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The Farmers' Picnic

The Farmers' Picnic image The Farmers' Picnic image The Farmers' Picnic image
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Saturday was farmers' day at Whitmore Lake. The farmers were there but hardly in as large numbers as of yore, but the young people from city and country were out in force. They were to be seen everywhere, at the hotels answering to the voice of the stentorian callers, on the lake getting sunburned, wandering about the grounds in groups, or sitting under the shade of the spreading trees and extended umbrellas. They were all there. They came in carriages. They were there early and they stayed late. But the farmers were busy at the plows, and there was a noticeable falling off in their attendance. Still there were from 3,000 to 4,000 on the grounds grounds and the picnic was a great success. The absence of the dust which has generally marked the picnics, was decidedly refreshing. Everyone had a pleasant time, if anything a better time than usual. It was the thirteenth basket picnic at the lake. And now that the unlucky number has been happily and successfully passed the picnics may go on to greater and renewed 9 W cess. Peanuts were in abundance and "only five cents a quart." There as many as seven or eight venders in wagons besides the stands. Fakirs were not plentiful. Three were on hand, but were closely shadowed by the officers and did not dare set up their games. Around the world was a journey that many took, but the machine scarcely made as much money as at North lake, though it worked longer hours. A tent was occupied by a musical wonder, who, with the aid of machinery was playing several instruments. Liquor was noticeable for its absence. Birch beer seemed to be the hardest drink to be found. No one was drowned, but about twenty-five picnicers did get into the lake. This was owing to the breaking down of a part of the doek in front of the Clifton House. The people were crowding ofï the boat, when a section of the doek went down. Thewaterwas about three feet deep and the twenty-five, mosÜY women and children, piled on each other. Mr. Arther Covert, of Superior, was,' happily, one of those ducked, and he waded around picking up the children and young ladies and setting them on the dock. No one was seriously hurt. It is a most remarkable fact that no one has yet been drowned in the lake. At the Clifton House and the Stevens House, the young people danced all the afternoon and evening. Both halls were crowded. Minnis' orchestra, of this city, furnished the music at the Stevens' House and Ross Granger acted as caller. One very noticeable fact was that there was a large number of pretty girls present. We doubt whether any other picnic in the state could boast so large number. Both the hotels served many dinners. The farmers proper, however, generally came with well-filled baskets and happy faces. Favorable crops and the well-filled kets accounted in some degree for the happy faces. The greeting of old friends, reminiscent conversation, and the absence of politics in conversation probably accounted for more of it. The speeches were generally well listened to. Then the home-going began, and by supper time only the young people, half a dozen farmers, and those who were compelled to wait for the train were to be found in the little burg. Atjmidnight, the young people had gone and nothing was left but scraps of food and paper, (water-melon rinds, peanut shells and the habitats of the lake, dreaming over. the money they had made. The 1891 picnic was over. □ H. D. Platt, of Pittsfield, the president of the day, called the meeting to order, apologized for the absence of music and called upqn Rev. W. H. Shannon, of Salem, who offered up a fervent prayer. Mr. Platt then introduced Hon. John J. Woodman, of Paw Paw, master of the state grange, and a member of the legislature for the twelve years from 1861 to 1873. Mr. Woodman spoke as follows: Your president says that he is not an orator but would introduce one to you who could interest you. I feel flattered by the introduction and hope you will not feel disappointed. I used to commence my speeches by apologies, but on one occasion I resolved never to niake another apology for speaking. It was just before the opening of the Centennial exposition, at a meeting in the old Belmont, where the most eminent men of the country spoke. Finally Gov. Bagley was called out. He said he wasn't a speechmaker. When nominated for office he had never made a speech in all his life. During the campaign he was called upon for a speech and told the audience that he couldn't do it, but they insisted, and after he got through, a frank, big-headed man came on the platform and said: "Mr. Bagley, I want to shake you by the hand. You are an honest man. You told us you couldn't make a speech and you have made the damndest speech I ever hear made." There was a time when it was not customary to cali farmers to the platform, but I'm glad to say that day has passed away. This, I infer, is a farmers' gathering, yet before me, I believe, are mechanics, merchants and professional men, and I am glad that it is so. I am impreissed with the fact that I see a fair representation of the 64,000,000 of people who constitute