Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

cabinet, not only on the stump but in the lecture hall as well; and whether his efforts were reported from cosmopolitan Chicago or primitive Boston, prairie garlands twined gracefully with conservative chaplets.

Had his fortune been cast in a democratic state, he would, in national politics, have at once wielded the rudder as well as the oar. In 1890, Prof. Perry of Williams College, being ready to dedicate the crowning effort of his life, "Principles of Political Economy," inscribed that supreme analysis:




For forty years Mr. Morton has illustrated the "survival of the fittest," and the Roman motto, "Semper paratis"-always prepared.

Mr. Morton unintentionally and unexpectedly evoked a storm of denunciation as the result of clear conceptions, bold utterances and intellectual aggressiveness, from a speech delivered in the "Congress of Agriculture," at Chicago, Ill., Oct. 16, 1893.

The American farmer has foes to contend with. They are not merely the natural foes-not the weevil in wheat, nor the murrain in cattle, nor the cholera in swine, nor the drouth, nor the chinch-bug. The most insidious and destructive foe to the farmer is the "professional" farmer who, as a "promoter" of granges and alliances, for political purposes, farms the farmer.

He thought "individual investigation of economic questions" of more value to farmers than granges or alliances attempting "to run railroads and banks, and even to establish new systems of coinage." He affirmed that "no man should give a power of attorney to any society or organization or person, to think for him." Immediately upon the delivery of the address, he was denounced as an enemy of agriculture, and the president was importuned by granges and editors for his summary removal as Secretary of Agriculture.

In reply to these violent accusations Mr. Morton published the address without note or comment and incorporated with it the most violent criticisms of his traducers, in order that the public might discover the grounds on which they planted their enginery. A copy of this most valuable address, falling under the attention of a distinguished economist, received the compliment, "clear as a bell, sound as a nut, and lively as a play."

When the Hansborough bill was before Congress, offering a government appropriation for the destruction of the Russian thistle, and an applicant was seeking appointment as chief of exterminators, the Secretary ironically suggested including "cockle-burs and fan-tail grass," and further said:

The Hansborough bill will never be perfect until paternalism has so amended it as to have the government not only weed, but plow, cultivate, and garner all crops for the people of the United States. The circulation of pint, quart. and gallon packages of the Kentucky antidote for snake bites, gratuitously, under government franks through the mails, ought to begin as soon as the serpents open up for summer business. There is no crop so dangerous to mankind (as Adam's experience in the Garden of Eden shows) as a snake crop.

When Mr. Morton took charge of the Department of Agriculture, March 4th, 1893, he found 2,497 employees on its pay rolls, of whom 305 were discharged within nine months. He was able to submit an estimate for the fiscal year, to end June 30, 1894, of $369,658 less than was appropriated for the previous year. He found the Department in its fifth year taking on all the extravagant vices of the older ones, as indicated by a few items from an interview.

The conversation here turned to the Department of Agricul ture and I asked the Secretary whether he was making any changes in the methods of running it. He replied:

I am making a great many, and I am trying to bring the department down to a practical business basis. I believe in spending money where it should be spent, but I don't believe in wasting it. I have already found a number of big leaks which I am stopping. One is in these experimental

stations which have been established by the department
over the country. Some of them are no good whatever.
Why, I have found one at Garden City, Kan., the business
of which was to evolve a grass which would grow on the
arid plains of the west. Twenty-two thousand dollars have
been spent on it in five years, and a Professor Veasy is
trying there to produce a sort of grass that will grow
without rain, water or soil, a sort of grass orchid, I presume.
From what inquiries I made I found that this Professor
Veasy had a home address at Denver, Colo., and he seemed
to be only heard from at times when his salary was due.
I have stopped the appropriation and I suppose he will now
materialize in some shape or other.

I got a request the other day for $50 for a United States
flag, which was to be put up over the sugar beet farm at
Schuyler, Neb. I couldn't see the reason for the appropria-
tion and I investigated the station. I found that it was
costing us over $5,000 a year and that all we could get out
of it was some beet seed, which the regular sugar beet
factories would send to us if we would only pay the freight.
We pay on these experimental stations about $360,000 a
year, and I think the most of them should be abolished.
My idea is that experimenting should be done through
the agricultural experiment stations of the states. There
are forty-four of these scattered all over the Union. They
get an appropriation from Congress of $750,000 a year.
This goes directly to them, and over it we have no control.
I think that the seeds could be distributed through these
experiment stations and not by the congressmen. It costs
$135,000 a year to send out seeds from here. I am going
to recommend Congress to abolish this part of our busi-
ness. As the seeds are now sent out they do not reach the
parties they should nor do the proper kind of seeds get
to the proper localities.

