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Title: Chapters in Rural Progress
Author: Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Literature in Agriculture (CHLA), Cornell University)













_President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College_

[Illustration: Publisher's logo]



All Rights Reserved

Published February 1908
Second Impression June 1909
Third Impression May 1911
Fourth Impression February 1913
Fifth Impression October 1916

Composed and Printed By
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

                  TO MY FATHER



This book does not offer a complete analysis of the rural problem; but
attempts, in general, to present some of the more significant phases of
that problem, and, in particular, to describe some of the agencies at
work in solving it. Several of the chapters were originally magazine
articles, and, though all have been revised and in some cases entirely
rewritten, they have the limitations of such articles. Other chapters
consist of more formal addresses. Necessarily there will be found some
lack of uniformity in style and in method of presentation, and
occasional duplication of argument or statement.

For permission to use articles, in whole or in part, I have to thank the
editors of the _Chautauquan_, _Arena_, _Forum_, _Review of Reviews_,
_Popular Science Monthly_, _Michigan Alumnus_, _New England Farmer_,
_Cornell Countryman_; also Professor L. R. Taft, superintendent of
Farmers' Institutes in Michigan, and the officers of the American Civic
Association. Two chapters comprise material heretofore unpublished.



CHAPTER                                           PAGE

   I. The Study of Rural Life                        3

  II. The Problems of Progress                      11


III. The Expansion of Farm Life                     45

 IV. The New Farmer                                 53

  V. Culture from the Corn-Lot                      66


  VI. Education for the Farmer                      77

 VII. Farmers' Institutes                           92

VIII. The Hesperia Movement                        104

  IX. The Rural School and the Community           121

   X. The Grange                                   136

  XI. Opportunities for Farm Women                 162

 XII. The Country Church and Progress              170

XIII. A Summary of Recent Progress                 183


 XIV. The Social Side of the Farm Question         199

  XV. The Needs of New England Agriculture         204

 XVI. An Untilled Field in American Education      216

XVII. Federation for Rural Progress                233




The American farm problem, particularly its sociological aspect, has not
as yet had the attention that it deserves from students. Much less have
the questions that concern rural social advancement found the popular
mind; in truth, the general city public has not been deeply interested
in the farmer.

But there seem to be recent indications that the sentiment is changing.
The heated discussions in New England about Mr. Hartt's interesting
clinic over a decadent hill-town, the suggestive fast-day proclamation
of Governor Rollins of New Hampshire a few years ago, the marvelous
development of agricultural education, the renewed study of the rural
school, the widespread and growing delight in country life, have all
aroused an interest in and presage a new attention to rural conditions.
This is well. The sociologist can hardly afford to omit the rural
classes from the scope of his study, especially if he desires to
investigate the practical phases of his subject. Moreover, no one with
intelligent notions of affairs should be ignorant of the forces that
control rural life.

In view of this apparent change in the attitude of people toward the
farm problem, it may not be idle to suggest some possible errors that
should be avoided when we are thinking of rural society. The student
will doubtless approach his problem fortified against misconceptions--he
probably has thoughtfully established his view-point. But the average
person in the city is likely to call up the image of his ancestral home
of a generation ago, if he were born in the country, or, if not, to draw
upon his observations made on a summer vacation or on casual business
trips into the interior. Or he takes his picture from _Shore Acres_ and
the _Old Homestead_. In any case it is not improbable that the image may
be faulty and as a consequence his appreciation of present conditions
wholly inadequate. Let us consider some of these possible sources of

In the first place it is not fair to compare country life as a whole
with the best city conditions. This is often done. The observer usually
has education, culture, leisure, the experience of travel, more or less
wealth; his acquaintance is mostly with people of like attainments.
When he fails to find a rural environment that corresponds in some
degree to his own and that of his friends, he is quick to conclude that
the country has nothing to offer him, that only the city ministers to
the higher wants of man. He forgets that he is one of a thousand in the
city, and does not represent average city life. He fails to compare the
average country conditions with the average city conditions, manifestly
the only fair basis for comparison. Or he may err still more grievously.
He may set opposite each other the worst country conditions and the
better city conditions. He ought in all justice to balance country slum
with city slum; and certainly so if he insists on trying to find
palaces, great libraries, eloquent preachers, theaters, and rapid
transit in each rural community. City life goes to extremes; country
life, while varied, is more even. In the country there is little of
large wealth, luxury, and ease; little also of extreme poverty, reeking
crime, unutterable filth, moral sewage. Farmers are essentially a middle
class and no comparison is fair that does not keep this fact ever in

We sometimes hear the expression, "Country life is so barren--that to me
is its most discouraging aspect." Much country life is truly barren;
but much more of it is so only relatively and not essentially. We must
admit that civilization is at least partially veneer; polish does
wonders for the appearance of folks as well as of furniture. But while
the beauty of "heart of oak" is enhanced by its "finish," its utility is
not destroyed by a failure to polish it. Now, much of the so-called
barrenness of country life is the oak minus the polish. We come to
regard polish as essential; it is largely relative. And not only may we
apply the wrong standard to the situation, but our eyes may deceive us.
To the uninitiated a clod of dry earth is the most unpromising of
objects--it is cousin to the stone, and the type of barrenness. But to
the elect it is pregnant with the possibilities of seed-time and
harvest, of a full fruitage, of abundance and content for man and beast.
And there is many a farm home, plain to an extreme, devoid of the
veneer, a home that to the man of the town seems lacking in all the
things that season life, but a home which virtue, intelligence, thrift,
and courage transform into a garden of roses and a type of heaven. I do
not justify neglect of the finer material things of life, nor plead for
drab and homespun as passports to the courts of excellence; but I insist
that the plainness, simple living, absence of luxury, lack of polish
that may be met with in the country, do not necessarily accompany a
condition barren of the essentials of the higher life.

Sometimes rural communities are ridiculed because of the trivial nature
of their gossip, interests, and ambitions. There may be some justice in
the criticism, though the situation is pathetic rather than humorous.
But is the charge wholly just? In comparing country with town we are
comparing two environments; necessarily, therefore, objects of gossip,
interests, and ambitions differ therein. We expect that. It is no
criticism to assert that fact. The test is not that of an existing
difference, but of an essential quality. Is not Ben Bolt's new top buggy
as legitimate a topic for discussion as is Arthur John Smythe's new
automobile? Does not the price of wheat mean as much to the hard-working
grower as to the broker who may never see a grain of it? May not the
grove at Turtle Lake yield as keen enjoyment as do the continental
forests? Is the ambition to own a fine farm more ignoble than the desire
to own shares in a copper mine? It really does not matter so much what
one gossips about or what one's delights are or what the carving of the
rungs on ambition's ladder; the vital question is the effect of these
things on character. Do they stunt or encourage the inner life? It must
be admitted that country people do not always accept their environing
opportunities for enjoying the higher life of mind and heart. But do
they differ in this respect from their cousins of the town?

We must remember, too, that this is a large country, and that a study of
rural conditions in a certain community, township, county, state, or
section may not give us the correct basis upon which to determine the
agricultural status of the country.

Nor must we make the mistake of confusing conservatism and decadence.
That the city will in many particulars always progress more rapidly than
the country is inevitable. But speed is not the ultimate criterion of a
full life. Again must we apply the test whether the gain is relative or
essential. Telephones, free mail delivery, electric car lines, operas,
great libraries, cathedrals--all come to the city first, some of them
solely to the city. The country cannot hope to be other than inherently
conservative as regards such institutions. But may there not be found
such adaptations of or substitutes for these institutions as shall not
only preserve the rural community from decadence, but, indeed, build it
up into strength, beauty, and purity?

Comparative lack of identical resources need not mean poverty of
attainment. Let us agree that relatively the country will lag behind the
town. Is the country continually gaining in those things that are
fundamentally important and that minister to its best life? is the
kernal question.

Perhaps the most common error in studying rural conditions is the
failure to distinguish the vital difference between the urban problem
and the rural problem. _Sociologically the city problem is that of
congestion; the rural problem is that of isolation._ The social
conditions of country and city are wholly different. Institutions that
succeed in alleviating social disorders in the town may or may not
succeed in the country--in any event they must be adapted to country
needs. This applies to organizations, schools, libraries, social
settlements. And the adaptation must be one not only of form but of
spirit. In other words, the farm problem is a peculiar problem,
demanding special study, a new point of view, and sometimes unique

Those accustomed to large cities make a pretty broad classification of
"country." A town of five thousand people is to them "country." But it
is not country. The problem of the village and the small town is not the
rural problem, take it the nation over. The smaller the town, the more
nearly it approaches to rural conditions, but its essential problem is
not that of the farm.

And, finally, let no one suppose that philanthropy is the chief medicine
for the social ill-health of the country. The intelligent student who
possesses the true spirit of helpfulness may find in the rural problem
ample scope for both his brain and his heart. But he will make a
fundamental and irreparable error if he starts out with the notion that
pity, charity, and direct gifts will win the day. You may flatter the
American farmer; you cannot patronize him. He demands and needs, not
philanthropy, but simple justice, equal opportunity, and better
facilities for education. He is neither slave nor pauper.

To conclude: There is a farm problem, and it is worth solving. But it
differs from the city problem. And if, as is to be hoped, the recently
renewed interest in this question is to be permanent, we trust that
those who desire to make it a special study, as well as those whose
interest in it is general and widely human, may from the start avoid the
errors that are likely to obscure rural conditions when viewed through
city eyes.



It is impossible to acquire a keen and permanent interest in the rural
problem unless one first of all is cognizant of its significance. And
lack of knowledge at this point may in part account for the fact already
alluded to that in America the farm problem has not been adequately
studied. So stupendous has been the development of our manufacturing
industries, so marvelous the growth of our urban population, so pressing
the questions raised by modern city life, that the social and economic
interests of the American farmer have, as a rule, received minor
consideration. We are impressed with the rise of cities like Chicago,
forgetting for the moment that half of the American people still live
under rural conditions. We are perplexed by the labor wars that are
waged about us, for the time unmindful that one-third of the workers of
this country make their living immediately from the soil. We are
astounded, and perhaps alarmed, at the great centralization of capital,
possibly not realizing that the capital invested in agriculture in the
United States nearly equals the combined capital invested in the
manufacturing and railway industries. But if we pause to consider the
scope and nature of the economic and social interests involved, we
cannot avoid the conclusion that the farm problem is worthy of serious
thought from students of our national welfare.

We are aware that agriculture does not hold the same relative rank among
our industries that it did in former years, and that our city population
has increased far more rapidly than has our rural population. We do not
ignore the fact that urban industries are developing more rapidly than
is agriculture, nor deny the seriousness of the actual depletion of
rural population, and even of community decadence, in some portions of
the Union. But these facts merely add to the importance of the farm
question. And it should not be forgotten that there has been a large and
constant growth both of our agricultural wealth and of our rural
population. During the last half-century there was a gain of 500 per
cent. in the value of farm property, while the non-urban population
increased 250 per cent. Agriculture has been one of the chief elements
of America's industrial greatness, it is still our dominant economic
interest, and it will long remain at least a leading industry. The
people of the farm have furnished a sturdy citizenship and have been the
primary source of much of our best leadership in political, business,
and professional life. For an indefinite future, a large proportion of
the American people will continue to live in a rural environment.


Current agricultural discussion would lead us to think that the farm
problem is largely one of technique. The possibilities of the
agricultural industry, in the light of applied science, emphasize the
need of the farmer for more complete knowledge of soil and plant and
animal, and for increased proficiency in utilizing this knowledge to
secure greater production at less cost. This is a fundamental need. It
lies at the basis of success in farming. But it is not the farm problem.

Business skill must be added, business methods enforced. The farmer must
be not only a more skilful produce-grower, but also a keener
produce-seller. But the moment we enter the realm of the market we step
outside the individualistic aspect of the problem as embodied in the
current doctrine of technical agricultural teaching, and are forced to
consider the social aspect as emphasized, first of all, in the economic
category of price. Here we find many factors--transportation cost,
general market conditions at home and abroad, the status of other
industries, and even legislative activities. The farm problem becomes an
industrial question, not solely one of technical and business skill.
Moreover, the problem is one of a successful industry as a whole, not
merely the personal successes of even a respectable number of individual
farmers. The farming class must progress as a unit.

But have we yet reached the heart of the question? Is the farm problem
one of technique plus business skill, plus these broad economic
considerations? Is it not perfectly possible that agriculture as an
industry may remain in a fairly satisfactory condition, and yet the
farming class fail to maintain its status in the general social order?
Is it not, for instance, quite within the bounds of probability to
imagine a good degree of economic strength in the agricultural industry
existing side by side with either a peasant régime or a
landlord-and-tenant system? Yet would we expect from either system the
same social fruitage that has been harvested from our American yeomanry?

We conclude, then, that _the farm problem consists in maintaining upon
our farms a class of people who have succeeded in procuring for
themselves the highest possible class status, not only in the
industrial, but in the political and the social order--a relative
status, moreover, that is measured by the demands of American ideals._
The farm problem thus connects itself with the whole question of
democratic civilization. This is not mere platitude. For we cannot
properly judge the significance and the relation of the different
industrial activities of our farmers, and especially the value of the
various social agencies for rural betterment, except by the standard of
class status. It is here that we seem to find the only satisfactory
philosophy of rural progress.

We would not for a moment discredit the fundamental importance of
movements that have for their purpose the improved technical skill of
our farmers, better business management of the farm, and wiser study and
control of market conditions. Indeed, we would call attention to the
fact that social institutions are absolutely necessary means of securing
these essential factors of industrial success. In the solution of the
farm problem we must deliberately invoke the influence of quickened
means of communication, of co-operation among farmers, of various means
of education, and possibly even of religious institutions, to stimulate
and direct industrial activity. What needs present emphasis is the fact
that there is a definite, real, social end to be held in view as the
goal of rural endeavor. The highest possible social status for the
farming class is that end.

We may now, as briefly as possible, describe some of the difficulties
that lie in the path of the farmers in their ambition to attain greater
class efficiency and larger class influence, and some of the means at
hand for minimizing the difficulties. A complete discussion of the farm
problem should, of course, include thorough consideration of the
technical, the business, and the economic questions implied by the
struggle for industrial success; for industrial success is prerequisite
to the achievement of the greatest social power of the farming class.
But we shall consider only the social aspects of the problem.


Perhaps the one great underlying social difficulty among American
farmers is their comparatively isolated mode of life. The farmer's
family is isolated from other families. A small city of perhaps twenty
thousand population will contain from four hundred to six hundred
families per square mile, whereas a typical agricultural community in a
prosperous agricultural state will hardly average more than ten families
per square mile. The farming class is isolated from other classes.
Farmers, of course, mingle considerably in a business and political way
with the men of their trading town and county seat; but, broadly
speaking, farmers do not associate freely with people living under urban
conditions and possessing other than the rural point of view. It would
be venturesome to suggest very definite generalizations with respect to
the precise influence of these conditions, because, so far as the writer
is aware, the psychology of isolation has not been worked out. But two
or three conclusions seem to be admissible, and for that matter rather
generally accepted.

The well-known conservatism of the farming class is doubtless largely
due to class isolation. Habits, ideas, traditions, and ideals have long
life in the rural community. Changes come slowly. There is a tendency to
tread the well-worn paths. The farmer does not easily keep in touch with
rapid modern development, unless the movements or methods directly
affect him. Physical agencies which improve social conditions, such as
electric lights, telephones, and pavements, come to the city first. The
atmosphere of the country speaks peace and quiet. Nature's routine of
sunshine and storm, of summer and winter, encourages routine and
repetition in the man who works with her.

A complement of this rural conservatism, which at first thought seems a
paradox, but which probably grows out of these same conditions of
isolation, is the intense radicalism of a rural community when once it
breaks away from its moorings. Many farmers are unduly suspicious of
others' motives; yet the same people often succumb to the wiles of the
charlatan, whether medical or political. Farmers are usually
conservative in politics and intensely loyal to party; but the Populist
movement indicates the tendency to extremes when the old allegiance is
left behind. Old methods of farming may be found alongside
ill-considered attempts to raise new crops or to utilize untried

Other effects of rural isolation are seen in a class provincialism that
is hard to eradicate, and in the development of minds less alert to
seize business advantages and less far-sighted than are developed by the
intense industrial life of the town. There is time to brood over wrongs,
real and imaginary. Personal prejudices often grow to be rank and
coarse-fibered. Neighborhood feuds are not uncommon and are often
virulent. Leadership is made difficult and sometimes impossible. It is
easy to fall into personal habits that may mark off the farmer from
other classes of similar intelligence, and that bar him from his
rightful social place.

It would, however, be distinctly unfair to the farm community if we did
not emphasize some of the advantages that grow out of the rural mode of
life. Farmers have time to think, and the typical American farmer is a
man who has thought much and often deeply. A spirit of sturdy
independence is generated, and freedom of will and of action is
encouraged. Family life is nowhere so educative as in the country. The
whole family co-operates for common ends, and in its individual members
are bred the qualities of industry, patience, and perseverance. The
manual work of the schools is but a makeshift for the old-fashioned
training of the country-grown boy. Country life is an admirable
preparation for the modern industrial and professional career.

Nevertheless, rural isolation is a real evil. Present-day living is so
distinctively social, progress is so dependent upon social agencies,
social development is so rapid, that if the farmer is to keep his status
he must be fully in step with the rest of the army. He must secure the
social view-point. The disadvantages of rural isolation are largely in
the realm of the social relations, its advantages mostly on the
individual and moral side. Farm life makes a strong individual; it is a
serious menace to the achievement of class power.

A cure for isolation sometimes suggested is the gathering of the farmers
into villages. This remedy, however, is of doubtful value. In the first
place, the scheme is not immediately practicable. About three and
one-half billions of dollars are now invested in farm buildings, and it
will require some motive more powerful than that inspired by academic
logic to transfer, even gradually, this investment to village groups.
Moreover, it is possible to dispute the desirability of the remedy. The
farm village at best must be a mere hamlet. It can secure for the farmer
very few of the urban advantages he may want, except that of permitting
closer daily intercourse between families. And it is questionable if the
petty society of such a village can compensate for the freedom and
purity of rural family life now existing. It may even be asserted with
some degree of positiveness that the small village, on the moral and
intellectual sides, is distinctly inferior to the isolated farm home.

At the present time rural isolation in America is being overcome by the
development of better means of communication among farmers who still
live on their farms. So successful are these means of communication
proving that we cannot avoid the conclusion that herein lies the remedy.
Improved wagon roads, the rural free mail delivery, the farm telephone,
trolley lines through country districts, are bringing about a positive
revolution in country living. They are curing the evils of isolation,
without in the slightest degree robbing the farm of its manifest
advantages for family life. The farmers are being welded into a more
compact society. They are being nurtured to greater alertness of mind,
to greater keenness of observation, and the foundations are being laid
for vastly enlarged social activities. The problem now is to extend
these advantages to every rural community--in itself a task of huge
proportions. If this can be done and isolation can be reduced to a
minimum, the solution of all the other rural social problems will become
vastly easier.


Organization is one of the pressing social problems that American
farmers have to face. The importance of the question is intrinsic,
because of the general social necessity for co-operation which
characterizes modern life. Society is becoming consciously
self-directive. The immediate phase of this growing self-direction lies
in the attempts of various social groups to organize their powers for
group advantage. And if, as seems probable, this group activity is to
remain a dominant feature of social progress, even in a fairly coherent
society, it is manifest that there will result more or less of
competition among groups.

The farming class, if at all ambitious for group influence, can hardly
avoid this tendency to organization. Farmers, indeed more than any
other class, need to organize. Their isolation makes thorough
organization especially imperative. And the argument for co-operation
gains force from the fact that relatively the agricultural population is
declining. In the old days farmers ruled because of mere mass. That is
no longer possible. The naïve statement that "farmers must organize
because other classes are organizing" is really good social philosophy.

In the group competition just referred to there is a tendency for class
interests to be put above general social welfare. This is a danger to be
avoided in organization, not an argument against it. So the farmers'
organization should be guarded, at this point, by adherence to the
principle that organization must not only develop class power, but must
be so directed as to permit the farmers to lend the full strength of
their class to general social progress.

Organization thus becomes a test of class efficiency, and consequently a
prerequisite for solving the farm problem. Can the farming class secure
and maintain a fairly complete organization? Can it develop efficient
leaders? Can it announce, in sound terms, its proposed group policy? Can
it lend the group influence to genuine social progress? If so, the
organization of farmers becomes a movement of pre-eminent importance.

Organization, moreover, is a powerful educational force. It arouses
discussion of fundamental questions, diffuses knowledge, gives practice
in public affairs, trains individuals in executive work, and, in fine,
stimulates, as nothing else can, a class which is in special need of
social incentive.

Organization is, however, difficult of accomplishment. While it would
take us too far afield to discuss the history of farmers' organizations
in America, we may briefly suggest some of the difficulties involved.
For forty years the question has been a prominent one among the farmers,
and these years have seen the rise and decline of several large
associations. There have been apparently two great factors contributing
to the downfall of these organizations. The first was a misapprehension,
on the part of the farmers, of the feasibility of organizing themselves
as a political phalanx; the second, a sentimental belief in the
possibilities of business co-operation among farmers, more especially in
lines outside their vocation. There is no place for class politics in
America. There are some things legislation cannot cure. There are
serious limitations to co-operative endeavor. It took many hard
experiences for our farmers to learn these truths. But back of all lie
some inherent difficulties, as, for instance, the number of people
involved, their isolation, sectional interests, ingrained habits of
independent action, of individual initiative, of suspicion of others'
motives. There is often lack of perspective, and unwillingness to invest
in a procedure that does not promise immediate returns. The mere fact of
failure has discredited the organization idea. There is lack of
leadership; for the farm industry, while it often produces men of strong
mind, keen perception, resolute will, does not, as a rule, develop
executive capacity for large enterprises.

