HISTORY OF THE COLORED FARMERS’ NATIONAL ALLIANCE AND CO-OPERATIVE UNION
By General R. M. Humphrey, Superintendent of the Colored Farmers’48 National Alliance and Co-operative Union
The Colored Farmers’ Alliance had its origin in Texas. The first subordinate Colored Alliance was organized in Houston County, in that State, on the eleventh day of December, 1886. Immediately following this, a number of others were organized in Houston and adjoining counties. The necessity for general organization soon became apparent. Accordingly these several Alliances chose delegates to a central convention, which assembled in the Good Hope Baptist Church, at Weldon, on the twenty-ninth day of the same month. After some discussion and earnest prayer, it was unanimously agreed that union and organization had become necessary to the earthly salvation of the colored race.
The convention then proceeded to adopt the following declaration of principles:—
“1. To create a body corporate and politic, to be known as ‘The Alliance of Colored Farmers of Texas.”
“2. The objects of this corporation shall be: (a) To promote agriculture and horticulture; (b) To educate the agricultural classes in the science of economic government, in a strictly non-partisan spirit, and to bring about a more perfect union of said classes; (c) To develop a better state mentally, morally, socially, and financially; (d) To create a better understanding for sustaining our civil officers in maintaining law and order; (e) To constantly strive to secure entire harmony and good will to all mankind, and brotherly love among ourselves; (f) To suppress personal, local, sectional, and national prejudices, and all unhealthful rivalry and selfish ambition; (g) To aid its members to become more skillful and efficient workers, promote their general intelligence, elevate their character, protect their individual rights; the raising of funds for the benefit of sick or disabled members, or their distressed families; the forming a closer union among all colored people who may be eligible to membership in this association.”
This declaration was promptly signed by the following colored men, being all the delegates present: H. J. Spencer, William Armistead, R. M. Saddler, Anthony Turner, T. Jones, N. C. Crawley, J. W. Peters, Israel McGilbra, G. W. Coffey, Green Lee, J. J. Shuffer, Willis Nichols, Jacob Fairfax, Abe Fisher, S. M. Montgomery, John Marshall.
J. J. Shuffer was elected President, and H. J. Spencer, Secretary. Suitable committees were appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws a ritual, and a form of charter. After receiving the reports of these committees, it was agreed that the Colored Farmers’ Alliance should be a secret association.
R. M. Humphrey of Lovelady was elected General Superintendent, and to him was committed the work of organization. The new order had no money, no credit, few friends, and was expected to reform and regenerate a race which, from long endurance of oppression and chattel slavery, had become exceedingly besotted and ignorant.
On the 28th of February, 1887, a charter was obtained under the laws of Texas, and the organization assumed definite shape as The Alliance of Colored Farmers. The work now spread with great rapidity over the State of Texas, and was soon introduced into several of the neighboring States. The colored people everywhere welcomed the organizers with great delight, and received the Alliance as a sort of second emancipation
On the 14th of March, 1888, a meeting of the States convened at Lovelady, Texas, and after some discussion, agreed to charter as a trades-union, in accordance with the laws of the United States. The new association adopted the Texas State work, with only such changes as were necessary to give it national character. The new charter was duly filed in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia, in compliance with the laws of Congress, and will be found recorded in Book IV., at page 354, Acts of Incorporation, United States of America. Under this new arangement, the alliance continued to thrive.
About this time, leading minds among the colored people in the South began to realize the importance of a better system of co-operation. They were desirous, too, of utilizing and, as far as possible, extending the benefits of their organization. The national trustees addressed the following communication to the general superintendent:—
July 20, 1888
“To the General Superintendent of the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance
“Sir: Upon receipt of this order you will at your earliest convenience proceed to establish such trading post, or posts, or exchanges, for the use and benefit of our order in the several States, as in your judgment will be most conducive to the interests of the people. We leave you to adopt such plans as in your opinion will be most effective.
“With much respect yours,
“J. J. Shuffer, President
“H. J. Spencer,
“Secretary Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Co-operative Union.”
In compliance with this order, exchanges were established in Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Charleston, South Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia. These institutions, with varying success, are still in existence, and have accomplished great things for the elevation of the colored race. Occupying as these posts do, the great centres of the country’s commerce, we are not without hope that they will be, in the future as in the past, well supported by the people . Our method in their establishment is this: An assessment of $2.00 is levied upon each male member of the order, within prescribed boundaries, for the benefit of the exchange within his territory. These small amounts paid by each member become a cash capital for the basis of our business operations. The money may be used to buy a stock of bacon, or to pay off a mortgage, and being at once replaced, is ready the next week for some similar investment. Being thus often turned over, it will, in a year, save many times its value as against the speculator, who always reckons the term of a credit at twelve months, and the rate of interest at fifty to one hundred per cent, though the actual time of such credit may be only from August till September.
Again, this kind of cash basis is not exhausted nor exhaustible; fifty or a hundred years hence it may be still present to do the same work it is now doing; or should the Colored Alliance cease or become extinct, the funds on hand might be turned to the endowment of schools or colleges for colored youths, and so render a perpetual service during all time.
With the beginning of 1889 the Alliance established a weekly newspaper, called The National Alliance. They designed it for the practical education of their members. It has been reasonably well supported, and is still published weekly, at Houston, Texas, each of its editions reaching many thousand colored families.
At this writing, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee have State Colored Alliances, working under State charters. Several other States expect to be chartered at an early day, while organizations of greater or less extent in more than twenty States. The total membership is nearly 1,200,000, of whom 300,000 are females, and 150,000 males under twenty-one years of age, leaving 750,000 adult males.
It is freely admitted by all that the colored people have made great strides forward in intelligence, morals, and financial standing during these years of organization. Thousands of their public free schools have been wonderfully improved in character of teaching, and the duration of their sessions much extended by the combining of the people, and the payment by each member of the Alliance of a small sum in the form of tuition. Very many Alliance academies and high schools have been opened in various sections of the country. In not a few communities the people, impelled by the higher cultivation of their social instincts, have built new places of worship, while the intellectual and moral grade of their pastors and teachers has been immeasurably advanced.
The relation of the colored people in the South to their white neighbors had been long a question of the last importance to both races. There were not wanting those who believed in race conflict, race war, and even race extermination. These beliefs and opinions were shared by some of the best people on both sides, as, perhaps, painfully inevitable results which must follow from existing conditions; but there were others who were in apparent haste to put their views into practical operation, and who, if judged by their own testimony, were ready to baptize their prejudices in the blood of their fellow-beings, and dishonor themselves by the destruction of their country. The Alliances, both colored and white, were organized from the first largely with a view to the suppression of all prejudices, whether national, local, sectional, or race, and to create conditions of peace and good will among all the inhabitants of our great nation. On this account the “race question” was from the beginning a matter of profoundest interest to the order. At first practicable moment steps were taken looking to the peaceful solution of that much-vexed and intricate problem.
December 3, 1889, the representatives of the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance convened in the city of St. Louis. During this session they were visited by committees of fraternal regard from the Farmers and Laborers’ Union, the Farmers’ Mutual Benefit Association, and the National Farmers’ Alliance. These visits were acknowledged with the utmost good will, so that the messengers from the several brotherhoods were looked upon rather as ministers of light and salvation. Like committees were appointed from our body to visit and bear our good will and fraternal greetings to these several organizations.
Again, in Ocala, Florida, at which place their National Council was held in December, 1890, they were visited by committees from the Farmers and Laborers’ Union, and by officers of the Knights of Labor, and by members of other labor associations. They appointed committees to each of these bodies, as bearers of their good will and fraternal regard. They further proposed the holding of a joint meeting by these committees to form an association or confederation of the several orders represented, for purposes of mutual protection, co-operation, and assistance. The committees, in their joint session, found themselves able to agree, and the matter of their agreement being reported back to their several orders, was heartily indorsed by all concerned. It recognizes common citizenship, assures commercial equality and legal justice, and pledges each of the several organizations for the common protection of all. This agreement will be known in future ages as the burial of race conflict, and finally of race prejudice. Its announcement has fired many hearts with renewed hope, has given a new impetus to progress among the people, and will exert tremendous influences in the healing of sectional and national misconceptions and prejudices throughout the entire country.
“Declaration of Purposes of the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union of the United States
“The seventh section of the charter declares the object of this corporation shall be to elevate the colored people of the United States, by teaching them to love their country and their homes; to care more for their helpless and sick and destitute; to labor more earnestly for the education of themselves and their children, especially in agricultural pursuits.
“To become better farmers and laborers, and less wasteful in their methods of living.
“To become better citizens, and truer husbands and wives.”
N. A. Dunning (ed.), The Farmers’ Alliance History and Agricultural Digest (Washington, D.C., 1891), pp. 288–92.
No more crafty and effective device for defrauding the Southern laborer could be adopted than the one that substitutes orders upon shop-keepers of currency in payment of wages. It has the merit of a show of honesty, and it puts the laborer completely at the mercy of the land-owner and the shopkeeper. He is between the upper and the nether millstones and is thus ground to dust. It gives the shop-keeper a customer who can trade with another storekeeper, and thus leaves the latter no motive for fair trade except his own moral sense, which is never too strong. While the laborer holding the orders is tempted by their worthlessness as a circulating medium to get rid of them at any sacrifice, and hence is led into extravagancy and consequent destitution.
The merchant puts him off with his poorest commodities at highest prices, and can say to him take those or nothing. Worse still. By this means the laborer is brought into debt, and hence is kept always in the power of the land-owner. When this system is not pursued and land is rented to the freedman, he is charged more for the use of an acre of land for a single year than the land would bring in the market if offered for sale. On such a system of fraud and wrong one might well invoke a bolt from heaven—red with uncommon wrath.
It is said if the colored people do not like the conditions upon which their labor is demanded and secured, let them leave and go elsewhere. A more heartless suggestion never emanated from an oppressor. Having for years paid them in shop orders, utterly worthless outside the shop to which they are directed, without a dollar in their pockets, brought by this crafty process into bondage to the land-owners, who can and would arrest them if they should attempt to leave them when they are told to go.
We commend the whole subject to the Senate Committee of Labor and Education, and urge upon that Committee the duty to call before it not only the land-owners, but the landless laborers of the South, and thus get at the whole truth concerning the labor question of that section. . . .
Treatment of Convicts
Another sore grievance that calls for the consideration of this Convention is the treatment of convicts, a large proportion of whom are colored. It is inhuman and cruel in the extreme. We do not refer to those that are here within the walls. They are under the immediate care and supervision of the management, and we believe considerately treated. But most of the convicts are scattered over the State on farms, having no one to administer to their physical, moral or spiritual needs but a host of inhuman, brutal convict guards. When a fresh convict is carried to the farms, he is taken down by the other convicts and beaten, at the command of the guard, and that, too, with a large piece of cowhide. The guard takes this method of taming the newcomer. Of course this lays him up, but in a few days he is hauled out of his sick quarters and put to work, whether he is physically able to do it or not. The law provides that a convict physically unable to work shall not be required to do so, such inability to be ascertained by the examination of the penintentiary physician. But, convicts on farms, who are mostly colored, have no physician to determine such inability, and even when sick and dying have none, unless the hiring planter, who has no particular interest in saving his life, sees fit to employ one. In many cases sick convicts are made to toil until they drop dead in their tracks. Many again, driven to desperation by inhuman treatment, seek to relieve themselves by attempting to escape when the chances are against them, thus inducing the guards to shoot them, which they are ready to do on the slightest pretext. Others are maltreated by being placed in the pillory or stocks until they are dead or nearly so.
When convicts are brutally murdered, nothing is done with their slayers unless the indignant citizens are prompt in insisting upon their punishment. In nine cases out of ten, parties sent to investigate these occurrences report the killing justifiable, because guards and their friends find it convenient to make it appear so. When legislative committees visit one of these convict camps, they always find the convicts ready to report that they are well treated, because all of them, both white and black, are previously warned by their guards to report thus or accept the consequences which will surely follow. Again we will state, although the law justifies the killing of a convict escaping from the penitentiary, when his escape can be prevented in no other way, still we fail to see wherein it can be justified when the convict is carried on a farm, away from the penitentiary, and given a chance to escape only to be deliberately shot down in attempting to do so. We believe such to be deliberate murder, and should be punished as such.
Believing that most of the evils can be remedied by the appointment of a colored inspecor who is a humane man, having power to investigate the affairs of convict camps and the management of convict labor on private farms, therefore, we recommend to the Governor and Board such an appointment at the earliest possible moment. We recommend also, that as most of the State convicts are colored, that there be appointed at least one colored commissioner of penitentiaries. Though our men and youths are sent to the penitentiary to be reformed, in most cases they are made worse by the inhumanities and immoral habits of their guards, who, in many cases, are worse morally than the convicts themselves. We think that this Convention should pass a resolution condemning, in strongest terms, the practice of yoking or chaining male and female convicts together. This is an act of officials done only for the purpose of further demoralizing those persons, especially so where they are only county convicts.
Proceedings. National Convention of Colored Men, Louisville, Kentucky, September 24, 1883 (Louisville, 1883.
3. SOUTHERN GRANGERS 49
By Le Duke
To show the base uses to which respectable names and titles can be applied, I desire to call your attention to some of the practices of Southern Grangers. As I understand the object of the society of Grangers, it is the protection of farmers against unjust railroad freight charges and the encroachments of stock-jobbers in grain—in fact, it is a society formed for the purpose of seeing to it that the labor, so essential in this country by reason of its indispensability, is properly compensated. These are the objects of the Northern Grangers. But the Southern Grangers seem to have objects far different in view. The organization, known as the Grangers, which has grown to alarming proportions at the South, seems to have and really has for its object the pauperization of the colored farmers, the filching of all their hard-earned money, and the propagation of a vicious sentiment which tends to reduce the colored people in the estimation of the whites at the South. And so artful are the designing scoundrels (that’s the term) that even the judges of courts and ministers of the Gospel have been induced to join in the wholesale fraud. This organization, or at least the one operating in Tennessee, (and it is fair to presume that those in States farther South are still worse) has made a history, for knavery and dishonor, which should so shock the respectable Grangers at the North as to cause them to give a new name to their organization. The modus operandi of the Tennessee Grangers is something like this: A colored farm-hand or small farmer is hired by one of the Grangers to cultivate said Granger’s farm, say of 75 acres. The laborer is furnished with the stock and utensils necessary, together with a sufficient quantity of provisions to run him from seed-time to harvest, provided said laborer will agree to give said Granger two-thirds of the entire yield. In the case of the small farmer, who has the necessary utensils and stock, it is agreed to give him three-fifths of the entire crop. And should he need provisions, they will be charged against his share of the crop on settlement. The colored laborer or farm-hand sets about the performance of his part of the contract right earnestly. In the meantime the Granger in his turn sets about devising ways in which to cheat the laborer of his hire. The laborer is supplied with provisions, but he is informed by the Granger that he, the Granger, is forced to pay fifteen per cent, in advance of the usual cost, on account of the great length of time between purchase and settlement. In addition to this the colored laborer is informed that the Granger ought to have some little consideration for his zealous friendship in securing the above provisions at such a reasonable advance—only 15 per cent. The consideration he claims for this, is all the way from 15 to 25 per cent, which will amount to an advance of between 30 and 40 per cent on provisions. Besides this, the Granger does all the figuring. He keeps the books and superintends the disposition of the crop. The crop must be sent to St. Louis or New Orleans for sale.
