the United States five cent piece from the Goddess of Liberty to a Buffalo, because, it is explained, that the buffalo is peculiarly an American animal. That is to say that the Goddess of Liberty, in the estimation of Mr. Taft, has no place in the category of "American animals" and that all trace of same should be eliminated. Strange that Taft didn't suggest a crucifix or an image of the knee cap of Saint Anne.

Our National Politics

By W. M. Maiden.

We are aware of the fact that The Menace is not primarily a political paper: yet Roman Catholicism cannot be dealt with properly, unless we consider it a political factor. Had we recognized this fact sooner, it would have been better for us as a nation. However, our eleventh-hour awakening may make us the more dilligent in the matter.

A national crisis is on.

Our beloved institutions are tottering under the mighty waves of Catholicism. Our eyes behold strange sights: our ears hear the weird cries of the middle ages: our dreams are of tears and bloodshed. The world is breathlessly watching the stage of modern history to see what the next scene will be in America. will this inquitous wave be repulsed, or is it only the beginning of overwhelming undulations? God only knows.

The trend of affairs in America will be largely affected by the coming presidential election: at which time American men will have a chance to show the world whether or not they are worthy descendants of their grandsires who fought and died on the field of battle for the sake of civil and religious freedom. The questions of the rule of Catholicism in America must soon be settled at the poles, or it will have to be settled on the field of carnage. Some may say that we are unduly alarmed. I would say in reply that if our national affairs continue to drift as they have drifted in the last few years, soon there will be no rational occassion for alarm--ours will be a hopeless cause. Should the consumptive be alarmed after his lungs are decayed? Had he not better be alarmed at the time of the incipiency of the disease? Is it worth while for the army picket to watch, after the enemy has conquered and captured all his comrades?

Whether the masses believe it or not, we are in the beginning of a great struggle for liberty. Shall we settle the question now, or shall we give the enemy more time to fortify themselves? The approaching general election will be the first decisive battle in this struggle for liberty. The Roman Catholics have said through their leaders and through the papers that are dominated by them, that Mr. Taft must be the next president: and we all know why they have said it. He has favored them as no other president has dared to do. And now they like his favoritism so well that they want the same man in office again.

To defeat Mr. Taft will be to crush with a mighty blow the Roman Catholic political machine that has been figuring so largely in our national politics in the last few years. Undoubtedly other presidential candidates have bowed to Rome, but they have never gone so far beyond bounds of reason as he has; and we have good reason to believe they never will. The fact that Roman Catholics so enthusiastically support Mr. Taft, is a proof that, of all the candiates, they consider him their staunchest friend.

To defeat Mr. Taft will be a splendid object lesson for other politicians. If, after Mr. Taft's open espousal of the cause of Catholicism, he is disgracefully defeated, other men willl learn that such a step on their part would mean certain defeat also.

This is by no means a petty political squabble; our very religious freedom and life itself are involved in this question; therefore political lines should be utterly forgotten. Republicans and democrats should work side by side with this one aim in view. Prohibitionists should cooperate in this matter, for there is no deadlier enemy to prohibition than the Roman hierarchy. Socialists should do likewise, for in so doing they oppose their most oppressive oligarchy that ever disgraced the earth. To oppose Mr. Taft is to oppose Roman Catholicism; to vigorously oppose Roman Catholicism at the present time is to keep our sons from the sickening scenes of the battlefield and our daughters from widowhood.

A man on the Firing Line has favored this office with a photograph of a bunch of Roman Catholic priests taken at West Duluth, Minn., recently. A more licentious looking bunch of physiognomics never met our gaze, and in the center of the group, like a cellar door in a country town looms the pompous figure of the "leading" saloon keeper of the city. Verily, "birds of a feather flock together."