The Boy With the U.S. Census
Francis Rolt-Wheeler

Part 5 out of 5

learn, these very Sicilians and Neapolitans bring much that is of value
to the making of an American people."

"Oh, there couldn't be any real danger!" Hamilton exclaimed. "The spirit
of American institutions would prevent such a happening; that could only
be in some old-world city like Naples. The Camorra comes down from the
Middle Ages, anyway."

The Inspector shook his head.

"I hope so," he said, "and I only trust you may be right," and he turned
the subject to the actual work in hand.

It so chanced that the very next day Hamilton had an opportunity of
seeing, in a mild way, how truly the Inspector had spoken with regard to
the alienizing of the crowds in the streets of New York. He had been
working steadily several hours, and early in the afternoon he noticed a
great deal of shouting in the streets. Being curious, and noticing that
numbers of women were hurrying past, gesticulating violently, Hamilton
followed, until almost before he was aware, the crowd grew so dense as
to engulf him, and he was carried along, whether he would or no, up the
street. Some of the women were crying, some shrieking, and all wore a
furtive, strained expression as though in great distress.

Although there was a great deal of shouting, not a word was in a
language familiar to Hamilton, and although he questioned every one
around him he could find no one that understood his questions. All that
he could gather was from some one in the front of the crowd who kept on
crying out in English at irregular intervals:

"Our children, we want our children!"

Even if the boy had desired to break through the crowd to return to his
work he could not have done so, and he really did not wish to,--he was
too much interested in following the purposes of the throng. Finally the
people stopped, but the boy was so far back that he could see nothing of
what was going on at the head of the crowd. Being determined, however,
Hamilton elbowed his way by main force and reached the woman who was
still crying:

"Our children, we want our children!"

Hamilton spoke to her, but the woman paid no heed. Finally, seeing that
she would not listen, he shouted at her as harshly as he could. Then she
turned and tried to answer his questions.

"What's all the row about?" he asked.

"They rob us. Steal our children. Make them walk far away, never see our
children any more. Oh, my Mario, oh, my Petronilla. Oh, our children, we
want our children!"

Further information the boy could not get. He worked his way clear to
the front of the mob and saw the police gathering on all sides. Breaking
through the front rank he stepped up to the nearest policeman, who
merely shifted his grip on his night stick.

"That's quite a mob," he said in a conversational tone.

"It is that, sorr," said the policeman, recognizing immediately that the
boy was not one of the rioters.

"I'm a census officer," the boy continued, "and I was doing some
inspection work for the census when I got caught in the crowd. What's
the matter with them?"

"'Tis a bunch of dummies they are," was the reply; "'tis thinkin' they
are that the schools are goin' to steal their children. As if any one
would be wantin' their brats. The most of us has enough of our own to

"But why should the school want to steal their children? Do you mean
that they don't want them to go to school?"

"'Tis not that, sorr," the Irishman answered, "but 'tis due to some
'fire drill' business. The little ones are taught in the school that
when a bell rings--'tis the fire bell I'm m'anin'--they sh'd all march
out dacintly and in order. 'Tis a good idea, that same, an' I'm favorin'
it. But it's hard to make the children see it, so that they have to
drill them often."

"That all seems right enough," Hamilton answered.

"Ye would think so, sorr," continued the policeman "But most of these
mothers come from countries on the other side where they make them
soldiers whether they want to be or not, an' this drillin' business
scares the old folks 'most to death."

"But if it continues and nothing happens, I don't see why they should go
on being scared. You would think the children had grown used to it."

"The children! They're not makin' any trouble, it's all the parents."

"Then what started it?"

"There was some street corner lecturer here the day before yisterday,
tryin' to teach the people that children were the cause of poverty an'
that the only way to prevent poverty was to get rid of the children,
either by havin' fewer or by shippin' off the existin' surplus."

"It's silly for them to heed a man like that!"

"It's worse than silly, sorr," the policeman said. "But even then I
don't believe there would have been trouble. But yisterday, some rich
lady, plannin' to give the children a picnic this afternoon and a treat,
told them they were all goin' out to the country and that they must tell
their mothers they wouldn't be home until late."