This is done through a commission merchant who charges for his commission, about 10 per cent and puts a tariff on that of 10 per cent more, for the Granger, and in his bill and remittance such deductions are duly recorded. The extra “tariff” which the merchant charges is kept subject to the draft of the Granger and the regular 10 per cent commission charge must be shared by Granger and colored man equally. Thus Granger pockets the little difference. Upon settlement Granger opens his books, runs over the articles claimed to have been furnished, does all the adding and substracting and after a vigorous and eloquent speech on the infallibility of figures, presents laborer with a statement. And the statement is a faithful verification of the old doctrine, “Naught’s a naught, figure’s a figure, all for the white man and none for the nigger;” for it turns out almost invariably that Granger is still creditor. And thus the colored man is cheated. He leaves the last place to try his luck with another farmer, but it turns out that the farmers are generally Grangers and that the treatment is uniform.
The colored man is charged with everything and credited with nothing. If a pig dies or the wind blows a barn down and kills a sheep, the colored man must pay for it, and if he dare question the farmers of the charge he is ordered off the farm, and the Justice of the Peace says that he has violated the contract and cannot have his share of the crop.
What can be done to change this high-handed robbery? Would it not well for us to leave the place and let the Grangers set about cheating themselves, just to see how it works? Let us go West!
People’s Advocate (Washington, D.C.), December 1, 1883.
Do you ask a more particular answer to the question, why the Negro of the plantation has made so little progress, why his cupboard is empty, why he flutters in rags, why his children run naked, and his wife is bare-footed and hides herself behind the hut when a stranger is passing? I will tell you. It is because the husband and father is systematically and almost universally cheated out of his hard earnings. The same class that once extorted his labor under the lash, now extorts his labor by a mean, sneaking, and fraudulent device, which is more effective than the lash. That device is the trucking system, a system which never permits him to see or save a dollar of his hard earnings. He struggles, from year to year, but like a man in a morass, the more he struggles, the deeper he sinks. The highest wages paid him are eight dollars a month, and this he receives only in orders on a store, which in many cases is owned by his employer. This scrip has a purchasing power on that one store, and that one store only. A blind man can see that by this arrangement the laborer is bound hand and foot, and he is completely in the power of his employer. He can charge the poor fellow just what he pleases and give what kind of goods he pleases, and he does both. His victim cannot go to another store and buy, and this the storekeeper knows. The only security the wretched Negro has under this arrangement is the conscience of the storekeeper—a conscience educated in the school of slavery, where the idea prevailed in theory and practice that the Negro had no rights which the white men were bound to respect, an arrangement in which everything in the way of food or clothing, whether tainted meat or damaged cloth, is deemed good enough for the Negro. For these he is often made to pay a double price. But this is not all, or the worst result of the system. It puts out of the power of the Negro to save anything of what he earns. If a man gets an honest dollar for his day’s work, he has a motive for laying it by and saving it for future emergency. It will be as good for use in the future, and perhaps better a year hence than now; but this miserable scrip has in no sense the quality of a dollar. It is only good at one store and for a limited period. Thus the man who has it is tempted to get rid of it as soon as possible. It may be out of date before he knows it, or the storekeeper may move away and it may be left worthless on his hands. . . .
I ask again, in view of it all, how in the name of human reason could the Negro be expected to make progress, or rise higher in the scale of morals, manners, religion, and civilization than he has done during the twenty years of his so-called freedom? Shame! Eternal shame on those writers and speakers who taunt, denounce, and disparage the Negro, because he is today found in poverty, rags and wretchedness!
Emancipation Address, 1888 in Philip S. Foner (ed.), Frederick Douglass: Selections From His Writings (New York, 1945), pp. 84–85.
The Caucasian, an electrified old mummy, resurrected from the Shreveport pyramids, in which so many worthless Democratic papers have shriveled up into forgetfulness, has been laying down the law that is to govern the intercourse between the two races wherever the curse of Bourbonism is allowed to blight this fair land of ours. The editors of that poor one idea, narrow groove sheet, probably never did a useful day’s work in all the years of their wasted lives. They know nothing of the dignity of labor, having always succeeded in living off the earnings of others, and yet they have the impudence to dictate to those who do work how their tasks shall be apportioned to them. The Negroes are to be sent to the fields and to other descriptions of hard, grinding labor exclusively. They are to be driven from the comparitively easier positions of porters, barbers, waiters, clerks, the mechanic arts, watchmen, teachers, professors, etc., and these places given only to white men. Under the ukase of the Caucasian, which launched ex-cathedra as purely a Southern idea, no white man, whatever may be his own views or his interests, is to be permitted to employ a colored man to black his boots, drive his carriage, attend to his office, or in any other manner than at the hardest and most degrading tasks.50
This superlative nonsense, which violates the rights of every freeman in the State, is swallowed as straight-out, dyed-in-the-wool Democratic doctrine by the benighted sand-hillers of Caddo parish. It is a pity the idea, unimpaired by trimming, unsoftened by plausable and gracious words, could not be incorporated in all its original ugliness and meanness into the next Democratic platform. “The South” would be “solid” for it, as it is to any monstrosity that ministers to white indolence and greed at the expense of the colored race. Doubtless the Northern copperheads would approve it, as they have so long been led by their Southern associates that it is doubtful whether they have yet any manhood remaining. The trouble is, that to adopt the Shreveport plan in any convention of responsible beings would make the North irretrievably solid; while to attempt to enforce it by law (either statute or shotgun), would precipitate a second national uprising greater and fiercer than that which was stirred up by danger to the Union. There is no danger, however. The pernicious idea must be limited to the mean locality in which it had its origin. It would not live in a more generous soil; and there are few places in this wide world so sterile in noble sentiments as that which immediately surrounds the publication office of the Caucasian. The proposition is only usefulness as showing the depths to which uncurbed selfishness will drag the thoughts of a man who is too impotent for vigorous action.
New Orleans Weekly Pelican, July 27, 1889.
I gained some information about the colored Farmers’ Alliance in the Western part of the state while there. I am indebted for this information to Mr. R. B. Martin who says he was one of the victims of this now very little appreciated organization in that section. It is said that an agent came there from Texas for the purpose of organizing branch organizations and that he proceeded to do so and also establish an exchange store. To establish this store each farmer was taxed so much. The store was started with a capital of one thousand two hundred dollars. The object of the store was that the colored farmers might exchange their produce there for groceries and when buying for cash obtain groceries cheaper than at other stores. The store was established by the agent sent out and run more in the line of a personal affair than for what it was intended. Colored farmers were charged as high prices for goods at this store as at others, and in some cases where produce was left to be disposed of no returns were ever made of it. The store is now closed and the Alliance is said to owe the store $161 and the firm or store although said to be run on a cash basis is $600 in debt. . . .
New York Age, November 2, 1889.
Dear Sir & Bro.
I drop you these few lines to ask your views in regard to the organization known as the Colored National Alliance, do you think it adviceble to Incourage their organization in our state there are now over 300 colored alliance in the state.
I think it would do good to incourage their organization they are here among us & we must make the best of them we can it know doubt would stop the tide of emergration from the cotton countys of our state the knights of labor are organizing them in every county.
The Colored National Alliance has no connection with the Farmers Alliance it belongs to the colored people. please let me hear from you at once.
Elias Carr Papers, East Carolina University.
Vote for principles, not for parties. It can make no difference with us whether a man is a Democrat, a Republican, or any other partisan, so long as our wives are barefoot, our children naked and our homes mere hovels. We want a man who will work for the sub-treasury, who will see to it that the people have money at one per cent interest, just as the bankers have it.
National Economist, June 21, 1890.
The Colored Farmers State Alliance of Tennessee, in session at this place, to-day adopted resolutions declaring in favor of the sub-treasury plan, complimenting those who have worked so faithfully for its adoption, and declaring that they will co-operate with the white people of the State of Tennessee for the promotion and election of such public servants as will give us the sub-treasury or some equivalent measure. This is the second of Colored State Alliances (Louisiana being first) to declare boldly in favor of more money for the people and for sovereign home rule. I was glad to find these people thoroughly informed in Treasury matters, and that, like their white neighbors, they are watching our Congress.
It is with a sense of thankfulness THE ECONOMIST is able to lay this action before the people of the country at large. There is no doubt that as the annual meetings of the State Alliances of the Colored Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union are held in other States, similar action will be taken. Under the wise counsels of their grand old leader, the colored farmers are laying a basis for the final adjustment of the race question as it appears among the people.
National Economist, August 23, 1890.
The party papers are beginning to fight THE NATIONAL ECONOMIST for its bold exposure of party frauds in Congress. THE ECONOMIST has and deserves the confidence of the toiling masses. Would that every farmer in the United States was a subscriber to THE ECONOMIST.
Thanks! The Alliance also says:
The Louisiana Farmers Alliance expelled nine members, who were also members of the legislature, because they had voted in favor of the lottery bill. The Farmers Alliance means business, if it isn’t political, and the future lawmakers may as well take notice and not vote to injure the people unless they want to be retired from public service. The colored Alliances are working in perfect harmony with the white Alliances, and are helping to settle the race question by united effort along lines where all can agree.
National Economist, October 11, 1890.
The canvass for the Democratic nominations in South Carolina and Georgia has developed the fact that the Alliance is a power, and has put on the stump speakers who are astonishingly well versed on all public questions, and who can ably compete in eloquence with any of the speakers of the opposition. What is true of the Alliance in those States is also true in this State. All that is needed is for the Alliance to assert itself.
The Mirror is in error in the following in that the admission of colored members and not colored organizations was provided for. This met a condition thought necessary by the brethren from the Northwest. There are colored Alliances in all the Southern States, having separate autonomy, and in harmony with the Alliance, indorsing the provision made:
The National Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union permits the organization of colored Alliances, but at the same time denies to them representation in the National Alliance and in the Supreme Council. The Mirror is in favor of equal and exact justice to all men, regardless of race, color or previous condition, but it wants all colored organizations to have their own State and national organizations, as well as their own schools and churches and separate hotels and railroad accommodations.
National Economist, September 6, 1890.
The National Alliance (Houston, Tex.) talks sensibly and firmly to the million members of the Colored Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union, of which it is the organ, General Superintendent Humphrey being the editor:
The general superintendent is expected to be in Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Texas and other States. He will visit all the State Alliances in his reach. Let the brethren come up prepared to help in the great work. Let the exchanges be the first consideration. They are our own, and we know now that by supporting them we can free ourselves and our children from the grasp of the dreadful speculator. Let all see to it that our paper the National Alliance is circulated and the people taught; for remember our hope is in education. Finally do not forget the sub-treasury bill now before Congress. Our government lends hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the rich bankers and railroads without any interest. Then why not lend to the farmers the same way? Farm supplies are much cheaper on cash at 1 per cent, than on credit at 50 to 100 per cent. Let no man forget this. And when the election comes vote for no man who is not in favor of the sub-treasury. Don’t let men deceive you about interest and the value of money. It costs no more to print money than to print newspapers. The trouble is that a pack of thieves are allowed to print the money and pretend that it costs. Stop this extortion. Your votes can stop it. Vote neither Republican nor Democrat. Vote for yourselves and your families.
National Economist, September 6, 1890.
13. ELECTION BILL51
The White Folks Farmers Alliance at Ocala, Fla., adopted a resolution condemning the Election Bill, and the Colored Folks Farmers Alliance at once adopted a resolution condemning this political action. It was discovered that the resolution against the Election Bill was dictated by the Democratic Senator at Washington.
The Appeal (St. Paul), December 20, 1890.
Annual Address of the National Superintendent
The General Superintendent of the National Colored Alliance and Cooperative Union, R. M. Humphrey, delivered the following address at the Ocala convention of that body:
In the goodness of God you and I have been spared to meet again in annual convocation. Since our meeting a year ago a number of our leading members have been called from the ranks of the Alliance on earth to the fold of the great Alliance in heaven. With the mutual congratulations we extend to the living we cherish the names and memories of our dead and mourn the loss we have sustained in their death. Our order has enjoyed a year of great prosperity. We have made a forward step along the lines of our work.
Organization has been pushed into new States, and in all the organized States we have made a marked progress. In gathering together and organizing our people we must not lose sight of the fact that our work is chiefly educational. The farmers and laborers of the United States lack nothing else as they lack education. Let memory recall your condition a few years ago. You had, as you, well remember, given very little thought to the science of government. To be sure you knew that all was not well. You told yourselves and believed that a return into abject slavery seemed to be inevitable. But a great change has come about since then. You and your neighbors are now able to meet in your Alliance halls and intelligently discuss the cause of all your troubles. You can now realize that the millions of acres your government has given to a few men were taken from you, and that billions of dollars wrung from you by unjust and cruel taxation for the enrichment of your fellow citizens have impoverished and degraded you and your families. You have thus discovered the root of the disease that affects you. . . . To further the educational work of the Order one of our first cares was the establishment of an Alliance newspaper, which should have for its aim the furtherance of our principles, and the gradual enlightenment and education of the people. This enterprise drew upon us a considerable share of public attention, and several causes have operated to retard its progress.
1. Many of the white people, looking upon themselves as special favorites of Heaven, were violently opposed to the education of the colored race in any form.
2. The newspapers of the country, being wholly in the employ of monopolies, and of the exploiting classes of our citizens, including speculators, landlords and stock gamblers, were radically opposed to the Alliance in all its phases, but their horror and resentment culminated at the thought of its proposing to educate and elevate a race of down-trodden slaves and serfs.
3. The colored people themselves, acting on the advice they received from these, their most bitter enemies, have shown remarkably small interest in enterprise involving so immediately their own welfare and the future destiny of their families.
We continue to hope that these conditions will yet be dissipated, and the National Alliance received, as it has ever deserved, the hearty support of the colored race.
One of the most cruel wrongs inflicted by the government upon the farmers is the power given the national bankers by, and with, the aid of certain speculators to withdraw the money from circulation, and so to contract or diminish the currency of the country that there shall not be enough left in circulation to buy our crops. It is doubtful if there is in circulation this year money enough to pay for the cotton crop at 4 cents a pound, and the wheat at 30 cents a bushel. And but for the influence of the Alliance and its Exchanges and its watchfulness there is no probability that your cotton would now sell above 4 cents a pound.
In view of this pressure brought to bear upon the farmer, we support an act to be known as the sub-treasury bill; therein providing that certain warehouses shall be conveniently established to our necessities in which we may store our crops, receiving from the government 80 per cent of their value to enable us to pay our debts and hold the crops for that sure advance in price which never fails to come with the opening of the spring season, or, rather, with the increase of money in circulation.52
Under this sub-tresaury system speculation in the products of our farms would at once cease, because each farmer could hold his own produce, and when prices were reasonably good he could sell and repay to the government the money advanced. Identically the same arrangement asked for having been made by our government years ago in favor of the distillers of the country, and Congress having the sole power to issue money without paying interest or premium therefore, it was hope that no difficulty would be interposed in the way of a proposition so simple, and withal so important and so natural. But the money powers were awake. Speculators saw that they could not, if this wise and just measure became a law, any more buy up our crops at half price. National bankers saw that they could not any more lend us money at exorbitant rates of interest. And so all of these combined together to oppose us, and it now remains to be seen whether the farmers of the country will be true to themselves and may offer, choose only such men to represent them in Congress and in our State legislatures as will work for equal rights to all, and special privileges to none. Should such a course of action be adopted by all our labor organizations results may be slow, but in no way will they be uncertain. Prosperity will inevitably follow the enactment of just and equal laws.
