Chicago’s Civic Revolution That Shall Free the White Slave.
From the Greatest White Slave Mart in the World, the City Has Become in One Year the Scene of the Fiercest Battle Every Waged Between the United Forces for Good and the Parasites Who Prey on the Innocence of Girlhood.
Differing from Previous Spasmodic Crusades, the Present Fight Has Been Carefully Planned with the Thorough Organization of All the Various Reform Interest That Insures a War to the Finish.
One year ago Chicago stood before the world accused and shamed as the greatest white slave mart in America. Today the situation has changed. Chicago now stands forth as the scene of the greatest battle in the world between the forces for good and the white slavers, and it is doubtful if ever in the history of civilization was waged such a fight as is being fought in Chicago today for the preservation of the city’s good name and against the unspeakable traffic in girls known as white slavery.
The city is roused. Its sensibilities at least have been touched. For the first time since the beginning of the anti-vice crusades the decent forces of the community, from government officials to private citizens, from specific reform associations to church bodies, have risen in response to the signal of alarm sounded by the leaders. The total reform force of the community has been set in motion. Chicago has awakened. The knell has been sounded, and the infamous whit slaver, canker sore on the face of modern civilization, is to be hunted, and fought, and prosecuted to his death.
"Not alone for the sake of the white slaves themselves, but for the sake of civilization," is the motto of the new crusaders, and this is the motto that has been adopted by the varied but consolidated army that will fight shoulder to shoulder until white slaving in Chicago is a thing of the past.
Real Representatives Compose "Army."
The forces that make up the army are as representative of Chicago as a metropolis, as an Illinois city, and as a big part of the United States as, perhaps, could be gathered together. Here is a list of them up to date:
B’nai B'rith society, Adolph Kraus president,
Clifford Roe attorney.
Chicago Association of Commerce
United States District Attorney Edward W. Sims.
State’s Attorney John E. W. Wayman.
Illinois State Bureau of Labor.
All Chicago churches
All reform bodies.
Hundreds of private citizens who have volunteered to act as detectives in running down white slavers.
These are the forces for good. Arrayed against them in sullen battle, foully fighting for continuance of the terrible conditions that make their existence possible, are the white slavers — the "owners" and sellers of the unfortunate enslaved girls, the keepers of unnamable resorts, proprietors of tough saloons, the boss politicians to who these people and places are a power in time of election and a source of rich graft the year round, and lastly the unspeakable male vermin who hang around the fringes of the red lights and live on the pitiful pittances that fall from the tables of unfortunate women. It is a fight between the decent element and the foul beings who squirm and toss in the slime of the underworld. It is a fight between the good and the unspeakably bad. And for one the good starts out with the determination to stay in the fight till the evil is wiped from the face of the earth.
Slaves Bought and Sold in Chicago
"It means simply this," said Attorney Clifford Roe. "Chicago at last has waked up to a realization of the fact that actual slavery that deals in human flesh and blood as a marketable commodity exists in terrible magnitude in the city today. It is slavery, real slavery, that we are fighting. The term ‘white slave’ isn’t a misnomer or a sensational term conjured up by sensational newspapers. The words describe what they stand for. The white slave of Chicago is a slave as much as the negro was before the civil war, as the African in the Belgian districts of the Congo; as much as any people are slaves who are owned, flesh and bone, body and soul, by another person, and who can be sold at any time and place and for any price at that person’s will. That is what slavery is, and that is the condition of hundreds, yes of thousands, of girls in Chicago at present.
"It seems preposterous to think of girls, young, innocent girls, girls of any kind, to be bought and sold like cattle in the city, but it is too late to regard the matter in a skeptical light. The think exists. The trade in girls in Chicago is as firmly established in its own dark, underground way as the trade in beeves out at the stockyards. One thousand women annually are needed to supply the demand of the city. A part of these come through the natural channels of the misfortunes that have produced their kind since the world began; but a great part are put into the life through the terrible slavery.
"A syndicate for the procuring, enslaving and sale of young girls exists in the city. It has scores of slaves in its toils, as helpless as the slaves in Africa. There are scores of ‘independent’ slavers, unspeakable beings who own outright a woman and live on her earnings. They sell her when, where and how they please. They own her. Can anything more horrible be imagined?
Crusade Planned for Big Fight.