"What about that?" asked the boy. "I should think they would be glad
that the children should have some pleasure. From all I've seen recently
of the way people live in this neighborhood, I don't believe the
children have any too much good times."

"An' so they should be glad, sorr, but they won't see it that way. They
know the children have been drilled for weeks an' weeks; they know a man
on the street corner said the children ought to be shipped away; an' the
next day they are told that the children are goin' to be taken into the
country, an' they don't believe the children'll ever come back."

"Surely they can't be as silly as all that! And what do you suppose they
want to do?"

"They don't know what they want," the policeman answered, "but it's a
bad business when a crowd gathers. Look there now!"

Hamilton looked where the man was pointing. On the outskirts of the
crowd the boy noted a number of half-grown toughs, hoodlums, and
trouble-makers generally. The cries were increasing, and the boy could
see that these men were doing all they could to stir up the rest of the

"Where they come from, I don't know," the police officer said, "but any
time that there's a little trouble, they'll make it as big as they can."

"But the whole thing's so absurd," the boy said. "What do they think
they're going to do,--raid the school?" He laughed.

The policeman turned on him quickly.

"'Tis absurd, as ye say, sorr," he said rebukingly "but there's many a
good man been hurt with less cause than this. That crowd's growin' by
thousands. Do you slip away, sorr, I'm afraid there's goin' to be

"Not much," Hamilton answered, "now I'm in this far, I'm going to stay
and see the fun out."

"Well then, sorr," advised the policeman, "ye'd better slip through the
school gates. Show your census badge, and the other men at the gate will
let ye through."

Thanking him, Hamilton walked across the narrow stretch of road between
the foremost ranks of the crowd and the little group of policemen
gathered in front of the school entrance. As he did so, a bottle came
whizzing at his head with deadly aim. Fortunately he had been keeping
his head partly turned curiously toward the crowd, and he saw the
missile in time to dodge. It missed him and went hurtling on, just
passing between two policemen and smashing on the iron bars of the

"You nearly got hit that time," said one of the policemen, as Hamilton
showed his badge and was let through. "How did you get in with them?"

"Just doing my work," the boy answered, "and got carried right along. I
was curious at first,--then when I wanted to get out I found I couldn't.
I think," he added, a little nervously, for the flying jagged bottle had
startled him not a little, "that's the first time I've been in front of
a mob."

"I wish it was the last I'm likely to be," was the reply, "especially a
crowd of women like that. Men you know what to do with."

"What do you suppose they'll do?" asked the boy. "Try to rush the

"They did once not far from here," the policeman answered, "it was a
school on the East Side, where nearly all the children were Jewish, and
in order to make it easier for the poorer children the school
authorities had opened a sort of restaurant where the kids could get
lunch for three cents. The story got abroad that the children were
getting ham and pork, and the whole section rose in arms. We tried to
disperse them and couldn't. There was no way of reasoning with them,
there was nothing they could do, but they just hung around."

"What for?"

"Waiting a chance to burn the school down, every one seemed to think.
They did make one rush toward the end of the afternoon, and several
people were wounded. One of our men was badly stabbed, but he got over
it. Watch now," he added, in a sharp voice. "There's something doing!"

The crowd hushed a moment, and a man's voice could be heard, but whether
pacifying the women or inflaming them, Hamilton could not make out. The
next moment answered him. Without any apparent preparation, the whole
face of the crowd suddenly seemed to burst, the end closed in, and in a
second one of the wildest hordes Hamilton had ever seen was at the
school gates. There was a brief struggle and nightsticks were drawn. The
crowd rolled back, then surged on, more angrily than before. But the
bluecoats stood firm, and when the crowd rolled back the second time a
number showed broken heads.

"Son," called the police lieutenant, "you scamper along, and tell the
principal to hurry up with letting out the school. I sent him one
message now this means business."