At the request of thousands of the best and most influential colored people of this country, both within and outside the Alliance, it becomes my duty to call your attention to the necessity that exists for independence in political action. During this year no less than five representative bodies of colored men, assembled in Chicago, Washington, Raleigh, Richmond and Philadelphia, have declared their disaffection and unaffiliation with existing political parties. None of these, great conventions have appealed willing to formulate a platform that they considered would be satisfactory to their race. It remains, therefore, that you should give your earnest attention to this all-absorbing question, and if by a spirit of mutual compromise and conciliation you may be able to secure such pledges from the great labor organizations now represented in this city as will warrant reciprocal and hearty co-operation, doubtless great good will result to both the white and colored races.
You must remember that you are a race of farmers, seven-eighths of the colored people being engaged in agriculture, and these organizations now assembled in Ocala being chiefly farmers, your interests are theirs and theirs are yours. . . . [illegible] of the reformation of either of the existing political parties, or of inaugurating any considerable practical reform under their auspices. Those who hope to equalize the burdens of taxation, to relieve the depression of agriculture, or restore the government to the service of the people on whom it now tramples, must join together and stick together; and they must have as well a platform of principles distinctly their own. To this name and platform they must invite their fellow citizens of the United States as to a refuge and a fortress.
In the recent elections the influence of the Alliance was felt and every man realizes what tremendous power it is destined in the near future to exert. But it must be remembered that in this case the Alliance was fettered by party names which it could not bear, and in many of the States refused to vote at all. Among others we here mention that in Mississippi 40 per cent of the white and 70 per cent of the colored people absolutely refused to vote, or even attend the polls. In Texas and many other States the elections went rather by default than otherwise. The people were not satisfied with the standard bearers and rather than be considered Democrats or Republicans they remained at their homes and refused to take any part in electing men in whom they could feel no interest.
Our order is sadly in want of a national lecturer. It is a well-known truth in human nature that no cause can succeed for any great length of time without the presence of the living orator. Our difficulty heretofore has been that we were unable to pay for a suitable man to fill this important station. But if this body should select and indorse a suitable person for national lecturer, is it not probable, to say the least, that our sub-Alliances would second and support the work by paying him out of their home or subordinate treasuries? In our last annual message we congratulated your order on its independence. You have your own national charter, and your own peculiar forms of organization. You are independent of all other organizations, and thereby you are in a position to co-operate with any other whenever it may appear profitable to do so. We recommend that you persevere in this liberty; friendly to all, dependent upon none. This principle will in no way interfere with necessary co-operation and confederation. We feel that all of your surroundings call upon you to be at all times the confederates and helpers of those brave Alliance men who, alike in Kansas and Georgia, as Republicans and Democrats have carried Alliance banners over fields of confusion and battle to scenes of victory and peace. Finally, homes for the families of the colored people of the United States should be, by pre-eminence, the business of our Order. Whatever else we may do or fail to do, our work will be wholly unfinished and incomplete so long as three-fourths of our families are homeless. . . . [illegible]
But we have still a multitude of homeless renters. Perhaps the system of renting a home for our wives and daughters must in some sort continue to the end of time. But it is certain that we can greatly abridge, if not cure an evil, so monstrous. God has given this earth in usufruct to all the living. Men have as much right to monopolize the air we breathe and the sunshine that warms us as the land that by God’s ordination feeds our families. We take this occasion to distinctly affirm that land is not property; can never be made property; holds no allegiance but to the man who lives on it. His improvements are his. The lands belongs to the sovereign people. In view of these indisputable truths we recommend to our people the principles of the single tax party, and that we should remove the burdens of taxation from all property, because the value of all property is decreased by taxation; but on the contrary land, if carrying all the taxes necessary to support the government, would not be held by speculators as it is now and would soon become abundant and cheap.53
There are already millions of our people, colored and white, who favor this single tax plan, and we recommend it to you as its enactment into law would place homes within the reach of all the people.
We rejoice that individual effort, with the assistance of diligence and economy, has been able to supply homes for so many, and we again call your attention to the importance and necessity of forming land and trust companies among yourselves with a view of furnishing homes to the unfortunate homeless of your race. This recommendation may appear superfluous in a view of our earnest exhortation a year since upon the same subject. But you did take our advice. You people did lay hold of this great work. You yourselves are now witnessing what great things have been accomplished in this direction; how many families now have homes? We therefore to-day rather congratulate you, and again send up to the front the watchword “Forward.”
Again we acknowledge the wisdom and goodness of that God Almighty who has guided and defended us thus far, and laying all our hopes before Him and casting all our trophies at His feet we pledge ourselves to follow where He leads, until every chain of slavery is broken, every dungeon’s door is thrown open, every captive is set at liberty, and the human family lifted to that high plane to which infinite love and mercy call them.
The National Economist, December 27, 1890.
15. UNSAVORY SENATOR54
The Farmer’s Alliance, of Kansas, has ninety-one votes, and there is a determination to defeat Senator Ingall’s for re-election, who is unsavory to the farmer element. They claim that Ingalls is not in sympathy with the measures which are for the relief of the farmers who are struggling under mortgages, railroad magnates and combines. A desperate struggle in politics is on, and the prospects are that Ingalls will be returned to private life. This, should it occur, will be unfortunate for the Negro race, as in many instances has his voice been quick to the race’s defense.
The Freeman (Indianapolis), January 24, 1891.
By J. H. Turner, National Secretary-Treasury of the National55 Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union
Since President Lincoln issued his emancipation proclamation, January 1, 1863, no question has provoked more discussion and serious consideration that this one, and after twenty—eight years of discussion and legislation, until recently the question seemed no nearer solution than it did when the famous proclamation was issued. Writers of every character, both white and black, have taken a turn at its discussion, and have widely differed as to the means to be employed in its solution.
In writing this short article, I fully realize the gravity of the subject I have in hand, and will therefore remain near the shore. It is not my purpose to solve this question, but simply to give my experience with the negro in the South, coupled with such facts and suggestions as will enable those who know but very little of the real conditions that exist in the South, to form correct ideas in regard to the true conditions that exist between the great masses of the white and colored people of the South. I shall be perfectly satisfied with my effort, if I am able to elicit one thought, word, or deed that will help to bring about a better understanding all over this country, that will bring peace and prosperity to the great common people, both white and black.
I hope the reader will pardon me for alluding to myself in this connection just enough to state that I was born on a farm in middle Georgia. At the time I was born my father was a slave-owner. I have been intimately associated with the negro on the farm, all my life, and know something of the relation of the two races from actual experience. What I have to say on this subject shall be entirely free from all party spirit, and solely in the interest of truth.
After the war, when the negro found himself a citizen of the United States, he was besieged by a class of pretended friends (I allude to the carpet-baggers from the North) who have proven to be his worst enemies. To control them politically, these same carpet-baggers promised each head of a family forty acres of land and a mule, if he would vote right; that is, for the carpet-baggers. The poor negro was not only promised this, but social equality with the whites, and a great many other things which, since he has found out better, he neither needs nor wants. The negro at that time followed willingly the lead of these fellows, because he had no one else to follow, politically. The white people of the South ignored him politically, and hated him, because he followed those whom they knew to be enemies of good government. Under such circumstances, the negro was easily led to believe that his old master was his worst enemy, and would again enslave him if he could, though when he would get into trouble or business complications of any kind, the first man to whom he would apply for advice and counsel would be his old master, who would almost invariably give him the best advice, and very often protect and defend him in his business affairs.
Thus the two races lived for several years after the war. As years passed on, the negro found that the promises of the politician were made only to be broken. When this dawned upon him, he at once began to rely upon himself, and from that day he began to make progress. He realized the fact that, if he was ever independent and happy, he would have to educate himself and acquire property.
All the Southern States have public school systems. The whites and blacks are required to attend separate schools, though the black child receives the same amount of public school fund that the white child does. In my own State—Georgia—the colored children receive more money, in the way of public school funds, than the whole colored population in that State pays taxes of every kind; therefore they do not contribute anything toward supporting the State government. This statement will doubtless appear strange to those who are unacquainted with the facts, and have only heard the demagogue’s side of the question. However, an honest investigation among the white and colored farmers (and they constitute a large majority of the population) will reveal many such facts.
The negroes are making a heroic effort to educate the rising generation, and will send their children to school, when the public schools are opened, whether they have anything to eat and wear or not. They will make any kind of sacrifice to send their children to school.
A great mistake has been made, and doubtless thousands of honest people have formed erroneous opinions in regard to the relations of the great masses of the two races in the South, basing their opinions upon the reports of riots and other disturbances in the towns and cities, in which, nine times out of ten, no one took any part except a few worthless negroes, who generally work by the day at some public work, and a few drunken white men, who lounge around the saloons and street corners, and whittle goods boxes. I have never heard of a race riot or disturbance of any kind in the rural districts of the South, except two or three instances that occurred soon after the war, in what is called the Black Belt of South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
For partisan political purposes, these riots among the worthless whites and blacks about the towns have been paraded in the partisan press of the country for the purpose of keeping the old fire of sectional hate fanned into a flame. Such things have been used in the North by the politician, in the press and on the stump, to continue a solid Republican North, pretendly that the Southern brigadier might be kept under; while the same class of politicians in the South has used the same thing to keep a solid Democratic South, pretendedly that negro supremacy might be kept down. The people of the North and South have listened to these politicians, while plutocracy has done its perfect work in robbing both.
The politician in the South has seemingly been in mortal fear of the negro in politics, all the while, but has so managed as to keep the negro in a solid political phalanx. If the negro was such a menace to good government, and the inferior race mentally, morally, socially, and naturally, why have such tactics always been used as would keep them in one solid political party?
The true answer to this question will perhaps shed more light upon this subject than a great many are willing to admit is true. It is admitting a thing that the evidence will not sustain, if we should claim that a superior race, that has enjoyed the blessings of civilization, education, and culture for ages, is unable to persuade an inferior race; and if persuasion were not the thing to use, there were various other expedients to which easy access could have been had, to divide their vote so that negro supremacy would have forever been out of the question.
To convince the reader that the negro vote could have been divided long ago, and will be divided in the near future, I will make a short quotation from a newspaper article, written last February, by Rev. J. L. Moore, a colored Methodist minister of Crescent City, Florida, who was a delegate to the meeting of the Colored National Farmers’ Alliance and Co-operative Union, which met at Ocala, Florida, at the same time the National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union met there. The article quoted from was written in reply to an editorial that appeared in one of the partisan newspapers of Jacksonville, Florida, on the race question. It is as follows:—
“According to our privileges, I think we have helped the white men all they could expect under our condition; and we are not clamoring for social relations with the whites either. We do not want to eat at their tables, sleep in their beds, neither ride in the cars with them; but we do want as good fare as the whites receive for the same consideration. As to the Alliance, in the language of Hon. R. M. Hawley of Missouri, we believe this to be its mission:—
“’No protection to party favorites; no force bills to keep up party and sectional prejudices; no secret caucuses by members of Congress or members of the legislatures, to consider matters of legislation. Let these be abbolished by law. Also abolish all party primary elections and party conventions for nominating candidates, and provide for a people’s primary election, where every voter can write on his ticket the name of any person he prefers for any office, from President down to constable. Let the proper county, State, and national officers, who shall be designated by law, receive the returns, count up and authorize the result, which shall be that the candidate receiving the highest number of votes, and the one receiving the next highest number for each office shall be declared the contending candidates for final election. This would empty politics of party strife and all its concomitant evils, and lead to the representation of the leading industry of each district in Congress, and county in the State legislatures. Party blindness would be removed, and let in the clear light of the science of economical government. I believe that non-partisanism will not reach its full and natural results till these things are accomplished; and this I believe to be the mission of the Alliance.’
“But, Mr. Editor, can we do anything while the present parties have control of the ballot-box, and we (the Alliance) have no protection? The greatest mistake, I see, the farmers are now making, is this: The wily politicians see and know that they have to do something, therefore they are slipping into the Alliance, and the farmers, in many instances, are accepting them as leaders; and if we are to have the same leaders, we need not expect anything else but the same results. The action of the Alliance in this reminds me of the man who first put his hand in the lion’s mouth, and the lion finally bit it off; and then he changed, to make the matter better, and put his head in the lion’s mouth, and therefore lost his head. Now, the farmers and laboring men know in what manner they were standing before they organized; they lost their hands, so to speak; now, organized in one body or head, if they give themselves over to the same power that took their hand, it will likewise take their head.
“Now, Mr. Editor, I wish to say, if the laboring men of the United States will lay down party issues and combine to enact laws for the benefit of the laboring man, I, as County Superintendent of Putnam County Colored Farmers’ Alliance, and member of the National Colored Farmers, know I voice the sentiment of that body, representing, as we did, 750,000 votes, when I say we are willing and ready to lay down the past, take hold with them irrespective of party, race, or creed, until the cry shall be heard from the Heights of Abraham of the North to the Everglades of Florida, and from the rock-bound coast of the East to the golden Eldorado of the West, that we can heartily indorse the motto, ‘Equal rights to all, and special privileges to none.’”
It is a pretty general custom with the Democratic party in the South, that when the county executive committee meets to arrange for and call a primary election, to nominate candidates for any office, it passes a resolution setting forth that no one except white Democrats will be allowed to vote in that election. This county executive committee is generally made up of the political bosses of the county,—the ones who are looking forward to the loaves and fishes. Why not let colored Democrats vote in a primary election? The politician says to himself: “That would never do; for then we would soon have the negro vote divided, and the bugaboo of negro supremacy would vanish like the mist before the sunshine, and my occupation, like Othello’s would be forever gone.”
Judging from the signs of the times, the professional partisan politicans, both South and North, have had their day, and honest, good men will soon rise up and administer the affairs of this nation in the interest of right and justice. Henry W. Grady uttered the true sentiments of the great mass of the Southern people, especially the farmers, when, in his speech before the New England Society of New York, he gave utterance to the following eloquent extract taken from that speech:—56
“But what of the negro? Have we solved the problem he presents, or progressed in honor and equity toward solution? Let the record speak to the point. No section shows a more prosperous laboring population than the negroes of the South; none in fuller sympathy with the employing and landowning class. He shares our school fund, has the fullest protection of our laws and the friendship of our people. Self-interest, as well as honor, demands that he should have this. Our future, our very existence, depends upon our working out this problem in full and exact justice. We understand that, when Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, your victory was assured, for he then committed you to the cause of human liberty, against which the arms of man cannot prevail [applause]—while those of our statesmen who trusted to make slavery the corner-stone of the Confederacy doomed us to defeat as far as they could, committing us to a cause that reason could not defend or the sword maintain in the sight of advancing civilization. [Renewed applause.]