"What are you going to do as to the meat inspection, Mr. Secretary?" I asked. He replied:

I am going to abolish a good part of it. Our meat exports to Germany last year amounted to only $2,000,000 and I find that the Germans reinspected all the meat that came in. We sent $34,000,000 worth to England, where there was no inspection. The inspection costs a vast deal more than it comes to, and in eleven months it has footed up a total of about $200,000. Why, during that time we paid out $4,000 to inspect the meat at the Indianapolis abattoirs, and how much meat do you think was exported from there?

Just $351.50. For every dollar's worth of pork sent to
Germany from Indianapolis we paid more than $10 for in-
spection. It isn't good business.

"How about American Corn in Europe? Is Cornmeal Murphy going to revolutionize the continent?"


I think not, though he is still in Europe. More of our corn should be used in Europe, but I believe we can create a greater market for it by getting the Germans to use it in the making of beer rather than the making of bread. Most of the beer in the United States is made largely of The Milwaukee brewers will tell you they don't use it, but they use glucose, which is the same thing, and the greatest per cent of our beer comes from corn. Milwaukee turns out a hundred car loads of beer every day the year round, and our breweries have a great deal to do with the price of corn. The Germans use vast quantities of beer. Bavaria alone turns out 9,000,000 barrels a year, and the other German provinces have vast brewing establishments in all of their large cities. Corn makes a very good beer, and I think we can gradually get them to using it. I have selected a bright, well educated brewer to go to Germany to look into the matter.

While the above shows in what spirit of intelligent discrimination he began placing his department upon an honest basis, the general outcome has become his splendid vindication. During the absence of Secretary Morton in Europe, in the fall of 1894, studying their agricultural systems, and economic methods, D. MacCuaig, Esq., Chief Clerk of the Department, in successfully vindicating him against political campaign charges of a republican committee, incidently touched upon the subject of the foregoing interview. If there is one thing which Secretary Morton detests more than paternalism it is nepotism.

Amid the subsidence of premature clamor, the words of the Hon. E. J. Hainer of Nebraska, in the House of Representatives, February 4, 1895, add to the official vindication:

I know that there is no better friend of the real genuine agriculturist, not the fraudulent kind,-not those who masquerade as agriculturists,-there is no better friend of the genuine farmer than the present Secretary of Agriculture, J. Sterling Morton, though he be a Democrat.

In the February number of the North American Review, 1895, there appeared an article from the pen of the Secretary, in which he illustrated the proposition, that "to-day analyzed, is only a portrait in miniature of an aggregate yesterday." From the history of early exchanges of property, and the opinions of ancient authors upon a circulating medium, he passed to the object lesson of Nebraska in her infancy, with an inflated paper currency, before her possession of exchangeable commodities, and the crash two years later, when the inferior currency had expelled the superior. In a subsequent interview the salient points of the article were condensed:

1 do not believe that an international congress can establish permanently a commercial ratio between gold and silver any more than it can establish a permanent commercial ratio between rye and wheat. But if an international conference can fix the price of gold or of silver, it can also fix the price of wheat or of any other commodity, and thereby avoid all the possible shrinkages in values which tend to cause panics.

I think the word "intrinsic" ought not to be used. The value of gold is always relative. To illustrate: If I sell you a thousand bushels of wheat today for $570, the transaction has established, for the time being, the wheat value of gold and the gold value of wheat. Tomorrow's cables of utter failure of wheat crop in Argentina, Russia, and Europe entirely change the relation of gold to wheat, and the thousand bushels of wheat purchased at 57 cents yesterday, is worth $1.14 a bushel today. But in the meantime, there has been no "intrinsic" value of gold, notwithstanding there has been a change in the relation of wheat to gold.

My own judgment is that we must sooner or later declare that the United States of America recognizes gold as the best and least fluctuating measure of value and medium of exchange which the commerce of civilization has thus far utilized.

The time for straddlers has passed. Those who are for sound currency on a gold basis ought to have the courage to say so, and abide by the results of their declaration. It makes no difference to me whether a declaration of truth, either upon the tariff or the money question, temporarily drives votes from or allures them to us.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »