"World’s Most Wicked City?" Not Chicago.
Chicago is not a wicked city. At least comparatively speaking it is not.
According to the Rev. J. Aspinwall C. McCuaig, vice president of the National Christian League for the Promotion of Purity, who has come to Chicago to see for himself, it is not the police force that needs stirring up but the ministers.
We are much better than he expected to find us and far from being a "hell on earth," as he had hear, for a city our size, we are pretty good.
"Considering its widely heralded reputation as ‘the wickedest city in the world,’ and as a hotbed of vice and iniquity, Chicago is an agreeable surprise," said the Rev. McCuaig last week, after a series of investigations. "It does not live up to its evil reputation by a long way. In my investigations of the vice ridden quarters of the city I have been surprised happily at the high degree of order maintained under the present day administration.
"Vice Chicago unfortunately has in plenty. So have other cities. But knowing conditions as I do in those other cities, I must say that, so far as my work has enabled me to judge, the glaring manifestation of social vice do not appear in Chicago in any greater or even in so great an extent as may be found in many smaller cities throughout the land. Chicago has grown into the habit of claiming supremacy in everything. Unintentionally, probably, it has acquired excessive notoriety for its alleged wickedness. But it doesn’t deserve it. Chicago is entitled to rank among the average of cities for its handling of the deplorable conditions wrought through the social evil."
Points Disclosed by Investigation
In his investigations of the "red light" districts of the city, and of all conditions directly ascribable to the social evil, Mr. McCuaig finds that:
Chicago rank above New York in the handling of its vice problem.
Better order is maintained in this metropolis than in scores of smaller cities.
The churches are far behind the police in coping with the city’s wickedness; they need a good waking up to make them realize their responsibility in education the rising generations.
Chicago’s vice problem, as elsewhere, is not in its segregated districts but in the social life of the city, where ignorance of economic conditions and lack of purity make the existence of such districts possible.
In his capacity as vice president of the National Christian league Mr. McCuaig has visited the most important cities on the same mission that brings him to Chicago, has plumbed the lower life of municipalities, and become acquainted with the forces of evil and the forces of betterment. He declares that the smaller cities, those of 100,000 to 200,000 inhabitants, outdo the metropolis in fatalities of access to such wickedness.
Treatment Must Being At Once
"The social evil," he says, "is one that grows more rapidly than it can be extirpated. Municipal control and regulation is, after all, but an ineffectual sort of external treatment. To effect a cure the treatment must begin at the source of the malady, the appalling ignorance and carelessness of the whole social body.
"This is the mission of the National Christian League for the Promotion of Purity. It aims to arouse the country to the seriousness of existing conditions, to obtain the cooperation of churches, reform and medical associations in an educational movement which will give to the generations that are to come the light which will make impossible the existence of conditions that obtain today. The church has been too lax in its treatment of the problem. It has made no effort to educate its members in the need for a higher standard in the matter. It has sought to reclaim rather than to instruct, disregarding the truth of the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a point of cure.
"The work of the league will be to change this, and to instill in the minds of the clergy of all denominations and educators of all kinds of necessity of beginning their work at the fountain head of the social evil — the ignorance of the average American boy and girl on this most vital of subjects. Reform must begin in education. The rising generations must have light before the dark spots may be cleared away.
Work of McCann Praised.
"In Chicago as elsewhere the church has been negligent. The police have worked here in many instances with a vigilance and intelligence that should be highly commended. Coming to Chicago a total stranger, after some time spent in the Twenty-second street red light district I knew that a big, efficient police official had been at work their. Signs of this were to be seen on every hand.
"Afterwards I met the man who did this work, Inspector Edward McCann, at present at Desplaines street station, where his endeavors are doing much to clean up the dark regions of Green and Sangamon streets. It is such men, supported by a city government, that makes Chicago’s handling of the vice problem an interesting and encouraging study. With the churches as active and efficient in the first against vice as such police effort, the superficial conditions manifested in red light districts would be immeasurably improved. I feel that I cannot speak too highly of the grand work done at Twenty-second street by Inspector McCann.
"The more progressive clergymen are waking up to their duty in this matter. Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis of Brooklyn recently declared: ‘The State that makes a young man study two years before being licensed as a druggist, three years before he may practice as a lawyer or physician, ought to ask the young man and the young woman to pass and equally rigid examination before license is given to found an American home and set up an American family.
Time Ripe for Campaign
"Similar significant expressions have been made by other prominent members of the clergy, and indication that the time is ripe for a fruitful national educational campaign for purity. The saloon, in so far as it is an adjunct to the disorderly house; the theater, when it caters to licentiousness, and the moral turpitude of men and women who are willing to reap a harvest of gold in a traffic that shames civilization, are the obvious foes against which we must fight the hardest fight.
"But it is at the heart of the matter, the ignorance of the young, and through education that the effective, lasting work must be done. Present conditions are but the harvest of ignorance and wrong thinking that was sown through generations. In Chicago the field for work on the part of the clergy, educations, and reformers from the standpoint of education is large and full of possibilities."
Dr. McCuaig will lecture Sunday evening at 9:30 o’clock in Orchestra hall "to men only," under the auspices of the Chicago Sunday Evening club. At this meeting will be inaugurated the Chicago campaign of the league in its fight for purity. The late hour is chosen in view to enable male church members to attend after the regular Sunday evening services, for it is desired to teach the churchgoer as well as his unregenerate brethren. With the large attendance that is expected it is hoped that the movement to make Chicago better will start with a vim and vigor that will guaranteed success.