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The CHAIRMAN. This committee does not consider that.
Mr. HALL. I understand that, Mr. Chairman, and I mention it for two reasons; first to show that my testimony has not been prepared and therefore somewhat rambling, and second to show that we are struggling with another difficulty besides the unjust limitations placed upon our efforts by the ambiguities of the Sherman-Clayton saw. Not having had instructions from our organization relative to the pending measure I wrote home for instructions and I wish to read into the record the reply to my inquiry: AROOSTOOK FEDERATION OF FARMERS, HOME OFFICE,
Caribou, Me., October 22, 1919. It is addressed to myself.
DEAR MR. HALL: While you are in Washington can you not do something to help the passage of the Capper-Hersman bill, allowing the farmers the same right of collective bargaining which the labor unions have? To deny the farmers the right to organize for collective buying and selling is not only an injustice to us, but is also economically wrong. One of the greatest problems confronting America to-day is the problem of the more economical production and distribution of food and supplies. To deny the farmer the right to organize for collective buying and selling simply compels each individual farmer to do business alone. It is only by cooperative efforts that the cost of production can be reduced and the cost of distribution lessened. If Congress really wants to do something of practical benefit to the farmer, something that will encourage production and lessen the cost of distribution and give agriculture the encouragement it needs, they should immediately pass the Capper-Hersman bill, or a similar measure, which will give the farmer the same rights of collective bargaining that the labor unions enjoy. Every farmer in Aroostook County is in favor of the passage of this bill.
AROOSTOOK FEDERATION OF FARMERS,
Secretary and General Manager. In our discussion at home we have contended that much of the blame for the high cost of living rests with the consumers themselves. They are beginning to realize this fact. They are organizing and one step is bound to lead to another, but they can never adequately protect themselves until they get into position to join hands with the farmer across the gulf that now divides them. When they reach this point they will have to enjoy the same exemption that the farmers need now, because piecemeal cooperative purchasing is never going to solve the consumers' problem. They will have to become quantitative buyers before they can accomplish economy, and hence I commend this feature to your consideration when you come to consider the kind of legislation you are going to recommend for the benefit of the American people.
Mr. LYMAN. May I have inserted in my opening remarks the statement that I am a farmer? I notice a good many committees lay stress on that when we come to speak for the farmers. I would like to get in the record that I was raised on a farm and have farmed
life until I came down here. I have had a farm since 1904. Mr. BALDERSON. I would ask the same thing. I still operate a farm of 160 acres.
The CHAIRMAN. We will try to meet to-morrow.
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., October 30, 1919. The committee met at 11 o'clock a. m., Hon. A. J. Volstead (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF MR. THOMAS C. ATKESON, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
REPRESENTING THE NATIONAL GRANGE.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, Mr. Atkeson, if you want to be heard this morning, we will be glad to hear you.
Mr. ATKESON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, it has been my privilege to talk to a number of congressional committees, but never, I believe, this one. I represent the farm organization known as the Patrons of Husbandry, more generally known as the grange. This organization is 53 years old. It was founded in this city by people mainly connected with the Agricultural Department and its first head was William Saunders, who was famous as a horticulturist and landscape gardener in this city.
During these 50 years this organization, as well as its members who have come and gone, have had a good many experiences, and we think it is sane and rational in all its economic relations, and somehow I feel like putting in the record just a paragraph or two from its statements made in 1874, and I am anticipating questions that some of you might ask, because I have heard those questions asked of men who assumed to represent farmers and farm organizations, questions about the organizations they assume to represent. I do not know what was in the minds of the committee when they asked these questions, but I think that the committee is entitled to know definitely the character of the organization I am here to represent, and I want to say that I do not claim to represent anybody else except this organization and the people in this country who may be in harmony with its policies and teachings. We do not claim to represent everybody, running all over the scales and classes of so-called farmer organizations and near-farmer organizations.
In 1874, at its session in St. Louis, this association promulgated this declaration of its principles, profoundly impressed with the truth that the national grange should definitely proclaim to the world its general objects:
We hereby unanimously make this declaration of the purpose of the Patrons of Husbandry. United by the strong and faithful tie of agriculture we mutually resolve to labor for the good of our order, our country, and mankind. We heartily indorse the models, in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.
