Original Document
Original Document
Terence Powderly's "Prediction of What the World Would Look Like in 100 Years." Letter from December, 1892.

The Chicago exposition of 1893 was under discussion at that time. In December, 1892, the American Press Association, through C. C. Hunt, wrote to me for an expression of my views on what conditions in 1992 would be like. In presenting these views I was restricted to "not more than six hundred words."

What I submitted was given wide circulation, and as a natural consequence I was subjected to scathing criticism from church organs, particularly those published by Roman Catholics. I shall let you read what my forecast for 1992 was, and then comment on it:

Three millions celebrated in 1792, 63,000,000 in 1892, and 300,000,000 will in 1992 celebrate the landing of Columbus. They will be educated and refined, for the arts and sciences will be taught in the public schools. Not only will the mind of the pupil be trained but the hand as well, and each child will be instructed in the manual of tools; they will be instructed in the functions of every part of the human system; "man know thyself" will have a meaning in 1992. The economic and social questions of the day will also be taught in the schools, there will be no uneducated persons to act as drags on the car of progress.

The form of government will be simpler, the Initiative and Referendum will prevail and law makers will not be the autocrats they now are, for they will truly register the will of the people, they will not dictate to them as at present. The commonwealth will be organized on industrial lines, labor organizations will have disappeared, for there will be no longer a necessity for their existence.

An ideal democracy will stand upon the foundations we of 1892 are erecting. Railroads, water courses, telegraphs, telephones, pneumatic tubes, and all other methods of transporting passengers, freight, and intelligence will be owned and operated by the government; the earnings of these agencies will swell the public treasury; homes will flourish, for they will no longer be taxed.

Instead of devoting so much time and money to the erecting of great public structures as at present, the erection and adornment of the home will receive first consideration. Each home will be regarded as a contribution to the wealth and beauty of the nation, the earnings of public concerns will defray the cost of maintaining streets, sewers, water works, and light and heat giving establishments.

Cremation will take the place of the present system of burying the dead, the living will be healthier, for the earth will not be poisoned through interment of infection.

The contents of sewers will not flow into river and stream to send deadly vapors through the air but will be utilized to enrich the harvest yielding earth.

The progress of the lower grades of animal life has been skillfully guided and hastened until we may now assert that cattle and fowl are approaching perfection; in 1992 the same attention will be bestowed on the human race, and instead of rushing blindly forward, increasing and multiplying at haphazard, humanity will knowingly and intelligently advance to higher altitudes.

There will be no very rich or very poor, for, long before 1992 dawns upon the world, the industrialists will have learned that the raising of large families is but another way to create slaves to perform the drudgery of the wealthy, and the family will be restricted to the capacity of the parents to maintain and educate.

Under such conditions prisons and poorhouses will decline and divorces will not be considered necessary. The system which makes criminals of men and women and at the same time makes millionaires of others will have disappeared, as a consequence the confinement and punishment of criminals will occupy but little of the thought or time of the man of 1992.

Credit: Terence Powderly, The Path I Trod: The Autobiography of Terence Powderly, ed. Harry J. Carman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1940.
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