It is frequently asserted that farmers are the only class that has not
organized. This is not strictly true. The difficulties enumerated are
real difficulties and have seriously retarded farm organization. But if
the progress made is not satisfactory, it is at least encouraging. On
the purely business side, over five thousand co-operative societies
among American farmers have been reported. In co-operative buying of
supplies, co-operative selling of products, and co-operative insurance
the volume of transactions reaches large figures. A host of societies
of a purely educational nature exists among stock-breeders,
fruit-growers, dairymen. It is true that no one general organization of
farmers, embracing a large proportion of the class, has as yet been
perfected. The nearest approach to it is the Grange, which, contrary to
a popular notion, is in a prosperous condition, with a really large
influence upon the social, financial, educational, and legislative
interests of the farming class. It has had a steady growth during the
past ten years, and is a quiet but powerful factor in rural progress.
The Grange is perhaps too conservative in its administrative policy. It
has not at least succeeded in converting to its fold the farmers of the
great Mississippi Valley. But it has workable machinery, it disavows
partisan politics and selfish class interests, and it subordinates
financial benefits, while emphasizing educational and broadly political
advantages. It seems fair to interpret the principles of the Grange as
wholly in line with the premise of this paper, that the farmers need to
preserve their status, politically, industrially, and socially, and that
organization is one of the fundamental methods they must use. The
Grange, therefore, deserves to succeed, and indeed is succeeding.

The field of agricultural organization is an extensive one. But if the
farm problem is to be solved satisfactorily, the American farmers must
first secure reasonably complete organization.


It is hardly necessary to assert that the education of that portion of
the American people who live upon the land involves a question of the
greatest significance. The subject naturally divides itself into two
phases, one of which may be designated as rural education proper, the
other as agricultural education. Rural education has to do with the
education of people, more especially of the young, who live under rural
conditions; agricultural education aims to prepare men and women for the
specific vocation of agriculture. The rural school typifies the first;
the agricultural school, the second. Rural education is but a section of
the general school question; agricultural education is a branch of
technical training. These two phases of the education of the farm
population meet at many points, they must work in harmony, and together
they form a distinct educational problem.

The serious difficulties in the rural school question are perhaps
three: first, to secure a modern school, in efficiency somewhat
comparable to the town school, without unduly increasing the school tax;
second, so to enrich the curriculum and so to expand the functions of
the school that the school shall become a vital and coherent part of the
community life, on the one hand translating the rural environment into
terms of character and mental efficiency, and on the other hand serving
perfectly as a stepping-stone to the city schools and to urban careers;
third, to provide adequate high-school facilities in the rural

The centralization of district schools and the transportation of pupils
will probably prove to be more nearly a solution of all these
difficulties than will any other one scheme. The plan permits the
payment of higher wages for teachers and ought to secure better
instruction; it permits the employment of special teachers, as for
nature-study or agriculture; it increases the efficiency of
superintendence; it costs but little, if any, more than the district
system; it leaves the school amid rural surroundings, while introducing
into the schoolroom itself a larger volume, so to speak, of
world-atmosphere; it contains possibilities for community service; it
can easily be expanded into a high school of reputable grade.

There are two dangers, both somewhat grave, likely to arise from an
urgent campaign for centralization. Even if the movement makes as great
progress as could reasonably be expected, for a generation to come a
large share, if not a major portion, of rural pupils will still be
taught in the small, isolated, district school; there is danger that
this district school may be neglected. Moreover, increased school
machinery always invites undue reliance upon machine-like methods.
Centralization permits, but does not guarantee, greater efficiency. A
system like this one must be vitalized by constant and close touch with
the life and needs and aspirations of the rural community itself.

Wherever centralization is not adopted, the consolidation of two or
three schools--a modified form of centralization--may prove helpful.
Where the district school still persists, there are one or two
imperative requirements. Teachers must have considerably higher wages
and longer tenure. There must be more efficient supervision. The state
must assist in supporting the school, although only in part. The small
schools must be correlated with some form of high school. The last
point is of great importance because of the comparative absence in
country communities of opportunity near at hand for _good_ high-school

Agricultural education is distinctively technical, not in the restricted
sense of mere technique, or even of applied science, but in the sense
that it must be frankly vocational. It has to do with the preparation of
men and women for the business of farming and for life in the rural

Agricultural education should begin in the primary school. In this
school the point of view, however, should be broadly pedagogical rather
than immediately vocational. Fortunately, the wise teaching of
nature-study, the training of pupils to know and to love nature, the
constant illustrations from the rural environment, the continual appeal
to personal observation and experience, absolute loyalty to the farm
point of view, are not only sound pedagogy, but form the best possible
background for future vocational study. Whether we call this early work
"nature-study" or call it "agriculture" matters less than that the
fundamental principle be recognized. It must first of all _educate_. The
greatest difficulty in introducing such work into the primary school is
to secure properly equipped teachers.

Perhaps the most stupendous undertaking in agricultural education is the
adequate development of secondary education in agriculture. The
overwhelming majority of young people who secure any agricultural
schooling whatever must get it in institutions that academically are of
secondary grade. This is a huge task. If developed to supply existing
needs, it will call for an enormous expenditure of money and for the
most careful planning. From the teaching view-point it is a difficult
problem. Modern agriculture is based upon the sciences; it will not do,
therefore, to establish schools in the mere art of farming. But these
agricultural high schools must deal with pupils who are comparatively
immature, and who almost invariably have had no preparation in science.
Nor should the courses at these schools be ultra-technical. They are to
prepare men and women for life on the farm--men and women who are to
lead in rural development, and who must get some inkling at least of the
real farm question and its solution. The agricultural school, therefore,
presents a problem of great difficulty.

A perennial question in agricultural education is: What is the function
of the agricultural college? We have not time to trace the history of
these colleges, nor to elaborate the various views relative to their
mission. But let us for a moment discuss their proper function in the
light of the proposition that the preservation of the farmers' status is
the real farm problem; for the college can be justified only as it finds
its place among the social agencies helpful in the solution of the farm

In so far as the agricultural college, through its experiment station or
otherwise, is an organ of research, it should carry its investigations
into the economic and sociological fields, as well as pursue experiments
in soil fertility and animal nutrition.

In the teaching of students, the agricultural college will continue the
important work of training men for agricultural research, agricultural
teaching, and expert supervision of various agricultural enterprises.
But the college should put renewed emphasis upon its ability to send
well-trained men to the farms, there to live their lives, there to find
their careers, and there to lead in the movements for rural progress. A
decade ago it was not easy to find colleges which believed that this
could be done, and some agricultural educators have even disavowed such
a purpose as a proper object of the colleges. But the strongest
agricultural colleges today have pride in just such a purpose. And why
not? We not only need men thus trained as leaders in every rural
community, but, if the farming business cannot be made to offer a career
to a reasonable number of college-trained men, it is a sure sign that
only by the most herculean efforts can the farmers maintain their status
as a class. If agriculture must be turned over wholly to the untrained
and to the half-trained, if it cannot satisfy the ambition of strong,
well-educated men and women, its future, from the social point of view,
is indeed gloomy.

The present-day course of study in the agricultural college does not,
however, fully meet this demand for rural leadership. The farm problem
has been regarded as a technical question, and a technical training has
been offered the student. The agricultural college, therefore, needs
"socializing." Agricultural economics and rural sociology should occupy
a large place in the curriculum. The men who go from the college to the
farm should appreciate the significance of the agricultural question,
and should be trained to organize their forces for genuine rural
progress. The college should, as far as possible, become the leader in
the whole movement for solving the farm problem.

The farm home has not come in for its share of attention in existing
schemes of agricultural education. The kitchen and the dining-room have
as much to gain from science as have the dairy and the orchard. The
inspiration of vocational knowledge must be the possession of her who is
the entrepreneur of the family, the home-maker. The agricultural
colleges through their departments of domestic science--better, of
"home-making"--should inaugurate a comprehensive movement for carrying
to the farm home a larger measure of the advantages which modern science
is showering upon humanity.

The agricultural college must also lead in a more adequate development
of extension teaching. Magnificent work has already been done through
farmers' institutes, reading courses, co-operative experiments,
demonstrations, and correspondence. But the field is so immense, the
number of people involved so enormous, the difficulties of reaching them
so many, that it offers a genuine problem, and one of peculiar
significance, not only because of the generally recognized need of
adult education, but also because of the isolation of the farmers.

It should be said that in no line of rural betterment has so much
progress been made in America as in agricultural education. Merely to
describe the work that is being done through nature-study and
agriculture in the public schools, through agricultural schools, through
our magnificent agricultural colleges, through farmers' institutes, and
especially through the experiment stations and the federal Department of
Agriculture in agricultural research and in the distribution of the best
agricultural information--merely to inventory these movements properly
would take the time available for this discussion. What has been said
relative to agricultural education is less in way of criticism of
existing methods than in way of suggestion as to fundamental needs.


Wide generalizations as to the exact moral situation in the rural
community are impossible. Conditions have not been adequately studied.
It is probably safe to say that the country environment is extremely
favorable for pure family life, for temperance, and for bodily and
mental health. To picture the country a paradise is, however, mere
silliness. There are in the country, as elsewhere, evidences of
vulgarity in language, of coarseness in thought, of social impurity, of
dishonesty in business. There is room in the country for all the ethical
teaching that can be given.

Nor is it easy to discuss the country church question. Conditions vary
in different parts of the Union, and no careful study has been made of
the problem. As a general proposition, it may be said that there are too
many churches in the country, and that these are illy supported.
Consequently, they have in many cases inferior ministers. Sectarianism
is probably more divisive than in the city, not only because of the
natural conservatism of the people and a natural disinclination to
change their views, but because sectarian quarrels are perhaps more
easily fomented and less easily harmonized than anywhere else. Moreover,
in the city a person can usually find a denomination to his liking. In
the country, even with the present overchurched condition, this is

The ideal solution of the country church problem is to have in each
rural community one strong church adequately supported, properly
equipped, ministered to by an able man--a church which leads in
community service. The path to the realization of such an ideal is rough
and thorny. Church federation, however, promises large results in this
direction and should be especially encouraged.

Whatever outward form the solution of the country church question may
take, there seem to be several general principles involved in a
satisfactory attempt to meet the issue. In the first place, the country
church offers a problem by itself, socially considered. Methods
successful in the city may not succeed in the country. The country
church question must then be studied thoroughly and on the ground.

Again, the same principle of financial aid to be utilized in the case of
the schools must be invoked here. The wealth of the whole church must
contribute to the support of the church everywhere. The strong must help
the weak. The city must help the country. But this aid must be given by
co-operation, not by condescension. The demand cannot be met by home
missionary effort nor by church-building contributions; the principle
goes far deeper than that. Some device must be secured which binds
together the whole church, along denominational lines if must be, for a
full development of church work in every community in the land.

Furthermore, there is supreme necessity for adding dignity to the
country parish. Too often at present the rural parish is regarded either
as a convenient laboratory for the clerical novice, or as an asylum for
the decrepit or inefficient. The country parish must be a parish for our
ablest and strongest. The ministry of the most Christlike must be to the
hill-towns of Galilee as well as to Jerusalem.

There is still another truth that the country church cannot afford to
ignore. The rural church question is peculiarly interwoven with the
industrial and social problems of the farm. A declining agriculture
cannot foster a growing church. An active church can render especially
strong service to a farm community, in its influence upon the religious
life, the home life, the educational life, the social life, and even
upon the industrial life. Nowhere else are these various phases of
society's activities so fully members one of another as in the country.
The country church should co-operate with other rural social agencies.
This means that the country pastor should assume a certain leadership in
movements for rural progress. He is splendidly fitted, by the nature of
his work and by his position in the community, to co-operate with
earnest farmers for the social and economic, as well as the moral and
spiritual, upbuilding of the farm community. But he must know the farm
problem. Here is an opportunity for theological seminaries: let them
make rural sociology a required subject. And, better, here is a
magnificent field of labor for the right kind of young men. The country
pastorate may thus prove to be, as it ought to be, a place of honor and
rare privilege. In any event, the country church, to render its proper
service, not alone must minister to the individual soul, but must throw
itself into the struggle for rural betterment, must help solve the farm


The suggestion that the country church should ally itself with other
agencies of rural progress may be carried a step farther. Rural social
forces should be federated. The object of such federation is to
emphasize the real nature of the farm problem, to interest many people
in its solution, and to secure the co-operation of the various rural
social agencies, each of which has its sphere, but also its limitations.
The method of federation is to bring together, for conference and for
active work, farmers--especially representatives of farmers'
organizations, agricultural educators, rural school-teachers and
supervisors, country clergymen, country editors; in fact, all who have a
genuine interest in the farm problem. Thus will come clearer views of
the questions at issue, broader plans for reform, greater incentive to
action, and more rapid progress.


In this brief analysis of the social problems of American farmers it has
been possible merely to outline those aspects of the subject that seem
to be fundamental. It is hoped that the importance of each problem has
been duly emphasized, that the wisest methods of progress have been
indicated, and that the relation of the various social agencies to the
main question has been clearly brought out. Let us leave the subject by
emphasizing once more the character of the ultimate farm problem. This
problem may be stated more concretely, if not more accurately, than was
done at the opening of the paper, by saying that the ideal of rural
betterment is to preserve upon our farms the typical American farmer.
The American farmer has been essentially a middle-class man. It is this
type we must maintain. Agriculture must be made to yield returns in
wealth, in opportunity, in contentment, in social position, sufficient
to attract and to hold to it a class of intelligent, educated American
citizens. This is an end vital to the preservation of American
democratic ideals. It is a result that will not achieve itself; social
agencies must be invoked for its accomplishment. It demands the
intelligent and earnest co-operation of all who love the soil and who
seek America's permanent welfare.


[1] The material for this chapter is taken from an address entitled
"Social Problems of American Farmers," which was read before the
Congress of Arts and Science, section of The Rural Community, at St.
Louis, September, 1904.




Narrowness is perhaps the charge most often brought against American
farm life. To a certain extent this charge may be just, though the
comparisons that usually lead up to the conclusion do not always
discriminate. It must be remembered that there are degrees of
desirability in farm life, and that at the least there are multitudes of
rural communities where bright flowers still bloom, where the shade is
refreshing, and the waters are sweet. But, granting for the time that in
the main rural life is less pleasant, less rich, less expansive than
city life, we shall urge that this era of restriction is rapidly drawing
to a close. There are forces at work that are molding rural life by new
standards, and the old régime is passing. We shall soon be able to say
of the country that "old things have passed away; all things have become

This statement may seem too optimistic to some who can marshal an array
of facts to prove that bigotry, narrowness, and the whole family of ills
begotten by isolation still thrive in the country. It is true that our
picture is not all of rose tints. But what of that? If it were not true
there would be no farm problem; the country would have to convert the
town. The fact remains that rural life is undergoing a rapid expansion.
Materially, socially, and intellectually, the farmer is broadening. Old
prejudices are fading. The plowman is no longer content to keep his eye
forever on the furrow. The revival has been in slow progress for some
time and has not yet reached its zenith; indeed, the movement is but
well under way. For while the new day came long ago to some rural
communities and they are basking in a noonday sun, yet in far too many
localities the faintest gray of dawn is all that rouses hope.

The fundamental change that is taking place is the gradual adoption of
the new agriculture. "Book-farmin'" is still decried, and many
"perfessers" have a rocky road to travel in their attempts to guide the
masses through the labyrinth of scientific knowledge that has been
constructed during the last decade or two. This difficulty has not been
wholly the farmer's fault--the scientist would often have been more
persuasive had his wings been clipped. But there is a decided "getting
together" nowadays--the farmer and the man of science have at last
found common ground. And while the pendulum of agricultural prosperity
shall always swing to and fro, there are, to change the figure, reasons
for believing that an increasing number of farmers have rooted the tree
of permanent success.

To enumerate some of these reasons: (1) Thousands of farmers are farming
on a scientific basis. They use the results of soil and fertilizer
analysis; they cultivate, not to kill weeds so much as to conserve
moisture; horticulturists spray their trees according to formulas laid
down by experimenters; dairymen use the "Babcock test" for determining
the fat content of milk; stock-feeders utilize the scientists' feeding
rations. (2) The number of specialists among farmers is increasing. This
is a sign of progress surely. More and more farmers are coming to push a
single line of work. (3) New methods are being rapidly adopted. Fifteen
years ago hardly a fruit-grower sprayed for insect and fungus pests;
today it is rare to find one who does not. The co-operative creamery has
not only revolutionized the character of the butter product made by the
factory system, but it has set the pace for thousands of private
dairymen who are now making first-class dairy butter. (4) In general
the whole idea of _intensive_ farming is gaining ground.

This specialization, or intensification, of agriculture makes a new
demand, upon those who pursue it, in the way of mental and business
training. This training is being furnished by a multitude of agencies,
and the younger generation of farmers is taking proper advantage of the
opportunities thus offered. What are some of these regular agencies? (1)
An alert farm press, containing contributions from both successful
farmers and scientific workers. (2) Farmers' institutes, which are
traveling schools of technical instruction for farmers. (3) The
bulletins issued by the government experiment stations located in every
state, and by the federal Department of Agriculture. (4) Special winter
courses (of from two to twelve weeks), offered at nearly all the
agricultural colleges of the country, for instruction in practical
agriculture. (5) Regular college courses in agriculture at these same
colleges. (6) Extension instruction by lectures and correspondence. (7)
A growing book literature of technical agriculture. (8) More encouraging
than all else is the spirit of inquiry that prevails among farmers the
country over--the recognition that there is a basis of science in
agriculture. No stronger pleas for the advancement of agricultural
education can be found than those that have recently been formulated by
farmers themselves.

If this regeneration of farm life were wholly material it would be worth
noting; for it promises a prosperity built on foundations sufficiently
strong to withstand ordinary storms. Yet this is but a chapter of the
story. Not only are our American farmers making a study of their
business, bringing to it the resources of advancing knowledge and good
mental training, and hence deriving from it the strong, alert mental
character that comes to all business men who pursue equally intelligent
methods, but the farmers are by no means neglecting their duty to
broaden along general intellectual lines. Farmers have always been
interested in politics; there is no reason to think that their interest
is declining. The Grange and other organizations keep their attention on
current problems. Traveling libraries, school libraries, and Grange
libraries are giving new opportunities for general reading, and the
farmer's family is not slow to accept the chance. Low prices for
magazines and family papers bring to these periodicals an increasing
list from the rural offices. Rural free mail delivery promises, among
many other results of vast importance, to enlarge the circulation of
daily papers among farmers not less than tenfold.

The really great lesson that farmers are rapidly learning is to work
together. They have been the last class to organize, and jealousy,
distrust, and isolation have made such organizations as they have had
comparatively ineffective. But gradually they are learning to
compromise, to work in harmony, to sink merely personal views, to trust
their own leaders, to keep troth in financially co-operative projects.
There will be no Farmers' Party organized; but the higher politics is
gaining among farmers, and more and more independent voting may be
expected from the rural precincts. Farmers are learning to pool such of
their interests as can be furthered by legislation.

It is also true that the whole aspect of social life in the country is
undergoing a profound evolutionary movement. Farmers are meeting one
another more frequently than they used to. They have more picnics and
holidays. They travel more. They go sight-seeing. They take advantage of
excursions. Their social life is more mobile than formerly. Farmers
have more comforts and luxuries than ever before. They dress better
than they did. More of them ride in carriages than formerly. They buy
neater and better furniture. The newer houses are prettier and more
comfortable than their predecessors. Bicycles and cameras are not
uncommon in the rural home. Rural telephone exchanges are relatively a
new thing, but the near future will see the telephone a part of the
ordinary furniture of the rural household; while electric car lines
promise to be the final link in the chain of advantages that is rapidly
transforming rural life--robbing it of its isolation, giving it balance
and poise, softening its hard outlines, and in general achieving its
thorough regeneration.

This sketch is no fancy tale. The movement described is genuine and
powerful. The busy city world may not note the signs of progress.
Well-minded philanthropists may feel that the rural districts are in
special need of their services. Even to the watchers on the walls there
is much of discouragement in the advancement that _isn't_ being made.
Yet it needs no prophet's eye to see that a vast change for the better
in rural life and conditions is now in progress.

No student of these conditions expects or desires that the evolution
shall be Acadian in its results. It is to be hoped indeed that country
sweets shall not lose their delights; that the farmer himself may find
in his surroundings spiritual and mental ambrosia. But what is wanted,
and what is rapidly coming, is the breaking down of those barriers which
have so long differentiated country from urban life; the extinction of
that social ostracism which has been the farmer's fate; the obliteration
of that line which for many a youth has marked the bounds of
opportunity: in fact, the creation of a rural society whose advantages,
rewards, prerogatives, chances for service, means of culture, and
pleasures are representative of the best and sanest life that the
accumulated wisdom of the ages can prescribe for mankind.



All farmers may be divided into three classes. There is the "old"
farmer, there is the "new" farmer, and there is the "mossback." The old
farmer represents the ancient régime. The new farmer is the modern
business agriculturist. The mossback is a mediaeval survival. The old
farmer was in his day a new farmer; he was "up with the times," as the
times then were. The new farmer is merely the worthy son of a noble
sire; he is the modern embodiment of the old farmer's progressiveness.
The mossback is the man who tries to use the old methods under the new
conditions; he is not "up" with the present times, but "back" with the
old times. Though he lives and moves in the present, he really has his
being in the past.