Hamilton turned and ran for all he was worth toward the building, but
just as he reached there, he saw the children marching in regular order
out of the rear door, and he came back immediately to report. As he did
so he found that the crowd was getting ready to make a third attempt to
attack the police, when, turning the corner, sauntering down the narrow
lane between the crowd and the police, came an Italian boy, about
fourteen years old, with half a dozen other ragged boys at his heels. On
seeing him, the lieutenant turned to Hamilton.

"That's Caesar," he said, with a sigh of relief. "I've known him for the
past year or two, and he'll settle all this trouble."

The boy looked at the police lieutenant with surprise. The police force
had had trouble enough, and what could a boy do? He voiced his query.

"His father's a 'Man of Silence,'" was the reply, "and Caesar himself
knows all there is to know. You'll see."

Arriving at the center of the crowd, just by the school gate, the boy
turned, and speaking to the nearest officer, said, in English, without a
trace of foreign accent, shrugging his shoulders:

"Some of them won't ever learn!"

For a moment he scanned the mob, called the names of two or three men on
the outskirts, and Hamilton could see them wince as this
fourteen-year-old lad named them; then he commenced a speech, which
seemed,--so far as Hamilton could tell--to be ridiculing them for their

The crowd relaxed, and for a moment Hamilton thought the whole trouble
was over; but suddenly a man sprang to the front of the rioters, and
gesticulating wildly, answered the boy in what seemed to be a
threatening tone. The young Italian lad heard him through patiently,
then almost without raising his voice, uttered one crisp sentence. The
man turned white to the lips and slunk away.

"Ask him," said Hamilton to a policeman, "what he said?"

"I only asked him," the Italian said, "if he wanted me to find out his
name--so that you would know it if you wanted to arrest him of course,"
he added, as an afterthought.

The policeman looked at him and pulled the boy's ear, in fun.

"Av I knew as much about some things as you do," he said, "they'd make
me chief. Maybe, though," he added, "I wouldn't hold it long. But what
about this, Caesar, is it all over?"

The Italian nodded.

"See," he said, "they all go!"

It was as the boy said; Hamilton could see that little by little the
crowd was dispersing and that the members of the boyish gang were going
all through the groups, evidently explaining that the trouble was all

"Ye see what we're up against," the policeman said to Hamilton. "Here's
a slip of a lad that c'n just make a crowd do what he says because his
father is a leader in the Mafia. There's never any one gives credit
enough to the force for keepin peace, between all these foreigners and
the Chinks; this ain't an American city, it's a racial nightmare."

"Do the Chinese give much trouble, then?"

"Not such a great deal usually, but they do once in a while. There's
bloody murder in Chinatown going on now, or going to begin mighty soon.
Three were killed yesterday and the word was given out at Headquarters
this morning that the Tongs were out."

[Illustration: THE FIGHTING MEN OF THE TONGS. The younger combatants of
the Five Brothers outside the impregnably guarded headquarters in
Chinatown, New York.]

"Have we Tongs in New York?" asked Hamilton. "I've heard all about the
troubles in the West. Before the fire in San Francisco, I know, there
were fifteen organized Tongs of Highbinders, each with its paid band of
'Hatchet Men' for no other purpose than to rule Chinatown. The man who
got up the report for the government told me that 'Frisco Chinatown was
far more under Tong rule and had far more crimes in proportion than any
city in China."

"There are six strong Tongs in New York that I know about," the
policeman answered, "and I guess there are a lot more. But I reckon it's
the same in 'Frisco as it is here, they keep their killings to
themselves, and they don't let any white men get mixed up in it at all.
That's why you never can tell anything about it. But right now Chinatown
is pretty dangerous, and all the sight-seeing business there has been
shut off. No one is going into Mott and Pell Streets now."

"Pell Street!" exclaimed the boy. "Is that in Chinatown?"

"Right in the heart of it," was the reply. "Why?"

"Because I'm headed there now," Hamilton answered, taking from his
pocket the schedule he had been given by Burns to check up, and showing
it to the officer.

"That's Chinatown all right," the policeman said, "just look at the

"I hadn't looked at it closely," the boy remarked, "why, yes, so it is.
Well, Tong or no Tong, I suppose I've got to chance it, if those are

The policeman shook his head.

