Thursday, September 27, 2007

#81, I am thoroughly disgusted with this Slayton

I do not wish to say that Vivekananda was greedy. But some events are worth discussing.

Apparently, Swami Vivekananda was an oratorial success at the World Parliament of Religions. From Nov. 1893, he was under a three year contract with Slayton Lyceum Bureau, Chicago for delivering lectures at various places.

Swami Vivekananda wrote to Mrs. Hale from Detroit on Feb. 20, 1894.

"...I am thoroughly disgusted with this Slayton* business and am trying hard to break loose. I have lost at least $5,000 by joining this man. ... "

Analysis: From Nov. 1893 to Feb. 20, 1894 about three months have elapsed. In three months Vivekananda expected to make Dollars 5,000/-. This amount seems to be very high when we view the incomes of people of those times in U.S.A. For example, Lyon County engaged an Engineer for its new Electricity generation plant @ Dollars 75/- per month and for three months it comes to Dollars 225/-. Electricity generation was new in those days, engineers would have been scarce, and they might have been paid well. If an Engineer earns $225 in three months, can a monk lecturing on Hinduism earn $ 5,000 or $20,000 per annum?

I furnish below the link for proof of $75 wage for an engineer: http://www.rootsweb.com/~ialyon/bookhist/buncombe/yrprog1.htm reads: "In May J. W. Trickey of Luverne was hired as engineer and lineman for the new system at a salary of $75 per month, and he started work at once". We can also observe from the link that the salary of the Sheriff of the County was reduced from $400 a year to $250 a year. Did Vivekananda want to earn 80 times the earning of a Sheriff of a county or about 15 times the earnings of an Energy Engineer? Even Ms. Susan B Anthony, a very popular speaker and women's rights campaigner of those days was offered $100 per lecture.

Besides, we have to take into account the promotion expenses of a lecture bureau such as Newspaper advertisements, bill boards, banners, hall-hires, refreshments, travel expenses etc. I am tempted to deduce that Vivekananda expected to receive a lion's share of ticket sales, which Slayton Lyceum Bureau might not have conceded.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe that the amount Vivekananda had estimated that he lost, $5000, is a reasonable one. R. G. Ingersoll used to make around $600 per lecture. Vivekananda, in many instances, drew a larger crowd than Ingersoll. He was under the Lecture Bureau contract for 4 months. If he gave 12 lectures, which I suppose he did (Madison, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chicago, Detroit, Ada, and other places we don't even know about), he would have made around $7200. Let's say that Henry Slayton gave him only $1200 and pocketed $5000. There would be a commission for Slayton, of course, but we can't expect a monk to recall all the finer details of the contract. Vivekananda's statement was of a general nature.