The old farmer is the man who conquered the American continent. His axe
struck the crown from the monarchs of the wood, and the fertile farms of
Ohio are the kingdom he created. He broke the sod of the rich prairies,
and the tasseling cornfields of Iowa tell the story of his deeds. He
hitched his plow to the sun, and his westward lengthening furrows fill
the world's granary.

The new farmer has his largest conquests yet to make. But he has put his
faith in the strong arm of science; he has at his hand the commercial
mechanism of a world of business. He believes he will win because he is
in league with the ongoing forces of our civilization.

The mossback cannot win, because he prefers a flintlock to a Mauser. He
has his eyes upon the ground, and uses snails instead of stars for

The old farmer was a pioneer, and he had all the courage, enterprise,
and resourcefulness of the pioneer. He was virile, above all things
else. He owned and controlled everything in sight. He was a
state-builder. Half a century ago, in the Middle West, the strong men
and the influential families were largely farmers. Even professional men
owned and managed farms, frequently living upon them. The smell of the
soil sweetened musty law books, deodorized the doctor's den, and floated
as incense above the church altars.

The new farmer lives in a day when the nation is not purely an
agricultural nation, but is also a manufacturing and a trading nation.
He belongs no longer to the dominant class, so far as commercial and
social and political influence are concerned. But none of these things
move him. For he realizes that out of this seeming decline of
agriculture grow his best opportunities. He discards pioneer methods
because pioneering is not now an effective art.

The mossback sees perhaps clearly enough these changes, but he does not
understand their meaning, nor does he know how to meet them. He is
dazzled by the romantic halo of the good old times, dumfounded by the
electric energy of the present, discouraged and distracted by the
pressure of forces that crush his hopes and stifle his strength.

Economically, the old farmer was not a business man, but a barterer. The
rule of barter still survives in the country grocery where butter and
eggs are traded for sugar and salt. The old farmer was industrially
self-sufficient. He did not farm on a commercial basis. He raised apples
for eating and for cider, not for market--there was no apple market. He
had very little ready money, he bought and sold few products. He traded.
Even his grain, which afterward became the farmer's great cash crop, was
raised in small quantities and ground at the nearest mill--not for
export, but for a return migration to the family flour-barrel.

The new farmer has always existed--because he is the old farmer growing.
He has kept pace with our industrial evolution. When the régime of
barter passed away, he ceased to barter. When the world's market became
a fact, he raised wheat for the world's market. As agriculture became a
business, he became a business man. As agricultural science began to
contribute to the art of farming, he studied applied science. As
industrial education developed, he founded and patronized institutions
for agricultural education. As alertness and enterprise began to be
indispensable in commercial activity, he grew alert and enterprising.

The mossback is the man who has either misread the signs of the times,
or who has not possessed the speed demanded in the two-minute class. He
is the old farmer gone to seed. He tries to fit the old methods to the
new régime.

But it is not sufficient to picture the new farmer. You must explain
him. What is it that makes the new farmer? Who is he? What are his
tools? In the first place, you cannot explain the new farmer unless you
know the old farmer. You cannot have the new farmer unless you also
have the mossback. The new farmer is a comparative person, as it were.
You have to define him in terms of the mossback. The contrast is not
between the old farmer and the new, for that is merely a question of
relative conditions in different epochs of time. The contrast is between
the new farmer and the mossback, for that is a question of men and of
their relative efficiency as members of the industrial order. Then, of
course, you must observe the individual traits that characterize the new
farmer, such as keenness, business instinct, readiness to adopt new
methods, and, in fact, all the qualities that make a man a success today
in any calling. For the new farmer, in respect to his personal
qualities, is not a sport, a phenomenon. He does not stand out as a
distinct and peculiar specimen. He is a successful American citizen who
grows corn instead of making steel rails.

But you have not yet explained the new farmer. These personal traits do
not explain him. It may be possible to explain an individual and his
success by calling attention to his characteristics, and yet you cannot
completely analyze him and his career unless you understand the
conditions under which he works--the industrial and social environment.
Much less can you explain a class of people by describing their personal
characteristics. You must reach out into the great current of life that
is about them, and discern the direction and power of that current.

Now, the conditions that tend to make the new farmer possible may be
grouped in an old-fashioned way under two heads. In the old scientific
phrases the two forces that make the new farmer are the "struggle for
life" and "environment," or, to use other words, competition and

Competition has pressed severely upon the farmer, competition at home
and competition from other countries. At one time the heart of the
wheat-growing industry of this country was near Rochester, N. Y., in the
Genesee Valley; but the canal and the railway soon made possible the
occupation of the great granary of the west. A multitude of ambitious
young men soon took possession of that granary, and the flour-mills were
moved from Rochester to Minneapolis. This is an old story, but the same
forces are still at work. There has been developed a world-market. The
sheep of the Australian bush have become competitors of the flocks that
feed upon the green Vermont mountains and the Ohio hills. The plains of
Argentina grow wheat for London. Russia, Siberia, and India pour a
constant stream of golden grain into the industrial centers of Western
Europe, and the price of American wheat is fixed in London. These forces
have produced still another kind of competition; namely, specialization
among farmers. Localities particularly adapted to special crops are
becoming centers where skill and intelligence bring the industry to its
height. The truck-farming of the South Atlantic region, the fruit
growing of western Michigan, the butter factories of Wisconsin and
Minnesota, have crowded almost to suffocation the small market-gardener
of the northern town, the man with a dozen peach trees, and the farmer
who keeps two cows and trades the surplus butter for calico. These
things have absolutely forced progress upon the farmer. It is indeed a
"struggle for life." Out of it comes the "survival of the fittest," and
the fittest is the new farmer.

But along with competition has come opportunity. Indeed, out of these
very facts that have made competition so strenuous spring the most
marvelous opportunities for the progressive farmer. Specialization
brings out the best that there is in the locality and the man. It gives
a chance to apply science to farming. Our transportation system permits
the peach growers of Grand Rapids to place their crops at a profit in
the markets of Buffalo and Pittsburg; the rich orchards and vineyards of
Southern California find their chief outlet in the cities of the
manufacturing Northeast--three thousand miles away. During the forty
years, from 1860, the exports of wheat from this country increased from
four million bushels annually to one hundred and forty million bushels;
of corn, from three and one-third million bushels to one hundred and
seventy-five million bushels; of beef products, from twenty million
pounds to three hundred and seventy million pounds; of pork products,
from ninety-eight million pounds to seventeen hundred million pounds.
And not only do the grain and stock farmers find this outlet for their
surplus products, but we are beginning to ship abroad high-grade fruit
and first-class dairy products in considerable quantities. Low rates of
freight, modern methods of refrigeration, express freight trains, fast
freight steamers--the whole machinery of the commercial and financial
world are at the service of the new farmer. Science, also, has found a
world of work in ministering to the needs of agriculture, and in a
hundred different ways the new farmer finds helps that have sprung up
from the broadcast sowing of the hand of science.

But perhaps even more remarkable opportunities come to the new farmer in
those social agencies that tend to remove the isolation of the country;
that assist in educating the farmer broadly; that give farmers as a
class more influence in legislature and congress, and that, in fine,
make rural life more worth the living. The new farmer cannot be
explained until one is somewhat familiar with the character of these
rural social agencies. They have already been enumerated and classified
in a previous chapter; they will be more fully described in subsequent

It must not be supposed that every successful farmer is necessarily a
supporter of all of these social agencies. He may be a prosperous farmer
just because he is good at the art of farming, or because he is a keen
business man. But more and more he is coming to see that these things
are opportunities that he cannot afford to disregard. Indeed, some of
these institutions are largely the creation of the new farmer himself.
He is using them as tools to fashion a better rural social structure.

But they also fashion him. They serve to explain him, in great part.
Competition inspires the farmer to his best efforts. The opportunity
offered by these new and growing advantages gives him the implements
wherewith to make his rightful niche in the social and industrial

It would be erroneous to suppose that the new farmer is a _rara avis_.
He is not. The spirit pervading the ranks of farmers is rapidly
changing. We have been in a state of transition in agriculture. But the
farther shore has been reached and the bridge is possible. The army of
rural advancement is being recruited with great rapidity. The advance
guard is more than a body of scouts, it is an effective brigade.

I want also to make a plea for the mossback. He must not be condemned
utterly. Remember that competition among farmers has been intense; that
rural environment breeds conservatism. Remember also that the farmer
cannot change his methods as rapidly as can some other business men.
Remember, too, that there is comparatively small chance for speculation
in agriculture; that large aggregates of capital cannot be collected for
farming, and consequently, that the approved means for securing immense
wealth, great industrial advancement, and huge enterprises are nearly
absent in agriculture. Remember that the voices calling from the city
deplete the country of many good farmers as well as of many poor ones.
Moreover, there are many men on farms who perhaps don't care for
farming, but who for some reason cannot get away. On the farm a man need
not starve; he can make a livelihood. Doubtless this simple fact is
responsible for a multitude of mossbacks. They can live without
strenuous endeavor. Possibly a good many of us are strenuous because we
are pushed into it. So I have a good deal of sympathy for the mossback,
and a mild sort of scorn for some of his critics, who probably could not
do any better than he is doing if they essayed the gentle art of
agriculture. I also have sympathy for the mossback particularly because
he is the man that needs attention. The new farmer takes the initiative.
He patronizes these opportunities that we have been talking about. But
the mossback, because he is discouraged, or because he is ignorant, or
perhaps merely because he is conservative, takes little interest in
these things. About one farmer in ten belongs to some sort of farmers'
association. Thousands of farmers do not take an agricultural paper, and
perhaps millions of them have not read an agricultural book. Right here
comes in another fact. Every "new" farmer when full grown competes with
every mossback. The educated farmer makes it still harder for the
ignorant farmer to progress.

The future of the American farmer is one of the most pregnant social
problems with which we have to deal. There is indeed an issue involved
in the success of the new farmer that is still more fundamental than any
yet mentioned. The old farmer had a social standing that made him
essentially a middle-class man. He was a landholder, he was independent,
he was successful. He was the typical American citizen. The old farmer
was father to the best blood of America. His sons and his sons' sons
have answered to the roll call of our country's warriors, statesmen,
writers, captains of industry.

Can the new farmer maintain the same relative social status? And if he
can, is he to be an aristocrat, a landlord, a captain of industry, and
to bear rule over the mossback? And is the tribe of mossbacks destined
to increase and become a caste of permanent tenants or peasants? Is the
future American farmer to be the typical new farmer of the present, or
are we traveling toward a social condition in which the tillers of the
soil will be underlings? Is there coming a time when the "man with the
hoe" will be the true picture of the American farmer, with a low
standard of living, without ideals, without a chance for progress?

We must eliminate the mossback. It is to be done largely by education
and by co-operation. There must be a campaign for rural progress. There
must be a union of the country school teacher, of the agricultural
college professor, of the rural pastor, of the country editor, with the
farmers themselves, for the production of an increased crop of new
farmers. Anything that makes farm life more worth living, anything that
banishes rural isolation, anything that dignifies the business of
farming and makes it more prosperous, anything that broadens the
farmer's horizon, anything that gives him a greater grasp of the rural
movement, anything that makes him a better citizen, a better business
man, or a better _man_, means the passing of the mossback.



The question of questions that the college student asks himself is, What
am I going to be? The surface query is, What am I going to _do_? But in
his heart of hearts he ponders the deeper questions: What may I become
in real intellectual and moral worth? How large a man, measured by the
divine standards, will it be possible for me to grow into?

These are the great questions because growth is the great end of life.
That is what we are here for, to grow. To develop all our talents, all
our possibilities, to increase our native powers of body, mind, and
soul--this is life. It is important that we have a vocation. We must do
something, and do it well. But the real end is not in working at a
profession but in developing our abilities. Our symmetrical growth is
the measure of our success as human beings.

As the student looks out over the ocean of life and scans the horizon
for signs of the wise course for him to take, he should decide whether
the particular mode of life that now appeals to him will yield the
greatest possible measure of growth. He must consult his tastes, his
talents, his opportunities, his training. And the test question is, Will
this line of work yield me the growth, the culture, I desire?

But what are the elements that yield culture to an individual? Using
culture in a very broad sense as a synonym for growth, we may say that
the things contributing most to the culture of the average person are
his work, his leisure, and his service to others. We may now try to
answer the question we started with, as it presents itself to many a
student in the agricultural colleges of our country. Will agriculture as
a business, will the farm life and environment, contribute to the growth
which I desire for myself? Can I extract culture from the corn lot?

Let us first see if the work or vocation of farming gives culture. My
answer would be that there is scarcely an occupation to be named that
requires broader knowledge, more accurate observation, or the exercise
of better judgment than does modern farming. The farmer deals with the
application of many sciences. He must be an alert business man. He
requires executive talent of no mean order. The study of his occupation
in its wider phases leads him into direct contact with political
economy, social movements, and problems of government. The questions
confronting him as a farmer relate themselves to the leading realms of
human knowledge and experience. I speak of course of the progressive
farmer, who makes the best use of his opportunities. He can hardly hope
to become immensely wealthy, but he can maintain that modest standard of
living that usually is the lot of our most useful and cultured people
and that ministers as a rule most fully to the ideal family life. The
truly modern farmer cannot help growing.

There is much hard work on the farm. Yet on the whole there is fully as
much leisure as in most other occupations. There is time to read, and
books are today so easily accessible that living in the country is no
bar to the bookshelf. Better than time to read is time to think. The
farmer has always been a man who pondered things in his heart. He has
had a chance to meditate. No culture is sound except it has been bought
by much thinking; all else is veneer. Farm life gives in good measure
this time to think. But it is in nature that the farmer finds or may
find his most fertile field for culture. Here he is at home. Here he
may revel if he will. Here he may find the sources of mind-liberation
and of soul-emancipation. He may be the envy of everyone who dwells in
the city because he lives so near to nature's heart. Bird and flower,
sky and tree, rock and running brook speak to him a various language. He
may read God's classics, listen to the music of divine harmonies, and
roam the picture galleries of the Eternal. So too in his dealings with
his kind, he lives close to men and women who are frank, virile, direct,
clean, independent. The culture coming from such associations is above
price. One learns to pierce all shams, to honor essential manhood, to
keep pure the fountains of sympathy, ambition, and love. Thus on the
farm one may find full opportunity for that second means of culture,

Another powerful agency for cultivating the human soul is service.
Indeed, service is the dynamic of life. To be of use is the ambition
that best stimulates real growth. Culture is the end of life, the spirit
of service the motive power. So it is of this I would speak perhaps most
fully, not only because it is a vital means of culture, but because it
is also peculiarly the privilege and duty of the college man and the
college woman. For let it be said that if any college student secures a
diploma of any degree without having been seized upon by a high ambition
to be of some use in the work of helping humanity forward, then have
that person's years of study been in vain, and his teaching also vain.
The college man comes not to be ministered unto but to minister. He has
been poorly taught if he leaves college with no thought but for his
material success. He must have had a vision of service, his lips touched
with a coal from the altar of social usefulness, and his heart
cultivated to respond to the call for any need he can supply, "Here am
I, send me."

I think it may safely be said that there is no field which offers better
chance for leadership to the average college man or woman than does the
farm. Take, for instance, politics. The majority of our states are
agricultural states. The majority of our counties are agricultural
counties. The agricultural vote is the determining factor in a large
proportion of our elections. It follows inevitably that honest, strong
farmers with the talent for leadership and the ability to handle
themselves in competition with other political leaders have a
marvelously fine chance for useful service.

So is it in educational questions. Nowhere may the citizen come into
closer contact with the educational problems of the day than through
service on the rural school board. If he brings to this position trained
intelligence, some acquaintance with educational questions, and a desire
to keep in touch with the advancement of the times, he can do for his
community a service that can hardly be imagined.

Take another field--that of organization for farmers, constituting a
problem of great significance. As yet this class of people is relatively
unorganized, but the movement is growing and the need of well-trained
leadership is vital. I cannot speak too strongly of the chance here
offered for active, intelligent, masterful men and women in being of use
as leaders and officials in the Grange and other farmers' organizations.

So with the church question. One of the reasons for the slow progress of
the country church is the conservatism in the pews as well as in the
pulpit. The ardent member of the Young Men's Christian Association in
college may feel that, in the country, there will be no outlet for his
ambition to be of religious use to his fellow-men. This is a mistake.
The work of the Young Men's Christian Association itself in the country
districts is just beginning, and promises large growth. Wider service in
the church, a community federation or union of different churches, the
work of young people's societies and of the Sunday schools--all these
afford abundant opportunity for the man or the woman qualified and

There are other lines of usefulness. Although I have stated that on the
farm the opportunities for personal culture are great, it must be
confessed that these opportunities are not fully utilized by the average
farmer's family. Here then is a very wide field, especially for the
farmer's wife. For if she is a cultivated college woman, she can through
the woman's club, the Grange, the school, the nature-study club, the
traveling library, and in scores of ways exercise an influence for good
on the community that may have far greater results than would come from
her efforts if expended in the average city. The farm home too has
latent capacities that are yet to be developed. It ought to be the ideal
home and, in many cases, it is. But there are not enough of such ideal
homes in the country. No college woman with a desire to do her full
service in the world ought for an instant to despise the chance for
service as it exists on the farm.

All of these opportunities so briefly suggested might be enlarged upon
almost indefinitely, but the mere mention of them emphasizes the call
for this service and this leadership. Nowhere are leaders more needed
than in the country. The country has been robbed of many of its
strongest and best. The city and perhaps the nation are gainers: but the
country has suffered. From one point of view, the future of our farming
communities depends upon the quality of leadership that we are to find
there during the next generation.

So we come back to our question, Can the farm be made to yield to the
man or woman, residing upon it and making a living from it, that measure
of growth and all-round development that the ambitious person wishes to
attain? And our answer is, Yes. In its work, its leisure, its field for
service, it may minister to sound culture. If you love the life and work
of the farm, do not hesitate to choose that occupation for fear of
becoming narrow or stunted. You can live there the full, free life. You
can grow to your full stature there. You can get culture from the corn


[2] Addressed to students in an agricultural college.




The two generations living subsequent to the year 1875 are to be
witnesses of an era in American history that will be known as the age of
industrial education. These years are to be the boundaries of a period
when the general principle that every individual shall be properly
trained for his or her occupation in life is to receive its practical
application. Future generations will doubtless extend marvelously the
limits to which the principle can be pushed in its ministrations to
human endeavor, but we are in the time when the principle is first to
receive general acceptation and is to be regarded as a fundamentally
necessary fact of human progress.

We are already "witnesses of the light." Even within the memory of young
men has it come to pass that the old wine skins of the old educational
institutions have been filled with the new wine of science and of
knowledge and training applied to the industries and businesses of life.

Agriculture has perhaps been slow to feel the current of the new wine
as it flows from the wine press of fast-growing industrial and social
need. But the least hopeful of us can, I am sure, already see signs of a
vast awakening. The farm, as well as the pulpit, the bar, the
schoolroom, the shop, the counting-room, is breathing in the new idea
that knowledge and training can be made of use to every man.

This awakening is due not merely to the desire of agriculturists to be
in fashion, nor to the efforts of agricultural pedagogues, but to a real
need. It is common knowledge that in America we have not farmed, but
have mined the soil. We have "skimmed the cream" of fertility, and
passed on to conquer new areas of virgin soil. This pioneer farming has
required hard work, enterprise, courage, and all the noble traits of
character that have made our American pioneers famous and that have
within a century subdued a wilderness to civilization. But the farmer of
today faces a new situation. The fertile lands are fairly well occupied.
The old lands are depleted. These old lands must be handled skilfully if
they are to produce profitably. They must be used because there is
little else to use, and because they are near the best markets.
Meantime, scientists have been studying the deep things of nature, and
have been learning the laws that govern soil, plant, and animal. Thus we
have the farmer's need met by the theorist's discoveries. The farmer, to
avail himself of these discoveries must know their meaning and be able
to apply the general principle to the specific case. This means
agricultural education.

Then again, the consumption of high-class products increases at least as
rapidly as does our wealth. The demand comes not alone from the rich,
but from the middle classes of our cities. Skilled artisans are large
consumers of choice meats, fruits, and vegetables. To grow these
high-grade products means skill, and skill means training, and training
in the large sense means education.

The need for agricultural education, is, then, a real and vital one. It
is pressed upon us by economic and social conditions. It is in line with
the movement of the age.

In discussing agricultural education, we must not forget that the farmer
is also a citizen and a man. He should be an intelligent citizen, and
should therefore study questions of government. As a man, he should be
the equal of other men of his same social rank. He therefore needs a
good general education. He is more than mere farmer. While as farmer he
must connect his business with its environment and out of his
surroundings gain sound culture; while he should know nature, not only
as its master, but as its friend; he should also be in sympathy with all
that makes modern civilization worth while. And even as mere farmer, he
finds himself face to face with grave social problems. He must not only
produce but he must sell, and his selling powers are governed by
conditions of the market, by transportation facilities and practices,
and are affected by the laws of the land. Hence he must be a student of
these problems and must know the broad phases of agriculture and its
relations to other industries.

