Published on the 2nd of June in 1899 in the Philadelphia Inquirer out of Philadelphia, PA
CITY GETS NOTHING
Little Scheme Involved in the
Publication of Fourth of
A COUNCILMANIC DODGE
Parties to It Said to Be Trying to Back
Out – Question of Official
If there was one thing more than another that has been talked about in City Hall circles during the past two days it was the exclusive expose in Tuesday morning’s Inquirer of the fact that a member of Councils’ Fourth of July Committee had succeeded in grabbing the privilege of publishing the official Fourth of July celebration program, a privilege for which responsible men declare they stood ready to pay anywhere from $300 to $1000, and for which the city, although expending this year $10,000 on exercises which make the publication of the program possible, gets nothing. It will be remembered that Councils’ Fourth of July Committee had the awarding of the coveted privilege in charge.
But there is still another chapter to be added to the story of the Councilmanic manipulation, free manipulation, of a valuable privilege. It seems that at least one other member of Common Council is not content that Joseph Eslen, the member from David Martin’s ward, the Nineteenth, whose printing concern is getting out the “official” program under the sanction of the Fourth of July Committee, should capture all of the fat, so he has started in the Fourth of July program business on his own hook. He doesn’t fail to appreciate the value of a Councilmanic position, however.
Issued a Letter
Councilman Eslen issued a letter to the men he hired as solicitors for his “official program.” written on letter heads bearing at their top the imprint of the Common Council of Philadelphia. Councilman Leo S. Meyers, of the Twenty-eight ward, is not in competition with Councilman Eslin, of the Nineteenth ward. He has advertising solicitors at work also, and each of them is equipped with a letter to be shown to prospective contributors to Councilman Meyers’ Fourth of July program scheme.
Mr. Meyers does not designate his program as “official,” by the way. He calls it the “citizens’” program. But his contracts are printed almost exactly like those put out by his brother Councilman, Mr. Eslen. Each has red and blue ink on white paper, and each bears the imprint of a United States flag waving in the breeze on the upper left hand corner.
An Inquirer reporter has managed to get hold of one of the letters issued by Common Councilman Meyers, of the Twenty-eighth ward, to the men and women Mr. Meyers has out soliciting advertisements for his “citizens’” Fourth of July program. Here is the way it reads:
“Common Councils, Philadelphia, May 19, 1899. – The bearer Mr. – is authorized to solicit advertisements for the Citizens’ Fourth of July Program, which will be distributed through the various parts of the city where the ceremonies will take place. Any favors extended to him will be appreciated. Very truly yours, Leo S. Meyers, Councilman, Twenty-eight ward.”
The letter, it will be noticed, differs from that issued by Councilman Eslen in that it does not have affixed thereto the signature of Councilman John S. Hammond, chairman of Councils’ Fourth of July Committee, nor does it contain a clause intimating that business firms signing contracts for advertising in Councilman Meyers’ program will be considered as contributors to the city’s celebration of the glorious Fourth.
But the two programs, both being gotten out by members of Common Council, and the solicitors for both of which are armed with credentials written on Councils’ letter heads, have set would-be advertisers guessing.
“We don’t know just where we are at,” facetiously said one of them to and Inquirer reporter yesterday. “Of course, we want to contribute a little toward the city’s Fourth of July celebration, but we don’t know just who is who or which is which, and so we have decided to wait until we learn.”
All of which is interesting in view of the declaration by Chairman Hammond, of the Fourth of July Committee, that the city gets nothing whatever out of the privilege secured by Councilman and member of the Fourth of July Committee Eslen. If the city doesn’t receive anything from Mr. Eslen it certainly doesn’t form Councilman Meyers, whose program does not bear the “official” stamp.
“I have heard of Mr. Meyers’ program,” said Chairman Hammond to The Inquirer reporter, “although I have not seen it. I spoke to Sergeant-at-Arms Hall, of Councils, about it, and Mr. Hall said, as I understood him, that Councilman Meyers had agreed to with-draw it. Whether or not he has done so I am unable to say.”
It was said yesterday Mr. Meyers was trying to sell out his program deal to Councilman Eslen. It was also stated that Mr. Eslen was endeavoring to withdraw the ante-dated letters bearing Chairman of Fourth of July Committee Hammond’s authorization to Mr. Eslen’s solicitors to obtain advertisements to the “official” program. In evidence of the truth of the latter statement were the frantic endeavors made through various channels to obtain possession of the copy which fell into the hands of The Inquirer reporter.
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4th of July Program Scheme