the best educated, most prosperous and happy of any people on on the face of the globe. Again I rejoice that this is not a poor country, but a wealthy .country with a soil and natural advantages unsurpassed by any country on the face of the globe, and with natural resources measured only by the capability of man to develop. In the past fifty years, this country has outstripped all others. The wealth accumulated in the last twenty-five years amounts to the enormous sum of $30,000,000,000 and the agricultural producís of these years to the vast sum of $44,000,000,000. If there is any poverty in this country, it cannot be attributed to any lack of wealth, but to the fact that that wealth is not distributed on a system of justice and equality. Yet we are apt in our discussions to overlook the fact that anything like an equal distribution of wealth is an absolute impossibility, even if the doctrine of the communist was put into effect, and all wealth :ributed equally, that equality would tiot exist for a single day. Chauncey Depew, of New York, says, that in his personal observations he has noticed that of all the great fortunes accumulated in New York, the most of them have been squandered by their owners before they died. So this accumulation und distribution of wealth is constantly going on. You cannot legislate to make even the sons of the same parent, embarking in the same business under exactly similar auspices, stand on the same financial footing at the end of a few months. Who are the millionaires and monopolists of to-day? In nine cases out of ten, yea in 99 cases out of 100, they are the sons of farmers, mechanics, and laborers whose early education and training of muscle and brain fitted them to grasp gigantic enterprises. The sons of wealthy men rarely amount to much as financiers. As a rule, the law of supply and demand governs the price of commodities, especially where a market is untramelled. But there are exceptions to the rule. To-day farmers are complaining of depression. Probably never in the history of the country have the complaints been so general as in the past seven years. The question which is being agitated all over the country is, what is the cause of this complaint and what the remedy? I speak from the farmer's standpoint and yet I would not ignore the importance of the other avocations of Ufe. I consider all the professions and trades like so many wheels, each turning others and so moving on in one harmonious whole. Yet agriculture is the great drive wheel of all the machinery of human affairs. There are but four primary sources of wealth: the soil, the mines, the forests and the water. Where is there another, source? Where mines do not exist, where forests are swept away and the fisheries are unimportant, what is there left but the soil? When the farmer ■ is prosperous, every other business is prosperous. When the farmer is depressed, it is like the drying away of the propelling power of the drive wheel of a mili. I do not come to this subject as a politician. For the past twenty years I have been engaged in my feeble way in building up one of the grandest organizations in the world, the Patrons of Husbandry, in whose ranks are men of all political parties and whose motto is that difference of opinión is no crime and the honest discussion of differences of opinión leads to truth. That the depression I have spoken of exists, no one can deny. While the best farmers are depressed, yet we find thegreat corporations, bankers and merchants in a reasonably prosperous condition. The statesman, the legislator, the philanthropist have expressed their opinión as to the cause of this. Anotrier class who have opinions upon it are the wily politicians and the disappointed politicians, who failed to obtain offices from their own parties, and ranting demagogues. Several theories have been advanced. One says low prices are caused by over-production. Then, would it not naturally follow that a short erop would brlng high prices and a large erop low prices. The wheat erop of 1879 was 100,000,000 bushels less than the wheat erop of 1884 and yet the price was twenty per cent. less. And with all the accumulation of producís going on for years there is no surplus of food producís left. Another says the cause is under-consumption and better prices would be paid if the people consumed more and wasted more. And yet the large corporators and others seem to bewell supplied with the 'good thingsof life and there is no surplus. Another says it is the protective tariff and if the tariff was removed we cöuld sell more to foreign icountries and our produce would bring more. Another says the protective ' tariff must be maintained, for the tariff does not affect the staples of life, and only eight per cent. of the food products are exported, and we must maintain and build up the home market. Another says it is the currency. And I teil you frankly that I have been among those who have advocated an increase in the circulating medium. Well, our circulating medium has been largely increased and now amounts to $23.35 Per capita. England has $25 per capita: Gerniany,$i6.c)o per capitajjFrance, 55 per capita. If a larger volume of money would raise the price of farm producís, would not the farmer of France be enjoying a prosperity