Specific objects: We shall endeavor to advance our cause by laboring to accomplish the following objects:
This is why I am taking up the time of this committee to read this paragraph.
To develop a better and higher mankind and womankind among ourselves; to enhance the comforts of our homes and strengthen our attachments to our homes; to foster mutual understanding and cooperation; to maintain inviolate our laws and to emulate each other in laboring to hasten the good time that is coming; to reduce our expenses, both individual and corporate, to buy less and produce more, in order to make our farms self-sustaining; to diversify our crops and crop no more than we can cultivate; to condense the weight of all exports, selling less in the bushel and more on the hoof.
Mr. YATES. More what?
Mr. ATKESON. More on the hoof. Instead of selling grains and hay and things that are bulky, to put it in the shape of hogs and cattle in order to reduce the cost of transportation.
Less in lint and more in warp and woof; to systematize our work and calculate intelligently on probability; to discountenance the credit system, the mortgage system and fashion system and every other system tending to prodigality and bankruptcy.
This was in 1874, and we are still tending to prodigality and bankruptcy at the present time.
Mr. STEELE. What was meant by the “Morgan”?
Mr. ATKESON. We discountenance the credit system, the mortgage system, and the fashion system, and every other system tending to prodigality and bankruptcy. We are rapidly tending to prodigality and bankruptcy just now in this country.
We propose meeting together, talking together, working together, buying together.
The point I am trying to make is that we are a cooperative organization.
Buying together for our mutual protection and advancement as occasion may require. We shall avoid litigation as much as possible by arbitration.
That wouldn't be a lawyer's doctrine.
We shall strive to secure entire harmony, good will, fellow brotherhood among ourselves and make our order perpetual. We shall earnestly endeavor to suppress local, sectional and national prejudices, and all unhealthful rivalry and selfishness. Faithful adherence to these principles will secure our mental, moral, social and material advancement. For our business interests we desire to bring producers and consumers, farmers and manufacturers, into the most direct and friendly relations possible, hence we must dispense with the services of the middleman. Not that we are unfriendly to them, but we do not need them, since they diminish our profits. We wage no aggressive warfare against any other interests whatever. On the contrary, all our acts and all our efforts, so far as business is concerned, are not only for the benefit of the producer and the consumer, but also for every other interest that does not bring these two parties into economic contact, hence we hold that transporation companies of every kind are necessary to our success, that our interests are intimately connected with their interests and that harmonious action is mutually advantageous.
Keeping in view the first sentence of our declaration of principles, we shall therefore advocate that every State increase in every practical way every facility for transporting cheaply to the seaboard or between the home producers and the consumers all the products of our country. We adopt it as our fixed purpose to open up the channels and great arteries of transportation so that the lifeblood of commerce may flow free. We are not enemies of railroads, navigable and irrigable canals, or anything that will advance any industrial or laboring class. In our industrial order there is no communism. We are opposed to such spirit and management of corporations and enterprises that tend to rob the people of their just profits. We are not enemies of capital, but we oppose the tyranny of monopoly. We long to see the antagonism between capital and labr removed by common sense and by enlightened statesmanship worthy of the nineteenth century.
It is the twentieth century now.
We are opposed to excessive salaries, high rates of interest, and exorbitant profits. They greatly increase our burdens and do not bear a proper relation
to the profits of the producers. We desire only self-protection and the protection of every true interest in our land.
There is a little bit more of it.
Mr. YATES. I don't think you need apologize for it. This is all very instructive to many of us.
Mr. ATKESON. The fact that this document was drawn up in 1874, and also the fact that it is annually printed in our organization publication--we stand right now on these general principles where we stood at that time. There are some phases of this thing that are worth while.
The subject of education: We shall advance the cause of education among ourselves and our children by all just means within our power. We especially advocate free agricultural and industrial colleges for the teaching of agriculture, domestic science, and other courses of study.
At the time this was written the agricultural colleges of this country were agricultural colleges in name only. There was not an agricultural college in the United States that had a dozen agricultural students in it.