“Had Mr. Toombs said, which he did not say, ‘that he would call the roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill,’ he would have been foolish, for he might have known that whenever slavery became entangled in war it must perish, and that the chattel in human flesh ended forever in New England when your fathers—not to be blamed for parting with what didn’t pay—sold their slaves to our fathers—not to be praised for knowing a paying thing when they saw it. [Laughter.] The relations of the Southern people with the negro are close and cordial. We remember with what fidelity for four years he guarded our defenceless women and children, whose husbands and fathers were fighting against his freedom. To his eternal credit be it said that, whenever he struck a blow for his own liberty he fought in open battle, and when at last he raised his black and humble hands that the shackles might be struck off, those hands were innocent of wrong against his helpless charges, and worthy to be taken in loving grasp by every man who honors loyalty and devotion. [Applause.] Ruffians have maltreated him, rascals have misled him, philanthropists established a bank for him, but the South with the North, protests against injustice to this simple and sincere people. To liberty and enfranchisement is as far as law can carry the negro. The rest must be left to conscience and common sense. It must be left to those among whom his lot is cast, with whom he is indossolubly connected, and whose prosperity depends upon their possessing his intelligent sympathy and confidence. Faith has been kept with him in spite of calumnious assertions to the contrary, by those who assume to speak for us, or by frank opponents. Faith will be kept with him in the future, if the South holds her reason and integrity. [Applause.]”57
The above was delivered before a Northern audience; and to show that Mr. Grady was perfectly sincere in every word he said on this subject, I will now give an extract from a speech delivered by him at the Augusta, Georgia, Exposition, in 1889, which is as follows:—
As for the negro, let us impress upon him what he already knows, that his best friends are the people among whom he lives, whose interests are one with his, and whose prosperity depends on his perfect contentment. Let us give him his uttermost rights, and measure out justice to him in that fulness the strong should always give to the weak. Let us educate him that he may be a better, a broader, and more enlightened man. Let us lead him in steadfast ways of citizenship, that he may not longer be the sport of the thoughtless, and the prey of the unscrupulous. Let us inspire him to follow the example of the worthy and upright of his race, who may be found in every community, and who increase steadily in numbers and influence. Let us strike hands with him as friends—and as in slavery we led him to heights which his race in Africa had never reached, so in freedom let us lead him to a prosperity of which his friends in the North have not dreamed. Let us make him know that he, depending more than any other on the protection and bounty of government, shall find in alliance with the best elements of the whites, the pledge of safe and impartial administration. And let us remember this—that whatever wrong we put on him shall return to punish us. Whatever we take from him in violence, that is unworthy and shall not endure. What we steal from hin in fraud, that is worse. But what we win from him in sympathy and affection, what we gain in his confiding alliance, and confirm in his awakening judgment, that is precious and shall endure—and out of it shall come healing and peace. [Applause.]”
Every time the partisan politician speaks on this subject he purposely complicates and makes it worse; but thanks to an all-wise Providence for the power that now rests in the hands of the Farmers’ Alliance, which has taken up this great question where the noble Grady laid it down. Until the advent of the Farmers’ Alliance, and Industrial Union and the Colored Farmers, the negroes, as a class, have taken but very little interest in politics for several years. They lost their former faith in politics and politicians, which was very natural to one acquainted with the fact that they had always been loyal partisans, and for their devotion and zeal they had been paid off with a few appointments as postmasters in, most generally, third or fourth-class postoffices.
Since the negroes have been organized into the Farmers’ Alliance, they have made considerable progress in the study of economic questions, and, judging from the utterances of their leaders, they are willing and anxious to sever all past party affiliations, and join hands with the white farmers of the South and West in any movement looking to a betterment of their condition. The white farmers of the South, while they are more reluctant to cut loose from party, are perfectly willing and ready to take the negro by the hand and say to him: We are citizens of the same great country; we have the same foes to face, the same ills to bear; therefore our interests as agriculturists are one, and we will co-operate with you, and defend and protect you in all your rights.
In proof of the above, I will simply submit the agreement entered into by the National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union and the Colored National Farmers’ Alliance and Co-operative Union, at their meetings in the city of Ocala, Florida, on the second day of December, 1890, which is as follows:—
“Your committee on above beg leave to report that we visited the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Co-operative Union Committee, and were received with the utmost cordiality, and after careful consultation it was mutually and unanimously agreed to unite our orders upon the basis adopted December 5, 1890, a basis between the National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union and the Farmers’ Mutual Benefit Association; to adopt the St. Louis platform as a common basis, and pledge our orders to work faithfully and earnestly for the election of legislators, State and national, who will enact the laws to carry out the demands of said platform; and to more effectually carry it into effect recommend the selection of five men from each national body, two of whom shall be the president and secretary, respectively, who shall, with similar committees from other labor organizations, form a Supreme Executive Board, who shall meet as often as may be deemed necessary, and upon the joint call of a majority of the presidents of the bodies joining the confederation; and when so assembled, after electing a chairman and secretary, shall be empowered to do such things for the mutual benefit of the various orders they represent as shall be deemed expedient; and shall, when officially promulgated to the national officers, be binding upon their bodies until reversed by the action of the national assemblies themselves—political, educational, and commercial; and hereby pledge ourselves to stand faithfully by each other in the great battle for the enfranchisement of labor and the laborers from the control of corporate and political rings; each order to bear its own members’ expense on the Supreme Council, and be entitled to as many votes as they have legal voters in their organization. We recommend and urge that equal facilities, educational, commercial, and political, be demanded for colored and white Alliance men alike, competency considered, and that a free ballot and a fair count will be insisted upon and had, for colored and white alike, by every true Alliance man in America. We further recommend that a plan of district Alliances, to conform to district Alliances provided for in this body, be adopted by every order in confederation, with a district lecturer, and county Alliances organized in every county possible, and that the lecturers and officers of said district and counties co-operate with each other in conventional, business, educational, commercial, and political matters.”
After the above agreement was entered into, the following communication was received from the Colored National Farmers’ Alliance and Co-operative Union:—
“To the National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union, convened at Ocala December 3, 1890: Alliance and Co-operative Union recognizes your fraternal greeting; gladly do we accept your right hand, and pledge ourselves to the fullest co-operation and confederation in all essential things.”
To one who feels a deep interest in this matter, this looks more like a step in the direction of settling this question in the South than anything that has ever been done since the question existed.
“God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform,” and who knows but that he has raised up a Moses, in the person of these farmers’ organizations, to lead us out of these our troubles? So mot it be.
N. A. Dunning (ed.), The Farmers’ Alliance History and Agricultural Digest (Washington, D.C., 1891), pp. 273–80.
April 30, 1891
Dear Sir & Bro.
A letter from Bro. R. M. Humphrey informs me that you want an organizer for The Col. Alliance in your county. I recommend Rev. W. A. Pattillo, who is State Lect. & Organizer, he has been in the work for a long time, is perfectly reliable.
Elias Carr Papers, Eastern Carolina University
Granville County, North Carolina
April 30, 1891
Please report progress if any for your part of the state. I have been in the Southern & Western parts of the state with very good success. But very hard work. I was assisted by Col. & White Alliance men which was great help. I would like to know when you think would be a good time for me to come down East? Let me hear from you.
Elias Carr Papers, East Carolina University
May 17, 1891
Dear Sir & Bro.
Yours received & noted—Rev. Pattillo knows how to manage his people better than anyone I know. He has been true to the best interest of the Alliance from beginning. I will give as my experience with the Col. Alliance that you need not expect to organize the Negro to-day & expect him to vote with us to-morrow. But first organize them because their interest & ours as farmers & laborers are the same, and teach them—they will then if called on vote with us for our good & theirs—You understand all this—Excuse haste for I am pushed with work. Would it not be to the interest of your County to join this Exchange? If you think so & will let us know when & where your next County meeting is to be held Mr. West or myself will try to visit and explain its workings, etc.
Elias Carr Papers, East Carolina University
Some Southern representatives might have replied, that politically, in giving offices to the Colored man, in business, by giving him employment and in some other respects, the South does recognize him as a man to a greater extent than the North. Socially, the South draws a broader line of demarkation than the North, but otherwise it gives the Colored man far better opportunities than the South.
The Appeal (St. Paul), June 20, 1891.
The idea of conflict of interest between the whites and blacks of the South is a great absurdity. The fact is, that they are to a great extent mutually dependent upon each other, and therefore that the most perfect harmony and unity of interest must exist. The Southern farmer knows and feels it is his duty to protect and assist the poor colored people who are his neighbors. No one realizes better than he, if he allows sharpers to swindle the colored man by paying him excessively low prices for his cotton, by taking advantage of his necessity for money, that the flooding of the market with cotton at such low prices will tend to keep prices low until others whose necessity for money was less at the beginning of the season are also compelled to sell at the same low prices, and their sales will tend to perpetuate the low prices until all the crop is sacrificed on the same rock. The fact is, that the law of self-preservation compels the Southern white farmer to take the Southern black farmer by the hand and hold him out of the clutches of the exploiter who every year manipulates the volume of moneys as to develop the “power of money to oppress.”
National Economist, July 4, 1891.
An Interesting Meeting—Officers Elected—The Speech of President Williams of the Va. I.M.& B. Association
The meeting of the Colored Farmers Alliances of the State of Virginia held its second annual meeting August 8th and 10th, ‘91, Richmond, Va., 10:30 A.M. Hon. R. M. Humphrey of Houston, Texas called the convention to order. As J. J. Rogers, State Superintendent failed by some means to put in his appearance, M. F. Jones of Lynchburg, Va., was made Secretary. Brother Humphrey gave a good talk and able instruction to the meeting.
The examination of credentials of delegates was the next business taken up.
This being done W. H. Warwick, State Lecturer and Organizer of Virginia, requested the general Superintendent to explain fully to the convention how the exchange should be conducted, as there existed grave doubts as to its proper management, which was done with no hesitance. By motion of E. D. Howell, a committee of (5) five was appointed to go to Norfolk and have an examination of the books and report its condition. W. H. Warwick, E. Austin, Jr., M. F. Jones, R. A. Manson and A. J. Doswell. The question of subscribing to the “National Alliance,” a paper published for the benefit of the organization was discussed with the hope of getting all the members to subscribe for it.
By motion of R. S. Hukless a committee of (7) seven was appointed on permanent organization—committee: W. Williamson, R. A. Manson, R. S. Hukless, S. H. Mayo, Jr., J. B. Riddle, E. Austin, Jr., and E. D. Howell.
By motion of M. F. Jones, the President of the Va. Industrial, Mercantile and Building Association was extended an invitation to address the convention and that a committee of three be appointed—J. B. Riddle, John Smith and M. F. Jones. Hon. R. M. Humphrey left on Sunday the 9th inst.
By motion of M. F. Jones a committee of (3) three was appointed to draw up a circular letter getting forth paramount work of the convention and the change of officers, etc. H. C. Green, F. R. Ivy, and M. F. Jones.
Promptly at 2 P.M. on the 2nd day the chair declared that order of the hour was the election officers.
Report of Committee on permanent organization. For Superintendent of State, W. H. Warwick vs. J. J. Rogers, Trustees: R. A. Manson vs. D. C. Beazley, M. F. Jones vs. H. C. Green, A. J. Doswell vs. J. T. Kinney. Tellers: J. A. Lee and F. B. Ivy. The officers were ballotted for and the votes resulted as follows:
For State Superintendent W. H. Warwick, for Trustees: R. A. Manson, M. F. Jones and A. J. Doswell. The Supt. elect came forward with gratitude to the convention for the honor conferred upon him, in like manner followed the Trustees.
By motion of J. B. Riddle the convention proceeded to elect a Board of Directors consistinf 11 members.
By motion of W. H. Warwick, the “Midland Express,” was adopted as the State organ of the Colored Farmers Alliance.
By motion of A. J. Doswell a committee of (7) seven was appointed on legislation—A. J. Doswell, H. C. Green, J. W. Cary, F. B. Ivy, W. H. Warwick, B. Ellis, and J. B. Riddle.
By motion of A. J. Doswell a committee of (5) five was appointed on resolutions. H. H. Jenkins, A. B. Goins, E. Austin, Jr., J. T. Kinney and D. C. Beasley
The hour having arrived to hear an address by the president of Virginia Industrial, Mercantile and Building Association,
Mr. Chairman and members of the Colored Farmers National Alliance of Virginia:
It is with no small degree of pleasure that I accept the invitation extended to me to address you on this occasion. I will say however, that you may congratulate yourselves upon the opportunity offered you to meet here in this our city, under the dome of the Capitol of our honored old State, distinguished for her statesmen, her orators, and her liberal and intelligent citizens. I take the liberty to welcome you in our midst, to our homes and to the common pleasures we enjoy.
We do not hesitate to acknowledge our allegiance to the farmers, and to confess our dependence upon them for our food, clothes, and to some extent our fuel. We are extremely dependent upon you for the privileges of going to your farms where we enjoy the refreshing country air, inhale the odor of the fresh mown hay,—a relish that cannot be enjoyed in the crowded and noisy city.
In coming before you, I do not come in the capacity of a politician nor do I have any political aspiration other than the position we may be placed in, will demand, but I come before you as one interested in a dependent, and to some extent an oppressed people. I come to you as one who views the condition of the colored people of this country similar to that of the sinner from a Biblical standpoint. Wherein it was said, “First seek ye the kingdom of Heaven and all things shall be added unto you, so also, I say to the colored people first seek religion, and acquire the possession of wealth, and other things will be added.
I would have you be cognizant of the above fact, irresponsible, dependent, thriftless people cannot demand anything, politically, materially, and but a very little intellectually, regardless of their number.
Next came the Freemen’s Bank, that was managed by some one else; ever since that, some of us have been thinking that our “Salvation” was hanging upon politics, but careful study and experience have proven that we lose more such than we gain, since we have had so many faulty leaders to contend with.
The right to vote, we do not deny, but we do say that there is but little to be gained by any people with nothing in hand except a bare ticket, without something to back it. This is not the age for us to be a slave to any political party, but on the contrary we should launch our boats out into the seas of industry and trust God to steer them aright.
When we have our own houses, not only for the use of ourselves, but rented, out to others; when we can shake hands with skill and industry in every department with our own capital, bosses and clerks, then and not until then, will we receive that recognition for which we are each day struggling. It has been said by one “That he who would be free must himself strike the blow.” If we would be free, independent and progressive and grow to an intelligent race, we must ourselves, make the effort, and our friends (the better element of the white race), will assist us. When we do this we will only do what the better classes of white people have advised us to do. They have said don’t take up all of your time with politics, but buy homes, build houses, run business, and educate your children and we will help you.
I feel it due the best element of white people to say, that the colored man has but little to fear from the old-fashioned aristocratic Southern gentlemen, those who know the real character and disposition of the colored people, and who were to some extent brought up around the colored mamma’s knees.
We, having come up out of the wilderness of slavery have a double duty to perform, by struggling to get our cattle upon a thousand hills; our manufactories, our stores and commission houses. When we will have done these things, we will have access to the legislative halls and after getting there we will have something to represent.
We must acknowledge our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the white people for the good they have done us, and are still doing, yet we are not forgetting of the fact, they claim to like Negroes in their places, and will assist them.
Now, if being courteous and polite means staying in our places, we do that. But they claim we get out of our places when we run for public office to dominate or rule over them. This they claim we shall not do, North as well as South, but they say if we want office, start up business among ourselves, buy homes, build houses, run manufactories, stores, and commission houses, and they will help us, thus making offices for our young men and women when they come out from the schools and colleges with a classical edu-
It is, gentlemen, for this reason I address you, with the full assurance of support from our good white friends from all over the land. We are in a good position to make a break for the buiness world. We have our farmers to supply, our commission houses and our wood yeards, and we have purchasers for our goods, clerks for our stores, and renters for our houses and capital to carry on these things if we would only put it together.
We have in the cities our Mechanics, our Lawyers, our Doctors, our Bank and our young ladies whose voices can warble like birds, and render such melodious music that one is lulled in the noon day, at its sound.
Thus we see the importance of uniting our forces,—the forces of the colored people in the country and those of the city, co-operating together in one gigantic business institution.
I am glad to know you all are so well organized because in union there is strength, there is power, a power that can be used either for a good or bad purpose. It is for you all, as colored Farmers Alliance to say whether you are receiving any benefit from your order or not, it is for you to say whether you have any of your people at the great chief-head in the big office where the money goes.