far in excess of the prosperity of the farmers of England, Germany and this country? Yet the fact stares us squarely in the face that the farmers of France are in want and France sells wheat in the world's market at the same price as the other nations. And can we not ask, will an increase of the circulating medium bring relief? Is the currency the cause? I will not say that these questions do not in some degree affect the price of producís, butin my opinión there is another cause, more potent than all these. Why does the train-robber marcl up to the expressman with revolve: in hand and demand that the safe be opened? Only because he knowí that money is there and he is bounc to have it. An inordinate love 01 gain pervades the community Business men and speculators have combined to control the price oi every commodity the farmer puts upon the market. Why are they able to do it? Simply because farmers do not co-operate, but flock together like dog-ridden sheep scattered hither and thither, with every keen-scented speculator on their track wilh their eyes on their pocket-book.Monopoly is the curse of the nation to-day. Take the cattle monopoly. The Big Four, who are the head and soul of the cattle monopoly, have so combined that they control the price 'of every bullock in the market. They have completely prohibited legislation in aJmost every state in the union for the protection of the cattle grower, and have at last secured a decisión from the supreme court that the state cannot provide for the inspection of diseased meat. They have made cattle raising in the north unremunerative and compelled the people of the large cities to eat the flesh of diseased southern cattle during the summer months. The Big Four have prostituted our courts, controlled legislation, subjugated states. Is this not humiliating for American citizens? Boards of trade control the price of our cereal producís as effectively as if they owned the whole earth ?n the fulness theieof. ':";ievheat cro ' ' laonths ueioie it is harves :ise in price is effectually pievented. To-day they are selling wheat for December and January delivery. This gambling in margins is a systera of piracy by which hundreds and thousands of millions of dollars are annually taken from the farmer. It is treason to say that this gambling cannot be put down. It must be put down or it will destroy the nation. It is the vampire sucking the life-blood of our free institutions. All such parasites must be put down. And it is the duty of every man in the country to unite their influence to enforce this obligation upon the government. The coffee trust sticks its long, felonious fingers into the cup of coffee of every man, woman and child in the community. The sugar trust did the same till its back was broken. And there are even now indications that the trust will resume operations. The Standard oil trust is assuming to place an arbitrary tax upon the people and is taking millions of dollars every yesr. We raust combine. Then there is adulteration and I want to say a word about that. There is scarcely a single article but what is so adulterated as to be unfit for human food. The mania for getting something cheap is so great that the groceryman cannot be entirely blamed. People demand cheap goods and they get them. The speaker related at length a conversation with a groceryman, detailing how the adulterations were made and continued. Dr. Kedzie examined seventeen samples of syrup and found only two pure cane sugar. Honey, lard and butter are adulterated and so adulterated as to affect the price of our products. What is to be done? What shall the farmers do undcr this emergency? There are many differences of opinión. There are those who say we must ojganize politically and bring about these reforms ourselves. I am glad they work somehow. Anything that will lead people to read and to think and to investígate will result in good. I have been among those who have held to the idea that nothing should come up to divide the classes, that farmers' interests are so intermingled with every other business as to require all to work together. Supposing we should organize a farmers' party, uniting every farmer in this broad land, we could not carry the elections without recruits from other avocations. I was in a meeting in my own county awhile ago where the speaker advocated separate political action, and after the meeting I was asked what I thonght of it. I said: "Mr. Wilson, what effect does the tariff have on the price of wool?" "Oh," he said, "I wish they'd take it off. Wool is way down." Then I askec Mr. Angus if he would vote for man who favored taking the duty o wool, and he said that if the dut was off, a pound of wool couldn't b raised in Michigan. I didn't as anything further. You all want t yote together, but you want tha other fellow to vote just as you do Can we not do more good work ing together as on the grange plat form, each working together f o good in the parties to which we be long, putting down bribery, corrup tion and trickery and seeing tha honest and geod men are put into official positions? There is not a party but the farmers can control i they will. They can make the plat forms and nomínate the men. There isa subject widely discussed but on which little real knowledge exists, farmers