No intelligent man doubts the need of agricultural education. Let us,
then, say a word about the kind of education demanded. This question is
settled very largely by the discussion we have just had about the need
of this education. First of all, this education will give a fair mastery
of the principles that govern proper soil management and plant and
animal growth. This is fundamental. The farmer is dealing with natural
laws, and he must know in them their applications. He cannot be blind
to their dominance. They insist on recognition. They are jealous masters
and good servants. Nature serves only the man who obeys her. To obey he
must know. The truth shall make him free. How to secure larger crops of
better products at less cost and still maintain soil fertility, is the
first demand of modern agriculture, and its solution depends in large
measure upon education.

But education does not stop here. The farmer is also a seller as well as
a producer. He is a business man. He is manager of an industry. He is an
investor of capital. So the question will arise, Can he get any help
from education in the handling of the business phases of his farm? He
certainly can. You cannot teach a man business in the sense of supplying
him with good sense, business judgment, ability to handle men, and so
on. But you can study the general conditions that govern the business of
agriculture, and you can report the results of your researches to the
practical farmer; and he, if he is willing, may learn much that will be
helpful to him in deciding the many difficult questions that confront
him as a business man. Farm administration in its largest sense will,
then, be a most important phase of agricultural education.

It is quite possible for the individual farmer to succeed admirably if
he is equipped with a sound training in the principles of production and
in farm management. But there are still larger questions that farmers as
a class must meet if agriculture is to have its full success and if the
farmer himself is to occupy the social position he ought to have.
Agriculture is an industry among industries. Farmers are a class among
classes. As an industry, agriculture has relations to other industries.
It is subject to economic laws. It involves something more than growing
and selling. The nature of the market, railroad rates, effects of the
tariff and of taxation, are questions vital to agriculture. So with the
farmers socially considered. Their opportunities for social life, their
school facilities, their church privileges, their associations and
organizations--all these are important matters. So agricultural
education will not fail to call attention to these larger questions.

The well-educated farmer will, then, be trained in three lines of
thought--first, that which deals with the growth of products; second,
that which deals with the selling of products; and third, that which
deals with agriculture as an industry and farmers as a class of people.

We may next discuss as briefly as possible the methods by which
agricultural education may be advanced. We may not consider all of them,
but rather attend only to some of those agencies that seem of peculiar
interest just at this time.

There is one underlying requisite of successful agricultural education
that is all-important. It is faith in agriculture. Any man to succeed
grandly must have absolute faith in his business. So the farmer must
believe in agriculture. Agriculture cannot attain its highest rank
unless the men engaged in it believe in it most profoundly. They must
believe that a man can make money in farming. They must love the farm
life and surroundings. They must believe that the best days of
agriculture are ahead of us, not behind us. They must believe that men
can find in agriculture a chance to use brains and to develop talents
and to utilize education. Agricultural education rests on this faith.
Give us a state filled with such farmers and we can guarantee a strong
system of agricultural education. But the seeds of education cannot grow
in a soil barren of the richness of sentiment for and confidence in the
farm. Our agricultural colleges have been criticized because they have
graduated so few farmers. But the fault is not all with the colleges.
The farmers also are to blame. They have not had faith enough in the
farm to advise young men to go to college to prepare for farming. They
admit the value of education for the law, for building railroads, but
not for farming. This must be changed, is being changed. The last ten
years have seen a revolution in this respect, and the result is a mighty
increase in agricultural educational interest.

One powerful means of agricultural education is the farmers'
organization or association. All our dairy, horticultural, poultry, and
live-stock associations are great educators. So of an organization like
the Grange, its chief work is education. It brings mind in contact with
mind; it gives chance for discussion and interchange of ideas; it trains
in power of expression; it teaches the virtue of co-operation. Farmers
blunder when they fail to encourage organization. Sometimes, out of
foolish notions of independence, they neglect to unite their forces.
They are utterly blind to their best interests when they do so. They
should encourage organization if for no other reason than for the
splendid educational advantages that flow from it.

However, our chief interest is, perhaps, in those institutions that are
formed purposely and especially for agricultural education and which are
usually supported out of public funds. There are three great fields of
endeavor in which these institutions are working. The first step is to
know--to know the truth. So in agriculture we must know. Know what? Know
how nature works. So the man of science studies the soil and finds out
what plant-food it contains, how the water acts in it, what heat and air
do, and the inter-relation of all these elements. He studies the plant
and its habits and tries to discover how it grows and how it can be
improved for man's use. He studies the animal and endeavors to learn
what are the best foods for it and what laws govern its adaptation to
human food. He studies climate and tries to find out what plants and
animals are most appropriate to different locations. He studies
injurious insects and diseases and devises remedies for them. He
discovers, experiments. So we have research as the first term in
agricultural education. The institutions of research are our experiment
stations and United States Department of Agriculture. Their work may be
likened to the plowing of the field. They strive to know how nature
works, and how man can make use of her laws in the growing of plant and

The next thing is to teach. The farmer too must know. Knowledge confined
to the scientist has little practical use. It is the farmer who can use
it. Moreover, new teachers must be trained, new experimenters equipped,
and leaders in every direction prepared. So we have agricultural
colleges and schools. If experiment is to be likened to plowing, the
work of the schools may be compared to sowing and cultivating.

Agricultural colleges have been in existence in America almost fifty
years. Their careers have been both inspiring and disappointing. They
have had to train their own teachers, create a body of knowledge, break
down the bars of educational prejudice. This work has taken time. The
results justify the time and effort. For today agricultural education is
becoming organized, the subjects of study are well planned, and
competent men are teaching and experimenting. The disappointment is
twofold. They have not graduated as many farmers as they should have.
This is due not wholly to wrong notions in the colleges. It is, as
suggested before, partly due to the lack of faith in agriculture on the
part of the farmers themselves. But the colleges are in part to blame.
Many of them have not been in close touch with the farmers. They have
often been out of sympathy with the interests of the farmers. They have
too frequently been servile imitators of the traditions of the older
colleges, instead of striking out boldly on a line of original and
helpful work for agriculture. Today, however, we see a rapid change
going on in most of our agricultural colleges. They are seeking to help
solve the farmers' difficulties. They are training young men for farm
life. The farmers are responding to this new interest and are beginning
to have great confidence in the colleges.

It is sometimes said that most farmers who get an agricultural education
cannot be trained in the colleges. Doubtless this is true. Probably a
very small proportion even of educated farmers can or will graduate from
a full course in an agricultural college. Many will do so. There is no
reason why a large proportion of the graduates of our college courses in
agriculture may not go to the farm. I have no sympathy with the idea
that those courses are too elaborate for those young men who want to
farm. It must be recognized, however, that even if our agricultural
colleges shall graduate hundreds and thousands every year who return to
the farm, it still leaves the great majority of farmers untouched in an
educational way unless other means are devised. But there are other
means at hand.

We have first the agricultural school. The typical agricultural high
school gives a course of two or three years, offering work of
high-school grade in mathematics and English, with about half the time
devoted to teaching in agriculture. Many young men want to get an
insight into the principles of modern agriculture, but cannot afford
time or money for college work. This course fits their need. A splendid
school of this design has been in successful operation in Minnesota for
more than a dozen years, and has nearly five hundred students. In
Wisconsin there are two county schools of agriculture for a similar
purpose. Other schools could be named.

The agricultural colleges also offer shorter courses of college grade,
perhaps of two years. These are very practical and useful courses. Not
only that, but nearly all the colleges give special winter courses of
from ten days to fourteen weeks. These are patronized by thousands of
young men. So in many ways are the colleges meeting the need. We all
agree that it is desirable for a young man to take a full college
course, even in agriculture. But it is better to have a half-loaf than
no bread. Yes, better to have a _slice_ than no bread. The colleges
furnish the whole loaf, the half-loaf, and the slice. And young men are
nourished by all.

One reason why agricultural education has not made more rapid progress
is because the children of the country schools have been taught in such
a manner as to lead them to think that there is no chance for brains in
farming. Both their home influence and their school atmosphere have, in
most cases perhaps, been working against their choice of agriculture as
a vocation. It therefore becomes important that these children shall be
so taught that they can see the opportunity in farming. They must,
moreover, be so trained that they will be nature students; for the
farmer above all men must be a nature student. So we see the need of
introducing into our rural schools nature-study for the young pupils and
elementary agriculture for the older ones. This is being successfully
accomplished in many cases, and is arousing the greatest interest and
meeting with gratifying success. We shall within ten years have a new
generation of young men and women ready for college who have had their
eyes opened as never before to the beauties of nature and to the
fascination there is in the farmer's task of using nature for his own

But when we have increased the attendance at our agricultural colleges
tenfold; when we have hundreds of agricultural schools teaching
thousands of our youth the fundamentals of agriculture; when each rural
school in our broad land is instilling into the minds of children the
nearness and beauty of nature and is teaching the young eyes to see and
the young ears to hear what God hath wrought in his many works of land
and sea and sky, in soil, and plant, and living animal--even when that
happy day shall dawn will we find multitudes of men and women on our
farms still untouched by agricultural education. These people must be
reached. The mere fact that their school days are forever behind them is
no reason why they shall not receive somewhat of the inspiration and
guidance that flow from the schools. So we have an imperative demand for
the extension of agricultural teaching out from the schools to the farm
community. The school thus not only sheds its light upon those who are
within its gates, but sets out on the beautiful errand of carrying this
same light into every farm home in the land. This work is being done
today by thousands of farmers' institutes, by demonstrations in spraying
and in many other similar lines, by home-study courses and
correspondence courses, by co-operative experiments, by the distribution
of leaflets and bulletins, by lectures at farmers' gatherings, by
traveling schools of dairying. These methods and others like them are
being invoked for the purpose of bringing to the farmers in their homes
and neighborhoods some of the benefits that the colleges and schools
bestow upon their pupils.

We have seen something of the need of agricultural education, of the
kind of education required, and of the means used to secure it. Does not
this discussion at least show the supreme importance of the question?
Will not the farmers rally themselves to and league themselves with the
men who are trying to forward the best interests of the farm? Shall we
not all work together for the betterment both of the farm and of the



A decade and a half ago, there was a vigorous campaign for the
establishment of university extension throughout the United States.
Generally speaking the campaign was a losing one--with but a few
successes amid general failure. But many years before this agitation,
there was begun a work among farmers, which in form and spirit was
university extension, and which has constantly developed until it is
today one of the most potent among the forces making for rural progress.
This work has been done chiefly by what are now universally known as
farmers' institutes.

The typical farmers' institute is a meeting usually lasting two days,
held for the purpose of discussing subjects that relate to the interests
of farmers, more particularly those of a practical character. As a rule,
the speakers to whom set topics are assigned are composed of two
classes: the first class is made up of experts, either professors or
experimenters in agricultural colleges and similar institutions, or
practical farmers who have made such a study of, and such a conspicuous
success in, some branch of agriculture that they may well be called
experts; the second class comprises farmers living in the locality in
which the institute is held. The experts are expected to understand
general principles or methods, and the local speakers the conditions
peculiar to the neighborhood.

The meeting usually begins in the forenoon and ends with the afternoon
session of the second day--five sessions being held. As a rule, not over
two or three separate topics are treated in any one session, and in a
well-planned institute topics of a like character are grouped together,
so that there may be a fruit session, a dairy session, etc. Each topic
is commonly introduced by a talk or paper of twenty to forty minutes'
length. This is followed by a general discussion in which those in the
audience are invited to ask questions of the speaker relevant to the
topic under consideration, or to express opinions and give experiences
of their own.

This is a rough outline of the average farmers' institute, but of course
there are many variations. There are one-day meetings and there are
three-day meetings, and in recent years the one-day meetings have grown
in favor; in some states local speakers take little part; in some
institutes a question-box is a very prominent feature, in others it is
omitted altogether; in some cases the evening programme is made up of
educational topics, or of home topics, or is even arranged largely for
amusement; in other instances the evening session is omitted. In most
institutes women are recognized through programme topics of special
interest to them.

It is not important to trace the early history of the farmers' institute
movement, and indeed it is not very easy to say precisely when and where
the modern institute originated. Farmers' meetings of various sorts were
held early in the century. As far back as 1853 the secretary of the
Massachusetts Board of Agriculture recommended that farmers' institutes
be made an established means of agricultural education. By 1871 Illinois
and Iowa held meetings called farmers' institutes, itinerant in
character, and designed to call together both experts and farmers, but
neither state kept up the work systematically. Both Vermont and New
Hampshire have held institutes annually since 1871, though they did not
bear that name in the early years. Michigan has a unique record, having
held regularly, since 1876, annual farmers' institutes, "so known and
designated," which always have contained practically the essential
features of the present-day institute. The Michigan legislature passed a
law in 1861 providing for "lectures to others than students of the
Agricultural College," and has made biennial appropriations for
institutes since 1877. Ohio, in 1881, extended the institute idea to
include every county in the state.

More important than the origin of the farmers' institute movement is the
present status. Practically every state and territory in the Union
carries on institutes under some form or other. In somewhat more than
half the states, the authorities of the land-grant colleges have charge
of the work. In the other states, the board of agriculture or the
department of agriculture has control.

In 1905-6 there were held 3,500 institutes, in 45 states and
territories, with a total reported attendance of 1,300,000 people, at a
cost of nearly $350,000. The work is largely supported by the state
treasuries, some of the states showing a most generous spirit. The
annual state appropriations for the work in leading institute states are
as follows: Pennsylvania, $20,500; New York, $20,000; Minnesota,
$18,000; Illinois, $17,150; Ohio, $16,747; Wisconsin, $12,000; Indiana,
$10,000. In these states practically every county has annually from one
to five institutes.

Institutes in no two states are managed in the same way, but the system
has fitted itself to local notions and perhaps to local needs. A rough
division may be made--those states which have some form of central
control and those which do not have. Even among states having a central
management are found all degrees of centralization; Wisconsin and Ohio
may be taken as the extremes. In Wisconsin the director of institutes,
who is an employee of the university, has practically complete charge of
the institutes. He assigns the places where the meetings are to be held,
basing his decision upon the location of former institutes in the
various counties, upon the eagerness which the neighborhoods seem to
manifest toward securing the institute, etc. He arranges the programme
for each meeting, suiting the topics and speakers to local needs,
prepares advertising materials, and sets the dates of the meeting. A
local correspondent looks after a proper hall for meeting, distributes
the advertising posters, and bears a certain responsibility for the
success of the institute. Meetings are arranged in series, and a corps
of two or three lecturers is sent by the director upon a week's tour.
One of these lecturers is called a conductor. He usually presides over
the institute and keeps the discussions in proper channels. Practice
makes him an expert. The state lecturers do most of the talking. Local
speakers do not bear any large share in the programme. Questions are
freely asked, however.

Ohio has an institute society in each county, and this society largely
controls its own institutes. The secretary of the State Board of
Agriculture, who has charge of the system, assigns dates and speakers to
each institute. After that everything is in the hands of the local
society, which chooses the topics to be presented by the state speakers,
advertises the meeting, and the society president acts as presiding
officer. Local speakers usually occupy half the time.

It does not seem as if either of these plans in its entirety were
ideal--the one an extreme of centralized control, the other an extreme
of local management. Yet in practice both plans work well. No states in
the Union have better institutes nor better results from institute work
than Wisconsin and Ohio. Skill, intelligence, and tact count for more
than particular institutions.

New York may be said to follow the Wisconsin plan. Minnesota goes even a
step farther; instead of holding several series of institutes
simultaneously in different parts of the state, attended by different
"crews," the whole corps of state speakers attends every institute. No
set programmes are arranged. Everything depends upon local conditions.
This system is expensive, but under present guidance very effective.
Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have adopted systems which are a
mean between the plan of centralization and the plan of localization.
Illinois has a plan admirably designed to encourage local interest,
while providing for central management.

Few other states have carried institute work so far as the states
already named, and in some cases there seems to be a prejudice against a
well-centralized and fully-developed system--a feeling that each
locality may be self-sufficing in institute work. But this attitude is
wearing away, for experience serves to demonstrate fully the value of
system. The danger of centralization is bureaucracy; but in institute
work, if the management fails to provide for local needs, and to furnish
acceptable speakers, vigorous protests soon correct the aberration.

It has been stated that in America we have no educational _system_--that
spontaneity is the dominant feature of American education. This is
certainly true of farmers' institutes. So it has transpired that
numerous special features have come in to use in various
states--features of value and interest. It may be worth while to suggest
some of the more characteristic of these features, without attempting an
exact category.

Formerly the only way in which women were recognized at the institutes
was by home and social topics on the programme, though women have always
attended the meetings freely. Some years ago Minnesota and Wisconsin
added women speakers to their list of state speakers, and in the case of
Wisconsin, at least, held a separate session for women, simultaneously
with one or two sessions of the regular institute, with demonstration
lectures in cooking as the chief features. Michigan holds "women's
sections" in connection with institutes, but general topics are taken
up. In Ontario separate women's institutes have been organized. In
Illinois a State Association of Domestic Science has grown out of the
institutes. Thus institute work has broadened to the advantage of farm

At many institutes there are exhibits of farm and domestic products--a
sort of midwinter fair. Oftentimes the merchants of the town in which
the institute is held offer premiums as an inducement to the farmers.

In Wisconsin an educational feature of much value takes the form of
stock-judging--usually at the regular autumn fairs. The judges give
their reasons for their decisions, thus emphasizing the qualities that
go to make up a perfect or desirable animal.

In several states there is held an annual state institute called a
"round-up," "closing institute," or the like. It is intended to be a
largely attended and representative state convention of agriculturists,
for the purpose of discussing topics of general interest to men and
women from the farms. These meetings are frequently very large and
enthusiastic gatherings.

The county institute society is a part of the organization in some
instances very well developed. It gives permanency to the work and
arouses local interest and pride.

The development of men and women into suitable state speakers is an
interesting phase. As a rule the most acceptable speakers are men who
have made a success in some branch of farming, and who also have
cultivated the gift of clear and simple expression. Not a few of these
men become adepts in public speaking and achieve a reputation outside of
their own states. In several states there is held a "normal
institute"--an autumn meeting lasting a week or two weeks, and bringing
together, usually at the state college of agriculture, the men who are
to give the lectures at the institutes of the winter to follow. The
object of the gathering is to bring the lecturers into close contact
with the latest things in agricultural science, and to train them for
more effective work.

A few years ago the United States Department of Agriculture employed an
experienced institute director to give all his time to the study and
promotion of farmers' institutes. This incident is suggestive of the
important place which institutes have secured in the work for better

The results of a generation of institute work are not easy to summarize.
It is safe to make a broad generalization by asserting that this form
of agricultural education has contributed in a remarkable degree to
better farming. The best methods of farming have been advocated from the
institute platform. Agricultural college professors, and agricultural
experimenters have talked of the relations of science to practical
farming. The farmers have come to depend upon the institute as a means
for gaining up-to-date information.

And if institutes have informed, they have also done what is still
better--they have inspired. They have gone into many a dormant farm
community and awakened the whole neighborhood to a quicker life. They
have started discussions, set men thinking, brought in a breath of fresh
air. They have given to many a farmer an opportunity for
self-development as a ready speaker.

Other educational agencies, such as the agricultural colleges and
experiment stations, have profited by institutes. No one thing has done
more than the institutes to popularize agricultural education, to stir
up interest in the colleges, to make the farmers feel in touch with the

Farmers' institutes are a phase of university extension, and it is as a
part of the extension movement that they are bound to increase in value
and importance. Reading-courses and correspondence-courses are growing
factors in this extension movement, but the power of the spoken word is
guarantee that the farmers' institute cannot be superseded in fact. And
it is worth noting again, that while university extension has not been
the success in this country which its friends of a decade ago fondly
prophesied for it, its humbler cousin--agricultural college
extension--has been a conspicuous success, and is acquiring a constantly
increasing power among the educational agencies that are trying to deal
with the farm problem.



The gulf between parent and teacher is too common a phenomenon to need
exposition. The existence of the chasm is probably due more to
carelessness, to the pressure of time, or to indolence than to any more
serious delinquencies; yet all will admit the disastrous effects that
flow from the fact that there is not the close intellectual and
spiritual sympathy that there should be between the school and the home.
It needs no argument to demonstrate the value of any movement that has
for its purpose the bridging of the gulf. But it is an omen of
encouragement to find that there are forces at work designed to bring
teacher and school patron into a closer working harmony. A statement of
the history and methods of some of these agencies may therefore well
have a place in a discussion of rural progress. For the movements to be
described are essentially rural-school movements. Of first interest is
an attempt which has been made in the state of Michigan to bridge the
gulf--to create a common standing-ground for both teacher and
parent--and on that basis to carry on an educational campaign that it is
hoped will result in the many desirable conditions which, a priori,
might be expected from such a union. At present the movement is confined
practically to the rural schools. It consists in the organization of a
county Teachers and Patrons' Association, with a membership of teachers
and school patrons, properly officered. Its chief method of work is to
hold one or more meetings a year, usually in the country or in small
villages, and the programme is designed to cover educational questions
in such a way as to be of interest and profit to both teachers and

This movement was indigenous to Michigan--its founders worked out the
scheme on their own initiative, and to this day its promoters have never
drawn upon any resources outside the state for suggestion or plan. But
if the friends of rural education elsewhere shall be attracted by this
method of solving one of the vexed phases of their problem, I hope that
they will describe it as "the Hesperia movement." For the movement
originated in Hesperia, was developed there, and its entire success in
Hesperia was the reason for its further adoption. Hesperia deserves any
renown that may chance to come from the widespread organization of
Teachers and Patrons' Associations.