I know the deputies face the cold winter’s wind and are scorched by the hot burning summer’s sun, traveling to and fro to organize these sub-branches,also I know many of your members are guided to their humble homes by nothing but the mid-night star, traveling weariedly and slowly from your lodge or hall rooms where you meet from time to time paying your dues and discussing subjects tending to your advancement. Whether you accrue any benefits, I am unable to say, if you do not, however, then we say it is time to call a halt in that direction and co-operate and associate yourselves with the Va. I.M. & B.A., an organization run by your people, where the clerks in the main office are your people, and where the profits will go to your people. If you do these things we will be on the road to success.
There is a lack of confidence we have in ourselves, that must be relegated to the rear. If you find a dishonest person in charge of your affairs, don’t break up the concern, but throw him over the battlement, as did God when “Lucifer the Great” became unruly, and let the good work go on.
Let us be inspired and confide in each other and we will be better citizens; we can pay more to support the government, and will be more respected by our white brother.
Fear not to step out into the free air of independence, be not content to bear others fruits. We inhale the common air, and bask in the universal sunshine. We glory in the grass, the passing clouds and the flowers. And we must unite our forces for good.
The Association of which I have been honored with the Presidency, proposes to raise a capital from the colored people and establish stores and other business enterprises in the several counties and cities in this and other States, that we might get a portion of the millions of dollars that are spent in purchasing the various commodities for the support of ourselves and families.
This Association when successfully put into operation will spread its wing over our common country and give employment to thousands of our young men and women who are to-day crowding the doors of our school houses and institutions, and being graduated yearly, going forth into the world empty handed and seeking employment where it cannot be found. We must join hands for the purpose of opening up the avenues of industry, and put in motion the wheel of industry so our children can seek employment at our hands. Our present condition and mode of procedure relative to this matter, demands our immediate attention. Unless something is done to better the condition, we will never tread the paths of progress which leads to highest peaks of independence.
Our capital stock is $100,000—divided into shares of $5.00 each. And in order to keep down monoply, no one will be allowed to buy more than one-twentieth of the Capital Stock. The shares of stock are transferable and will give a perpetual income to the widows and orphans after the death of the holder or holders. The only after payment is a semi-annual fee of twenty-five cents.
A dividend of the net earnings of the Association will be declared annually, State Fairs will be given annually under the auspices of the Association and each share-holder will receive an equal proportion of the profits accruing therefrom.
Will this not help to ameliorate our condition and give us some standing in the business world, and receive that recognition we are so unjustly denied—“Get hold of the strings of the purses of gold and the doors of the palaces will swing wide to bid you welcome.”
Thanking you for the honored invitation and courteous attention I conclude, hoping that I have at least started you to thinking, and the thoughts arising, will cause you to exclaim with one accord. We are you, we are with you.
Mr. Williams gave an excellent address touching on what the Negro should do to become a nation. He said many things to inspire on the one hand and to be desired on the other, after which the chair and E. Austin, Jr., responded in behalf of the convention. M. F. Jones offered a resolution showing how important it is to have our people united upon the two bodies co-operate as far as practicable.
National delegates and alternates: W. H. Warwick and M. F. Jones; E. Austin Jr., and R. A. Manson, Alternates.
Mr. Chairman—I have a resolution to offer in connection with the address just delivered.
WHEREAS, George Williams, Jr., Esq., president of the Virginia, Industrial, Mercantile and Building Association has met us, the C.F.A. in the State meeting now convened and delivered a speech setting forth the aims and objects of the aforesaid institution, and
WHEREAS, we are made glad to know that out of its growth, the Negro is to be blessed and by its influence, “Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God;” and,
WHEREAS, we view on every hand that which promises to us as a race a brighter future in business, trade, art and education, it is not for us to hesitate when for us to succeed we must focolize our aims, energies and business tact on one united effort and must concentrate our powers, geniuses and means on that business principle which elevates us to the topmost platform of the business world, by bridging over every chasm of discord by the sweet fragrance of a hearty co-operation by tearing down every mountain of opposition by “gordian knot” of a solid union. And,
WHEREAS he who would be free from the lethargy, or ugly monster of Independence must strike the first blow; Therefore be it,
RESOLVED that we do now co-operate with the Virginia Industrial Mercantile and Building Association when such terms of co-operation can be agreed upon for the following reasons:
1st. Because our objects and declaration of purposes are one, and have entwined themselves as a net work.
2nd. Because, it is impossible for either to be what it should be in strength and efficacy both competitors with the same prize in view.
3rd. Because our means are small and our needs can only be appeased by unity and city and country alike, must come to the redemption of the race.
4th. Because the State Fair cannot be a success unless we clasp our hands into a firm co-operation and unite the Negro in-to-to.
5th. Because two organizations with aims and objects so closely related as these two can’t successfully move along in their present attitude without jealousy of one encroaching upon the rights of the other, to some extent from which a friction would set in—detrimental to each.
WHEREAS, our sojourn here has been so pleasant and interesting, and since we have been so cordially received by the citizens of this city,
RESOLVED, that we tender our sincere thanks to the citizens and friends of this city for their kind hospitality; and also to the judge of Henrico county for his kindness in giving us the use of the Court House. Also be it
RESOLVED, That we extend our thanks to the reporters of the city papers who have so carefully published our work.
E. AUSTIN, Jr.
Richmond Planet, August 15, 1891.
23. THE CONVICT LEASE SYSTEM 58
The country has recently been considerably agitated over the convict troubles in Tennessee. This is no new thing. The same question has been the cause of more or less agitation for a number of years. Every labor platform of modern times has announced against the competition of convict labor with free labor. It has been an issue to a greater or less extent in nearly every State election of modern times. A candidate who desired popularity with the masses has simply announced against it, to secure his election, and still the tendency has been for the Legislatures to perpetuate the system, apparently in order to lessen the expenses of conducting the penitentiaries.
There are some fundamental principles involved in the question that it is well at this time to consider. First, the government has a duty to perform. Second, the people have rights which should be respected. Third, the convicts themselves have rights which should be respected.
The duties of the government in regard to criminal offense, and criminals who commit them are indicated by its duty to society in general. In the exercise of its plain and evident duty to protect the individual in the pursuit of happiness and the peaceable enjoyment of the fruits of his own labor, it is evidently its duty to restrain those who would violate this pursuit and this enjoyment. If, in order to secura that end, it becomes necessary to deprive some citizen of his liberty, even that is considered justifiable, as a matter of absolute right. No one in this day and time will for a moment contend that the government has a right to inflict any punishment as a matter of retribution. Retribution, revenge, or even chastisement is entirely beyond the province of government as now understood. The only theory on which it is pretended to justify the government in depriving a citizen of his liberty is, that he exercises his liberty so as to be a menace to the freedom and happiness of the public and in such a manner that the public good requires he should be restrained. True, restraint is practically a punishment to him or a condition which is disagreeable to him; which fact being generally known will deter others from engaging in like unlawful passages. The plain duty of the government, while such person is under confinement or restraint from his liberty, is to reform, instead of punish him, if possible. The duty of the government is then to restrain from liberty those persons whose course when at large seems to threaten the peace of society or the safety of property. In doing this, it should conduct the restraint in such a manner as to be at the least expense to society at large, and to interfere in the least possible way with the individual rights of the person so confined or restrained from liberty. This points out a rational way of diminishing crime. It can never be diminished by retribution, revenge and punishment. It can only be diminished by education and proper restraints.
The rights of the public are largely foreshadowed in the above description of the duties of the government. The public has the right to insist that the government shall protect each citizen in the pursuit of happiness and in the peaceable enjoyment of the fruits of his labor, and that for this purpose the government shall deprive such persons of their liberty as would violate these plain rights. That in depriving such persons of their liberty for the benefit of the general good, the government shall incur as little expense as possible in maintaining the institutions necessary to secure their confinement. The other rights of the public will be better shown by consideration of the rights of the criminal.
The rights of the criminal are all the rights of the citizen except that of liberty or personal freedom. He is under a restraint imposed for the good of society. One of his rights has been taken from him by due process of law for the benefit of the whole community, and that one alone is the only one that either the community or the government has a right to deprive him of. But in doing that, the rights of others may be invaded. For example, take a criminal who has an innocent wife and children, with no means of support except his labors; when the government deprives him of his liberty and confines him in prison, it makes paupers of his wife and children. They may be innocent and pure. He may in spite of his crimes love them as sincerely as is possible for man to love and be desirous of the chance to labor for their support; evidently the government or society has no right to deny him that privilege if he can do it. And this brings out the point that while society and the government has a right to deny him his liberty, they have no right to appropriate the fruits of his labor. There are many convicts who would work diligently and pay all the expenses of their own support and guarding, as they are supported and guarded, and make enough money besides to support their families, if they only had a chance. Of course there are many who would not, but there are some who would, and hence many believe no government has a right to sell the labor of the convicts to contractors at all. All condemn the evil of selling such labor at a nominal price, so that it brings nothing to the convict or the government; but go to the contractor, and they enable him to cut prices on the product and interfere with the labor market of the country outside. This system, is introducing a species of slavery to compete with the free labor of the country, in violation of a fixed principle of justice. Every single article that is a product of the labor or a convict should be sold by the government at the highest market price for like commodities anywhere in the United States and the proceeds set apart for the use of the convict or his family as may be best for him in the long run. Under such a system of administration based on right and justice, the products of convict labor would not demoralize prices and come into any unfair competition with the products of labor on the outside, consequently it would tend toward preserving the rights of the public in this particular as well as those of the convicts. It would stop an iniquitous system of jobbing whereby a few men were enabled to appropriate the labor of thousands of slaves and use it to demoralize the prices of honest labor. Again, such a condition or such a system would be a great incentive to the convicts to labor and reform, because those who had loved ones to support would find that in their own exertion they had the ability to do so, and those who had not but had been impelled to crime by sloth, would find that they could lay up a snug sum during their confinement, which upon liberation would enable them to have a start in life which might prevent them from ever again being exposed to like temptation. It would tend to make the prison self-sustaining, because those who work of their own volition will do more, and turn out more, and be more easily managed, than those who are forced to work by whip and punishment with no signs of reward ahead. The public need fear no competition from convict made goods where the labor was not jobbed off by contract, but where everything was done under government supervision and the products sold at the highest market price for like commodities. As long as prices are not demoralized by the competition of convict made commodities there is no injustice. They would work the same outside. It is not a question, however, for solution in a single day. It has been a long time growing up, and it has been for some time creating more or less dissatisfaction which seems certainly to foretend the speedy termination of the convict lease system.
Many other potent reasons might be given for its termination, but in this article the effort has been simply to strike at some of the fundamental principles involved, and show that the abuses all depend on evils in principles that underlie the system.
The National Economist, August 15, 1891.
National Alliance (Houston, Tex.) says: We have notice from many of the white Alliance lecturers and leaders that the Colored Alliance members will be welcome at the camp meetings, and will receive all possible attention and instruction. We hope that a great many of our people will avail themselves of these opportunities. Applications come to us daily from the Alliance who want lecturers. In most of the States our lecturers complain to us that they have not been supported and cannot continue to work without better pay. We therefore rejoice at the invitations extended our members to attend the white people’s camp meetings and hear them. We beg you to attend. It will do you good.
National Economist, August 22, 1891.
To the Presidents of State Alliances, State Unions, State Agricultural Societies and other Agricultural Associations of the Cotton States:
In pursuance of resolutions adopted by the State Alliances of South Carolina, Georgia and other cotton States, a convention of delegates from all State organizations interested in the cultivation of cotton, its manufacture or sale, are hereby called to meet in Atlanta on Tuesday, September 14.
We expect every agricultural State organization of the cotton States to send delegates, colored as well as white. Every question connected with the cotton crop of the South will be under discussion. Come one, come all.
National Economist, September 12, 1891.
At the convention of the Farmers’ Alliance, or Peoples party, in Texas, there were a few Afro-American delegates. Upon the attitude that the Alliance should bear to the Afro-American in that State, there was considerable discussion, and greater freedom of speech was permitted to the delegates than they have ever had in any political convention outside of the Republican party, and as a result two of them were put on the committee representing the State at large, but whose special work should be among Afro-Americans.
The Plaindealer has always welcomed these side issues in the South, since for a time it sets faction against faction among the bourbons, and opens a wedge for free speech and greater political liberty, and enables the race to make a step forward. Some impression, too, is made by these issues, toward dividing the whites on political subjects, impels all to enlist the support of the Afro-American, causing them also to divide on issues, unrestrained by a unity of purpose growing out of their condition.
Free speech in Texas in the ordinary assembly, unless used in glorifying the lost cause and eulogizing its dead and living leaders, and abusing Washington and Lincoln, has not been tolerated, and they who used it otherwise than according to Texas thought, did so at their peril, hence it is that the position assumed by Afro-American delegates seems all the more encouraging from the sturdy independence manifested. The Plaindealer gives a part of the debate to show its nature.59
The speaker having referred to the claims of the colored man, the following colloquy followed.
Melvin Ward, colored,—I would like to know what you mean by considering the colored men’s claims in contradistinction to the claims of any other citizen of the United States?
The chair disclaimed drawing distinctions. He had been asked who were entitled to work in the organization. The committee would proclaim the answer to the world.
Captain Evans—Every colored citizen in these United States has the same privileges that any white citizen has, and that is what is meant.
Melvin Ward—When it comes down to practice, such is not the fact. If we are equal why does not the Sheriff summon Negroes on juries? And why hang up the sign “Negro” in passenger cars? I want to tell my people what the People’s party is going to do. I want to tell them that it is going to work a black and a white horse in the same field.
The Chair—That is what I mean in bringing it before the committee, so that they should know our action,
Dr. Harris suggested that there be white and colored clubs, and let them confer together.
Mr. Johnson—Resolved that each Congressional district, through its chairman, appoint one colored man to co-operate with those already appointed in the organization of the People’s party.
A delegate—This will not do. The colored people are a part of the people and they must be recognized as such.
Colored Delegate Hayes—If you cannot take us and elect us in this convention we will not thank you. We do not propose to be appointed by chairman. You must appoint us by the convention and make us feel that we are men. You will lose in spite of the devil and high water if you do not treat the Negro squarely.
Captain Evans—We have no disposition to ostracize the colored people, but they are poorly represented here. The only thing we can do in the absence of their representation is to elect a representative for the State at large, and I recommend that Mr. Hayes be elected, and let him organize the colored people in harmony with the People’s party.
Detroit Plaindealer, September 18, 1891.
The Times Democrat of New Orleans professes to be much disturbed over the growth of the Farmers’ Alliance in that State, because it seems to augur a split among the whites. The Plaindealer most earnestly wishes that such a condition as is described below may come, for out of it something better might come to the Afro-American in that State.
“What we have fought against—a split among the whites, a white movement against the Democratic party—has come at last, and we do not think the danger can be over-estimated. The new party has in its platform a plank that is extremely popular with the farmers, and is winning converts among them throughout the Union; it has a National organization behind it, very strong in some of the States, and very active and ambitious; it has a good backing of white voters in North Louisiana; and it has some tens of thousands of Negro voters already organized in its interest, and pledged to carry out its aims and purposes. Here is the nucleus of a new party, and what is worse, there is division in the ranks of the whites among the Democrats who have fought side by side in former battles.
We have laid the facts before the people because we think the Democrats should make every possible effort to meet the new party at the very beginning, and do all in their power to crush it out before it becomes too dangerous, and because we believe that every effort should be made to show the men who are embarking in this movement how dangerous it is to peace and the political future of Louisiana.
