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A Farmer's View Of It

A Farmer's View Of It image A Farmer's View Of It image
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I am a farmer, the son of a farmer, and the father of farmers. I have been all my days scratching a poor man's back in an effort to make a living off my farm. I am sixty years of age. My form is bent, my hands are hard, and my eyes dim. I own a hundred and sixty acres of as rich, well watered and wooded land as there is in Ohio. I say 1 liave worked hard to make a living. I have done something more- I have raised and, in a way edueated three sons and one daughter. I suppose I could have made the living, a poor soit of living, for myself and family out of the farm, but this attempt to school my boys has left me very poor. Fortunately, I kept out of debt, so that what I have I have; and if I were younger and had less rheumatism, I could yet get a miserable living by farming. I could not do this and keep up the place. It has got to goNow, while tliis is my history as a farmer, that of my neiglibor Morton is quite different. He sold out to the Hormish Dutch, went to our county seat, and put his money in a National bank. He is now living in what, to me, appears a palace; and it certainly is compared to my poor house. Morton drives au elegant carriage, and is accounted a wealthy man. Nor is my condition that of Tom Shiply, also a neiglibor, who also sold out. He went to Middleburg and bought a store. He is not so rich as Morton, but he has done well. I know three others, in our county, who got out of farming into some other business, and all to their own advantage. There is no money in agrieulture. There never waé. I can undérstand how it looked as if we were getting rich, when land, bought at $1.25 an acre from the government, bouneed up to ten, then thirty, and then went on bouncing up till it reached a hundred. But this increased valué did not come from what we raised on the lands, but from immigration; that made the lands valuable. For thirty years this value luis been receding. I rememberwhen this land of mine was held cheap at a hundred dollars. Now I cannot sell it at all. When our Congressman, the Hon. Lycurgus Leatherlungs, was among us, canvassing for a return to Congress, he was fond of saying that the agiïcultural interest was the great, solid, imderlying interest of the land. He would then teil us that a high protective tariff was the source of all the proflt the farmer made out of his products. Most of my neighbors took that in, and tried to live on it. I didn"t. I have a son, a lawyer at Cleveland, who lias helped me, from time to time, when 1 got into a worse pinch than usual, and he has also sent me some books, that I manage to read at intervals,- mostly Sundaye and at aight,- and have got from them a deal of useful information. In one I read, i'or example, that liistory taught us that an agricultura] peopk' wiis easily conquered. In ahöther, I saw it staied that slavery and serfdom wére only possible among the tillers of the soil. This came, the author said, froin the lack of combination, or even association, among the oppressed. Scattered widely apart, in rural districts, there eould be little aasociation, or oí that interehange ui lntelligence and sympalhy, wnich are the foundations or effective resistance. I learned all this trom the books Bent me bj in son. I learned more, and that was that in Europe the lowest ferm of pauper labor, so much talked about, was that of the farm-laborer. Wiiy, the Negro slaves were better off before the war than these ereatures. ïhey are housed like cattle, worked like'mules, and fed like dogs. In the whoat-growing regions of the Baltic, lor ! example, the farm-hand gets eighteen dollars and a sheepskin coat at tlie end-óf the year. If we go to India, we firid the agriculturist works for six cents a day, lives on rice and weai-s nothing but a cotton shirt. In Egypt the f arm-laborers are slaves, held down to their wretchedexistenceby English, French, and Germán bond-holders. Now, it stnick me one day that we farmers had been saved from this condition only by the government lands, that kept usfrombeingcrowded down. Then came the thought, that when these lands are all taken np, as will soon be the case, what will be our conditionV I have observed how, within the last twenty-flve years, agricultui al values have shrunk thirty "per cent., and this white, every other sort ot propei'ty has been on the rise. During the war, and shortly after, I sold my wheat at a dollar and a half a bushel. I sold my last erop