And where is Hesperia? It lies about forty miles north and west of Grand
Rapids--a mere dot of a town, a small country village at least twelve or
fifteen miles from any railroad. It is on the extreme eastern side of
Oceana County, surrounded by fertile farming lands, which have been
populated by a class of people who may be taken as a type of
progressive, successful, intelligent American farmers. Many of them are
of Scotch origin. Partly because of their native energy, partly,
perhaps, because their isolation made it necessary to develop their own
institutions, these people believe in and support good schools, the
Grange, and many progressive movements.

For several years there had existed in Oceana County the usual county
teachers' association. But, because Hesperia was so far from the center
of the county, and because it was not easily accessible, the teachers
who taught schools in the vicinity could rarely secure a meeting of the
association at Hesperia; and in turn they found it difficult to attend
the meetings held in the western part of the county. A few years ago it
chanced that this group of teachers was composed of especially bright,
energetic, and original young men and women. They determined to have an
association of their own. It occurred to someone that it would add
strength to their organization if the farmers were asked to meet with
them. The idea seemed to "take," and the meetings became quite popular.
This was during the winter of 1885-86. Special credit for this early
venture belongs to Mr. E. L. Brooks, still of Hesperia and an
ex-president of the present association, and to Dr. C. N. Sowers, of
Benton Harbor, Mich., who was one of the teachers during the winter
named, and who was elected secretary of the Board of School Examiners in
1887. Mr. Brooks writes:

     The programmes were so arranged that the participants in
     discussions and in the reading of papers were about equally divided
     between teachers and patrons. An active interest was awakened from
     the start. For one thing, it furnished a needed social gathering
     during the winter for the farmers. The meetings were held on
     Saturdays, and the schoolhouse favored was usually well filled. The
     meetings were not held at any one schoolhouse, but were made to
     circulate among the different schools. These gatherings were so
     successful that similar societies were organized in other portions
     of the country.

In 1892, Mr. D. E. McClure, who has since (1896-1900) been deputy
superintendent of public instruction of Michigan, was elected
county-school commissioner of Oceana County. Mr. McClure is a man of
great enthusiasm and made a most successful commissioner. He conceived
the idea that this union of teachers and patrons could be made of the
greatest value, in stimulating both teachers and farmers to renewed
interest in the real welfare of the children as well as a means of
securing needed reforms. His first effort was to prepare a list of books
suitable for pupils in all grades of the rural schools. He also prepared
a rural lecture-course, as well as a plan for securing libraries for the
schools. All these propositions were adopted by a union meeting of
teachers and farmers. His next step was to unite the interests of
eastern Oceana County and western Newaygo County (Newaygo lying directly
east of Oceana), and in 1893 there was organized the "Oceana and Newaygo
Counties Joint Grangers and Teachers' Association," the word "Granger"
being inserted because of the activity of the Grange in support of the
movement. Mr. McClure has pardonable pride in this effort of his, and
his own words will best describe the development of the movement:

     This association meets Thursday night and continues in session
     until Saturday night. Some of the best speakers in America have
     addressed the association. Dr. Arnold Tompkins, in speaking before
     the association, said it was a wonderful association and the only
     one of its character in the United States.

     What was my ideal in organizing such associations?

     1. To unite the farmers who pay the taxes that support the schools,
     the home-makers, the teachers, the pupils, into a co-operative work
     for better rural-school education.

     2. To give wholesome entertainment in the rural districts, which
     from necessity are more or less isolated.

     3. To create a taste for good American literature in home and
     school, and higher ideals of citizenship.

     4. Summed up in all, to make the rural schools character-builders,
     to rid the districts of surroundings which destroy character, such
     as unkept school yards, foul, nasty outhouses, poor, unfit
     teachers. These reforms, you understand, come only through a
     healthy educational sentiment which is aroused by a sympathetic
     co-operation of farm, home, and school.

     What results have I been able to discover growing out of this work?
     Ideals grow so slowly that one cannot measure much progress in a
     few years. We are slaves to conditions, no matter how hard, and we
     suffer them to exist rather than arouse ourselves and shake them
     off. The immediate results are better schools, yards,
     out-buildings, schoolrooms, teachers, literature for rural people
     to read.

     Many a father and mother whose lives have been broken upon the
     wheel of labor have heard some of America's orators, have read some
     of the world's best books, because of this movement, and their
     lives have been made happier, more influential, more hopeful.

     Thousands of people have been inspired, made better, at the
     Hesperia meetings.

In western Michigan the annual gathering at Hesperia is known far and
wide as "the big meeting." The following extract from the Michigan
_Moderator-Topics_ indicates in the editor's breezy way the impression
the meeting for 1906 made upon an observer:

     Hesperia scores another success. Riding over the fourteen miles
     from the railroad to Hesperia with Governor Warner and D. E.
     McClure, we tried to make the latter believe that the crowd would
     not be forthcoming on that first night of the fourteenth annual
     "big meeting." It was zero weather and mighty breezy. For such a
     movement to succeed two years is creditable, to hold out for five
     is wonderful, to last ten is marvelous, but to grow bigger and
     better for fourteen years is a little short of miraculous. McClure
     is recognized as the father of the movement and his faith didn't
     waver a hair's breadth. And sure enough there was the
     crowd--standing room only, to hear the governor and see the great
     cartoonist J. T. McCutcheon of the _Chicago Tribune_. For three
     evenings and two days the big hall is crowded with patrons, pupils
     and teachers from the towns and country round. During the fourteen
     years that these meetings have been held, the country community has
     heard some of the world's greatest speakers. The plan has been
     adopted by other counties in Michigan and other states both east
     and west. Its possibilities are well-nigh unlimited and its power
     for good is immeasurable. Everyone connected with it may well feel
     proud of the success attending the now famous "Hesperia Movement."

In 1897, Kent County, Michigan (of which Grand Rapids is the county
seat), organized a Teachers and Patrons' Association that is worth a
brief description, although in more recent years its work has been
performed by other agencies. It nevertheless serves as a good example of
a well-organized association designed to unite the school and home
interests of rural communities. It was for several years signally
successful in arousing interest in all parts of the county. Besides, it
made a departure from the Oceana-Newaygo plan which must be considered
advantageous for most counties. The Hesperia meeting is an annual
affair, with big crowds and abundant enthusiasm. The Kent County
association was itinerant. The membership included teachers, school
officers, farmers generally, and even pupils. An attempt was made to
hold monthly meetings during the school year, but for various reasons
only five or six meetings a year were held. The meetings usually
occurred in some Grange hall, the Grange furnishing entertainment for
the guests. There were usually three sessions--Friday evening and
Saturday forenoon and afternoon. The average attendance was nearly five
hundred, about one-tenth being teachers; many teachers as well as
farmers went considerable distances to attend.

The Kent County association did not collect any fees from its members,
the Teachers' Institute fund of the county being sufficient to provide
for the cost of lectures at the association meetings. Permission for
this use of the fund was obtained from the state superintendent of
public instruction. Some counties have a membership fee; at Hesperia,
the fee is 50 cents, and a membership ticket entitles its holder to a
reserved seat at all sessions. The Kent County association also
suggested a reading-course for its members.

The success of the work in Kent County was due primarily to the fact
that the educators and the farmers and their leaders are in especially
close sympathy. And right there is the vital element of success in this
work. The initiative must be taken by the educators, but the plan must
be thoroughly democratic, and teacher and farmer must be equally
recognized in all particulars. The results of the work in Kent County
were thus summarized by the commissioner of schools of the county:

     To teachers, the series of meetings is a series of mid-year
     institutes. Every argument in favor of institutes applies with all
     its force to these associations. To farmers they afford a near-by
     lecture course, accessible to all members of the family, and of as
     high grade as those maintained in the larger villages. To the
     schools, the value is in the general sentiment and interest
     awakened. The final vote on any proposed school improvement is
     taken at the annual school meeting, and the prevailing sentiment in
     the neighborhood has everything to do with this vote. And not only
     this, but the general interest of patrons may help and cheer both
     teacher and pupils throughout the year. On the other hand,
     indifference and neglect may freeze the life out of the most
     promising school. There is no estimating the value to the schools
     in this respect.

The Kent County association had a very simple constitution. It is
appended here for the benefit of any who may desire to begin this
beneficent work of endeavoring to draw more closely together rural
schools and country homes.


     This association shall be known as "The Kent County Teachers and
     Patrons' Association."


     Any person may become a member of this association by assenting to
     this constitution and paying the required membership fee.


     The object of this association shall be the promotion of better
     educational facilities in all ways and the encouragement of social
     and intellectual culture among its members.


     At least five meetings of the association shall be held each year,
     during the months of October, November, January, February, and
     March, the dates and places of meetings to be determined and
     announced by the executive committee. Special meetings may be
     called at the election of the executive committee.


     SECTION 1. The officers of the association shall be a president, a
     vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer, and an executive
     committee composed of five members to be appointed by the

     SEC. 2. The election of officers shall occur at the regular meeting
     of the association in the month of October.

     SEC. 3. The duties of each officer shall be such as parliamentary
     usage assigns, respectively, according to Cushing's Manual.

     SEC. 4. It shall be the duty of the executive committee to arrange
     a schedule of meetings and to provide suitable lecturers and
     instructors for the same on or before the first day of September of
     each year. It shall be the further duty of this committee to devise
     means to defray the expenses incurred for lecturers and
     instructors. All meetings shall be public, and no charge for
     admission shall be made, except by order of the executive


     SECTION 1. The executive committee may also recommend a course of
     reading to be pursued by members, and it shall be their duty to
     make such other recommendations from time to time as shall have for
     their object the more effective carrying out of the purposes of the

Whether the Oceana County plan of a set annual meeting or the Kent
County plan of numerous itinerant meetings is the better one depends
much on the situation. It is not improbable that itinerant meetings,
with an annual "round-up" meeting of the popular type as the great event
of the school year, would be very satisfactory.

Other counties in the state have taken up the Hesperia idea. In some
cases associations similar to the Kent County association have been
developed. More recently the work has frequently been carried on by the
county commissioner of schools directly. "Institutes on wheels" have
become a factor in the campaign for better rural schools. One
commissioner writes:

     My aim has been to bring into very close relationship teachers,
     patrons, and pupils. This is done, in part, in the following
     manner: I engage, for a week's work at a time, some educator of
     state or national reputation to ride with me on my visitation of
     schools. Through the day, schools are visited, pupils' work
     inspected, and in the evening, a rally is held in the locality
     visited in that day. A circuit is made during the week, and Friday
     evening and the Saturday following a general round-up is held. The
     results of this work have been far reaching. Teachers, patrons, and
     pupils are brought into close relationship and a higher standard of
     education is developed.

The form of organization matters little. The essential idea of the
"Hesperia movement" was to bring together the teacher and the school
patron on a common platform, to a common meeting-place, to discuss
subjects of common interest. This idea must be vitalized in the rural
community before that progress in rural-school matters which we desire
shall become a fact.

It is only fair to say that administrators of rural-school systems in
several states are attempting in one way or another, and have done so
for some years, to bring together teachers and school patrons. In Iowa
there are mothers' clubs organized for the express purpose of promoting
the best interests of the schools. In many of the communities the county
superintendent organizes excursions, and holds school contests which are
largely attended by patrons of the schools.

Ohio has what is known as the "Ohio School Improvement Federation." Its
objects are: (1) to create a wholesome educational sentiment in the
citizenship of the state; (2) to remove the school from partisan
politics; (3) to make teaching a profession, protected and justly
compensated. County associations of the federation are being organized
and the effort is being made to reach the patrons of the schools and to
create the right public sentiment. In many of the teachers' institutes
there is one session devoted entirely to subjects that are of special
interest to the school-board members and to the patrons of the schools.
Educational rallies are held in many of the townships, at which effort
is made to get together all the citizens and have an exhibit of school

In Minnesota, a law was passed recently to the effect that school
officers within a county may attend one educational convention a year
upon call of the county superintendent. They receive therefor, three
dollars for one day's services and five cents mileage each way for
attendance. Already a number of very successful conventions have been
held, wherein all school districts in the counties have been

The county institutes in Pennsylvania are largely attended by the public
and are designed to reach patrons as well as teachers.

In Kansas, county superintendents have organized school-patrons'
associations and school-board associations, both of which definitely
purpose to bring together the school and the home and the officers of
the school into one body and to co-operate with individuals for the
purpose of bettering the school conditions.

Doubtless other states are carrying on similar methods.

An interesting movement wholly independent of the Hesperia plan has
recently been put into operation under the leadership of Principal Myron
T. Scudder of the State Normal School, New Paltz, N. Y. He has organized
a series of country-school conferences. They grew out of a recognized
need, but were an evolution rather than a definite scheme. The school
commissioner, the teachers, and the Grange people of the community have
joined in making up the conference. An attempt is also made to interest
the pupils. At one conference there was organized an athletic league for
the benefit of the boys of the country school. The practical phases of
nature-study and manual training are treated on the programme, and at
least one session is made a parents' meeting. There is no organization

Dr. A. E. Winship, of the _Journal of Education_, Boston, had the
following editorial in the issue of June 21, 1906:

     It is now fourteen years since D. E. McClure spoke into being the
     Hesperia movement, which is a great union of educational and farmer
     forces, in a midwinter Chautauqua, as it were. Twelve miles from
     the railroad, in the slight village of Hesperia, a one-street
     village, one side of the street being in one county and the other
     side in another, for three days and evenings in midwinter each
     year, in a ramshackle building, eight hundred people from all parts
     of the two counties sit in reserved seats, for which they pay a
     good price, and listen to one or two notable speakers and a number
     of local functionaries. One-half of the time is devoted to
     education and the other to farm interests.

     It is a great idea, well worked out, and after fourteen years it
     maintains its lustiness, but I confess to disappointment that the
     idea has not spread more extensively. It is so useful there, and
     the idea is so suggestive, that it should have been well-nigh
     universal, and yet despite occasional bluffs at it, I know of no
     serious effort to adopt it elsewhere, unless the midwinter meeting
     at Shelby, in one of these two counties, can be considered a spread
     of the idea. This child of the Hesperia movement, in one of the two
     counties, and only twenty miles away, had this year many more in
     attendance than have ever been at Hesperia.

This work of uniting more closely the interests, sympathies, and
intelligence of the teachers and patrons of the rural school has had a
test in Michigan of sufficient length to prove that it is a practicable
scheme. No one questions the desirability of the ends it is prepared to
compass, and experience in Michigan shows not only that where the
educators have sufficient enterprise, tact, enthusiasm, and persistence
the necessary organizations can be perfected, but that substantial
results follow. For the sake of better rural schools, then, it is
sincerely to be hoped that the "Hesperia movement" may find expression
in numerous teachers and patrons' associations in at least the great
agricultural states.



Among the great phenomena of our time is the growth of the school
idea--the realization of the part that the school plays in our
civilization and in the training of our youth for life. Our New England
fathers started the school in order that their children might learn to
read the Scriptures, and thus that they might get right ideas of their
religious duty. Even after this aim was outgrown, our schools for
generations did little more than to teach the use of the mere tools of
knowledge; to read, to write, and to cipher were the great gains of the
schoolroom. Even geography and grammar were rather late arrivals. Then
came the idea that the school should train children for citizenship, and
it was argued that the chief reason why schools should be supported at
public expense was in order that good citizens should be trained there.
History and civil government were put into the course in obedience to
this theory. Another step was taken when physiology was added, because
it was an acknowledgment that the schools should do something to train
youth in the individual art of living. Still another step was taken when
manual training and domestic science were brought into our city schools,
because these studies emphasize the fact that the schools must do
something to train workers. And finally we have at present the idea
gaining a strong foothold that the schools must train the child to fill
its place in the world of men; to see all the relations of life; to be
fitted to live in human society. This idea really embraces all of the
other ideas. It implies that the schools shall not only teach each
individual the elements of knowledge, that they shall train for
citizenship, that they shall train men in the art of living, that they
shall aid in preparing for an occupation, but that they shall do _all_
of these things, and do them not merely for the good of the individual,
but for the good of society as a whole.

And not only is there a feeling that the pupil in school can be brought
into closer touch with the life of the community, but that the school as
an institution can be made more useful to the community as a whole. This
double thought has been expressed in the phrase, "Make the school a
social center," and practically it is being slowly worked out in
numerous city schools. How far can this idea be developed in the country

The purpose of this chapter is not to deal in the theory of the subject,
nor to argue particularly for this view of the function of the school,
but rather to try to show some methods by which the rural school and the
farm community actually can be brought into closer relations. In this
way we may perhaps indicate that there is a better chance for
co-operation between the rural school and the farm community than we
have been accustomed to believe, and that this closer relation is worth
striving for. Five methods will be suggested by which the rural school
can become a social center. Some of these have already been tried in
rural communities, some of them have been tried in cities, and some of
them have not been tried at all.

1. The first means of making the rural school a social center is through
the course of study. It is here that the introduction of nature-study
into our rural schools would be especially helpful. This nature-study
when properly followed approves itself both to educators and to farmers.
It is a pedagogical principle recognized by every modern teacher that in
education it is necessary to consider the environment of the child, so
that the school may not be to him "a thing remote and foreign." The
value of nature-study is recognized not only in thus making possible an
intelligent study of the country child's environment, but in teaching a
love of nature, in giving habits of correct observation, and in
preparing for the more fruitful study of science in later years. Our
best farmers are also coming to see that nature-study in the rural
schools is a necessity, because it will tend to give a knowledge of the
laws that govern agriculture, because it will teach the children to love
the country, because it will show the possibilities of living an
intellectual life upon the farm. Nature-study, therefore, will have a
very direct influence in bringing the child into close touch with the
whole life of the farm community.

But it is not so much a matter of introducing new studies--the old
studies can be taught in such a way as to make them seem vital and
human. Take, for instance, geography. It used to be approached from the
standpoint of the solar system. It now begins with the schoolhouse and
the pupils' homes, and works outward from the things that the child sees
and knows to the things that it must imagine. History, writing,
reading, the sciences, and even other subjects can be taught so as to
connect them vitally and definitely with the life of the farm community.
To quote Colonel Parker, who suggests the valuable results of such a
method of teaching:

     It would make a strong, binding union of the home and the school,
     the farm methods and the school methods. It would bring the farm
     into the school and project the school into the farm. It would give
     parent and teacher one motive in the carrying out of which both
     could heartily join. The parent would appreciate and judge fairly
     the work of the school, the teacher would honor, dignify and
     elevate the work of the farm.

The study of the landscape of the near-by country, the study of the
streams, the study of the soils, studies that have to do with the
location of homes, of villages, the study of the weather, of the common
plants, of domestic animals--all of these things will give the child a
better start in education, a better comprehension of the life he is to
live, a better idea of the business of farming, a better notion about
the importance of agriculture, and will tend to fit him better for
future life either on the farm or anywhere else, than could any amount
of the old-fashioned book knowledge. Is it not a strange fact that so
many farmers will decry book knowledge when applied to the business of
farming, and at the same time set so much store by the book learning
that is given in the common arithmetic, the old-fashioned reader, and
the dry grammar of the typical school? Of course anyone pleading for
this sort of study in the rural schools must make it clear that the
ordinary accomplishments of reading, writing, and ciphering are not to
be neglected. As a matter of fact, pupils under this method can be just
as well trained in these branches as under the old plan. The point to be
emphasized, however, is that a course of study constructed on this
theory will tend to bring the school and the community closer together,
will make the school of more use to the community, will give the
community more interest in the school, while at the same time it will
better prepare pupils to do their work in life.

2. A second way of making the rural school a social center is through
the social activities of the pupils. This means that the pupils as a
body can co-operate for certain purposes, and that this co-operation
will not only secure some good results of an immediate character,
results that can be seen and appreciated by everyone, but that it will
teach the spirit of co-operation--and there is hardly anything more
needed today in rural life than this spirit of co-operation. The schools
can perform no better service than in training young people to work
together for common ends. In this work such things as special day
programmes, as for Arbor Day, Washington's Birthday, Pioneer Day; the
holding of various school exhibitions; the preparation of exhibits for
county fairs, and similar endeavors, are useful and are being carried
out in many of our rural schools. But the best example of this work is a
plan that is being used in the state of Maine, and is performed through
the agency of what is called a School Improvement League. The purposes
of the league are: (1) to improve school grounds and buildings; (2) to
furnish suitable reading-matter for pupils and people; (3) to provide
works of art for schoolrooms. There are three forms of the league, the
local leagues organized in each school; the town leagues, whose
membership consists of the officers of the local leagues; and a state
league, whose members are delegates from the town leagues and members of
the local leagues who hold school diplomas. Any pupil, teacher, school
officer, or any other citizen may join the league on payment of the
dues. The minimum dues are one cent a month for each pupil, for other
members not less than ten cents a term. But these dues may be made
larger by vote of the league. Each town league sends a delegate to the
meeting of the state league. Each league has the usual number of
officers elected for one term. These leagues were first organized in
1898 and they have already accomplished much. They have induced school
committees to name various rural schools for distinguished American
citizens, as Washington, Lincoln, and so forth. They give exhibitions
and entertainments for the purpose of raising funds. Sometimes they use
these funds to buy books for the schoolroom. The books are then loaned
to the members of the league; at the end of the term this set of books
is exchanged for another set of books from another school in the same
township. In this way, at a slight expense, each school may have the use
of a large number of books every year. The same thing is done with
pictures and works of art, these being purchased and exchanged in the
same way. Through the efforts of the league schoolhouses have been
improved, inside and out, and the school grounds improved. It is not so
much the doing of new things that has been attempted by this league.
The important item is that the school has been _organized_ for these
definite purposes, and the work is carried on systematically from year
to year. It needs no argument to show the value of this sort of
co-operation to the pupil, to the teacher, to the school, to the
parents, and ultimately to the community as a whole.

3. A third method is through co-operation between the home and the
school, between the teacher and pupils on one side, and parents and
taxpayers on the other side. Parents sometimes complain that the average
school is a sort of mill, or machine, into which their children are
placed and turned out just so fast, and in just such condition. But if
this is the case, it is partly the fault of the parents who do not keep
in close enough touch with the work of the school. It is not that
parents are not interested in their children, but it is rather that they
look at the school as something separate from the ordinary affairs of
life. Now, nothing can be more necessary than that this notion should be
done away with. There must be the closest co-operation between the home
and school. How can this co-operation be brought about? Frequently
parents are urged to visit the schools. This is all right and proper,
but it is not enough. There must be a closer relation than this. The
teacher must know more about the home life of her pupils, and the
parents must know far more about the whole purpose and spirit, as well
as the method, of the school. A great deal of good has been done by the
joint meeting of teachers and school officers. It is a very wise device,
and should be kept up. But altogether the most promising development
along this line is the so-called "Hesperia movement," described in
another chapter. These meetings of school patrons and teachers take up
the work of the school in a way that will interest both teachers and
farmers. They bring the teachers and farmers into closer touch socially
and intellectually. They disperse fogs of misunderstanding. They inspire
to closer co-operation. They create mutual sympathy. They are sure to
result in bringing the teacher into closer touch with community life and
with the social problems of the farm. And they are almost equally sure
to arouse the interest of the entire community, not only in the school
as an institution and in the possibilities of the work it may do, but
also in the work of that teacher who is for the time being serving a
particular rural school.

4. A fourth method is by making the schoolhouse a meeting-place for the
community, more especially for the intellectual and aesthetic activities
of the community. A good example of this kind of work is the John Spry
School of Chicago. In connection with this school there is a lecture
course each winter; there is a musical society that meets every Tuesday
evening; there is a men's club that meets every two weeks to discuss
municipal problems and the improvement of home conditions; there is a
woman's club to study for general improvement and social service; there
is a mothers' council meeting every two weeks; there is a literary and
dramatic society, meeting every week, composed of members of high-school
age, and studying Shakespeare particularly; there is a dressmaking and
aid society meeting two evenings a week, to study the cutting of
patterns, garment-making, etc.; a food-study and cooking club, also
meeting two evenings a week; an inventive and mechanical club, meeting
two evenings a week, and tending to develop the inventive and mechanical
genius of a group of young men; an art club; and a boy's club, with
music, games, reading-lessons, reading of books and magazines, intended
for boys of fourteen or fifteen years of age. These things are all
under the direction of the school, they are free, they are designed to
educate. It will not be feasible for the rural school to carry out such
a programme as this, but do we realize how large are the possibilities
of this idea of making the rural school a community center? No doubt one
of the advantages of the centralized rural school will be to give a
central meeting-place for the township, and to encourage work of the
character that has been described. Of course, the Grange and farmers'
clubs are doing much along these lines, but is it not possible for the
district school also to do some useful work of this character?
Singing-schools and debating clubs were quite a common thing in the
rural schools forty years ago, and there are many rural schools today
that are doing work of this very kind. Is there any reason, for example,
why the country schoolhouse should not offer an evening school during a
portion of the winter, where the older pupils who have left the regular
work of the school can carry on studies, especially in agriculture and
domestic science? There is need for this sort of thing, and if our
agricultural colleges, and the departments of public instruction, and
the local school supervisors, and the country teachers, and the farmers
themselves, could come a little closer together on these questions the
thing could be done!

5. Fifth and last, as a method for making the school a social center, is
the suggestion that the teacher herself shall become something of a
leader in the farm community. The teacher ought to be not only a teacher
of the pupils, but in some sense a teacher of the community. Is there
not need that someone should take the lead in inspiring everyone in the
community to read better books, to buy better pictures, to take more
interest in the things that make for culture and progress? There are
special difficulties in a country community. The rural teacher is
usually a transient; she secures a city school as soon as she can; she
is often poorly paid; she is sometimes inexperienced; frequently the
labor of the school absorbs all her time and energy. Unfortunately these
things are so, but they ought not to be so. And we shall never have the
ideal rural school until we have conditions favorable to the kind of
work just described. The country teacher ought to understand the country
community, ought to have some knowledge of the problems that the farmers
have to face, ought to have some appreciation of the peculiar
conditions of farm life. Every teacher should have some knowledge of
rural sociology. The normal schools should make this subject a required
subject in the course, especially for country teachers. Teachers'
institutes and reading-circles should in some way provide this sort of
thing. This is one of the most important means of bringing the rural
school into closer touch with the farm community. Ten years ago Henry
Sabin, of Iowa, one of the keenest students of the rural-school problem,
in speaking of the supervision of country schools, said:

     The supervisor of rural schools should be acquainted with the
     material resources of his district. He should know not only what
     constitutes good farming, but the prevailing industry of the region
     should be so familiar to him that he can converse intelligently
     with the inhabitants, and convince them that he knows something
     besides books. The object is not alone to gain influence over them,
     but to bring the school into touch with the home life of the
     community about. It is not to invite the farmer to the school, but
     to take the school to the farm, and to show the pupils that here
     before their eyes are the foundations upon which have been built
     the great natural sciences.

The programme needed to unite rural school and farm community is then,
first, to enrich the course of study by adding nature-study and
agriculture, and about these co-ordinating the conventional school
subjects; second, to encourage the co-operation of the pupils,
especially for the improvement of the school and its surroundings;
third, to bring together for discussion and acquaintance the teachers
and the patrons of the school; fourth, so far as possible to make the
schoolhouse a meeting-place for the community, for young people as well
as for older people, where music, art, social culture, literature, study
of farming, and in fact, anything that has to do with rural education,
may be fostered; and fifth, to expect the teacher to have a knowledge of
the industrial and general social conditions of agriculture, especially
those of the community in which her lot is cast.



The difficulty of uniting the farmers of America for any form of
co-operative endeavor long ago became proverbial. The business of
farming encouraged individualism; comparative isolation bred
independence; and restricted means of communication made union
physically difficult, even among those who might be disposed to unite.
It was not strange, therefore, that the agricultural masses developed a
state of mind unfavorable for organization--that they became suspicious
of one another, jealous of leadership, unwilling to keep the pledges of
union, and unable to sink personal views and prejudices.

It must not be supposed, however, that the farmers themselves have
failed to realize the situation, or that no genuinely progressive steps
have been taken to remedy it. During the last four decades at least, the
strongest men that the rural classes have produced have labored with
their fellows, both in season and out of season, for union of effort;
and their efforts have been by no means in vain. It is true that some of
the attempts at co-operation have been ill-judged, even fantastic. It
is true that much of the machinery of organization failed to work and
can be found on the social junk-pile, in company with other discarded
implements not wholly rural in origin. But it is also true that great
progress has been made; that the spirit of co-operation is rapidly
emerging as a factor in rural social life; and that the weapons of rural
organization have a temper all the better, perhaps, because they were
fashioned on the anvil of defeat.

Among all these efforts to unite the farming classes, by far the most
characteristic and the most successful is the Grange. The truth of this
statement will immediately be questioned by those whose memory recalls
the early rush to the Grange, "Granger legislation," and similar
phenomena, as well as by those whose impressions have been gleaned from
reading the periodicals of the late seventies, when the Grange tide had
begun to ebb. Indeed, it seems to be the popular impression that the
Grange is not at present a force of consequence, that long ago it became
a cripple, if not a corpse. Only a few years ago, an intelligent
magazine writer, in discussing the subject of farmers' organizations,
made the statement, "The Grange is dead." But the assertion was not
true. The popular impression must be revised. The Grange has
accomplished more for agriculture than has any other farm organization.
Not only is it at the present time active, but it has more real
influence than it has ever had before; and it is more nearly a
_national_ farmers' organization than any other in existence today.

The Grange is also the oldest of the general organizations for farmers.
Though the notion of organizing the farmers was undoubtedly broached
early in the history of the country, the germ idea that actually grew
into the Grange is about forty years old, and should be credited to Mr.
O. H. Kelley, a Boston young man who settled on a Minnesota farm in
1849. He wrote considerably for the agricultural press; and this
experience helped to bring him to the conclusion that the great need of
agriculture was the education of the agriculturist. He soon came to feel
that existing agencies for this purpose--farm papers and fairs--were
insufficient. In 1866, as agent for the Department of Agriculture, Mr.
Kelley made a tour of the South, with the view of gaining a knowledge of
the agricultural and mineral resources of that section. On this tour he
became impressed with the fact that politicians would never restore
peace to the country; that if it came at all, it would have to come
through fraternity. As his thought ripened he broached to friends the
idea of a "secret society of agriculturists, as an element to restore
kindly feelings among the people."

Thus the Grange was born of two needs, one fundamental and the other
immediate. The fundamental need of agriculture was that farmers should
be better educated for their business; and the immediate need was that
of cultivating the spirit of brotherhood between the North and the
South. The latter need no longer exists; but the fundamental need still
remains and is sufficient excuse for the Grange's existence today. Mr.
Kelley interested six other men in the new idea; and in December, 1867,
these "seven founders of the order" organized the National Grange of
Patrons of Husbandry. Mr. Kelley is the only one of these seven men now

Thus was begun a movement for organization that had resulted by 1873 in
the formation of over 20,000 Granges in 28 states, comprising not less
than 750,000 members; and in that year the National Grange, as a
representative body, was officially organized. For four or five years
this unexampled prosperity continued; then the reports show a feeling of
weakness creeping in. In fact, the order as a whole steadily declined in
numbers and prestige during the whole of the decade following 1880. The
losses were most serious, however, in the South and West; for in New
England and the Middle States it retained its vitality, and, indeed,
grew steadily.

During the last fifteen years there has been a widespread revival of
interest in the organization and the outlook is exceedingly promising.
During the decade following 1890 the membership increased not less than
75 per cent. During the last few years the rate of gain has been even
greater. The following table gives the official records in the five
leading Grange states:

                  |        1900          |        1905
                  | ------------------------------------------
                  | Granges  |  Members  | Granges  |  Members
     New York     |   550    |   43,000  |   582    |   66,500
     Maine        |   275    |   29,000  |   387    |   49,000
     Michigan     |   420    |   25,000  |   731    |   45,000
     Pennsylvania |   526    |   20,000  |   560    |   34,000
     New Hampshire|   260    |   24,000  |   263    |   28,000

These states lead, but the order is also active and strong in Vermont,
Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts. Thirty states pay dues to the
National Grange treasury, and twenty-six were represented by delegates
at the last National Grange. Since 1905 there has been substantial
growth in most of these twenty-six states, both in numbers of Granges
and in membership.

The official title of the Grange is "Patrons of Husbandry," of the
members, "Patrons," and of the various divisions, "Granges." The
"subordinate Grange," or local lodge, is the Grange unit. Its area of
jurisdiction has, nominally, a diameter of about five miles; more
roughly, "a Grange to a township" is the working ideal among the
organizers. The membership consists of men and women, and of young
people over fourteen years of age, who may apply and by vote be
accepted. Constitutionally, those whose interests are not immediately
with agriculture are ineligible to membership; and care is also
exercised that only those who are of good repute shall be recommended.
The presiding officer of each Grange is the "master;" while among the
twelve other officers the "lecturer" is the most important, and
virtually acts as programme committee, with charge of the educational
work of the body. Meetings are held weekly or fortnightly. Each regular
meeting has first its business session, and then its "lecturer's hour,"
or literary session, usually with an intervening recess for social
greetings, etc. The programmes are prepared by the lecturer, and consist
of general discussions, essays, talks, debates, readings, recitations,
and music; an attempt being made to suit the tastes and talents of all
members, young and old. Many Granges have built and own their halls,
which are usually equipped with kitchen and dining-room, in addition to
audience rooms; for periodical "feasts" are as regular a feature of the
association as are the initiations of new members.

The Granges of a county or other given district often organize
themselves into a "Pomona Grange." The "State Grange" is a delegate
body, meeting annually; delegates being chosen by the subordinate and
Pomona Granges. The "National Grange" is composed of the masters of
State Granges and their wives, and is also an annual gathering. The
National Grange is the legislative body of the order, and has full
authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. But to State Granges
is left the determination of policy and administration for the states.
The State Granges, in turn, legislate for the subordinate Granges, while
also passing down to them ample local powers. The machinery is thus
strongly centralized, and subordinate Granges are absolutely dependent
units of a great whole. Yet the principle of home rule pervades the
organization; and local associations are responsible for their own
methods and the results of their work, though their officers usually
work in harmony with the State and National Granges.

Perhaps the clearest conception of what the order originally meant to do
can be gained from a few quotations from the Declaration of Purposes of
the National Grange, which was promulgated over thirty years ago, and is
still in force:

     We shall endeavor to advance our cause by laboring to accomplish
     the following objects:

     To develop a better and higher manhood and womanhood among
     ourselves. To enhance the comfort and attractions of our homes and
     to strengthen our attachments to our pursuits. To foster mutual
     understanding and co-operation. To maintain inviolate our laws, and
     to emulate each other in labor, to hasten the good time coming. To
     reduce our expenses, both individual and corporate. To buy less and
     produce more, in order to make our farms self-sustaining. To
     diversify our crops and crop no more than we can cultivate. To
     condense the weight of our exports, selling less in the bushel and
     more on hoof and in fleece; less in lint and more in warp and woof.
     To systematize our work, and calculate intelligently on
     probabilities. To discountenance the credit system, the mortgage
     system, the fashion system, and every other system tending to
     prodigality and bankruptcy.

     We propose meeting together, talking together, working together,
     buying together, selling together, and, in general, acting together
     for our mutual protection and advancement, as occasion may require.
     We shall avoid litigation, as much as possible, by arbitration in
     the Grange. We shall constantly strive to secure entire harmony,
     good will, vital brotherhood, among ourselves, and to make our
     order perpetual. We shall earnestly endeavor to suppress personal,
     local, sectional, and national prejudices, all unhealthy rivalry,
     all selfish ambition. Faithful adherence to these principles will
     insure our mental, moral, social, and material advancement.

     For our business interests we desire to bring producers and
     consumers, farmers and manufacturers, into the most direct and
     friendly relations possible. Hence we must dispense with a surplus
     of middle-men, not that we are unfriendly to them, but we do not
     need them. Their surplus and their exactions diminish our profits.

     We wage no aggressive warfare against any other interests whatever.
     On the contrary, all our acts and all our efforts, so far as
     business is concerned, are not only for the benefit of the producer
     and consumer, but also for all other interests that tend to bring
     these two parties into speedy and economical contact. Hence we hold
     that transportation companies of every kind are necessary to our
     success, that their interests are intimately connected with our

     We are opposed to such spirit and management of any corporation or
     enterprise as tends to oppress the people, and rob them of their
     just profits. We are not enemies to capital, but we oppose the
     tyranny of monopolies. We long to see the antagonism between
     capital and labor removed by common consent, and by an enlightened
     statesmanship worthy of the nineteenth century. We are opposed to
     excessive salaries, high rates of interest, and exorbitant
     per-cent. profits in trade.

     We shall advance the cause of education among ourselves and for our
     children, by all just means within our power. We especially
     advocate for our agricultural and industrial colleges that
     practical agriculture, domestic science, and all the arts which
     adorn the home be taught in their courses of study.

     We emphatically and sincerely assert the oft-repeated truth taught
     in our organic law, that the Grange--national, state, or
     subordinate--is not a political or party organization. No Grange,
     if true to its obligations, can discuss political or religious
     questions, or call political conventions, or nominate candidates,
     or even discuss their merits at its meetings.

     We always bear in mind that no one, by becoming a Patron of
     Husbandry, gives up that inalienable right and duty which belongs
     to every American citizen, to take a proper interest in the
     politics of his country. On the contrary, it is his duty to do all
     he can in his own party to put down bribery, corruption, and
     trickery; to see that none but competent, faithful, and honest men,
     who will unflinchingly stand by our industrial interests, are
     nominated for all positions of trust; and to have carried out the
     principle which should characterize every Patron, that the office
     should seek the man, and not the man the office.

To enumerate the achievements of the Grange would be to recall the
progress of agriculture during the past third of a century. It has been
a motor force in many helpful movements, and in many ways has organized
and incorporated the best thought of the most intelligent farmers, about
means for rural advancement. It has been an integral part of, and a most
potent factor in, the expansion of American farm life.

The greatest achievement of the order is that it has taught the farmers
of America the value of co-operation and the power of organized effort.
The lesson has not been fully learned, it is true; but the success of
the institution testifies that it is possible for farmers to work in
harmony. It is worth observing that this result has been achieved on
conservative lines. It is comparatively easy to organize on radical
lines; easy to generate enthusiasm by promising some great reform; easy
to inflame self-interest by picturing millennial conditions, especially
when the pocket is touched. But quite different is it to arouse and
sustain interest in a large popular organization whose object is
education, whose watchword is self-culture. Of course, it would be but
a half-truth to assert that the order places all its emphasis on the
sober problems of education. Agitation has had its place; the hope of
better things for the farmer, to be achieved through legislation and
business co-operation, has been an inspiration to activity; but the
noteworthy fact remains that it has secured a fair degree of
organization and co-operation among farmers chiefly by appeals to their
larger and nobler interests.

That the association has vastly improved the social opportunities of
farmers is a trite saying among old observers of its work. It forces
isolation out of the saddle. The regular meetings of the local bodies
rapidly and surely develop the social instinct among the members. Pomona
Granges bring together members from all parts of the county and make
them acquainted with one another. The State Grange draws its membership
from every corner of the state; and as its personnel changes each year,
thousands are in the course of a few years given the wider outlook, the
more extended acquaintance, and the broader view that participation in
such a gathering affords. Special social features add their influence.

As an educator on public questions the Grange has done a noble work. At
nearly every meeting in this country, some topic of public concern is
brought up by essay, talk, general discussion, or formal debate. The
views of the "village Hampdens" may not always be economically
scientific or scholarly. But it might surprise many people to see how
well read the members are and how clearly they can express their ideas.
Their discussions are not seldom informative, and that they make public
opinion in rural communities is beyond cavil. The persistent advocacy of
specific reforms has directed the thought of the members toward the
larger issues that so often rise above the haze of partisan politics.

The order has prepared the soil for adequate agricultural education.
While the agricultural colleges formerly had many enemies among the
farmers, and received scornful opprobrium from those whom they were
endeavoring to help, almost without exception the Granges have praised
the colleges, welcomed their work, and urged farmers to educate their
sons at these institutions. Farmers' institutes, the agricultural
experiment stations, and the federal Department of Agriculture have been
equally welcomed by the Grange sentiment. The Grange has always taught
the need of better rural education. It has also tended to develop its
members, so that they may not only appreciate education, but that they
may be themselves living examples of the value of such education.
Farmers' institute lecturers frequently say, "You can always tell when
you reach a community where a Grange exists." In that meeting will be
found men who have read and thought on farm and public themes, men who
are not only ready in discussion, apt in statement, and eager to
question, but men acquainted with parliamentary law, who know how such
assemblages should be conducted, and who can preside with dignity and

The order has undoubtedly aided materially in obliterating sectionalism.
That achievement was one of its avowed objects. There is no question but
it assisted in cementing North and South; and that it has brought East
and West into closer sympathy is equally true. Other farm organizations
have found their incentive in the order. These it has never frowned on,
though believing and always hoping that it might attract the majority of
farmers to its own ranks, and by this unity become a more powerful
factor in securing the rights and developing the opportunities of the
rural classes of America. It has always discountenanced the credit
system; and that cash payments by farmers to merchants are far more
common than a quarter-century ago may be fairly credited, in part at
least, to its influence.

To describe the many specific legislative achievements which the Granges
of the nation and of the several states have accomplished would be
tedious. Merely to enumerate a few of them must suffice here. A
convenient summary is made from an official circular recently issued by
the National Grange. The order has had a large influence in securing the
following: The separation of certain agricultural colleges from
universities which were receiving the land-grant funds, but were not, in
the opinion of the farmers, duly contributing to agricultural education;
the confining of the appropriations under the second Morrill act of 1890
strictly to instruction in agriculture and mechanical arts; the Hatch
Act of 1887, establishing an experiment station in each state and
territory; making the head of the Department of Agriculture a cabinet
official; the agitation resulting in the famous Iowa court decision,
that railroad franchises are subject to the power that created them; the
establishment of the Inter-State Commerce Commission; tax reform in
many states; laws favoring pure food and dairy products; preventing
extension of patents on sewing machines; the establishment of rural free
mail delivery.

The methods of work are many and varied. In addition to the regular
literary and social programmes previously mentioned, socials are held at
the homes of members, entertainments of various kinds occur at the
Grange hall, and in many ways the association becomes the center of the
social and intellectual interest of the community. It is debating
society, club, lecture course, parliamentary society, theater, and
circulating library. In fact, it lends itself to almost any function
that will instruct, entertain, benefit, or assist its members
financially, morally, intellectually, or socially. Of course, not every
Grange is awake to its opportunities; but as a rule, where a live one
exists it is the acknowledged leader in social movements.

It is not uncommon for Granges to hold fairs for the exhibition of
agricultural and domestic products. The State Fair of New Hampshire has
been largely managed by the Grange. In many cases Granges as
organizations will exhibit at the ordinary county or district fair.
Picnics and field meetings are coming to be very popular in some
states. They are held during the summer season, at a time when work is
least pressing, and are usually attended by speakers of prominence in
the order. Many subordinate Granges give public lecture courses during
the winter, securing speakers on general themes. They also arrange for
entertainments of a popular character.

