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ship at a race track or in a card party? A company of "nobility” and of millionaires gather for what they call “the sport of kings,” but the "sport" is spoiled by dragging in greed for money. The horses have no fair chance, for everybody is looking through greedy eyes, not saying, “May the best horse win,” but hungrily eager that the horse he has bet on shall win the race. And this money interest continually corrupts the jockeys, for the public bets on the horse with the best record, and the professional gambler must beton horses who have been less fleet in the past, and by hook or crook see that the favorites are frequently beaten. All sport should be amateur, and the attempt to mingle sport with business spoils both.
No wonder that women whose fathers and brothers and husbands are always “on the make," dragging the "shop" with them to the club, and then to the turf, get the infection, and seek to make profit in their homes out of their social fellowships, playing for prizes of intrinsic value—often for money. It was the reductio ad absurdum of this money-making by gambling in social life, when the rector of a New York church found it necessary to preach to the rich young women of his congregation against fleecing by card games for money the young men who came to court them of an evening, and who thought it better to lose the game than the girl. They could not even make love without making money.
Gambling is also against refinement in that it confesses and promotes atrophy of the art of conversation. To bring out cards is to proclaim the lack of vocabulary of the whole company, as a child when not yet able to talk fills up his mouth with playthings. True recreation points to other games, out of doors whenever possible, in which body and mind are exercised.
How Gambling Is Bad Morals But the offense of gambling goes deeper than "manners” as commonly conceived, into the realm of morals, which was included in the former term at the period when the President of one of the colleges of old Oxford put up the motto for young men, “Manners maketh man.'
Gambling, when dragged into business transactions, encounters that true maxim
“Only a fair exchange is no robbery.” Gambling is never a "fair exchange,” which is proclaimed the essential quality in every honest business transaction by the words "value received” required in notes.
There are only three ways to get property:
It is easy to see where the gambler's winnings belong in that list. It is really worse for an honest man to win than lose, as it is better to want than to steal, to suffer wrong than to do it.
Garnbling's Deepest Fault Gambling with trust funds is properly regarded as the supreme crime in the business world. It spoils a man for trustee to be suspected of “playing the races,” or gambling in stocks. Even those who think it no serious wrong for an ordinary citizen to risk his money at the altar of chance are very jealous that the custodian of trust funds shall be a teetotaler in the matter of gambling.
But all funds are trust funds from God for the service of man. This Bible doctrine of stewardship is becoming the people's doctrine, for wealth is mostly "unearned in
crement” which the public have helped to produce. They expect the holder to consider himself a trustee and pay it back in libraries and art galleries and cheerful taxes for social betterment.
The possessions of the poor, as well as those of the rich, are trust funds from God, and it is abusing trust funds to risk them in gambling chances of any kind. This trust of property must be seriously and sacredly discharged. Some of it may be used for real re-creation, but no man owns property in any such sense that he can rightfully use it for any dissipation. He has no right to use it except for honest trade or proper gift.
The Evil Effects of Gambling The evil effects of gambling cannot be more forcibly presented than in the vivid language of Judge Catron, formerly of the Supreme Court of the United States. He
says in one of the most celebrated cases on record: “Gambling is a general evil; leads to vicious inclinations, destruction of morals, abandonment of industry and honest employment, the loss of control and selfrespect.
"Like all other passions which agitate the great mass of the community, it lies dormant until once aroused, and then with the contagion and fury of a pestilence it sweeps morals, motives to honest pursuits, and industry into the vortex of vice; unhinges the principles of religion and common honesty; the mind becomes ungovernable, and is destroyed to all useful purposes; chances of successful gambling alone are looked to for prosperity in life, even for the means of daily subsistence. Expectation is disappointed; swindling, forgery, theft, every crime that extreme necessity and outcast desperation can suggest to a man lost to all moral ties, though guarded against, are likely shortly to follow in the train.
"Where is the professional man or mechanic who will toil at his vocation, and acquire by shillings, when his
mind is diseased with similar hopes? We know he abandons his calling and relies upon gambling chances for his own and his family's support; the man is a vagrant in mind and conduct, and must beg, swindle, steal or starve.”—(Tennessee v. Smith & Lane, 2 Yerger, 272.)
New York State adopted a “bone-dry” anti-gambling clause in its Con. stitution. The Constitutional Convention, despite powerful pressure for an exception for gambling at church and charity "benefits,” refused to grant it. The Legislature in which the leading men who made the Constitution were not willing to serve, yielded to the gambling profiteers in making the required enforcement law, and hypocritically omitted all real penalties. A gambler who lost money might sue for it, but there was no such meanness even among gambling cheats, and so the law was broken openly for twenty years under a succession of Governors until Governor Charles E. Hughes carried to victory some real enforcement laws which had been initiated and promoted by the International Reform Bureau. But when Governor and Legislature took the right stand, New York courts decided that so-called "oral betting” was not forbidden, assuming that if the professional gamblers took bets on credit and did not give a ticket (which the bettor was entitled to for protection) there was no professional gambling but only some casual betting of gentlemen. Talk about hypocrisy in the churches-all the race gambling in the United States is a combination of gambling, monopoly, and hypocrisy, reminding us that Christ's severest rebukes were for covetousness, that is, commercialism and hypocrisy, of which the racing interest is our most conspicuous example. Down to 1922 the nullification of the antigambling clause for the enrichment of millionaires was a conspicuous example of lawlessness that was followed by a carnival of crime.
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(This is first of a series of forums on Americanism.)
To Follow Up Chapter VII George Washington when a youth is said to have been the champion amateur athlete of Virginia. He could outrun, outjump and throw any other youth in the State. But for his due attention to physical development he might have broken down at Valley Forge, and the word “Americanism” might never have become a world ideal of individual and national character. Roosevelt's overcoming of his physical weakness as a boy by clean exercise in the open was a part of his Americanism, and but for it Americanism might have failed of the great reënforcement his public career brought to it. Thayer's biography of Roosevelt and his own autobiography ought to be among the chief text books used in Americanizing not only immigrants but denaturized natives as well.
For what do citizens support public schools and colleges if not to have all our youth Americanized ? That will not come of itself out of the study of the “three r's.” There should be a specific study of Americanism as early as the eighth grade, beyond which a majority of our citizens never attend school. And another higher course in Americanism is needed in high school, and still another in college.
What is Americanism as shown in the history of the colonies? In the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? In American customs and laws in the 19th Century before we were flooded with immigration? What is Americanism as shown in the biographies of Washington, John Marshall and Alexander Hamilton? Of Lincoln and Roosevelt ?