"These are the conditions that the present crusade is organized to fight. It will not be a spasmodic crusade. It has been planned for a long time, and organized along the lines that experience has taught us will bring the results desired. These results are nothing more nor less than to put every white slaver in prison., to rescue the hundreds of poor girls whose slavery is a disgrace to the community and to civilization, and to make it impossible for pandering and white slaving to exist here. In shore, to wipe white slavery off the face of the earth, so far as Chicago is concerned at least.
"It will be a long fight and a hard one. By virtue of the power over his subjects, and his inhuman treatment of them, the white slaver is a hard man to find and harder to convict. His victim often is so ignorant as not to be aware that her slavery is illegal. Some times she is loath to have the life she is leading exposed. And always she fears the brute who brought her to her awful condition. But now that the city has been awakened the task is easier. An adequate pandering law gives us a weapon. We will have the aid of hundreds of good citizens who will furnish evidence besides our own corps of secret service men who will work from our office, and the courts will assist us to the limit of their ability. The doom of the white slaver in Chicago has been sounded, and with his going Chicago will have rid itself of a foul sore that has shamed its reputation as a civilized community."
"Average Citizen" Blind to Conditions
The magnitude of this evil, and the realization that the term "white slavery" actually means flesh and blood slavery of womankind, comes as a shock to the average citizen. Slavery is considered and attribute of the dark ages. Modern enlightenment has no room for it in its economy. This country could not bear the spectacle of black folk enslaved in the south, and the most terrible civil war in all history was the result. And yet here in Chicago the good citizen, his wife, and his sons and daughters ride down town on the street cars with never a thought of the fact that ere he reaches down town his way will take him within pistol shot of dens where women, white of skin and civilized of mind, are kept in slavery under conditions much worse that that of the slave quarters before the war.
Not nice, is it? Apt to make one sniff and turn to subjects more pleasing? Quite true. But it is this disposition of the public to turn from the subject with disgust, to refuse to dirty its well kept fingers with so foul a problem, even though it flourish in our back yards, that has made it possible for the horrible traffic in woman-flesh to exist and to grow and flourish.
"This office," said United States District Attorney Edward Sims, "has always known that white slavery existed. It is slavery. It is a plain case of women being bought and sold and held in captivity and slavery. For a long time, however, so little has been said of the problem that it has been impossible to bring the public to realize the proportions of this terrible disgrace. What we have said about white slavery has been disbelieved or discountenanced on many grounds. But, even if the innocence of a white slave herself is not established the law holds guilty the person who holds her in captivity.
Regime Intolerable to Civilization.
"Even admitting that a woman goes into this life of her own will, the time comes when she wishes to leave it, or wished to go to another resort. But, under the white slave regime she is held in one place, held by force, beaten and threatened with death if she continues in her rebellion. She is told that she is in debt to the house. It she insists in her rebellion she may be sold bodily to another resort. The unfortunate victims of white slavery in Chicago are passing form one owner to another for cash considerations, exactly as where the black slaves of the south. She is a human chattel. It is a condition too foul for words."
Can it be true? asks the citizen who is wont to regard all of Chicago as pretty much civilized.
It can. Give heed to the store of one Caterina Bessi, 19-year-old Italian girl, who came to visit Chicago as the guest of a Mrs. Santina Pezza, a countrywoman of the girl’s residing in lower State street. Mrs. Pezza advanced the girl $100 to pay for her transportation to this city, and in New York she was met at the dock by two men who informed her that they had been sent to accompany her as a guarantee of her safe arrival at her destination. Six months later Attorney Sims raided a house at 461 State street and found Miss Bressi as an inmate, suffering from long razor cuts on her face and neck. The story that the girl told in Mr. Sims’ office subsequently almost passes belief.
Girl Held in Absolute Slavery
Her slavery began in New York, where the men placed her in a house of bondage and kept her for a while. In a few weeks she was taken to Chicago under guard and placed in a cheap resort for negroes and Italians at 407 South Clark street. Here she was held in absolute slavery under unprintable conditions. She begged for her release and was informed that she was in debt $400 to Mrs. Pezza. The girl worked until this was paid. Then she was told bluntly that she was a slave, that she would be held as such until the end.
Then the Bressi girl tried to run away. She was caught at the door by one of the male attachés of the place, knocked down like a steer in the pen, and while she lay helpless she was slashed about the head with a razor, one cut being ten inches long and destroying one of her eyelids. After thus having convinced her that it was dangerous and impossible to escape once she was in the slaver’s clutches, the girl was carried upstairs, her wounds roughly sewed up, and after that she was sent to the county hospital for care, bring threatened before going that if she did not explain to the authorities that she had got her injuries in an accident she would be killed.