The order also participates in activities that are not strictly Grange
work. For instance, in Michigan, the State Grange for several years
carried on a "Fresh-Air Work," by which over 1,000 working-girls,
children, and hard-working mothers with babies, from the larger cities,
were given a two-weeks' vacation in country homes. The philanthropic
agencies of the cities arranged for transportation and secured the
beneficiaries, while the Grange obtained the places for them. Granges
are always active in the organization of farmers' institutes,
agricultural fairs, etc. In Michigan they have assisted in the
organization of associations which are designed to bring together both
teachers and parents for discussion of rural-school problems.

On two important matters the Grange has been misunderstood, not only by
the public, but more unfortunately, sometimes by its own members. In
his _Division and Reunion_, President Woodrow Wilson speaks of it under
the sub-title of "New Parties." Professor Alexander Johnston, in his
_American Politics_ was more discriminating, for he said of it: "In its
nature it is not political." But he also said: "Its object is
co-operation among farmers, in purchasing and in other business
interests." The first conception of the character of the order is wholly
misleading; the second is inadequate.

The Grange is not a party. It never was a party. During the "Granger
legislation" period, many members doubtless misconceived the true
function of the Grange, and abused the power organization gave them,
while the popular mind credited the association with many notions for
which it was not responsible. It has never organized itself as a
farmers' party. The National Grange has endeavored to keep strictly
aloof from partisan politics. It is possible that in some states the
influence of the organization was, in the early days, used for partisan
purposes; but the penalty was fully paid in the disruption of the order
in those states. The Grange today regards partisanship as poisonous to
its life, and does not allow it on its shelves.

This is not to say that the Grange makes no appeal to legislation. It
is possible that in some cases it places too much faith in law as a
means of emancipation from economic bondage; but, in the main, its
legislative point of view is sane and conservative. It believes that
such ills as are due to bad or imperfect legislation can be, at least
partly, relieved by good or more perfect legislation. Nor does it limit
its interest to measures that concern the farmer alone. It is
unalterably opposed to class legislation, and aims to keep its own
skirts clear--to avoid even the suspicion of offence in this particular.

It may be asked, How does the order manage to advocate public measures
without becoming involved in partisan squabbles? Simply by ceasing to
discuss a question the moment it becomes a party football. For instance:
the monetary policy of the government was warmly discussed until the
conventions of 1896 made it clear that it was to be a party issue.
Again: the Grange has consistently urged the construction and ownership
of the Interoceanic Canal by the United States government; but it was
silent on the larger question of "imperialism," not because the question
was not of importance, but because it became a subject of party
controversy. This neutral policy as to party questions imposes certain
limitations on the influence of the organization; but experience has
demonstrated that this, more than any other thing, is responsible for
the fact that the Grange still lives and thrives.

The other misconception lies in the sentence quoted from Professor
Johnston, that the Grange has for its object "co-operation among farmers
in purchasing and in other business interests;" the implication being
that business was the chief function. It is generally admitted that in
the early days thousands joined the order "for what there was in it;"
believing that the organization furnished a means for abolishing the
middlemen, and putting ready money into the pockets of the farmers. When
these sordid souls were disillusioned, their enthusiasm went down to the
zero of activity. They misunderstood, or interpreted too radically, a
well-defined, conservative, legitimate purpose of the Grange to
co-operate on business lines. The order did believe that farmers could
do without the surplus of middlemen; it did purpose to aid the farmer
financially, though this purpose was not its main function. In the
earlier period Grange stores were organized. A few of these are in
successful operation today, but the policy as a whole has been

Another plan, discussed over thirty years ago, has during the past
decade come to assume practical importance as a method of co-operation
on business lines. The plan, in brief, is that various State Granges
contract with manufacturing and jobbing houses to furnish members of the
order with goods at practically wholesale rates. Goods are ordered by
the subordinate Granges, under seal of the order; are purchased on a
cash basis; and are shipped to the purchasing agent of the Grange, and
by him distributed to the individual buyers. Such materials as binder
twine, salt, harness, Paris green, all kinds of farm implements,
vehicles, sewing-machines, and fruit trees are purchased advantageously.
Even staple groceries, etc., are sometimes bought in this way. Members
often save enough in single purchases to pay all their expenses for the
Grange. There is no capital invested; there are no debts imposed upon
himself by the purchaser; and there has not been extreme difficulty in
securing favorable contracts. The plan seems destined to continued
enlargement and usefulness as a legitimate phase of business
co-operation. Michigan Granges purchased not less than $350,000 worth
of goods during 1905, under such a plan. The estimate for Maine is over
half a million dollars.

In several states the organization successfully conducts mutual fire
insurance companies; active membership in the Grange being an essential
requisite for membership in the insurance company. Wherever these
companies have become well established, it is asserted that they
maintain a lower rate of assessment than even the popular "farmers'
mutuals." In New York there are twenty-three Grange companies, with
policies aggregating $85,000,000, the average cost for the year 1905
being $1.96 per thousand. Single companies claim to have secured even
better rates. This insurance not only pays individuals, but it attracts
and holds members. In New Hampshire a fairly successful Grange life
insurance company exists.

In co-operative selling, the order has so far accomplished very little,
except locally and among individuals or Granges. There is a supreme
difficulty in the way of successful transfers among patrons themselves,
as members desiring to buy wish the very lowest prices; those desiring
to sell, the very highest prices. Arbitration under such circumstances
is not easy. The fundamental obstacle to members selling together on
the general market is that, in most cases, all members do not have the
same things to sell. A co-operative creamery, for instance, is organized
on the basis of a _product_--butter; the Grange is organized on the
basis of _manhood_--and each man may have his crop or stock specialty.
This difficulty, though grave, is not, perhaps, insuperable, and will
tend to disappear as membership enlarges. But it is only fair to state
that, so far, the Grange has not been able to devise any successful plan
for co-operative selling, applicable on a large scale.

There are two or three features that deserve further mention. One is the
position of the family in the Grange. It is stated that the Grange was
the first secret organization to place woman on a plane of perfect
equality with man. In every association each female member has a vote.
Woman has four special offices assigned to her sex, and is eligible to
any office in the gift of the order. The majority of subordinate
lecturers are women; many subordinate and even Pomona masters are women;
Michigan's state lecturer is a woman who is revolutionizing the
educational work of the order in that state; while Minnesota had for
some years a competent and earnest woman as state master. Every
delegate to every State Grange is a dual delegate--man and wife. The
state master and his wife are delegates to the National Grange. Women
serve on all committees in these gatherings, and a woman's voice is
frequently heard in debates. And not only the wife, but, as previously
stated, the children above fourteen years of age may attain full
membership. A large proportion of every healthy Grange consists of young
people, who have their share in the active work. Thus it will be seen
that the order conserves the family life. It is doubtful if any other
social institution in rural communities, not excepting the church, so
completely interests the entire family.

The organization is also a conservator of morals. While sectarian
discussions are as foreign to its purposes as is partisan politics, and
while it does not even pretend to take the place of the church, it is
built on a truly religious foundation. Its ritual is permeated, in word
and in sentiment, by the religious spirit. Every meeting opens and
closes with prayer. Moral character is constantly eulogized and
glorified in Grange esoteric literature. The membership comes almost
exclusively from that large class of farmers who are moral,
high-minded, God-fearing men and women.

The Grange has been opposed, both by farmers and by others, because
secrecy is not a desirable attribute; but the experience of forty years
and the uniform testimony of all leaders in the work declare that this
was a wise provision. No influential member has, so far as it is known,
proposed that the order should be dismantled of its secret features. The
ritualistic work is not burdensome. Occasionally the processes of
initiation may take time that ought to be allotted to educational work;
but, if the initiation is properly conducted, it has of itself a high
educational value.

The financial status of the Grange itself is worth noting. The fees for
joining are merely nominal, while the dues are only ten cents a month
per member. These fees and dues support the subordinate Granges, the
State Grange, and the National Grange. There are no high-salaried
officials in the order, and few salaried positions of any kind. The
National Grange today has nearly $100,000 in its treasury, and several
State Granges have substantial reserves. This policy is pursued, not for
the love of hoarding, but because it is believed that it tends to the
permanency and solidarity of the order.

The Grange is a live institution; it has within itself the capacity for
satisfying a great need in rural society; and it is destined to growth
and larger and more permanent usefulness. It is based on correct
principles: organization, co-operation, education. It is neither a
political party nor a business agency. It is progressively
conservative--or conservatively progressive. It is neither ultra-radical
nor forever in the rut. Its chief work is on cultural lines. It includes
the entire family. It is now growing, and there is every reason for
thinking that this growth is of a permanent character.

The Grange is ambitious to take its place beside the school and the
church, as one of a trinity of forces that shall mold the life of the
farmer on the broadest possible basis--material, intellectual, social,
and ethical. Is there any good reason why this ambition is not worthy,
or why its goal should not be won?



While rural life is often supposed to be fatally deficient in facilities
for growth because of its isolation, the women living on our farms are
thought to be the especial victims of this lack of social opportunity.
No doubt there is much of truth in the popular opinion. Modern city life
unquestionably tends to enliven, to sharpen, to put a razor-edge on
capacity. Naturally the women as well as the men of the city are thus
stimulated. An instance of the opportunities constantly presented to the
city women is the rapid multiplication of women's clubs, which,
especially in smaller towns, are absolutely revolutionizing the life of
womankind. But have not the women of the country some resources of a
similar character? Can they not in some way break the bonds of
isolation? Are there not for them some of the blessings that come from a
highly organized society? Are there not, in the country also,
opportunities for the co-operation of mind and heart for common service?
I think all these questions can be answered in the affirmative. It is
at least worth while to endeavor to describe several means by which the
woman of the farm can keep pace with her urban sister, and under
conditions not so discouraging as many may suppose.

Probably no movement has had such a profound significance for the farm
women of America as has the Grange movement. We have already discussed
the general aspects of Grange work. It must be remembered that the
farmer's wife is practically equal with her husband in Grange law and
practice. She votes, she may hold office, even the higher executive
offices. A delegate to the State Grange is always two--a man and his
wife if he has one. The wife serves on committees and votes as she
pleases. This equality extends throughout the order. The woman bears her
share of work; she reads papers; she directs the social phases of the
Grange; she talks on farm topics if she wants to; she debates school
affairs; she visits neighboring Granges. All this means education, and
education of a very valuable sort, the effects of which permeate so
thoroughly those communities where the Grange has long been established
that one hardly realizes the work that has been accomplished. For it is
not at all an exaggeration to assert that a positive revolution often
comes about from the planting of a Grange in a neighborhood where no
such organization has ever existed. It finds most of the women
diffident, many of them with restricted views, few of them with the
instinct for social service developed beyond the needs of friendly
neighbors. In the Grange these women find new acquaintances, learn the
power of concerted action, meet the responsibility of office, get to
their feet for a few words--unheard-of courage! Such speech is usually
brief and perhaps not ready, but it is likely to be cogent, because it
is born of experience and "stops when through." County and perhaps State
Granges add their experiences. And so on through the years these shy,
reserved, possibly narrow, lives come to flower. And the Grange has
furnished the dynamic. Strong leaders among farm women have been
developed by the opportunities the Grange has afforded them. And
thousands of other women in all parts of the country have by this same
means grown out of their narrowness, "discovered themselves," and become
comparatively cultured, well read, able to take a woman's place in this
day of woman's power as a public factor. It is safe to say that the
Grange has been the greatest single influence in America with respect to
the development of the women of the farm.

Another factor in the life of farm women which has arisen in more recent
years is the farmers' institute. The audiences in some cases are largely
of men, but as a rule the attendance of women averages one-third to
one-half. Until very recent years the women joined with the men in all
sessions of the institute, and their presence was recognized by
appropriate subjects on the programme, frequently presented by women
themselves. Several years ago Minnesota and Wisconsin initiated separate
meetings for women, held simultaneously with the main meeting, for
purposes of instruction in domestic science. Michigan, a little later,
developed the "women's section" of the farmers' institute. This is held
one afternoon of the usual two-day session of the institute in a hall
separate from the general meeting, and only women attend. Two topics are
presented for discussion, one by a woman sent by the state, the other by
a woman from the town or a neighboring farm. Topics concerning
child-training, making housework easier, home life on the farm, and even
themes relating to the problems that center about the sex question, are
thoroughly discussed. Women take part much more freely than they do in
the general sessions of the institute. Across the border, in Ontario,
the women have formed separate institutes, as they have also in Indiana.

All this means a new opportunity for the farm woman. The Grange is an
organization, and its members gain all the development that comes from
engaging in the work required to maintain a semi-literary and social
organization. The institute, on the other hand, is an event, and there
cluster about it all the inspiration and suggestion that can come from
any notable convention for which one will sacrifice not a little in
order to attend. Institute work for women is in its beginnings.

So far we have found that existing institutions for women in rural
districts bring together merely the women of the farm. In the women's
section of the institutes half the audience is usually from the town.
This meeting occurs, however, but once a year, and the social effect of
the commingling of city and farm women can prove only suggestive of the
desirability of further opportunity for similar gatherings. At a
Michigan institute some years ago this desire fructified, and the
product was a "Town and Country Club." This club secured a majority of
its membership, of some ninety, from among women residing on farms. Its
meetings are bi-weekly. It is to be hoped that this sort of club may be
organized in large numbers. It represents another step in the
emancipation of the farm woman, because it brings her into contact with
her city sister--and contact that is immediate, vital, inspiring,
continuous, and mutually helpful. It may be thought unnecessary to form
a new set of clubs for the purpose indicated, but the fact seems to be
that the ordinary women's club even in small towns has failed to reach
the woman who makes her home upon the farm.

Another feature of this idea of the Town and Country Club is the "rest
room" for farmers' wives. In a number of cases where this has been
tried, the women of the village or town provide a room as near the
shopping center of the town as possible, where the country women can
find a place to rest, to lunch, and to leave their children. These rooms
are fitted up in a neat but inexpensive manner with the necessary
conveniences, and are entirely free to those for whom they were
intended. If these rooms are well managed, they offer not only a very
practical form of assistance to the women of the farm, but they may be
the means of developing a form of co-operation between the women of the
village and the farm, and eventually leading to some permanent scheme of
mutual work. Possibilities of this sort of thing are easily recognized.

In the realms of higher education the girl who is to stay upon the farm
has not been wholly neglected. In Kansas, Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois,
Ohio, and Michigan, at least, and in connection with the agricultural
colleges of those states, courses for women (including domestic science)
have been provided. They are well patronized by girls from the farm.
Many of these girls do not marry farmers; many of them do. And their
college training having thus been secured in an atmosphere more or less
agricultural, they must inevitably take rank among their sisters of the
farm as leaders in demonstrating what farm life for women may be.

Nor should it be forgotten that the tremendous movement of recent years
which has so multiplied standard reading-matter, both periodicals and
books, has reached the farm. A census of country post-offices will
reveal the fact that the standard magazines go regularly to thousands
of farm homes. Agricultural papers, religious papers, and even dailies
find multitudes of intelligent readers among farmers.

With the advent of better highways, electric car lines, rural free
delivery, and the rural telephone, each of which is looming on the
horizon as an important feature of American farm life; with the Grange
or similar organization in every school district; with the development
of courses for women at all our colleges of agriculture, and the logical
complement of such courses in the form of college extension--farmers'
institutes, reading-courses, traveling libraries, lecture and
correspondence courses--we shall find farm life taking on a new dress,
and perhaps farmers' wives may come to enjoy the envy of those women who
are unfortunate enough not to have married farmers.



The only way to an understanding of the relation of the church to rural
progress is through an appreciation of the place which the church as a
social institution may have among other social institutions affecting
rural life. Moreover, to know the value of these institutions one must
first know the rural social needs. May we not then, even at the risk of
repetition, take a brief survey of these needs and institutions, in
order that we may more clearly attain the proper point of view?

At the outset let us be sure that we have sympathy with the countryman
as such. It is often argued that the rural question, or any phase of it,
as for instance the question of the rural church, is important because
the country supplies the best blood to the city--and a roll-call of the
famous country-born is read to prove the point. This may be all true.
But it is only a partial view, for it places the emphasis upon the
leaving of the farm, whereas the emphasis should be placed upon the farm
and those who stay there. We may praise the country because it
furnishes brain and brawn for the world's work; we may argue for country
life because it possesses a good environment in which to rear a family;
we may demand a school system that shall give the country child as good
a chance as the city child has. In all this we do well. But we do not
yet stand face to face with the rural problem.

For the rural problem is the problem of those who farm. It is the
problem of the man behind the plow. It is he that is the center of
interest. His business, his success, his manhood, his family, his
environment, his education, his future--these constitute the problem of
the farm. Half our people make their living from the brown soil. In
virtue, in intelligence, in real worth, this half compare favorably with
the other half who saw wood, and shovel sand, and pull throttles, and
prepare briefs, and write sermons. The business of agriculture provides
directly for the material welfare of nearly forty millions of our
people. It supports gigantic railway systems, fills the hulls of immense
ships, furnishes raw material for thousands of industries. This rural
hemisphere of American economic and social life is surely worthy the
thought of the captain of industry, of the statesman, of the economist,
of the educator, of the preacher. We may also, without danger of being
put to confusion, assume that the tiller of the soil is in essential
character very much like other people. Farmer nature is usually a fair
specimen of human nature. Nevertheless the environment of the farmer is
a peculiar one. Individually as well as socially he is comparatively
isolated. He meets but little social friction. The class to which he
belongs is largely a segregated class, physically and socially.

All these things give to the rural social problem a distinctive
character and give rise to the great social needs of the farmer. What
are these needs? I name three: (1) _Completer organization._ Farmers do
not co-operate easily. They never had to co-operate largely under the
old régime, for pioneer farming placed a premium on individualism. The
present century however, with its emphasis upon organization and
co-operation, calls the farmer to the task with the warning cry that
unless he does organize he is in danger of losing his present
industrial, political, and social status. (2) _Better education._ The
rural schools may not be so deficient as to deserve all the scorn heaped
upon them by educational reformers; but it is little enough to say that
they can be vastly improved. They are not keeping up with city schools.
The country is especially lacking in good high-school privileges. Of
technical training too, in spite of forty years of agricultural
colleges, the country is sadly in need. Neither in primary grades, in
high schools, in special schools, is there an adequate amount of study
of the principles of agriculture--principles which an age of science
demands must be mastered if the independent farmer is to be a success.
(3) _Quicker communication._ Isolation has been the bugbear of farm
life. It must be overcome partly by physical means. There must be a
closer touch between individuals of the class, and between farmers and
the dwellers in the town and city.

These social needs are in some degree met by the farmers' organizations,
by the rural and agricultural schools, and by the development of new
means of communication. There is a host of minor agencies. In other
chapters I have tried to show how these various institutions are
endeavoring to meet these rural needs. So important are these factors of
rural life that we may now raise the question, What should be the
relation of the rural church to these needs and to the agencies designed
to meet them? In dealing with this phase of the subject, we may best
speak of the church most frequently in terms of the pastor, for reasons
that may appear as we go on.

There are three things the country pastor may do in order to bring his
church into vital contact with these great sociological movements. Of
course he _may_ ignore them, but that is church suicide. (1) He may
recognize them. This means first of all to understand them, to
appreciate their influence. There is a law of the division of labor that
applies to institutions as well as to individuals. This law helps us to
understand how such institutions as the Grange and farmers' institutes
are doing a work that the church cannot do. They are doing a work that
needs doing. They are serving human need. No pastor can afford to ignore
them, much less in sneer at them as unclean; he may well apply the
lesson of Peter's vision, and accept them as ministers of the kingdom.
(2) He may encourage and stimulate them. The rural pastor may throw
himself into the van of those who strive for better farming, for a
quicker social life, for more adequate educational facilities. He can
well take up the rôle of promoter--a promoter of righteousness and peace
through so-called secular means. Thus shall he perform the highest
function of the prophet--to spiritualize and glorify the common. But the
rural pastor can go even farther. (3) He may co-operate with them. He
may thus assist in uniting with the church all of those other agencies
that make for rural progress, and thus secure a "federation," if not "of
the world," at least of all the forces that are helping to solve the
farm problem; and he may thus found a "parliament," if not "of man," at
least of all who believe that the rural question is worth solving and
that no one movement is sufficient to solve it.

We come now to the most practical part of our subject, which is, how the
proposed relation between church and other rural social forces may be
secured. There are four suggestions along this line.

1. Sociological study by the rural pastor. This is fundamental. In
general it means a fairly comprehensive study of sociological
principles, some study of sociological problems, and some practice in
sociological investigation. As it relates to the rural pastor, it means
also a knowledge of rural sociology. It implies a grasp of the
principles and significance of modern agricultural science, an
understanding of the history, status, and needs of rural and
agricultural education, an appreciation of and sympathy for the
co-operative movements among farmers. Does one say, this is asking too
much of the burdened country pastor with his meager salary and
widespread parish? Let me ask if the pastor has any other road to power
except _to know_? Moreover, the task is not so formidable as first
appears. The pastor is supposed to be a trained student, and since he
needs to know these things only in broad lines, the acquiring of them
need not compel the midnight oil. I would, however, urge that every
pastor have a course in general sociology, either in college or in
seminary, and if he has the slightest intimation that his lines will be
cast in country places, that he add a course in rural sociology.
Inasmuch as the latter course is at present offered in few academic
institutions in the United States, it might well be urged that brief
courses in rural sociology be offered at the many summer schools.