at sixty cents. Next harvest it will be fifty. My wool, pork, corn, and hay have all tumbled, not quite so badly, but yery nearly. At this rate, how long will it be before I am working for eighteen dollars a year and that sheepsKin coat'? The most significant part of it is that while the agricultura] interest goes down, the country is prosperous, and all other interestsgonpin valué. Ilere is my county, for example, fairly shingled over with mortgages. In all the heavy investments of the entire 3ounty, there is not ;i hundred dollars proflt. Mr. Carnegie clears a milIon on a less inveatment every year. He and others like hkn, not farmers, tiave the oountry's prosperity in their breeches' pockets. Wlien one talks of the great American boom, he means Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Jay Goukl and boomers of that sort. They hold all jur prosperity. Tnis condition of thinga put me to looking around, to see if I eould iind the cause of thé condition. I made a iiscovery one day. 1 found that this protectivetarilï that the Kon. Leatheriungs was a-whooping ap was the vam[lire that was sucking the life blood out of us. Under pretence of laying i tax to support the government. ' these cunning devils hadlaid a tax to support thcnisolv es. I was curioua to know how much of thislevy lor private pockets 1 was paying. ïo this end I got the tarift' and went to studying. It is no easy matter, but can be done by any farmer. Now, to begin with, my house, a frame one, may be valued at eight hundred dollars. This, if I were building, would be the pnce; but when I had deducted the protective tax on lumber, glass, shingles, hardware, and paint, I found the real cost of my house was only five hundred dollars. Here is a dead loss to me of three hundred dollars. I had paid three Hundred dollars to the Carnegie set to keep up their palaces and tally-hos at home and in Scotland. My stable, also a frame one, cost me tour hundred dollars. Calculating as before, I found the same proportion held good, and I am skinned to keep up the protectionists to the tune of one hundred and fifty dollars- another loss to me of that amount. I have a pair of old work horses. The harness on these cost me forty dollars; the unnecessary tax is fourteen dollars- surely a loss. My three plows cost me thirty dollars. The tax on these is. in steel, iron, and lumber, the neat little sum of, as near as I can calcúlate, twelve dollars. Four years since I bought a binder. I paid, in Lnstallments, WiM. An agent who had quarreled with his manufacturing company, told me thai the binder cost fifty dollars. Twentyiive dollars went to advertising, and when the agent sold one :iiwed twenty-five dollars. Oithe remaining liundreil and twenty-flve, seventyfive went in as proflt to the eompany, and fifty to the protectionists. This is only a beginning. There is nothing a f armer purehases that does not pay toll to these protectionists. I take nïy two horses to theblacksmith's to be shod, for exainple. The blacksmith charges me, for all-round shoeing, one dollar and twenty cents. Of this, forty cents is retained for protection. To have a new rooi' on a shed leaves two dollars in the hands of Mr. Carnegie and suph, to keep up palaces in Scotland and at home. Mr. Blaine says protection is a republican principie, and must be sustained. Be was rolling along over English pikes, behind tour blooded horses, and sitting by Mr. Carnegie. Probably, if I were flxed tliat way. I would see beauties in the system. But. you see, I am on the side that see only the swindle. Whenmy daughter died, Itook home her three children. Alter that when my daughter-in-law died, I adopted her two. Sol have afamily. Icould not afford it but there was nothing else to do. Xow, the cost of clothing, shoeing, and furnishiag hats lor these little folks, so that they may nol only be comfortable, bul decent enough to attend the common schools, makes ap no smal! item. 1 i alculate that the five cost me in nioney expended at the stores in Middleburg, some two hundred dollars, of this a hundred and seventy-five go on the backs of my pooT children, and twenty-five into the ooi kets of the protectionists. All the pinchases made by us rannersareatthe village, where .1 year's credit is given. When our crops come in we deliver our pain at the railroad depot, and getting ehecka tor same, go round and aettle- that is, so far as the money from our products enable us to do so". Everyyearthe sum that remains unpaid grows largar. We have then to tustle round, 8eU wool, sel] hogs, sell anything to make up this difterence. The