There is no State in the South that can stand a third party just now. A movement of this kind turned over Virginia to the Republicans, and Arkansas made a very narrow escape. Louisiana is threatened with the danger to-day, and will escape only by antagonizing and opposing in every way possible this third party movement, which has been presented to the voters by leading lights in the Farmers’ Alliance.
Detroit Plaindealer, October 2, 1891.
The Farmers’ Alliance, which is now a thorn in the flesh of the old-line bourbon, is protesting that every man must have a fair chance to vote, and have his vote counted. It occurs to the Plaindealer that Governor Tillman of South Carolina made similar promises when he needed the Afro-American vote to place him where he is. After election he imitated Andrew Johnson in catering to the rankest bourbon ideas in trying to edge himself into the society of the bloods. He has been snubbed at every attempt, and will no doubt join with other Alliance men again in crying for a free ballot and a fair count.60
Detroit Plaindealer, October 9, 1891.
The New Orleans Picayune, of a recent date, has an editorial on “The Negro Alliance in the Cotton Field,” the tone of which, coming from the source it does, is a compliment to the Negro’s perspicuity and general business sagacity, that is quite worthy of notice.
“When the white farm proprietors formed their Alliance, the Negro farm laborers imitated the example and also organized an Alliance. The white agriculturists encouraged their colored brothers in establishing these secret organizations, fully expecting to use them in forwarding their own special schemes. But the Negroes, recognizing their opportunity to do something for their own advantage, lost no time in learning the lesson taught them by the whites. If the farm proprietors can use a secret, oathbound order to further their interests there is no sort of reason why the Negro farm laborers should not use a secret organization for the own ends, and to remove all doubts on the subject the Negroes have consumated just such an undertaking. While the white Alliance has been working away at its Sub-treasury scheme the Negroes appear to have busied themselves with something decidely more practical. They have not troubled themselves about converting the National Government into a money-lending concern, nor do they seem to care whether or not the Government shall ever control the railways and all other private corporations. What is of vastly more importance to the black brothers of the Alliance is that there shall be an increase in the wages of the laborers who gather the cotton crop.
While the white farmers are figuring on great questions of State policy the black brothers, in the secrecy of their fraternal order, have decreed that the wages of cotton pickers shall be doubled. That is enough to knock all the brotherhood out of the bosoms of the white membership. It may be ten or one hundred years before the sub-treasury business can be put in operation, but this cotton-picking business takes effect at once. In view of the extreme low price of cotton this doubling of the price gathering the crop is a stunning blow.”
But while The Picayune, unconsciously perhaps, compliments the Negro, true to its bourbon instincts, it scents danger and commercial evil in this secret organization, and the union of the Negroes, and is disposed, as the following language implies to place the blame where, in its judgment, it belongs:
“The farmers (the white) will have only to thank themselves for this new trouble, but recrimination and criticism can do no good to relieve the evil. It is to be hoped that the disease has not spread extensively.”
Per contrary to The Picayune, let us hope that the “disease,” if so it is, will continue to spread until the great principle of racial union and co-operation is understood by all the race, and being understood, will, upon all occasions, and for all purposes, be acted upon.
In union there is indeed strength, force and directness, and without it, little, if anything can ever be accomplished for good in the multipled interest of a people. It is for this reason that this move on the part of the Negro farmers is a significant one, full of hopeful signs.
When the Negro race, as a whole, learns to observe and guard their racial interests, in labor marts, by uniting in demands for a just and fair equivalent for physical strength expended, it may also learn to demand a just and fair equivalent for influence and aid extended through the avenue of the ballot.
The only difference between the tyrants of labor and the tyrants of political parties, is this: the former grows rich and arrogant from the profits of labor expended in their service, frequently ill paid, while the latter grows famous, sometimes very rich, and generally arrogant, from the political fealty of voters, that in the case of Negro voters, especially, has never been appreciated at their just valuation.
The Freeman (Indianapolis,) October 10, 1891.
Their plea has been and is justice for the farmers, and in pursuance thereof they make many complaints, and claim a good many things. Especially do they murmur at unjust laws and their discrimination against them as a class, all of which reminds us of the old saw, “that it makes a great difference whose ox gets gored.”
Among a great many accusations, they make ‘plaint that the halls of legislation are closed against them, their burden of taxation is too much, that they are not fairly represented in the national halls of legislation, and while the manufacture’s and corporate interests engage the attention of the Solons, their’s are completely ignored and avoided.
For all of these reasons they are sick and disgusted with both the old parties, and in the name of a suffering class demand a new deal that will comprehend within its broad embrace, the abolition of the national banking system, a recreation of the currency, the free coinage of silver, more paper money, and a series of Government loans for the especial delectation and benefit of farmers, and in accordance with the white man’s nature when in distress, they are shouting “good nigger,” and inviting him to help them out of their supposed dillema.
Should the colored man help them, and are their demands consistent with the kind of treatment that for over a quarter of a century they have stood by in silence and saw meted out to him?
Most of the southern delegates came from States, that since the war have never known such a thing as honest elections.
Within twenty-five years, scores of men have been sent to Congress, who secured their seats through fraud intimidation and murder.
These Southern Alliance delegates, who were present with us last week in Indianapolis, know this to be true, and in many instances, no doubt have been active procurators of such crimes.
Thousands of colored voters and farmers have been made the victims of these machinations and outrages, and these self-same, white farmers, who are shouting now, “Help me Casius or I sink,”—have either assisted to make them victims, or have stood placidly by chewing the cud of indirrerence, while it was being done.
“Those who seek equity must first do equity” is a principle of chancery jurisprudence, older than most of the thrones of the world.
Strange how this class of American citizens, who have been so long blind to the injustice meted out to their black fellow-citizens, are so suddenly and violently moved, to demand it in pugnacious tones, for themselves.
They would appear in a much more consistent plight, did they first commence by demanding that the rights and opportunities that for nearly twenty years, the Negro has been robbed of in the southland, be restored and given back to him.
They hold their hands up for succor and relief, but those hands are dripping with blood, and are marked with “damn’d spots that will not out.”
They desire free silver. Let them first guarantee to their brother in black, a free ballot, and an honest count. If government should control railroads, why, by the same course of reasoning should not government control elections, for we say to these ex-Negro haters, masquerading in the guise of “friendly farmers” that that principle that demands for the humblest black man of the South, full and perfect protection, in his constitutional rights as an American citizen, is a million times more vital, to the future of this huge misruled commonwealth than every one of the prayed for reforms demanded by the Farmer’s Convention.
Let the southern farmers first remove the mote from their own eye, before they point with leering gaze to the beam contained in others eyes.
They have worked iniquity for many years against the Negro of the South, and until they shall show some signs of purging themselves of these habits, and the stain they have left upon their souls, let the Negro look to himself, and “beware of the Greek’s bearing gifts.”
The Freeman (Indianapolis), November 28, 1891.
Is It Favored by Ex-President Cleveland?
When Grover Cleveland was inducted into office, Frederick Douglas (colored), an appointee of President Arthur, was Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia. This office is an exceedingly desirable one as the estimated fees run up the income of the incumbent from twenty to thirty thousand dollars per year. Making it a salaried office at $6,000 per annum has been agitated, but politics forbid, and the old custom of collecting fees still predominates. The activity in the real estate market of the District for the last few years has been great, and the consequent income of the recorder much enhanced thereby.61
Mr. Douglas was retained in office by Mr. Cleveland, as he himself states, almost a year; was allowed to then resign, and a colored man from Albany, N. Y., by the name of Matthews, named by the President. This nomination, strange to relate, was received with such disfavor by a Republican Senate, that in executive (secret) session it absolutely refused to confirm it. Mr. Cleveland, entire unabashed, energetically applied himself to scouring the country for another man of the same race, and finally supplied his desire by the appointment of one Trotter, from Boston, Mass., also a negro, whom the Senate, it is claimed reluctantly confirmed to get the matter out of its way. Recorder Trotter, during his administration of office, fell seriously ill. A wag of Washington, knowing the temper of its people, which was in no wise friendly to the colored incumbent and his force of dusky assistants, male and female, who aggravated the business men during their visits to the office by stern admonitions to “heed the rules and remove their hats in the presence of ladies,” etc., went about the streets asking people:
“Did you know Cleveland’s black Trotter was sick?” which greatly amused the citizens and passed into a standing joke.62
Feeling ran so high over this appointment that a resident of the Capitol hired a band to parade the streets one night playing only one air—“There’s a New Coon in Town”—and round and round the White House reverberated these strains as the band marched, according to orders, back and forth past it.
The city was ablaze with comment next day, and dozens of witnesses can be produced to testify to the occurrence.
Mr. Trotter was succeeded by the appointee of Mr. Harrison, ex-Senator Bruce (colored), of Mississippi, who to-day fills the office.63
The deductions to be drawn from these facts are: First. The Recordership of Deeds in the District of Columbia is a spoil of office pledged to the colored vote. Second. The people of the District, having no suffrage recognition, are despised by the President in their claim to fill the office with some man of known ability and local popularity. Third. Mr. Cleveland proved his complete subserviency to either prejudice in favor of a colored office holder or some existing deal with dictating powers.
Touching the slight, put publicly upon Miss Winnie Davis, by President Cleveland and wife, nothing more need be said than that it was the sensation of the day in press and social circles, and occurred at Richmond, Va., when Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland were the guests of the city and invited by its citizens to meet Miss Davis at a grand reception. Mrs. Cleveland declined, explaining as reason for doing so, that they considered it highly impolite to fraternize with the daughter of Ex-President Davis of confederate record. Col. R. Q. Washington, the nestor of the Washington Press, during the Chicago convention, published over his signature in the Fort Worth Gazette, (Texas), a letter from which some extracts are made. Col. Washington, let it remembered is responsible for the following utterances:
Time passed. Mr. Cleveland was sworn into office and recited his inaugural. It was very hard pulling on the part of Southern Congressmen to get him to remove the Republican officeholders in the South, and it was not done finally on the ground that they were Republicans, but on a side issue of alleged misconduct in office and pernicious activity in politics. But one thing seemed very queer. Fred Douglas held the most lucrative office in Washington, that of Recorder of Deeds, and he was not removed. Douglas had systemically slandered the South and the Democratic party, but despite all this it was given out that the President did not propose to turn him out at all, but accept his resignation at some distant day that would suit his convenience. And this proved to be strictly true. Douglas staid in office about a year after Mr. Cleveland became President. Meantime winter came, and with winter the fashionable season. The President gave three grand receptions, one to the Diplomatic Corps., one to the House of Congress and a third to the officers of the army and navy. The receptions were regarded as grand and select affairs. Out of some 65,000,000 of the American people, only 1200 or 1500 persons in all were invited. There appeared at the White House, at the very first reception, Fred Douglas with his white wife on his arm, and, also, a colored daughter by his former wife. Here you have social equality and miscegenation both condoned and patronized by a Democratic President of the United States.64
Douglas did not get there by any precedent or intrusion; he did not invite himself. He was at home there, and as much at home as any guest of the evening. Mr. Cleveland treated him and the white woman he married with fully as much respect as he accorded the wives and daughters of the Southerners who were present. The publication of this fact in the papers caused considerable surprise and comment, many supposing there had been some mistake about Douglas getting in that reception, but all doubt on this point was put to rest when, at the second reception, Douglas and his family again appeared to meet a most cordial greeting from Mr. Cleveland. There was more comment in the press, and there was a third reception of specially invited guests, the public being excluded. Again Fred Douglas was there with his family, placed by the President on the highest plane of social equality to which he, in his wildest dreams, had ever aspired.
It was now summertime, in leafy June, and all the fashion and magnates of the federal city were assembled at Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland’s wedding reception. Douglas was no longer in office. He had resigned, sometime before, and the President not being able to find a white man to suit him, had appointed another negro to the office, one imported from Albany for this very purpose. Douglas was not now in office, and, indeed, was not even in Washington. If he came at all to the reception it must be by reason of an invitation to him as a private citizen, but he did come. He came on from New York, figured prominently at the wedding reception and stated freely that he would not have come at all save to attend the reception, once again the favored guest. The Southern whites present had whatever doubtful honor might be gathered from the opportunity accorded them by the President.
It was a grand achievement, truly, for Mr. Cleveland to thus blend the races, and we may presume that he was both happy and pround of it. Where were the voices of the honored and usually outspoken men in public life condemning this attempt to commit the Democratic party by the highest example it could offer to the doctrine of negro equality?
Colonel Washington next quoates Fred Douglas upon the subject of President Cleveland’s treatment of him as follows:
I am a Republican and did all I could to defeat Mr. Cleveland. He was under no political obligation to me whatever. Yet I held the office of recorder nearly a whole year under his administration, an office by law held not for a term, but solely at the pleasure of the President. He could have removed me at his pleasure at any time after his inauguration. When he asked for my resignation he simply asked me to set a time when it would be agreeable for me to tender it. I did set the time, and when that time arrived I sent in my resignation. His manner to me was very courteous, and I have nothing whatever to complain of. While in office President Cleveland treated me as he treated other office-holders in the district. He was brave enough to invite Mrs. Douglas and myself to all his grand receptions, thus rebuking the timidity, I will not say cowardice or prejudices, of his predecessors.”
Colonel Washington comments on this as follows:
The predessor above referred to who had the too honorable instincts of the white race and would not invite them to the White House, was ex-President Arthur. He is now dead. I differed from him widely in politics, but he has my cordial respect for the precedent he has set, and which the man who came after him lacked the decency to follow. I give Mr. Cleveland all the benefit of Fred Douglas’ encomium upon him for his bravery in espousing the theory of social equality, but I shall always adhere to the old-fashioned doctrine of gentlemen in the South, that there is no surer touchstone in this country of a low and base man than his readiness to associate with negroes.
On June 25, 1892, the Forth Worth Gazette, a leading Democratic daily says in a lengthy editorial that Colonel Washington’s letter is true.
This matter, THE ECONOMIST desires to say, has been prepared and published in response to numerous requests. It partakes of a personal character and appeals to the prejudice of race. It has been the policy of this paper to deprecate sectionalism and passion, and Mr. Cleveland’s record, in so far as related above, would have to flow from other sources was it not that the people demand the information.
National Economist, September 17, 1892.
Supt. R. M. Humphrey Before the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE: I appear before you as the representative of the Colored Farmers National Alliance and Co-operative Union, an organization extending over thirty States and having an enrolled membership of more than a million. I am not here to teach Senators wisdom, nor to go over these facts, and statistics, and arguments which have been presented to the committee by others, my associates. I appear before the committee simply as the representative of a great people—a people, however, who are devoted entirely to agriculture. The colored people are either farmers or farm laborers. As a matter of course we have a few exceptions, but the great masses of them are interested in agricultural pursuits, and are affected by their surroundings just as are other agriculturalists. I come to present their interests; and before I begin it is probably important that you should know, and you have an interest in knowing, who speaks. It is not I, of course. I am the representative of about one million citizens of the United States. If I plead before Southern men or before Northern men, it is simply indifferent; they are our fellow citizens.
Some twenty-five years ago the shackels were broken from the limbs of some four millions of slaves. That four million, or four million and a half, number to-day about eight millions. With matters of that sort you are just as familiar and just as well informed as I am, and I do not propose to waste time in questions which are already published to the world.