The girl got well. She was turned out of the hospital as recovered. At the door two men were waiting for her. She was not to gain her freedom. They carried her back to the resort on State street, from the hospital to a place of prostitution, and there she remained until Mr. Sims’ raiders found her. But for the raid this girl still would be a slave if she were alive; and there are hundreds such as she, held under just as brutal circumstances, panting for the air of freedom, in the different vice sections of the city.
Ochsner Case Typical of "Owner."
Take the case of the infamous Joseph Ochsne, a typical case of an "owner" of a slave who was exposed and caught. There are hundreds of Ochsners in the city, men who "own" a woman, who place her where they please and live off her earnings.
Joseph Ochsner was a German who had learned his unprintable trade in the old country. The trade was ruining and selling girls. In appearance he was the stolid, respectable German citizen of the middle class; in reality he was a fiend. In time the Berlin police grew suspicious of him and his activities, and it was hinted to him that he had better leave the country. He left, but before going he managed to insinuate himself into the affections of a young girl of good family, and in the end he persuaded her to elope with him, on the promise that they would be married as soon as they reached America.
They came to South Chicago. There Ochsner with a brutality seldom equaled even in his own class, at once took the trusting and innocent girl to one of the lowest resorts in the Strand district, removed her clothes, locked her in a room and calmly informed her that she was his slave, that she must stay in the resort until he saw fit to remove her, and that all her earnings were to go to him.
In that resort the girl was kept in absolute slavery. She was not allowed to leave the house, to write or receive a letter, or to have any communication with the outer world. For months she remained thus enslaved. Then she managed to have a letter mailed to her parents in Germany, the authorities of this country were informed, and the result was her release and the arrest and conviction of the infamous Ochsner.
Root of the Evil the Parasite
"Get rid of the parasite, the creature who places young girls in resorts," says Adolph Kraus, of B’nai B’rith. "Place him or her in prison and the root of the white slave evil will have been destroyed."
But do these parasites prey on our own girls, on the girls born and brought up in Chicago? asks the skeptical citizen.
They do. The number of young Chicago girls who have been trapped and doomed in a living death is appalling. One case may suffice to illustrate the method of a parasite "cutting out" slave for himself in this city. The case still is fresh in the public mind.
Mary McConnell, age 16, met a good looking, well dressed young man named Jacobson at a west side amusement park. The young man conducted himself with great propriety, paid for rides and other amusements, and at the end of the evening begged for permission to call on the girl at her home. Permission was given, and when Jacobson came he brought with him a friend, Louis Brodsky. To complete the party Miss McConnell called in a girl friend of her own age and introduced her to Brodsky. A few nights later the party of four went out for an evening’s amusement. Then the young men announced that they were desperately in love with the girls, that they were rich, and that they wanted to marry them.
Innocent of Pitfalls of City
The girls, young, inexperienced, and like most Chicago children of their age, untaught by their parents in the pitfalls of the city, were overwhelmed at the thought of marrying money and accompanied the two slavers to South Chicago, where the marriage was to be performed. But here the dream ended. Instead of a minister, the part was met at the train by Abe Weinstein, keeper of a South Chicago resort, and Jennie Sanduskey, his housekeeper. The girls were taken to the resort; they were imprisoned, their clothes stolen, and by brute force they were driven into the dismal life of a white slave.
Their eventual escape brought about the arrest of Brodsky, and Weinstein, all three of whom are now in the jail awaiting trial.
Just one instance. The Brodskys and Jacobsons prowl the city from end to end. No young girl not absolutely sheltered by home and home influences is safe from them. The shop girl on starvation wages, the factory girl on the same, are their especial victims. Every day the parasites infest the down town district; during the summer time the amusement park is their stamping ground; and the harvest they reap is plentiful in both numbers and damnation.
This is what the present crusade is planned to end. As one French procurer of women in the city wrote to a friend in Paris:
"Chicago is cursed with reform. There is no place for us here. We are being forced out of business. It is a city accursed by reformers."
There have been other crusades against the evil. The evil still exists. But here is a crusade that will not cease crusading until the last white slaver has been driven from the city and the last unfortunate slave given the chance to accept the tradition that this is "the land of the free."