"Looks to me as though you'd have to wait a while. Take some other
district first and come back next week."

"Can't," the boy answered. "The Census Inspector and I have to go to
'Frisco to straighten out a Chinese tangle over the census there. The
Chinese refused point-blank to have anything to do with the census, and
there was a heap of trouble."

"What was it?" asked the policeman, walking along beside Hamilton in the
direction of Chinatown, his beat extending to the limits of that

"When the rule for the census was issued, so they told me in
Washington," Hamilton answered, "in order to make sure that the Chinese
would not place any obstacles in the way, not only was a copy of the
President's proclamation in Chinese pasted all over the walls of the
city, but, in addition a decree was made by the Chinese consul-general
that it was the wish of the Chinese government that the population in
the city be properly numbered."

"That was a good idea," said the policeman approvingly.

"It would have been," said Hamilton, "if the Chinese had paid any
attention to it. Instead of that, some of the Tongs got together and had
a brief threat printed and pasted across the face of the President's
proclamation, as well as that of the consul, that no Chinaman was to
give any information to a census officer, unless he wanted to come under
the displeasure of the Tongs."

"The nerve of them!"

"At this," continued the boy, "the consul put out a second order,
sharper than the first, not only commanding obedience, but pointing out
that refusal would lay the person refusing open to fine or imprisonment.
Over these second orders again was pasted the former threat of the
Tongs. A few days later the enumerators, each accompanied by a
policeman, went through Chinatown. The Chinese wouldn't understand any
language, not even their own. They didn't refuse to give information,
they simply answered, 'No understand' when any question was asked."


Whereas, the Director of the Census Bureau of the Department of
Commerce and Labor of the United States, in a letter to His
Excellency Chang, His Imperial Chinese Majesty's Envoy
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, requests that, since it
has been the custom of the United States to take a census of the
population once in every ten years, many of which have been taken
and are on record, and since the present year is the time for
taking another such census, which is to include the people of every
nationality residing within the territory of the United States, and
as the Chinese residents of this country, through possible
ignorance of the English language, may mistake the object of the
enumerators to be that of ascertaining what the people possess and
its value, in order to impose taxes, or that of investigating the
certificates of registration, etc., a proclamation be issued fully
explaining the matter to the Chinese people;

And whereas, instructions have been received from His Excellency to
the effect that, the taking of a census being merely to ascertain
the population of the country, and having no connection in any way
with the imposing of taxes or the examination of certificates by
the customs authorities of the Treasury Department, and for fear
that our countrymen may not understand the purpose and make trouble
through a mistaken notion of the whole proceeding, the
Consul-General at San Francisco and the Consul at New York shall
publish and make known to all Chinese residing in every part of the
United States that it is the custom of the United States to take a
census at stated intervals, that this proceeding has no connection
with the laying of taxes or the examination of certificates of
residence, that our countrymen have no cause for suspicion or
alarm, but, as soon as the enumerators present themselves, they
should answer the questions put to them without evasion or
reservation, in order not to incur the penalty of the law:

Now, therefore, we, Li Yung Yew, His Imperial Chinese Majesty's
Consul-General at the port of San Francisco, and Yang Yu Ying, His
Imperial Chinese Majesty's Consul at the port of New York, in
pursuance of instructions as aforesaid, do hereby publish and make
known that inasmuch as it is the custom of the United States to
take a census of the population thereof once in every ten years,
and as this proceeding has no connection whatever with the laying
of taxes or the examination of certificates of residence, and as
all persons irrespective of nationality are to be enumerated under
the provisions of the law, our countrymen should not be alarmed or
cherish any suspicion, but, as soon as the proper officers of the
Census Bureau present themselves with this Consular proclamation,
should answer all the questions put to them without evasion or
reservation, in order not to incur the penalty of the law.

A list of the questions to be answered is hereby appended for the
information of all concerned:

Population schedule (32 questions).

Agriculture schedule (59 questions).