Now these people, when first released from slavery, were as ignorant, as degraded, as penniless as you can well imagine, friendless and without a dollar, barefoot, ragged, homeless. Now, from that condition they have advanced to a very high position as a civilized people. I know of what I speak. I have traveled through the whole country, and am acquainted with their position and their situation. Thousands of them own their own homes; some of them have accumulated property. But the thing that I am here to show is not what they have accomplished, but what they ought to accomplish under more favorable conditions. These people are not idlers, as sometimes published. When I first commenced farming twenty-five years ago men told me to get a lot of Germans, that they were the good workers. I got them and found them a failure so far as cotton was concerned. Then they said “get Chinese,” and I got them; and they worshiped their little josses, and the cotton did not grow. I then threw all that aside and followed my own inclinations. I got a lot of negroes, good colored people, and cotton and corn grew over my premises; and I did not have to say “go to work.” They went to work. I know that if we were to judge by newspaper statements, and by the statements of some people, we would say the negro is a sort of lazy, worthless creature, who ought to be beneath the contempt of Government. I want to say, honored Senators, that is not true; that the negro is as faithful and as diligent as any other human being in existence. I remember to have ridden up to a fence and found a little girl of seven summers, with a thin calico dress on, and no hat on her head, cutting away with her little hoe in the cotton. I said “what are you doing there, little girl?” “Why, I am helping papa to make a living.” That is the general way of the men, and the women, and the children; they all work, and they work diligently.
Senator George. What part of the country is that in?65
Mr. Humphrey. In Texas, in Mississippi, in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina. I can not speak for Ohio, as I never saw much of the negroes of that State. I can speak for North Carolina, for Virginia. I can speak for any of the Southern States. I say that wherever these people are scattered they work as well as any other race. That is all that I affirm. I do not affirm that they are demi-gods at all, but that they work just as diligently as any race under heaven. Now, the next thing is that not simply do they work, but they are not extravagant. When men charge that they spend too much in useless clothing, and food, and the like, you may receive the statement with a good many grains of allowance. Certainly there are great diversities among them, but the great majority are not extravagant. You can take the great majority of the colored farmers of the South and you will find that their women spend the season in the cotton fields, with a single thin garment, without shoes, and they live upon the coarsest, commonest food, upon which you cannot subsist other laborers. I desire to make the statement here, that these people are a necessity with us in the South, and that we cannot substitute their labor. I could demonstrate that fact if it were necessary. I do not think it is necessary. So much I have said about the people I came here to represent. The next thing would be the special bill I came to advocate before the Senate, known as the sub-treasury plan. The Chairman and gentlemen who are present I suppose are acquainted with the bill sufficiently, so that it is unnecessary for me to read it. In connection, however, with the introduction of that bill before the honorable committee, I will say this, that the trustees of this great national organization, the Colored Farmers Alliance, met on the 29th of April last in the city of Birmingham, in Alabama, and instructed me to proceed here and present before you, as far as possible, the necessity, the deep necessity, with them of the passage of this or some kindred measure, either the sub-treasury bill or some kindred measure, “for,” said they—I want to use their own words as far as possible—“the proposition to lend money on lands can be of little avail to us. We have no lands to mortgage. The proposition to increase the amount of currency can be of very little avail to us, for we have nothing to buy the money with. Our muscle is our stock in trade, and what we must beg the Government to do is to recognize that muscle, recognize the principle that labor is the basis of all wealth, and if the Government will aid us to take care of the product of our labor that will be all that we demand.”
Now, gentlemen, know that the bill provides that certain warehouses shall be built in certain counties producing five hundred thousand dollars worth of certain lines of production, and that in those warehouses the cotton, the surplus of corn, oats, or tobacco, may be stored, and eighty per cent of its value paid to the party who stores it there, the remaining twenty per cent to stand as surety against risk, danger and the like, and to be eventually paid to the owner, if found worthy. What would be the effect upon this special class of people I represent? That is the point I want to get at. Not what it would be to other people, but to these colored people. I put it in this shape. During the twenty-five years which are passed the fluctuation in farm products has not been less than twenty per cent; that is, at some period during each season, farm products of every variety would average twenty per cent higher than at some other period. Take for instance, cotton. We know that there is not money enough in circulation in the United States to pay for a cotton crop; all the money is drawn from New York, all the money is drawn from the banks of the country everywhere; the supply is exhausted, and still the cotton crop is not paid for. Well, now, what would be the consequence if I should bring ten bales of cotton to the city of Washington for sale and there was just a hundred dollars in the city? It must be apparent to all of you that I can get but ten dollars a bale for that cotton. The cotton of the colored people which sold last September and October at seven cents is now selling at eleven and a half cents. The only question is, are these people entitled to the protection of the government in common with the white farmers of the land?
In regard to the fluctuation in prices, some other solution may be presented to you, but, Mr. Chairman, I think all will agree that the only genuine, the only real cause of fluctuation is, as I have stated, the lack of currency in the country. I do not look upon every man as being dishonest. I do not consider every man a thief because he deals in futures. That is not my style. I simply believe that man buys on the very best terms he can, and when money becomes scarce, and scarcer still, the prices tend downward, and downward still. By and by, when further supplies of money have been gathered into the country, prices tend upward again. That is perfectly natural. This sub-treasury plan would tend to relieve this thing by allowing the farmer, white or colored, to store his cotton and receive 80 per cent on the value of it, and pay his debts. The cotton would lie there and dry out. Some of you have handled cotton. It dries out about 3 per cent in the cotton.
Senator George. In how long a period?
Mr. Humphrey. From three to six months; depending on the atmosphere it is kept in.
Senator George. Do you know how long it is after cotton is baled and stored before the lessening of weight ceases?
Mr. Humphrey. About six months.
Senator George. It last six months?
Mr. Humphrey. Under similar circumstances. If you changed the circumstances it would lose again or gain.
Senator George. In making the answers you have already made, do you speak of a dry or a humid climate in which the cotton is stored?
Mr. Humphrey. In a humid climate the cotton will gain weight.
Senator George. In an ordinary climate it loses?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator Jones. How about the drying out process? I understand your theory to be that cotton dries out about 3 per cent in six months?66
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator Jones. In a humid climate it gains instead of loses?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir. It must be given an absolutely dry warehouse.
Senator Jones. How do you arrive at that conclusion? On what do you base your opinion in relation to the drying out of cotton?
Mr. Humphrey. Actual experiment.
Senator Jones. I wish you would tell us in a short way about those experiments, how extensive they were and how great they have been.
Mr. Humphrey. Well, I am somewhat of a cotton dealer. My hands have been in cotton for twenty-five years, and I have watched this process. I suppose it is very generally understood that when we bale cotton it is damp to a certain extent, and in process of three to six months it will dry out or lose about 3 per cent of its weight; from 3 to 5 per cent.
The Chairman. Under average climatic conditions?
Mr. Humphrey. Average conditions.
Senator Jones. A bale will lose from fifteen to twenty pounds?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; no less, and sometimes more.
The Chairman. With the average atmospheric conditions which prevail?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir. If we compress a bale and then remove it to the Gulf, it will increase in weight on account of the humidity of the atmosphere.
Senator George. Are you sure you are right about that?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator Jones. You have tested that?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Now, Mr. Chairman, and gentlemen of the committee, I want to call your attention to this, that where alcohol, whisky, or brandy is manufactured, it must have time to season or dry out—ripen (is not that the word, or something of the sort). Gentlemen will understand distinctly what I mean. Consequently the Government has kindly provided for the distiller a place where he may store his liquor until it is worth $3 for $1 it was worth when he made it. We poor farmers ask you in God’s name to help us, and add just 25 per cent to our cotton crops. You can do it very easily. Have we not the same right to ask for this 25 per cent to be added to our cotton crops that the distiller has to ask that 250 percent be added to his distilled spirits? That this argument is just, Mr. Chairman, will not be questioned, and I would rather answer questions than make a speech.
Senator George. If that is the case I will ask you a question. The increase in the value of whisky, as I understand it, comes from an increase, or an improvement rather, in the character of the liquor resulting from age?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; that is right.
Senator George. Does that improvement come to cotton, or corn, or wheat, or oats?
Mr. Humphrey. It comes to cotton very materially.
Senator George. I mean as respects quality?
Mr. Humphrey. I will explain again. We all know that cotton last September sold for 7 cents; now it is 11-1/2 cents.
Senator Jones. The same grades?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator Jones. The same markets?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; everything the same.
Senator George. I will ask you if the increase in the price of cotton did not come in the increase of the general price of some given quality of cotton, and not, as in the case of whisky, from an increase or an improvement in the value of the thing itself; in its intrinsic value?
Mr. Humphrey. Now, Senator, that allows me to answer your question, and I can answer it definitely. By getting the cotton together in bulk, so that we can furnish the spinner a thousand bales of the class he wants, and by having it dried out and ready for his machinery, the price of it in every sense is absolutely improved, like the whisky, as much as 20 to 25 per cent.
Senator George. Do you mean the actual quality of the cotton is improved, or simply the market price?
Mr. Humphrey. I mean the actual quality, for when we put together a thousand bales of any special class of cotton the buyer pays a higher price for it; and the warehouse would allow us to put it together. In regard to this warehouse custom, the warehouse plan for distilled spirits, which I know is fully understood, I will only stop for one moment. Of course the improvement comes from age. That is not questioned. But the Government allows the distiller to place the whisky in a bonded warehouse and gives him a certificate of deposit, which certificate can be taken to a bank and made into money; and that money can be put into circulation and used every hour of the time until the whisky is worth three dollars for one. It is very kind of the Government to do that. I am not finding fault with that; but I am asking in the name of mercy that you grant us farmers the privilege of adding 25 per cent to our crops where you can do it just as easily as you do with the distiller. There can be no possible loss in a cotton crop. There is no chance for a loss in the case. I want in this connection to call your attention to the fact that a tariff reduction can be of very little benefit to the people I represent, because they do not buy a great amount of the goods which are taxed. As a matter of course a tariff reduction might affect the thing we have to buy one way or the other. It might help; I do not say it would not. And so an increase in the volume of money might help; I do not say it would not. I do say this, that however large you may make the volume of money, it will not meet the demands of the case, because, suppose we had in circulation six dollars for one now, what then? Six will be worth one, and six dollars’ worth of goods will be worth about one dollar’s worth now. You preserve in that way a sort of evenness of the scales, and that is all. An increase in the volume of currency cannot materially affect any one except the debtor class. Certainly, if you will double the volume of money I can pay a debt of $200 just as easily as I can now pay a debt of $100. If you will destroy half the volume of money, giving us $100 where we now have $200, then it will be as hard for me to pay a debt of $50 as to now pay a debt of $100. All of us understand these principles so fully that I feel ashamed of myself for stopping to repeat them, but they seem to be a necessary part of the business on which I was sent here. There was another feature in the argument sent up by these colored people which they begged me not to forget to say to you, that the mere repeal of existing laws which might be considered as of a paternal character cannot meet the demand in this case.
Senator George. What laws?
Mr. Humphrey. The national bank law. I also refer to the warehouse for distilled spirits, the bonded warehouse law. I need hardly illustrate further than just to say, we see the national banks.
Mr. Humphrey. They have, indeed, mortgages outstanding.
The Chairman. I understood you some time since to say that they were necessarily a debtor class, because they do not own the land?
Senator George. Is there any class in any community that you may go into who use their credit more—they are necessarily bound to do so—than the colored farmer?
Mr. Humphrey. He uses it pretty freely.
The Chairman. Then they really belong to the debtor class?
Mr. Humphrey: Yes, sir; and certainly an increase of money would be profitable to them in that particular. An increase of the volume of currency would be immensely profitable to them in that particular view of the case.
Senator George. You are very familiar with the colored farmers. I have some knowledge of them, too. Is it not true that nineteen out of twenty, if not more, of the colored farmers of the country, raise their crops upon credit, based upon the crop when it is sold to be paid?
Mr. Humphrey. I think that a few years ago, perhaps, that number would be correct; but the Alliance has taught them much better principles. There would not be anything like that number to-day. I imagine, perhaps, not more than one-half of them; perhaps one-half raise their crop this year on credit.
The Chairman. How as to the white farmers, do they get an advance before the crops are raised?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir. The white farmers have drawn more largely on their credit this year than the colored farmers.
Senator Jones. What have you taught them which has brought about that condition of affairs?
Mr. Humphrey. We have taught them to starve. That is what. We have taught them to work and get out of debt.
Senator Jones. To live without money; to just starve, and get out of debt.
The Chairman. In speaking of the indebtedness of the colored people, do you mean to say real estate mortgage indebtedness or chattel mortgage indebtedness?
Mr. Humphrey. Not real estate, but chattel. A great many of them have homes.
The Chairman. As a rule they do not own their own farms.
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir. Not as a rule.
The Chairman. And their indebtedness is in the nature of chattel mortgages?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator George. Have you ever run through your mind—I have done it—the proportion of adult colored males who own their own land? Is it one-tenth?
The Chairman. What percentage?
Mr. Humphrey. No, I cannot give a definite answer to that question. I may say this, that in the State of Alabama 13,000 colored farmers filed their names as owning their homes and being out of debt, and with a resolution to stay out of debt; to keep out of debt; to starve through and get out of debt.
Senator George. Have you an idea of the number of colored made adults in Alabama, say voters? We could get it through the Census.
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir, and better than through my poor memory. I think it is about ninety-eight thousand. But do not hold me responsible for that.
Senator George. Suppose there were a hundred thousand of them. Then if thirteen thousand of them were land owners it would be about—
Senator Jones. Thirteen per cent.
Mr. Humphrey. It would be about one-seventh.
The Chairman. Did the colored people who made this agreement to get out of debt and try to be economical, represent the agricultural class of the colored people?
The Chairman. Not those living in towns?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir. They help one another. I should reply a little more definitely to that question. If one has five dollars, he who is in most need can get it. They aid one another powerfully to get out of debt. I give them credit for doing just about all that human beings could do in that direction.
The Chairman. Has there been much increase in their acquisition of lands during the past ten years?
Mr. Humphrey. There has been a considerable increase; an increase, I tell you, Senator, I am proud of, because notwithstanding I am a white man, a southern man, and have not been very friendly always toward the colored people, I am proud to see them succeed. I want them to have justice, right.
The Chairman. They are making decided progress?
Mr. Humphrey. Decided progress, grand progress. It would be a good place to stop right here and to say that in my state, Texas, for fifty miles up and down the Trinity, they own their own rich river bottom and have turned it into farms. The Alliance did that much for them, and they feel proud of the Alliance and work diligently together to uphold their organizations.
Senator George. So far as those on the Trinity are concerned, they are in a prosperous condition, are they not?
Mr. Humphrey. Well, now, Senator, that has to be answered again. They would be prosperous, if they just could have held their cotton until now. Every man would have had plenty of money if they could have held their cotton until now.
Senator Jones. Why could they not hold it?
Mr. Humphrey. Because they were dreadfully pinched with hunger.
Senator Jones. They did not eat up the entire cotton crop at once?
Mr. Humphrey. No; but they were compelled to pay their taxes. Their taxes had to be paid; shoes must be had. But when I say out of debt I mean out of mortgage debt. Many of them owe little debts to their negro neighbors.
Senator Jones. Would it not have been easy for them to have postponed those debts for a few months if there was an absolute certainty of a rise of 50 per cent in the cotton?
Mr. Humphrey. No sir; they could not do it. The sheriffs would have sold them out for taxes, for one thing, and for another thing. They would have suffered with winter cold, and such winter cold as no human being can stand before when he has it in his power to do otherwise. So they sacrificed their crops rather than see their families deprived of the necessaries of life and go barefooted in the ice. That is what you or I would do if reduced to their extremities.
