• U.S.

POLITICAL NOTES: Jersey Giant

2 minute read
TIME

In Jersey City, N. J., the net public debt per capita is $241—higher than in almost any other U. S. city of 30,000 or more population. The mayor of Jersey City is Frank Hague, a member of the National Democratic Committee, close friend of Candidate Smith. Upon these two facts, with colorful amplification, a one-man spectacle was staged in Jersey City for several weeks, up to last week, when the one man’s amplifier, his voice, broke down.

The man was one James Burkitt, stalwart, 40-year-old, shock-headed native of Mississippi (white), whose activities have ranged from puddling iron to selling real estate and reading books on municipal government. Last winter, after living in Jersey City for ten years, Mr. Burkitt arose as a giant of the people. He contributed a series of letters to the Jersey Journal on the subjects of city bonds and citizens’ taxes. He signed himself “The Jeffersonian Democrat” and soon became a noted public character. When he called for a mass meeting, 1,500 citizens turned out. Then he began attending sessions of the Jersey City Commission, over which Mayor Hague presides.

“You’ll not come down here every Tuesday and annoy me,” warned Mayor Hague.

“I’ll come down here as often as I like,” retorted Mr. Burkitt.

He distributed cartoons of Mayor Hague and was arrested. He spoke on the steps of Jersey City Hall and was plastered with eggs, tomatoes, green goods. He spoke in front of Mayor Hague’s apartment house and was arrested again. His employer dismissed him for engaging in politics but he said: “If I can help end the domination of this machine.and reduce taxes in Jersey City so that I can sell real estate, I will be satisfied.” He called Mayor Hague “grafter” and “political coward.” Mayor Hague took no action. Then Mr. Burkitt lost his voice. “I guess I’ll have to rest for a spell,” he whispered, “but . . . it’s not the eggs and vegetables. …”

The Jersey City police and firemen held their annual parade and on the curb opposite Mayor Hague’s reviewing stand stood voiceless Mr. Burkitt, holding up, in mute salute, a case of eggs.

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