Dated Hsuan Tung, second year, First moon (February, 1910), and
sealed with our respective seals of office.



[Illustration: Chinese text]


"What was finally done?" the policeman queried.

"The Consul-General had to ask the Five Companies to back up the census
order, and they did. The fifth layer of paper was put on the billboards,
and the Five Companies, without beating around the bush, just ordered
the Chinese to do as they were told."

"I've always heard that the Five Companies were stronger on the Pacific
coast than they are here. I wonder why?"

"I asked that very question," Hamilton said, "and the man who told me
all about this explained that it was because they controlled the Chinese
slave traffic to America."

"'Tis like enough," the policeman agreed, "and of course the most of
that would be on the other slope. But there's enough of it here, just
the same, and half the trouble between the Tongs is because of it."

"That was what started the trouble in Oakland between the Hop Sings
and the Bing Gongs," Hamilton said, "and there were eight men killed in
that. It began over the possession of a slave girl who had been given as
security for debt. But they never caught any one for that."

[Illustration: ARRESTED AS THE FIRING STOPS. Watching the close of a
shooting affray; the principals trying to escape the police.]

"You can't ever catch a Chinaman," the policeman said. "I've arrested a
dozen myself--but it never did any good. Look at Boston--it was open
talk that there were two regular executioners under Tong law, but the
Chinks got out of it by tellin' the judge that there never had been any
executions and that it was merely an ancient title!"

"There have been cases in New York, too," the boy said, "that they
haven't found out yet!"

"It doesn't matter what the case is--you can never prove it on them.
Look at that young girl, a missionary, who was killed! And that's only
one of dozens. And they can shoot, and shoot straight, too!" he added.
"Look at the shooting galleries," the two were walking down the Bowery,
"they've been kept going for years by the practice of the Tong marksmen.
You'd never think it, but some of those Highbinders could make our crack
shots do their best to keep an even score. Well," he broke off, "here
we are at Mott Street. Bob," he called to the policeman across the
street, "here's a young fellow wants to go into Chinatown."

"Sorry, sir," said the other, a great big burly fellow, coming forward
to meet them, "but orders are strict. No one going in at all, unless on

"It is on business, officer," said Hamilton. "I'm a census agent and the
Inspector told me to check up some names on this schedule."

The policeman took it and looked it over.

"I think those are all right, sir," he said, "I know most of 'em by
name. But that's one of those underground places and we don't any of us
go down there any more than we have to. Of course when we have to
go--why, that's another matter. I think, sir, you can take it those
names are about all right."

"I don't feel that I could make a report like that," Hamilton answered.
"I was sent to check it up personally, and don't you think I'd better do
it? There's a chap there," he added, pointing to a young fellow standing
a few yards up the street, "he doesn't look Chinese."

"He's a reporter, sir," the policeman said, "an' he's like us,--it's
part of his business to take chances."

"Mine, too," said Hamilton; "only he represents a newspaper and I'm here
for the government."

The policeman scratched his chin in perplexity.

"Do you wait here," he said, "and I'll call up the station."

He came back in a minute or two.

"The lieutenant says it'll be all right," he said. "I told him that I
hadn't seen any sign of trouble--not that that means anything," he
added, "but if you wait a minute the other man will be up this way; he's
patrollin' the streets and you can go along with him."

"How many of you are there here?" asked the boy.

"Generally half a dozen in these two or three streets," the policeman
answered, "but I guess right now there's twice that number."

Just as he had expected, another policeman appeared shortly, and
Hamilton was passed on to him. His conductor was taciturn, and the boy
was glad when the reporter joined them. In reply to a question, Hamilton
told his purpose, and the reporter, scenting a story, volunteered to
accompany them. The boy was willing enough, especially as he found the
reporter had the Chinese district as his regular assignment and was well
known in Chinatown.

The address given, as the first policeman had said, was merely that
painted over a stairway.

"I guess we go down here," Hamilton said.