hardly dare express an opinión and the public press is almost silent; that is the scheme introduced in Congress by Leiand Stanford, the Republican senator from California, called the two per cent, loan scheme. Some farmers think that if they could only get money at two per cent. they could raise more cattle and sheep at a less cost of production. They want more circulating medium, cheap money. The Argentine republic in South America occupies the same degrees of latitude as the United States and covers half the area. It had outstripped every other nation in prosperity. Why in Buenos Ayres there are more daily papers than in New York or London, more banking capital than in any other city. Forty lines of steamers left their ports every month. More sheep and wool were exported than by any other nation on earth. And yet at the very flood tide of all this prosperity the farmers conceived the idea of booming agriculture. They insisted on a bilí requiring the government to loan money to farmers on real estáte security, the same as the Stanford bill with one exception. The Argentine bill made interest eight per cent., the legal interest of that country. They thought by making the mortgage bonds draw the legal interest and the government guaranteeing the interest, the currency issued under them could never depreciate, that it would be the best security in the world. It was argued that the interest being high, farmers would not be induced to mortgage to any extent. In less than three years $464,000,000 of farm mortgages were given. What was the result? That currency today is only worth twenty cents on the dollar, and the gold dollar has raised 464 per cent., flour is quoted at $28.50 a barrel and everything is running wild. Land can hardly be given away. Internal discords are taking the place of peace and prosperity. If a currency based on mortgage bonds drawing eight per cent. interest, guaranteed by the government, has so depreciated in the Argentine republic, what would be the resulfof a currency based on two per cent. mortgage bonds, the intkrest not guaranteed by the government? Agriculture is depressed, farm mortgages are piling up. ,We want relief in some way, but we want to pay our mortgages in an honest and business-like way. I believe that better days are near. Already the light behind the clouds begins to break. Only let us do our duty as American citizens and the time is not far distant when agriculture will again be prosperous. We must resist monopoly and the farmers of this country will again be free. Impromptu speeches were next in order and George S. Wheeler was called upon. He said, that while educated on a farm he had spent some portion of his life in a store, and when Mr. Woodman spoke of the drugged goods in a grocery he spoke nothing but the truth. But the fault is not alone with the man who sells the goods but rather with the man who buys. He desired to purchase a good article, but often good articles conld not be purchased at prices which the customers were willing to pay, and the grocer was forced to sell an adulterated article if at all. Customers are growing to use ground goods. Years ago we sold whole spices. Now the customer wants them ground. This gives an opportunit to adultérate. You go into a stor and want pepper, and when you ar asked if you will have whole pep per you say, no, you will take th ground goods. Why do you d that? Something maybe said in favo of the monopolist. I do not com here to favor monopolies, but sometimes think they are not th worst things in the country. Tak the Standard Oil Company, which has been growing so immensel wealthy, so much so that one of it officers is seeking to buy the longes and one of the most profitablc rail roads in the United States. W think, some of us, that this ma carne to his wealth unjustly. True he became immensely rich, but die he not give to the world better anc cheaper oil than they could hav obtained in any other way? I can imagine one of arguing w control the sale of all the oil in th world, but were not our company in existence its place must'be fillec by one thousand other companies organized with officers all of whom are paid good, big, fat salaries These large salaries are saved to th consumers. How much truth there is in this argument, I leave to you own judgment. As regards dealers in grains I wish that gambling and speculating in grain might be abolished; but how can you do it? I know that through gambling operations farmers many times do notget what wheat isworth and many times if you improve your opportunities you can get a gooc deal more than wheat is worth. We must know, however, that demanc and consumption fix the price o grain. If the price is fixed too high consumption lessens. As a dealer in grain said to me, had the price of American wheat been put at a dollar at the time England wantec it and old Hutch had a corner upon it, England would have taken our wheat. As it was, she picked up a little here and a little there and got along without it. There is such a thing as a farmer over-reaching himself. Put your price at a reasonable figure and get your money. William Ball, of Hamburg, said our wants, fears and hopes are nearly all alike. While listening to :he speaker he would have liked to take the Big Four by the throat and compef them to give back what they ïad cheated him out of in the price of cattle. He feit like choking the wind out of the boards of trade. 