worst oí all are the township, county, and Mate laxes. These have to be paid, and two-thirds, vos, three:fourtha of the mortgages on farms origínate va these. Now,iflcould have the two hundred and odd dollars èxtorted Erom my poor little farm one hundred and sixty acres, I coukl about make both ends meet. And what 111 infernal outrage it is that 1. and other farmers like myseli should have this extortion fastened 011 us, for which we get absolutely nothing in return! We are told of a home market. We have heard of that home market for twenty-iive years, but have never seen it. Small wonder! for of all the people taken, theytell us. from agricultura! pursuits, there is not one who eats more or Less than he did before. And as for lessening the number of producers, the emigration from Europe puts in three men forevery man taken out. It is an odd gort of a protection that protects labor against the pauper in Europe, . but not from the thousands on thousands pouring in upon our shores every year. ïhe liome market don't work. It costs me, as it does any other farmer in this locality, one dollar to plant, grow, cut, thrash, and get into the granary one bushel of wheat. The home market, as the thing is called, gave. me last harvest sixty cents a bushel. This coming harvest I expect ftfty cents- for this is the rate of decline: and all my other products suffer the same loss. This sort of thing never occurred with the foreign market. This, however, is all fudge. There is no more home market to-day than there was flfty years ago; amt there can 't be. Alter the people at home have eonsumed our products to their utmost capacity, there remains a heavy surplus that has to flnd ita ket abroad or rot on nds. This market abroad Bxesthe prices at home sothat 110 law gl Co or i(!d one cent. When they talk about taking laborers from farmiug and putting them at otlier puisuits, they don't help us, for these same consumers wére consumera before. As for lessening the number of producers, as [ have said, these people get paup r labor from Etirope forless than they would have to paynative farmers, and get them they do. These miners and manufacturers,aftersqueeziBg all they outofus bylaw, proceed toaqueeze labor; and do that by drawing on the labor of Europe. I am but a short distance, as a crow flies, from the Ilocking valley coal-mines. I saw the native Americana drivenoüt by Welsh and Irish. These in turn weré crowded bj Poles, Bohemians and Italians. These in turn. as they object to beihg starved to death, are threatened by Negroes; and we should have Chinese, did not the law forbjd. Ko far as ; find out, the poorest paid labor in the United States is proteeted labor. Mining work nëver was skiiled and. owing to the improvements in macliinery, maimfaeturing' lias ce 5éd tobe oí tnal soit. Even a girl or boy can stand by and regulal ehine. I said the proteeted labor was the poorest paid. I must qualify that. There is very little difference between that and f arm labor. At the rate we have been sinking in the last twentyftve years, in the next twenty-five We sliall see farm labor little better than the old serfdom of Bussia. We are coming to the eighteen dollars a year and the sheepskm coat. And as tlie riglit honorable ofticial protectionjsts address us now, in onr distress, as their dearly beloved farmers. 1 suppose when in our misery d_ying, as their miners and mili operativos die, of want, they will stil] give ns tliis taffy. And why? Becanse we vote. They treat their own laborers rough because they know there are so few of them it can make no difference. 13ut if we farmeis were to get up in onr wrath, we would make short work of them at the polls. I don't know whether this will ever occur, for we are ignorant and stupid; prefemng the right honorable protectionists' taüy to common sense. Let our agriculturists once comprehend the true working of this protective system and its reign will be short. Let ua look at it. 1 have a few liogs, a bunch of sheep, some corn, and more w heat. How I have ploughed, planted, fattened, and cared for these, tells the story of hard labor and exposure scarcely known to any other pursuit. Now, wliy have I thus toiled through the yearï Certainly from no philanthropie or patriotic motive. I have done so simply to secure a market; no more, no less. Does this paternal government sympathize with me! Not much! Congress is in session the larger part of the year. Does Congress do anything for the farmer? Again, not much! Sometimes a member makes a speech in which he bespatters us with flattery. And every year the President sends in