The policeman answered not a word, he simply pushed past the boy and
went down first; Hamilton followed, and the reporter came next. At the
bottom of the stair the policeman rapped on a door with his nightstick,
a good loud rap. It was opened, and he strode in, followed by the two
boys. A few questions from Hamilton verified one or two items of
information, but details about the rest of the house were not
forthcoming. In answer to questions the Chinaman simply pointed to the

"Next floor down, I reckon," the reporter said.

"But we're in the cellar now," objected Hamilton

The reporter laughed.

"We build above ground, the Chinese below," he said. "Lots of these
houses have five stories underground, and nearly all have either two or
three. A Chinaman doesn't care about fresh air at all, and he won't
waste money in fuel when he can keep warm in an underground burrow. Come
on, I guess we'll go down some more."

The policeman still leading the way, three of them went down a rickety
stair, not much better than a ladder, and found themselves in a sort of

"They don't keep things to eat here!" exclaimed Hamilton, scarcely able
to breathe the foul air and the exhalations from decaying food-stuffs.

"Sure," the reporter answered. "Cheerful, isn't it?"

Hamilton gave a little shiver of repugnance, but taking out his
schedule, asked the underground store-keeper all the personal questions
on it. Then, realizing that he would be able to know about his
customers, the lad quickly made enough inquiries to assure him that
there was no fault to find with the work, and started for the upper air.
Just as they passed out of the stairway, the policeman, who was the
last, still being on the steps, Hamilton heard a shot, and a bullet came
whizzing by his head. It was answered by a fusillade of shots.

The boy's first instinct was to duck back under the cover of the
staircase from which he had just come out, but the policeman, as he
left it, roughly gave him a push, as much as to say, "Keep out of
there," and started on a dead run for the group where the firing was
going on.

"That's the Hip Sings," the reporter said, pulling Hamilton into the
shadow of a doorway, "the Ong Leongs have been waiting for them, ever
since that affair in the theater."

"What was that?" asked Hamilton, although more interested in the
immediate excitement than the story.

"Time of the Chinese New Year," the reporter answered in short, crisp
sentences. "There was a gala performance in the theater with suppers and
banquets before and after. Everybody brought fire-crackers to the
theater, and at a certain time all the fire-crackers were set off. When
the noise stopped eighteen men were found shot dead, all members of the
Ong Leong Tong. The Hip Sing men were blamed for it, but none ever

"What's up now?" cried Hamilton, in alarm.

As he spoke two men dashed out of a building near by, and fired at the
group beyond. The others turned and made a rush. The two newcomers cut
across the street, thus for a moment diverting the line of fire which
had been perilously close to where the two boys were standing.

"This is too hot for me," said the reporter, "we'd better get out of
here as fast as we know how. We'll go to the end of this street and turn
to the right. Are you ready? Come along."

Out from the doorway like a couple of frightened hares the two lads
bolted, pursued by a few shots which, they flew so far over their heads,
Hamilton surmised were intended as a warning to keep out of the way
rather than as attempts to shoot them. In the few seconds that had
elapsed it seemed that the streets had become full of running policemen,
and Hamilton looked back.

As he did so, he saw one of the men in the nearest group stagger
sideways and stand for an instant alone in the center of the street.
There was the sharp bark of a sawed-off revolver, and the wounded man
just reached the shelter of a doorway as the bullet sang over the spot
on which he had stood a second before.

The sight unnerved Hamilton. He clutched the reporter's arm.

"Chinese, Camorrists, sweatshop workers, and negroes!" he cried, a
hysterical note in his voice. "Are there no Americans in an American

The reporter grasped his shoulder and pointed to where, a block or two
away, the towering framework of a Titanic building pierced the sunlit
air, far above the sordid savagery of the human rat-holes near by.
Guiding monster beams into place, sure-set upon the frailest foothold,
forms of men, made tiny by the distance, were silhouetted against the

"The post of honor is the post of danger," he said; "it is in work like
that, where skill is linked to daring, where brain is joined to nerve,
that the Yankee stands. If you want to see the American in America,
don't look down, look up!"

[Illustration: WORK FOR AMERICANS. Where skill and nerve and endurance
are required is where the true American is found. (_Copyright by Brown



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