3ut still the same manipulation of he markets is going forward. The almighty dollar is the incentive to all interests. You and I have a right o the money we earn. Money is not the root of all evil. Power, illgotten through wealth, to oppress he community, is a source of evil. Vty judgment is that the duty of every farmer is to cultívate his farm etter. We must raise more wheat o a less number of acres. We must cultívate sheep so as to get a greater number of pounds of wool on each sheep with the same food. We must raise pork to produce more pounds at a less cost per pound. Industry is the essential thing for all farmers. How do the monopolists get their power of control? By taking advantage of circumstances every day in the year. We farmers, in order to succeed must work as men in ther enterprises. No day should scape us. The farmer wastes in winter what he makes in summer. 'hese big fours don't waste anyhing. The hoof, the hair, the ffal, everything is saved by chemial process, machinery, etc. As to dulteration the feeling is, I want somethincheap. I believe the extra doctors bilí costs more than to buy good articles. What the farmer wants is a stable market. He wants to go to bed and know that wheat will be the same price in the morning, regardless af what the gamblers o. Thls gambling in wheat should be made a crime. Mr. Ball detailed the influence of the Big Four in legislation and continued, I don't believe in the two per cent. loaning system. I don't believe in men borrowing money of themselves. Bonds at a low per cent. interest and a long time to mature, lead to extravagance in borrowing. George A. Peters, of Scio, controverted Mr. Woodman's position and drew a parallel between the organization of the alliance and the republican party in 1854. The first speaker said the depression was not caused for the want of money and that France had plenty of capital. Suppose that we had raised wheat and the other crops had failed, we would have the calamity of a erop failure. That's what they had in France. Let everything be normal and the price is governed by the amount of circulating medium. The bankers lessen the price of ourcommodities to increase the purchasing power of their dollars. We estimate the value of a dollar by the amount it will purchase. When our wheat is cheap, our money is dear. Everyone admits that something is wrong. There must be something wrong with our laws. What Mr. Woodman.said about the Argentine republic doesn't apply. They have only four million population. A lot of English syndicates have bought up the government and got certain legislation. That was what was the matter with the Argentine republic. It was no new thing for this country to loan money to corporations or individuals. It had loaned money to national banks at one per cent. interest. The government ought to loan money to farmers at the same rate. I am not willing to pay even two per cent. I don't agree with the last speaker, who wants us farmers to work louger hours. I don't want to work any harder than I've been working. I'm one of those fellows who wants a cheap dollar. When we sold wheat at three dollars a bushei we sold a thousand bushels foa 3,000, and after running the household and paying hired help, we had out of that $1,500. Last year wheat sold for seventy-five cents and a thousand bushels only brought in $750. Out of that, doing our level best, took every dollar to pay running expenses. Not a dollar was left,for fun. I say let us have cheap money, let's have some fun. If you don't shut off some power in corporations in the next ten years they will own you body and breeches. To-day 2,500 families own more than half the wealth of the United States. Do you know what that wealth is in? It is in evidences of debt against you and me. Their wealth accumulates from three to six times faster than the half owned by the rest of us. You will never get your rights without you organize, and you will never get them through the two old nnlitiral nnrties. E. A. Nordman, of Lima, said that the organization known as the alliance excluded from its membership, bankers, lawyers and saloon keepers. After hearing the remarks of Mr. Woodman on adulteration and what the merchant had acknowledged as a fact, he was inclined to exclude the merchant also from the organization. This ended the speech making. The officers of the association eletted for next year were as fol'lows: President, George S. Wheeler, of Salem; secretary H. B. Thayer, of Salem; treasurer, Henry Pinckney, of Webster. Executive committee, George A. Peters, Scio; Amos Phelps, Dexter; O. R. Pattengill, Plymouth; S. P. Gridley, Ypsilanti; Peter Gill, Superior; George McDougall, Superior; Peter Cook, York; N. C. Carpenter, Ypsilanti; E. E. Leiand, Northfield; E. B. Armes, South Lyon; George Renwick. New Hudson; H. Pinckney, Hamburg; C. M. Starks, Webster; Cv Fishbeck, Howell; W. R. Hamilton, Worden; S. J. Springer, Plymouth; E. T. Walker, Salem; H. R. Holmes, Northville; C. M. Wood, Anderson; W. H. Glenn, Chelsea; T. DeForest, Ann Arbor; N. E. Sutton, Northfield; Wm. Ball, Hamburg; W. D. Smith, Dexter; E. A. Nordman, Dexter, and Giles Lee, , Brighton.