a message in which lie speaks of farming being the great underlying prosperity of the land. Do any of them concern theniselves about oui' markets? Again 1 say. not much! And vet the most influentialcommittee of the House, the Ways and Means, sits in almost perpetual session tohear, consider and devise how the mining and manufacturing interests are to secure a proflt therefor through law of Congress, instead of leaving these interests to the trade law of supply and demand. If a delegation of farmers were to go before that committee and say, "Wc are losmg, not money, hut mir labor, and wè cannot live on the prices of this market of your making," the delegation would be told that the great American system of protection was devoted to fostering raming and manufacturing industries, and when that was done the farmers would reap a consequential good which the committee hoped they would be patriotic enough to accept. And when the doorclosed on the disgusted delegation. a ruar of laughter would go up over the "hay-seeders." Now, let us see liow the infernal system works as to the farmer? Ilis market is a foreign one. All the surplus that is over the home demand goes to Europe, where our Congress has no j urisdiction. and where the price is flxed, not only for what is sold there, butfor all that is sold at home. This is free trade. He is free to sell without tax or charge, wlierever he flnds demand. And in this market he comes in contact with the lowest form of pauper labor known to the world. IIow is it when he comes to buy ? It is protection. Every article pf clothing, every material that goes to give him a sheíter, all that is necessary to carry on his wórk, ís increased, as to price, to twice or thrice its value. He Uien BTJTS UNDEK PBOTBCTIOH AXÜ SELLS UNBER FREE TRADE. Smal! wonder the ipoor man stands aghast in the midst of his overtilled iields. and sees the very ground slipping from beneath liim, as, year by year.this fearful abuse goes on. To meet liis loans he borrows money on mortgage, in the vain hope that tlte next season'scrop may prove mure prosperóos pay him out, and save his poor home and few acres to his family. That seasqn never coinés. I read a story once of a man conlined to solitary imprisonment in a round tower in which was a circle of windows. The victim woke every morning to tlie fact that his prison grew smaller by the disappearance of a vvindow, till at last, the ïnysterious walls of death closed in on him. Tliis is the farmer; and the poor fellow cannot understand the awful system that slowly but surely contracts aboiit him which is worse than death; tor it is perpetual servitude to his children's children, wrought out by a government that was built above him by the patriotic fathers forthe sole pui-pose of affording him and his equal rights under the law. I mi writing this as any other old man would who surfers in himself a public wrong, while I know there are thousands of abler pens engaged in exposing the crime. If found worthy of publication, I hope you will correct tlie sentences so as to make tliem readable, for my stilf fingers and dull head are not accustomed to this sort of work. My main purpose, however, is to explain and, as far as I can, set myself right in reference to an unpleasant transaction that lately took place at ourvillage. Our member of congress came home fromWashington tlie other day, and a meeting was called at Noodletoozy, our nearest village, to hear hiia teil about the protective tariff, and the attempt of Democratie free-traders to Eetch about Lts destruction. 1 mus fooi enougb to attend that meeting. I ought tohavekept at home. I went, and l took a back seat. Now, before the war 1 was a Henry w big. In the warl sent my sóns i" the öeld, ui.! u-ave tothe cause notonlymy taxes but all the donatioBS l' could get l'roin the I am a Methodist class-leadel, and a man of peace. it has been eustomary to regard me as a Kepublican leader of our township, and when.'a meeting is held l am called to preside. We had the town-hall full.and sooti it was moved tor me to take the chair. I got up and declined. I said I did not teel well, and might be foreed to leave -■- f ore the meeting waB over. This was strictly true-, I was sick of proteetion, and expected to be made sicker by hearing the Hon. Lycurgus Leatherlungs pour 6ut hls lyingtrash. I was ;ed,and L. Jones took thè place. The Hon. Lycui ?us took the sti and opened his cheeks in the centre wit-h the old, old gush oí' the grapdeur and achievements of the Répiibliean party, I could stand this. for I was to it. But v.hen lic got i'ii the prosperity