Senator George. I want to call your attention to this. How many white men are there in Texas who are out of debt?
Mr. Humphrey. Senator, you must not call upon me about that, because these negroes have had me employed.
Senator George. I will ask you whether the men who had cotton, whether bought or raised, did not foresee the great rise in cotton which has come recently, and whether a great many did not sell who were not compelled to sell?
Mr. Humphrey. We know that for twnety-five years this fluctuation of 25 per cent has been the average. We know that it is bound to go up.
Senator George. Do you mean to say that for twenty-five years the price of cotton about the month of May has been 20 per cent higher than in October?
Mr. Humphrey. I would not undertake to say that that was the case in every year. It is simply the case at the same season in the year.
Senator Jones. Is that uniform?
Mr. Humphrey. It is not uniform.
Senator Jones. Can you tell beforehand when these fluctuations are to occur?
Mr. Humphrey. We might if we were permitted to know exactly the bank statements of Wall street. Whenever there is no money to pay for cotton it is bound to go down.
The Chairman. As a rule, does the price of cotton average lower immediately after the harvesting of cotton than later on?
Mr. Humphrey. It never fails.
Mr. Humphrey. The price of cotton to be lower immediately after harvesting.
Senator George. What do you call “after harvesting?” I want to know what you mean, because the harvest commences in September and ends the first of January, sometimes February.
Mr. Humphrey. With us it commences in July. Now, Mr. Chairman, if you will let me answer that question.
The Chairman. You spoke of the necessity of having stores for a time in order that the cotton might be dried out and be in condition to work. I believe that is what you said.
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. Now what length of time is that?
Mr. Humphrey. I was in favor of storing for as long as three months, if possible.
The Chairman. Is the cotton not marketable before it goes through that process?
Mr. Humphrey. Oh, yes.
The Chairman. But at lower prices?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. Is that the reason it averages lower immediately after it is ready for market?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir. Here is a feature that I must take time to illustrate for a moment. During the summer season, right now, some of our leading cotton speculators are in Europe. They have sold thousands of bales of cotton, which is to be delivered in October and November and later. Now they will come home about August, and they may happen to have sold so much cotton that they will put prices pretty high to get that cotton. As soon as those orders are filled cotton will touch bottom, sometime about November, right when the poor negro get his cotton in, and the man who has credited and trusted him and who has fed his family, says: “Sam, you must pay.” Sam is honest as the days are long. Do not tell me the negro will steal. Sam is honest. “I will pay,” he says. “Well, Sam, you must go and sell that cotton to-day.” “Well, sir, I can do it.” Sam telegraphs to me. Now I will relate an occurrence. It was last week. A telegram came: “To Colonel Humphrey: I have one bale of cotton left, and I can get clear of the mortgage. The gentleman will give me the forty-five dollars mortgage for the bale of cotton. Shall I take it, or can you do better? I telegraphed, “Send me that cotton.” I sold that bale of cotton for $61.93, and the difference between the $61.93 and the $45 is how much Greenbury saved on his one bale of cotton. You say, “Then can not you furnish universal relief in that way? “ No, I am not able to do it; it would take the Government to do it. One man can not do it. Mr. Gould can not do that thing. Mr. Vanderbilt and Mr. Gould united can not do that thing. The Government must furnish the relief, or that relief can not be had in anything like a perfect condition. But I have slighted your question, Senator.
Senator George. You said some time ago that cotton was lower immediately after harvest than it was at any other time. I want you to explain to this committee, many of whom are familiar with cotton, when harvest is. My idea is it commences about the first of September, in my country, at least, and ends about the first of January or February.
Mr. Humphrey. It is not much harvest with you. With us it is a grand harvest. It commences in July and ends in November generally. When you get to a country where they do not harvest cotton until September, we consider it too far North for a good crop.
Senator George. In your answers you wish to be understood as referring to the harvest as from the 1st of July to the 1st of November.
Mr. Humphrey. Well, put it from the 1st of August; three months.
Senator McMillan. Do these colored men own their own lands?
Mr. Humphrey. Some of them do. 67
Senator McMillan. It is rich land?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator McMillan. And those who do not own the lands, how do they get their cotton?
Mr. Humphrey. There is a variety of ways. If they do not own land, perhaps they own stock, and can rent land by giving one-fourth of what they make in cotton; and if they have neither stock nor land, then they go to some white neighbor and propose to work for half. He gives half of what they can make.
Senator McMillan. And Furnishes stock and land?
Senator George. And agricultural implements?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir. In this case, and in every case, Senator, take notice that this negro is necessarily just like the poor white man, exactly on the same terms as the poor white man. He is forced to go in debt while he makes that crop. There is a necessity, a sort of force, to go in debt while he makes that crop.
Senator George. I want to see if your experience agrees with mine. They go in debt under a mortgage or lien to a country merchant. Is it not almost universally a country merchant? And he charges them very extravagant prices for that credit?
Mr. Humphrey. Two hundred and fifty percent is considered reasonable.
Senator Jones. By whom?
Mr. Humphrey. By the country merchant.
Senator George. Is it not also true that the country merchant always allows those who are in debt to him two or three cents more for his cotton that he could get for cash?
Mr. Humphrey. Never. He tells them that he is allowing them a half a cent or so more. But that is not true. I never knew such a case. I have known as many transactions of that kind as I have hairs on my head. I never knew a country merchant to pay a man for his cotton because he held a mortgage on that cotton. He comes down to his collection in this fashion. He says: “Pay me that thow owest me.” If I do not pay, he sends for the justice of the peace and make me pay. That is what. Now I want to call attention to this fact. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am a Southern man. My name is known over the entire South. I could not stand before you and tell a falsehood. That would be impossible. I say to you, candidly, that race prejudice and race problems have not hurt the colored man in the South any more than they have hurt men in the North or anywhere else in the world. The one thing which has perplexed, which has troubled, which has starved and killed the colored race in the South is the fact that the Government, by the constant fluctuation of money has held the colored man by the shoulder every November while a Southern sharper flayed him. That has been the trouble. Give us now the warehouses, and let the colored man deposit his cotton there and get his 80 per cent and pay the little that he owes. You will see him step proudly around, and he will be a home-owner quick, because I tell you the colored people are as honest a people as the sun shines on. I have worked in the field with them day after day; I have ploughed-by their side; I have known them ever since I was born, and a more honest, true, more faithful set does not exist. I know the truth of what I speak, when I say to you that if I, by some accident, should be injured or killed in the city of Washington to-night, there are thousands of colored men who would sell their last blanket or shirt to come to Washington to look after my remains. What is the reason? Because I have befriended them, and they never forget a friend; they never lose sight of a kindness. Now, gentlemen, so far as making a speech is concerned, I am not here for that purpose, but I should like to answer reasonable questions in regard to the sub-treasury bill as far as I possibly can. I am honest when I tell you that the bill is the very thing we farmers can make, possibly, the best we can do. You can do better. We know you can. You have legal talent among you. You have all the advantages, and what we ask is not that you give us the sub-treasury bill as we have framed it, but give us that or a better bill. We know that you can better the bill. We do not doubt that. We only ask that you give us this sub-treasury bill or some better bill. Now there are some other questions gentlemen may want to ask, and I do not want to leave the floor hurriedly. I do not want to occupy your time too much, either.
Senator Blair. Let me ask you one question. You get eighty per cent when you deposit the cotton?68
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Mr. Humphrey. I suppose that would be just the way. Received of G. H. one bale of cotton weighing 480 pounds valued as so and so; class so and so; paid him so many dollars on that. Then as a matter of course he would see how much remained due.
Senator Blair. You would get a certificate for the balance, payable at what time, at the end of the year?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir; when this cotton was sold, if there was a remainder after paying back the debt due, the owner would get it.
The Chairman. The certificate would be for eighty per cent.
Senator Blair. On what?
Mr. Humphrey. The value of the cotton.
Senator Blair. How would the value of the cotton be determined?
Mr. Humphrey. Would be classified just like it is now and listed. The price of it would be listed then just as it is now.
Senator Blair. You would go by the prices prevailing at that time!
Mr. Humphrey. By the quotations of that day. The warehouses would stop the fluctuation any further. The price of cotton one season, say the first of May, would be the same as at another. The farmer when he planted his crop would know what he was working for, just as a salared man. It would absolutely evaporate the business of fluctuation and dealing in futures higher than “High Eden.” It would be blown away.
Senator Blair. Do you think the colored man would keep the certificate for this balance, or the white man for that matter, as a rule, or would he sell that for what he could get at the time? Would not that go into the hands of the speculators? The law might prescribe that these certificates shall not be transferable.
Senator George. But this bill prescribes that these certificates shall be negotiable.
Mr. Humphrey. My understanding of that part of the merit of the bill is that I would certainly move to amend.
Senator George. And make them non-assignable?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; and non-negotiable, that would be my idea. I am only one member of this thing.
Senator Blair. You would not have then assignable at all?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir.
Senator Blair. So that nobody could collect them but the man who deposited the cotton?
Mr. Humphrey. That is it; yes, sir; such a paper not negotiable or assignable, might be deposited in bank.
Senator George. Oh, no, it could not. Banks only deal in negotiable paper.
Mr. Humphrey. But it could be deposited in banks.
The Chairman. If you should deposit a collateral of any kind at the bank, and upon that should receive an advance or loan, you would have to make a blank assignment or an assignment in full of the collateral you deposited. Otherwise the bank would not have it.
Mr. Humphrey. I do not think it is necessary to make that certificate for twenty per cent assignable or negotiable at all. I think the man who sells the cotton had better hold that certificate. Just the same transactions have been occurring in my State every day in the year. A. B. sends me or a merchant ten bales of cotton and receives an advance of $35 a bale on that cotton, or whatever per cent you may name. Very well, C. D., the merchant, receives the cotton and instructions, and steps over to the bank and has the bill of lading filed away and sends this man so many dollars.
Senator Blair. Would you make this law so that every man who raises cotton must put it into deposit, or would you allow everybody to trade as he wants?
Mr. Humphrey. I would make it so that he would be free to deposit his cotton or not as he chose.
Senator Blair. Would not that leave you subject to fluctuation and perhaps an increased fluctuation?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir.
Senator Blair. You could not eliminate this speculative element in human nature. There would be some effort to get this cotton.
Senator Blair. And you would have to draw on the Government?
Mr. Humphrey. The Government is naturally more able to bear the burden.
Senator Blair. What would the Government have to advance?
Mr. Humphrey. As much as fifty millions in a year. It might be called on to advance fifty millions.
Senator Blair. As for other crops in the same year; have you ever calculated what the wheat crop and the corn crop would require?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir; I cannot answer for the wheat crop. The things I am interested in are the negro and his cotton crop. Somebody else must answer for the wheat crop.
Senator Blair. The committee or whoever makes the law has to answer for all the crops?
Mr. Humphrey. I will produce you a gentleman who will answer for the wheat crop.
Senator Blair. Here is the scheme and those who advance it ought to be able to answer questions, if they are natural and sensible questions for which the men who makes the laws have to be responsible.
Mr. Humphrey. I am trying to answer. I will answer any question I am able, but when I get to a question I am not able to answer I will frankly tell you so. We shall probably call on the Government in September, October and November for $50,000,000 of money to handle the cotton crop. When the cotton is sold it will be repaid to the Government in time.
Senator Blair. Do you think $50,000,000 will be enough?
Mr. Humphrey. I am satisfied we shall never use that.
Senator Blair. There are 7,000,000 bales of cotton. About how much is it worh a bale?
Mr. Humphrey. About $40 a bale probably. Do not count that all into the warehouse.
Senator Jones. What becomes of the balance?
Mr. Humphrey. It will be sold at once. Men would lose sight of their intent to speculate. Down in our country, where they used to skin us with speculation, we have, without the aid of law, stopped all that. We have stopped all the minor speculations that were brought against us. We have in this case, however, a speculation so heavy that we cannot handle it. It is impossible. This fluctuation in prices never can be handled, I say, except by the power that issues money to the country.
The Chairman. Is it your idea that this system should be inaugurated that it would do away with dealing in futures?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir. It will kill the bucket shops.
The Chairman. The whole speculative element in the market would be eliminated?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; at once.
Senator George. Mr. Humphrey is representing a class of persons I have some knowledge of myself. You of course know that there is a very great difference in the classification of cotton. It runs from what I believe is called inferior to what they call fair. There are inferior, low ordinary, good ordinary, low middling, and middling.
Mr. Humphrey. Strict low middling.
Senator George. That is not in the classification. Then there is good middling and then we have fair, I believe, or middling fair, and fair. There are nine different classes of cotton. There are some half grades besides.
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator George. All these classifications bring different prices. The prices are graded according to that. Now, is not the classification of cotton, except as between very low grades and high grades, where there are three or four grades difference, is it not a very difficult thing to do to distinguish between them? Does it not require an expert?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; but it is the easiest thing in the world, gentlemen, when a man is accustomed to it.
Senator George. How many colored men do you know who are capable of classing cotton as between the three grades of low middling, middling and good middling?
Senator George. Do you think that is true of the white people?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir; they do not learn that sort of thing as fast as the negro.
Senator George. You think all colored farmers can assign and sample cotton?
Mr. Humphrey. In a general way.
Senator George. As to the classification between the grades I have mentioned.
Mr. Humphrey. I will not undertake to say that they can assign it to put it into the newspaper.
Senator George. But for all practical purposes?
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir; they can do that.
Senator George. The most of them can.
Mr. Humphrey. Yes, sir.
Senator George. And that is not true of the white farmers?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir. That is my observation. The white farmers know nothing about it. The negro always knows.
Senator Jones. Do you attribute that to superior intelligence on the part of the negro?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir; I do not consider it superior intelligence in the dog that he smells better than a human being.
Senator Jones. Do they classify cotton by smell?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir. It is instinct. I do not consider that they can do it on account of being bright or of superior intellect, or anything of that sort.
Senator Jones. What does the classification of cotton depend on?
Mr. Humphrey. Touch, handling, and sight.
Senator Jones. The cotton cannot either see or feel?
Mr. Humphrey. It must be touched or seen.
Senator George. Then you think the colored men would be amply able to protect themselves at these warehouses against an improper classification by the manager?
Mr. Humphrey. I think so. I think they would be better protected than they are now, when they must deal with sharpers all over the country.
The Chairman. You mean the middlemen?
Senator George. You think they would be amply protected?
Mr. Humphrey. I do think they would be. I am sure that no arrangement would be made in which they would not be protected.
Senator George. Do you think that the white farmers would be protected in the classification of cotton by this Government manager?
Senator Blair. Put a colored man in as manager. Then they would be protected.
Mr. Humphrey. I think so. I think that the whites would be protected, too. I do not know a white man who would intentionally cheat a colored man in the sampling of cotton, or a colored who would intentionally cheat a white man.
Senator George. You think, then, that the manager of the warehouse would give a fair classification?
Mr. Humphrey. I believe he would.
Senator Bate. Does not the classification of cotton depend upon how it is gathered and how it is put up? Does all the cotton grown in the same neighborhood come up to the same standard?
Mr. Humphrey. No, sir.
Senator Bate. A negro can see whether the cotton is clean or not, just as well as a white man.
Mr. Humphrey. I would go further on this evidence, because I think he knows.
Senator Bate. You think because the negroes as a class handle the cotton, pick it, and bale it, they know more about it than the white men.
Mr. Humphrey. I will whisper to you that I have a negro to select for me, because he knows more about it than I ever could learn.
The National Economist, June 7, 1894