Mr. YATES. We had one in Illinois as early as 1867.
Mr. ATKESON. In 1897, Illinois University, at Urbana, had 13 agricultural students.
Mr. YATES. You may know more about that than I do.
Mr. ATKESON. It was my good fortune to have been a member of my agricultural faculty for 23 years, and 14 years of that time dean of the college. The reason I refer to this is that this organization got actively behind trying to make agricultural colleges do some of the things that were supposed to be done by them, and they were a little slow in beginning. This paragraph on education was written in 1874.
Mr. STEELE. How many students were there at the Pennsylvania college?
Mr. ATKESON. Nine. All this is perhaps a little remote from what I am going to come to directly, but it is a good foundation for the position I am going to take. In 1897 I sent a circular letter to all these colleges. My recollection is that at that time Illinois had 13 and Pennsylvania had nine. When I first began to investigate the situation in my own State, in looking over the college catalogue of 1886, the only mention of an agricultural nature in that catalogue was the bare statement that the professor of astronomy had announced a course in agriculture that year, and that stumped me a little bit until I remembered that probably the sign of the Zodiac and the production of potatoes had something in common, and that they were doing things on that theory.
Mr. STEELE. May I ask you another question? Do you know how many students there are at the Pennsylvania college now?
Mr. ATKESON. I assume there are several thousand.
Mr. STEELE. I saw in the paper the other day, I think, that they had 3,000.
Thé CHAIRMAN. You mean taking the regular course or the short course?
Mr. STEELE. They have a short course as well as the long course, but it is mainly devoted to agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. They had a short course in Minnesota; but I presume Mr. Atkeson is right; not many took the full college course at that time.
Mr. ATKESON. We went over this thing and took it up. If you could go through the record I think you would agree with me that we performed a splendid public service in the support and promotion we gave to the development of agricultural colleges in this country. This next paragraph will interest you gentlemen who more or less confess to being guilty of being politicians:
We emphatically and sincerely assert the oft-repeated truth that the grange, State, National, or subordinate, is not a political or partisan organization. No grange, if true to its obligations, can discuss partisan questions, or call a political convention, or discuss candidates.
Mr. STEELE. May I ask whether that has been always adhered to?
Mr. ATKESON. I think so—in our organization. I think that is true.
That the principles we teach underlie all true politics, all true statesmanship, and is properly carried out will tend to purify the whole political atmosphere of our country and work the greatest good for the greatest number. We must always bear in mind that no one by becoming a Patron of Husbandry gives up that inalienable right and duty that belongs to every American citizen to take a proper interest in the politics of the country. On the contrary, it is the right of every member to do everything in his power to influence for good the actions of any political power or party to which he belongs. It is his duty to do what he can to put down bribery, corruption, and trickery; to see that none but honest, faithful men, who will unflinchingly stand by their interests, are nominated for positions of trust. It is our belief that the office should seek the man, and not the man the office.
I wonder how many of you here would have to plead guilty under that.
We acknowledge the broad principle that difference of opinion is no crime, and hold that progress toward truth is made by difference of opinion, while the fault lies in the bitterness of argument.
We desire equality, protection for the weak, and justly distributed burdens and justly distributed power. These are American ideals, the very essence of American independence, and to advocate to the contrary is foreign to the essence and aims of the American Republic. We say also that sectionalism is and, of right, should be dead and buried with the past.
This organization had its conception in the mind of 0. H. Kelly, who was sent by the Department of Agriculture in 1866, one year after the close of the great Civil War, into the Southern States to see what could be done to restore the devastated agricultural conditions of the South. While traveling through the South, being a northern man-he was a Minnesota farmer. I have heard the old man say many a time—he died three or four years ago—that he did not find a friendly handclasp anywhere in the South except among his brother Free Masons. He was a thirty-third degree Free Mason, I understand, and that put into his head that there ought to be an agricultural fraternity for the purpose of bridging over what he called and other people called the "bloody chasm” between the North and the South, and the very foundation of this organization, if it had any one purpose above another, was to accomplish that result and to restore the true, splendid, broad conception of American citizenship.
Mr. MORGAN. Did the organization ever develop any strength to speak of in the South?