of our country, and said it was all owing to a protective tariff, I got as uneasy as if I was sittüig on nettles. At last. when be said tliat the protective tariff lQwered the price of gopds, and appealedto the Democrats present - and there were several on hand, tor Noodletozy is a lager-beer saloon of three hundred inhabitants, and of eourse Democrats abouiid - I say, when he made his appeal, I got up like an old fooi and asked if I might put a question. The Hon. Lycurgus looked surprised, as all at the meeting did, but he said, 'Oh,certainly! we 're always delighted to hear f rom the Nestor of Washington township." "Well," I said, very sarcastic, the Nestor wants yoti to explain, if a protective tariff lowers pnces, whats the good of a protective tariiïY "Certainlyl" cried the M. C; "nothing easier. You see, before a protective tariff is enacted, the foreign manufacturers have a monopoly, and they put prices up to what they please. Under the fostering care of protective tariff this is stopped, home industries thrive, and competition brings down prices." There was thundering applausè miong the fools at this; but I wasn't to be put' down in that way, so 1 went on: ■Very good, very good indeed; but if that is the end of proteetion, why not have it the beginning? Why 'put up prices on us, only to pull things down again?" '"No, indeed." he replied; "for our great object is to foster American labor, and not capital. Under our system wages of labor go up steadily." There was another round of applause. It made me mad as a hornet, and I said, "Hold on, hold on, there. I know, and I believe you know, that the worst paid labor is protected labor. Why, look into the Hocking Valley, here, right under your nose, and sëe miners worked like mules and paid scarcely enough to keep their wretched souls in their wretched bodies. They're worse off than negro sla ves beforethe war." By this time the Democrats present began to get the bearing of our discourse, and they gave meathundering round of applausè. Pete Sloctim shouting, "Go it, old Soi!" "Hit 'im agtn!" "Well stand by ye!" The Eepublieans began to hiss, and all the Democrats hanging round White's corner carne crowding in. I saw there was going to be a disturbance, and as a class-leader and a law-abiding Citizen I feit disposedto back out ;but justthen the Hon. Lycurgus spoke. "It iains me," he said, "to see our venerable friend lending himself to this rabble of unpatriotic people, willing to sacrifice American labor to British interests. Is he preparad to have these British pour in on us their cheap productsV " "Yes, he is!" I shouted. "Let 'em pour. If I can get cheap clothes for my children, and cheap blankets to cover them, Í say, let 'em pour. I am as patriotic as any man; but if that means putting rags on the backs of my little ones, and taking food out of their hungry mouths, and making slaves of us all, I am not that sort of a patriot. Let 'em pour, Lycurgus; let 'em pour. They can waken me up at midnight with their pouring in of cheap tliings, and I won't be oifended.T' At this the Democrats fairly yelled, while they applauded with hands, feet, and sticks. They shouted, "Let 'em pour, Lycurgus; let :em pour!" The Bepublicans were all up on their feet. Some shouted, "Put him out!" 'Put him out!" meaning the undersigned. But Lycurgus waved his hand, and, as sóon as he could be heard, said, "Xo; permit tle unhappy old man to remain. We want him as an example. He is a member of the mfamous Cobden Club, that ís using' its gold to break down our great American system." I could not stand this. so I shouted back, 'íLycurgus -Leatlierlungs, ifyou say I am a member of the Cobden Club, or any other club, you are an inl'enial liar." The tumult that followed defles description. Every body spoke at once, and in the of tiie coniusionthatrestless son of Satan, slippery Sam Jones, a bom idiot, threw a dead cat that took the Ilon. Lycurgus square in the countenance. I say it was slippery Sam, for he is as sure to have a dead cat about him as a protectionist has his cry of British gold. Let it rest, however, as to who threw the cat. It was tlirown, and it silenced the Hon. Lycurgus, adjourned the meeting, and came near buming the Noodletoozy town-hall; for as the Hon. L. staggered back, he knocked over the table, and with it a kerosene lamp. The lamp exploded, and the wliole concern turn bied into the street, without waiting for a motion to adjourn. I am very sorry the disturbance 03curred. I believe, however, I got the best of the argument.


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