216 Walnut Street.
August 22, 1919.
Hon. Thos. W. Bickett,
Gov. of North Carolina,
As Govorner of North Carolina, you are no doubt as much interested in the welfare and protection of the citizens of the State as they are themselves.
In order, therefore, to enable us to protect ourselves from the profiteering octopus which has settled on our community and is sucking the life blood from our families, retarding our progress, and threatening to drive from our midst a recently acquired industry, we ask from you you unqualified support in our efforts to that end.
The people of Wilmington, bore without a murmur, the hardships of war times, restrictions, as to food, and other things. They did their utmost to reduce the consumption of meats, wheat, sugar and fats, in order that our allies might be the better supplied with these commodities.
They bought Liberty Bonds and War Saving Stamps, and contributed to the Red Cross, Y.M.C.A., and other Soldier's aid movements, at least as freely as any other community in the Nation, and are deserving of at least the same consideration.
Since the armistice was signed prices of the necessities of life have been reduced in many communities; Charleston, S.C., and many surrounding Cities have been favored in this respect. Wilmington, on the other hand, has been siezed upon by a band of extortioners for explotation.
Rental of houses and apartments have increased by leaps and bounds. From the day when it became certain that the Carolina Shipbuilding Corporation intended to locate here, the one idea of the real estate owners has been to utilize its presence for their personal profit. Rents have gone up 50, 60, and even 100 percent without reason or excuse for such exhorbitant increases. In some cases with a cost of repairs and water supplies were previously borne by the owners, the tenant has, in addition to the increase of rental noted above, been saddled with these extra charges.
These real estate owners take no pride in their City and State, they take no interest in the progress and welfare of the community in which they live, they care nothing for the fact that by their iniquitious acts, they are keeping from the City skilled mechanics, wage earners, producers of wealth, whose presence is necessary for the prosperity, yes, even the continued life, of this new Shipbuilding Industry.
The majority of the workmen, and practically all the highly skilled mechanics employed in this ship yard come from the North. They have heard of the excessively high cost of living in this City, and consequently this corporation is suffering acutely from the lack of the mechanics necessary for them to carry on their work.
And unless these conditions are remedied, and the cost of food, clothing, and housing, reduced to a reasonable point, so that skilled mechanics will find it worth while to come here to work and live, we feel sure that this corporation will not be able to build ships at a cost per ton, and a speed of production, which will enable them to compete with other more favored ship yards. And if they, therefore, find it necessary to close this yard, they will deprive the City of the advantages derived from a weekly pay-roll of approximately $70,000.00.
The sellers of food and clothing are as bad as the real estate owners. The prices demanded and obtained by them embody extortionate profits. They necessities of life are sold at prices which range from ten to fifty percent higher then in other Cities. At the same time we have been informed that the prices to the farmer, the actual producer, remain the same, and as a matter of fact in some cases are reduced. There is no excuse for a profit of from 25 to 50 percent of the most common articles of food.
These prices not only tend to keep away much needed mechanics, but they also compell the Mothers of our community, in their efforts to make both ends meet, to serve less palitable and less nourishing foods, which in turn not only impairs the health of the working man, and reduces his capacity for production, but acts with even more disasterous results on our growing generation, stunting our childrens growth, retarding their mental development, and tending to make of our future men and women a race of imcompetance and degerates.
In order, therefore, to devise some means to remedy these evels, the citizens of Wilmington assembled in mass meeting in the Court House on Thursday August 21st. and adopted the resolutions enclosed herewith, and we, the committee appointed at that meeting hereby call upon you to take the proper steps to carry our the wishes of the citizens as expressed at that meeting.
We request that you call a special session of the legislature and enact a bill, with teeth to it, which will punish the hoarding of the necessities of life, and which will also limit the profits which may be charged in the price of rent, food, and clothing.
We would appreciate an immediate reply to this communication, stating what you intend to do to remedy this situation, and assuring us of immediate action. We are holding another meeting on Tuesday August 26th., and would like to have your reply by then.
Thanking you in advance for your prompt attention, we are
A. Goldstein, Chairman.
E. T. Huggins
H. B. Foy
Walter H. Blair
J. N. Chadwick
C. R. Plott
F. W. Brown