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The Iron Puddler My life in the rolling mills and what came of it   By: (1873-1947)

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By James J. Davis

Introduction by Joseph G. Cannon

The man whose life story is here presented between book covers is at the time of writing only forty eight years old. When I met him many years ago he was a young man full of enthusiasm. I remember saying to him then, "With your enthusiasm and the sparkle which you have in your eyes I am sure you will make good."

Why should so young a man, one so recently elevated to official prominence, write his memoirs? That question will occur to those who do not know Jim Davis. His elevation to a Cabinet post marks not the beginning of his career, but rather is the curtain rise on the second act of one of those dramatic lives with which America has so often astounded the world. Bruised and bleeding in a southern, peon camp, where he and other hungry men had been trapped by a brutal slave driver, he drank the bitter cup of unrequited toil. And from this utter depth, in less than thirty years, he rose to the office of secretary of labor. There is drama enough for one life if his career should end to day. And while this man fought his way upward, he carried others with him, founding by his efforts and their cooperation, the great school called Mooseheart. More than a thousand students of both sexes, ranging from one to eighteen years, are there receiving their preparation for life. The system of education observed there is probably the best ever devised to meet the needs of all humanity.

The brain of James J. Davis fathered this educational system. It is his contribution to the world, and the world has accepted it. The good it promised is already being realized, its fruits are being gathered. Its blessings are falling on a thousand young Americans, and its influence like a widening ripple is extending farther every day. It promises to reach and benefit every child in America. And to hasten the growth of this new education, James J. Davis has here written the complete story. I have known Mr. Davis many years and am one of the thousands who believe in him and have helped further his work.

The author of this autobiography is indeed a remarkable man. He is sometimes called the Napoleon of Fraternity. Love of his fellows is his ruling passion. He can call more than ten thousand men by their first names. His father taught him this motto: "No man is greater than his friends. All the good that comes into your life will come from your friends. If you lose your friends your enemies will destroy you." Davis has stood by his friends. As a labor leader and a fraternal organizer, he has proved his ability. Thousands think he is unequaled as an orator, thinker and entertainer. His zeal is all for humanity and he knows man's needs. He has dedicated his life to the cause of better education for the workers of this land. His cause deserves a hearing.

J G Cannon WASHINGTON, D. C., JUNE, 1922.


"Where were you previous to the eighth and immediately subsequent thereto?" asked the city attorney.

The prisoner looked sheepish and made no answer. A box car had been robbed on the eighth and this man had been arrested in the freight yards. He claimed to be a steel worker and had shown the judge his calloused hands. He had answered several questions about his trade, his age and where he was when the policeman arrested him. But when they asked him what he had been doing previous to and immediately subsequent thereto, he hung his head as if at a loss for an alibi.

I was city clerk at the time and had been a steel worker. I knew why the man refused to answer. He didn't understand the phraseology.

"Where were you previous to the eighth and immediately subsequent thereto?" the attorney asked him for the third time.

All the prisoner could do was look guilty and say nothing.

"Answer the question," ordered the judge, "or I'll send you up for vagrancy."

Still the man kept silent. Then I spoke up:

"John, tell the court where you were before you came here and also where you have been since you arrived in the city... Continue reading book >>

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