But sociological study by the pastor means more than knowledge of the
general principles of sociology and of the problems of rural sociology;
it means a minute and comprehensive sociological study of his particular
parish. This in its simplest form consists of a religious canvass such
as is frequently made both in country and city. But even this is not
enough. It should at once be supplemented by a very careful and indeed a
continuous sociological canvass, in which details about the whole
business and life of the farm shall be collected and at last assimilated
into the vital structure of the pastor's knowledge of his problem.

2. The second suggestion looks toward the establishment of a
social-service church, or an institutional church, or again, as one has
phrased it, a "country church industrial." There seems to be a growing
feeling that the country church may become not only the distinctively
religious center of the neighborhood, but also the social, the
intellectual, and the aesthetic center. No doubt there is untold power
in such an idea. No doubt the country church has a peculiarly rich and
inviting field for community service. It would be gratifying if every
country pastor would study the possibilities of this idea and endeavor
to make an experiment with it. I have, however, a supplemental
suggestion, at this point. It is not possible to make of every rural
church an institutional church. The church is notably a conservative
institution. The rural church is in this respect "to the manner born."
Rural church members are likely to be ultra-conservative, especially as
to means and methods. Even if this were not true, we might well lament
any attempt to establish a social-service church that endeavored to make
the church the sole motive power in rural regeneration, that failed to
recognize, to encourage, and to co-operate with the other social forces
which we have mentioned. But if every country pastor cannot have a
social-service church, is it not possible that every country church
shall have a social-service pastor? There are some things the church
cannot _do_; there is nothing it may not through its pastor _inspire_.
There are some uses to which the country church cannot be put; there are
no uses to which the country pastor may not be put--as country pastors
know by experience. The pastor ought to be an authority on social
salvation as well as on personal salvation. He ought to be guide,
philosopher, and friend in community affairs as well as in personal
affairs. Is he not indeed the logical candidate for general social
leadership in the rural community? He is educated, he is trained to
think, he is supposed to have broad grasp of the meaning of affairs, he
usually possesses many of the qualities of leadership. He is
_relatively_ a fixture. He is less transient than the teacher. He is the
only man in the community whose tastes are sociological and who is at
the same time a paid man--all this aside from the question of the
munificence of his stipend. Let us then have the social-service rural
church if we can; but let us have the social-service rural pastor at all
hazards, as the first term in the formula for solving the sociological
problem of the country church.

3. Co-operation among rural churches. The manifest lack of co-operation
among churches seems to many laymen to result in a tremendous waster of
power. Of course it is a very hard problem. But is it insoluble? It
would seem not. One would think that the plan of union suggested by Dr.
Strong in _The New Era_ is wholly practicable. But the burden of the
suggestion at this point is this: Cannot the churches unite sufficiently
for a thorough religious and sociological canvass? If they cannot
federate on a theological platform, can they not unite on a statistical
platform? If they cannot unite for religious work, can they not join
hands long enough to secure a more intelligent basis for their separate
work? It seems to me that this sort of union is worth while, and that it
is something in which there could be full union, in which "there is
neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free."

4. The pastor may aid if not lead in the federation of rural social
forces. The idea involved is substantially this: Given a farmers'
organization that ministers chiefly to industrial and economic ends,
though incidentally to moral and educational ones; a school system that
feeds chiefly the accepted educational needs, though acting perhaps as a
moving force in industrial and social betterment; a church which is
chiefly a religious institution, but which touches the life of the
community at many other points--given these things and the obvious next
step is co-operation among them all, in order that a well-balanced kind
of social progress may result. This form of federation means the attempt
to solve the farm problem at all points. It suggests that the army of
rural progress shall march with the wings abreast the center. It means
that the farmer, the editor, the educator, the preacher--all, shall see
the work that needs doing, in all its fulness, and, seeing, shall
resolve to push ahead side by side.

To sum up: The rural problem is a neglected but exceedingly important
question. Out of the peculiar environment of the farmer grow his
peculiar social needs, namely, better organization, fuller and richer
education, quicker communication. To meet these supreme needs we find a
growing and already powerful coterie of farmers' organizations, somewhat
heterogeneous but rapidly developing plans of agricultural education,
and a marvelous evolution of the means of transportation for body,
voice, and missive. These needs and these agencies are selected as the
conspicuous and vital element in the sociological problem that confronts
the rural pastor. What shall be his attitude toward them? He _may_
ignore them; but we assume that he will seek to work with them and to
use them for the greater glory of God. He must then recognize them,
encourage them, and co-operate with them. To do this successfully he
must first be a student of sociology; he can then well afford to
meditate upon the possibilities of making his church in some measure a
social-service church or at least of making of himself a social-service
pastor; he can work for church union at least on sociological lines; and
finally he can do his best to secure an active federation of all the
forces involved in the rural problem.



In some respects the most notable recent advance in rural matters
consists in the improved means of communication in rural districts. The
country is relatively isolated, and it is this isolation in its extreme
forms that is the bane of country living. Undue conservatism, lack of
conformity to progressive views, undue prominence of class feeling, and
a tendency to be less alert are things that grow out of this isolation;
but better means of communication decrease these difficulties, and the
last few years have seen a remarkable advance in this respect. For
instance, the rural free mail delivery system is only ten years old, and
yet today there are more than twenty-five thousand routes of this
character in the United States serving possibly twenty million people
with daily mail, a great proportion of whom before had very irregular
mail service. Results are patent and marked. Time is saved in going for
mail; market reports come daily; farmers are more prompt in their
business dealings; roads are kept in better shape; there is an
increased circulation of papers and magazines. Thus the farmer is in
closer touch with affairs and much more alert to business opportunities,
to political activities, and to social movements. The circulation of
daily papers in country districts has increased at a marvelous rate. The
amount of letter-writing has increased. Rural delivery of mail arouses
the spirit of "being in the world." Its results have been almost

So, too, the rural telephone. Recent investigation in the states of
Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana showed that out of 200,000 subscribers to
the independent telephone companies of those states about one-sixth were
in farm homes. A few years ago, hardly a telephone could be found in a
farmer's family. This business is constantly increasing. The established
telephone companies are pushing their work into the country districts,
small local exchanges are being formed, and soon the farmers, in the
North at least, will be almost as well served by the telephone as are
people of the smaller cities.

Interurban electric railways are being built very rapidly and their
advantage to the farmer is obvious. It is doubtful if their effect has
been quite so far-reaching as some have suggested. At present they very
largely parallel existing steam railways, and while they give better
freight and passenger service and assist materially in diminishing rural
isolation in the areas which they traverse, their influence does not
extend very far from the line itself, and they reach relatively small
areas of the country. However, their value to the farmer is very large,
and, as they increase in number and in efficiency of service, they will
become a powerful factor in rural progress.

The good-roads movement is beginning to take on large proportions. It
is, however, a complicated question. To make first-class roads is a
costly business, and while a few such roads are of great value in a
general social way, they do not quite make general country conditions
ideal. To accomplish this, every road in the country should be a good
road the year through, and this is an ideal very difficult of
realization. However, in general, the roads are improving and as rapidly
as the wealth of the country will permit the road system of the United
States will be developed. Of course, good roads are a prime requisite
for rural betterment.

In general, it may be said that during the past decade the improvement
of means of communication in rural districts has gone forward at a
marvelously rapid pace. Nor is it exaggerating to say that the movements
named are re-creating farm life.

During this same period, there has been an almost equally wonderful
advance in the means of agricultural education. Just twenty years ago
the experiment-station system of this country was established. It took
ten years for the stations to organize their work and to gain the
confidence of the farmers. At present however, they are looked upon with
great favor by the farming class and are doing a magnificent work. Their
function is that of research chiefly, although they attempt some control
service, such as inspection of fertilizers, stock foods, etc. In
research they aim both to study the more intricate scientific questions
that relate to agriculture and to carry on experiments that are of more
obvious and more immediate practical application to existing conditions
in the various states. There is one of these stations in each state and
territory, besides a number of stations supported by state funds. The
Department of Agriculture at Washington has also developed during the
last ten years until it is performing very large service for
agriculture. Its annual expenditures aggregate eight or ten million
dollars, and it has in its employment hundreds of experts carrying on
laboratory and field research, scouring the world for plants and seeds
that may be of economic value, and assisting to control plant and animal
diseases. It is also distributing a vast amount of practical
information, put in readable form and adapted to the average farmer. Its
work of seeking to extend the markets of our agricultural products is
one of its notable successes.

Agricultural schools have been talked about for a century, and during
the early part of the last century several were started. The first
permanent agricultural college was opened in 1857, in Michigan. The
Morrill Act of 1862 gave rise to a system of such colleges and today
there will be found one in every state and territory, besides several
for the colored people of the South. Up to 1890, these colleges had been
not wholly satisfactory and the farming class was not patronizing very
fully their agricultural courses. The fault belonged both to the college
and to the farmers. The farmers were skeptical of the value of
agricultural education, and the colleges were often out of sympathy with
the real needs of the farmers, and in fact found it difficult to break
away from the pedagogical ideals of the old educational régime. Since
1890, however, there has been a complete change of sentiment in this
respect, particularly in the Middle West. There the "land-grant"
colleges, whether separate colleges or whether organized as colleges of
state universities, are securing magnificent buildings for agriculture,
are offering fully equipped courses, and are enrolling as students some
of the best men in college, whom they are educating not only for
agricultural teachers and experimenters but also for practical farmers.
Of course, there are many grave problems connected with this subject,
many farmers who do not yet respond to the call for educated
agriculturists, and some colleges that do not yet appreciate their
opportunity. But the change for the better has been so marked that all
agricultural educators are extremely optimistic.

One of the most difficult and most important phases of agricultural
education is that of a secondary grade. The great proportion of educated
farmers will probably be trained for their business in secondary
schools. This problem is being approached from many standpoints. The
University of Minnesota established, some fourteen years ago, a school
of agriculture, which now enrols several hundred pupils of both sexes.
Wisconsin is trying the experiment of two county schools of agriculture.
Occasionally the public high school will be found offering a course in
agriculture. Several states are experimenting in one or more of these
lines, and during the next few years we shall see a large development of
this phase of agricultural education.

One of the most interesting movements in agricultural education has been
an attempt to introduce nature-study and even the elements of
agriculture into the country schools. Cornell University has taken the
lead in advocating "nature-study" purely, for the schools; and the
University of Missouri has perhaps been the leader in advocating that
the work be made even more definite and practical, and that the country
pupils shall be taught, during their early years even, "the elements of
agriculture." Both plans are being worked out with a fair degree of
success, and many other states are carrying out the work in some form or
other. Of course the idea is not a new one, but its present practical
application is a timely one, and it will not be long before this branch
of agricultural education will become a prominent factor in rural

A most suggestive phase of agricultural education is college extension
work. University extension has had a rather meteoric career in this
country, in so far as it has been connected with educational
institutions; although the extension idea is spreading rapidly and is
being worked out through home study and correspondence courses of all
sorts. But I think there is scarcely any field in which the real college
extension idea is today being more successfully applied than in
agriculture. The work started with farmers' institutes, which were
instituted about twenty-five years ago and which have been adopted in
practically all the states of the Union. It has broadened within ten
years, until now it is carried on not only by farmers' institutes, but
through home-correspondence courses, the introduction of millions of
pamphlets into farm homes, demonstrations in spraying, butter-making,
soil testing, milk testing, and so on.

Ontario presents a good illustration of how a new agriculture can be
created, in a dozen years, by co-operating methods of agricultural
education. Her provincial department of agriculture, her experiment
station, her agricultural college, her various forms of extension work,
and her various societies of agriculturists have all worked together
with an unusual degree of harmony for the deliberate purpose of inducing
Canadian agriculturists to produce the things that will bring the most
profit. The results have been most astonishing and most gratifying.

The recent progress in the organization of farmers has been less marked
than has been the development of rural communication and agricultural
education. Organization is a prime requisite for farmers. They feel this
truth themselves. For the last forty years, many attempts--some large,
some small, some successful, some great failures--have been made to this
end. The problem is an extremely difficult one. Business co-operation
among farmers is especially difficult and, while co-operation has
developed quite largely--so much so that the Department of Agriculture
was able to report, a year ago, a list of five thousand co-operative
societies of various kinds among farmers--still it cannot be said that
the farmers are co-operating industrially in a relatively large way.
They have, however, a multitude of associations and societies. They have
also the Grange, which is the most successful of all the general
organizations of farmers in the country. Contrary to public belief, the
Grange is not defunct, but has been growing at a very rapid pace during
the last few years and has a large influence especially in the East and
Middle West. It has practically no existence in the far West and in the
South. It has a national organization, however, representing some
twenty-six states. Its influence in Congress is said to be marked. The
local Granges are doing a very large work, socially, educationally, and
sometimes financially. The Grange seems to understand itself now. Its
ideals have been worked out pretty carefully, and its future growth is
quite certain.

We have suggested that the significant rural social movements of the
past few years have been the improvement of rural communication, the
wonderful development of agricultural education, and the fairly
satisfactory development of organization among farmers. It seems also
apparent that there is a fourth line of development that might be
mentioned as being significant, and it may be expressed in a somewhat
general statement that the interest in agricultural questions has
increased in a very marked way. There is undoubtedly a new emphasis upon
country life generally. The people of the cities have been going to the
country more than ever before. A walk, the length of Beacon Street in
Boston, at any time from the middle of June to late autumn, convinces
one that the majority of the people are somewhere in the country. All
over the North, city people are making country homes for at least a
portion of the year. There is also a growing interest in the farm and
farm problems among the general public. Just now the country schools are
attracting special attention from the educators--so much so that the
late President Harper stated, not long ago, that the rural-school
question is the coming question in education. Even the country church is
being made a subject of discussion in religious circles. It is conceded
that agriculture presents "problems." And while the throbbing, busy,
intense life of the city brings perplexing questions to our
civilization, our people are coming to realize that the agricultural
population and the agricultural industry are still tremendous factors in
our national life and success, and that both social and industrial
conditions in the country are such that there also are grave questions
to be settled.

In view of the facts which have been given, I think if one were asked to
give a direct answer to the question, Is the farmer keeping up? one
could reply, Yes. In some sections of the country, the farmers have not
responded to these forward movements. The countryman is naturally
conservative. Not only that, but there are some serious questions that
he has to meet in his business and in his life. He finds it extremely
and increasingly difficult to get adequate labor. He has not been able
to take sufficient advantage of the power of co-operation. The
industrial and social development of the city has lured away his
children. And yet one cannot help feeling that these really remarkable
advances of the past decade are prophetic of a steady improvement in
rural conditions, of a larger development of rural life, of a greater
prosperity for agriculture.

With regard to the future, it seems to me that, on the social side, the
progress of the next few years is to be along the lines, indicated
above, which have characterized the past ten or a dozen years. Still
further improved means of communication will tend to banish isolation
and its drawbacks. Realization of the benefits of organization and
ability to co-operate will vastly strengthen class power. The means of
agricultural education will be developed very rapidly, with the ideal in
mind of being able to furnish some sort of agricultural training for
every individual who lives upon the farm. The country question, as a
whole, will attract increasing attention. Gradually it will be seen that
the rural problem is one of the greatest interest to all our citizens.
The spirit of co-operation will grow until not only the farmers
themselves unite for their own class interests but the various social
agencies--industrial, religious, educational--ministering to rural
betterment will find themselves also co-operating. Thus, it seems to me,
the outlook for the future is full of hope. A genuine forward movement
for rural betterment has had its beginning, is now gathering volume, and
will soon attain very large proportions.




There is a proverb in Grange circles which expresses also the
fundamental aim of all agricultural education--"The farmer is of more
consequence than the farm and should be first improved." The first term
in all agricultural prosperity is the man behind the plow. Improved
agriculture is a matter of fertile brain rather than of fertile field.
Mind culture must precede soil culture.

But if the improved man is the first term in improved agriculture, if he
is the effective cause of rural progress, he is also the last term and
the choice product of genuine agricultural advancement. We may
paraphrase the sordid, "raise more corn to feed more hogs to buy more
land to raise more corn, etc.," into the divine, "train better farmers
to make better farming to grow better farmers, etc." We want trained men
that we may have an advancing agricultural art, that we may make every
agricultural acre render its maximum. The improved acre, however, must
yield not only corn but civilization, not only potatoes but culture,
not only wheat but effective manhood.

But we may carry the point a step farther. The individual farmer is the
starting-point and the end of agriculture, it is true. But the lone
farmer is an anomaly, either as a cause or as a product, as the lone man
is everywhere. As an effective cause we must have co-operating
individuals, and as an end we desire an improved community and a
higher-grade _class_ of farmers.

The farm question then is a social question. Valuable as are the
contributions of science to the problems of soil and plant and animal,
the ultimate contribution comes from the development of improved men. So
the real end is not merely to utilize each acre to its utmost, nor to
provide cheap food for the people who do not farm, nor yet to render
agriculture industrially strong. The gravest and most far-reaching
consideration is the social and patriotic one of endeavoring to develop
and maintain an agricultural class which represents the very best type
of American manhood and womanhood, to make the farm home the ideal home,
to bring agriculture to such a state that the business will always
attract the keen and the strong who at the same time care more for home
and children and state and freedom than for millions. In other words,
the maintenance of the typical American farmer--the man who is
essentially middle class, who is intelligent, who keeps a good standard
of living, educates his children, serves his country, owns his
medium-sized farm, and who at death leaves a modest estate--the
maintenance of the typical American farmer is the real agricultural

If this analysis is a correct one, it will vitally affect our plans for
agricultural training. The student will be taught not only soil physics,
but social psychology. He will learn not only the action of bacteria in
milk fermentation, but the underlying causes of the social ferment among
the farmers of the last thirty years. He will concern himself with the
value of farmers' organizations as well as with the co-operating
influences of high-bred corn and high-bred steers. The function and
organization of the rural school will be as serious a problem to him as
the building and management of the co-operative creamery. The country
church and its career will interest him fully as much as does the latest
successful device for tying milch cows in the stable. He will want to
get at the kernel of the political questions that confront agriculture
just as fully and thoroughly as he wishes to master the formulae for
commercial fertilizers. No man will have acquired an adequate
agricultural education who has not been trained in rural social science,
and who does not recognize the bearing of this wide field of thought
upon the business of farming as well as upon American destiny.

Research, too, will be touched with the social idea. The men who study
conditions existing in rural communities which have to do with the real
life of the people--the effects of their environment, the tendencies of
their habits and customs--will need as thorough preparation for their
work, and the result of their efforts will be as useful as that of the
men who labor in field and laboratory.

But the most profound consequence of recognizing the social side of the
farm question will be the new atmosphere created at the agricultural
colleges. These institutions are fast gaining leadership in all the
technical questions of agriculture--leadership gladly granted by
progressive farmers whenever the institution is managed with
intelligence and in the spirit of genuine sympathy with farming. But
these colleges must minister to the _whole farmer_. They must help the
farmer solve all his problems, whether these problems are scientific, or
economic, or social, or political. And let it be said in all earnestness
that in our rapidly shifting industrial order, the farmer's interest in
the political, social, and economic problems of his calling is fully as
great as it is in those purely scientific and technical. And rightly so.
A prime steer is a triumph. But it will not of itself keep the farmer
free. The 50-bushels-of-wheat acre is a grand business proposition
provided the general industrial conditions favor the grower as well as
the consumer. When our agricultural colleges enter into the fullest
sympathy with all the rural problems, when the farm home and the rural
school and the country church and the farmer's civic rights and duties
and all the relations of his business to other industries--when these
questions are "in the air" of our agricultural colleges, then and then
alone will these colleges fulfil their true mission of being _all things
to all farmers_.



One might name a score of important activities that should be encouraged
in order to better New England agriculture. But the two fundamental
needs are (1) adaptation and (2) co-operation.

By adaptation is meant such development of agriculture as shall more
fully utilize existing physical and commercial conditions. The West has
for seventy-five years pressed hard upon New England farming. But along
with this western competition has come a new opportunity for the eastern
farmer. New England farmers as a whole have not quickly enough responded
to this new opportunity. Many of their troubles may be traced to the
failure to adapt themselves to the new conditions. The men in New
England who have met the new opportunity are succeeding.

What does this adaptation consist in? It means, first, the adaptation of
the New England farmer to his markets. In most parts of the country the
type of farming is perhaps more dependent upon physical conditions of
soil and climate than upon the immediate market. In New England the
reverse is now true, and the type of New England farming must be
adapted, absolutely and completely, to the demands of its market. New
England farmers have the most superb markets in the country. Of the six
million people in New England, approximately 75 per cent. live in the
cities and villages. There are, in New England, thirty cities having a
population of twenty-five thousand or more. The great majority of these
cities are manufacturing cities peopled by the best class of consumers
in the world--the American skilled artisan. They constitute a nearby
market that demands fresh products which cannot be transported across a
continent. New England is also especially favored in its nearness to the
European market. The New England farmer then must adapt his crops, his
methods, and his style of farming to his peculiar market.

In the second place, this adaptation must be one of soil, just as
anywhere else, only the problem here becomes more complicated because of
the varied character of the farming lands. How to make the valleys and
the hills, the rocky ridges and the sand plains of New England yield
their largest possibilities in agriculture is a problem of the greatest
scientific and industrial interest, and it is the problem that New
England agriculture has to face. In this connection comes also the need
of special varieties adapted not only to the market but to the soil and

This principle of adaptation is the industrial key to future
agricultural development in New England. But to achieve this adaptation,
to make the key work, there is needed the force of social organization.
The farmer must be reached before the farm can be improved. The man who
treads the furrow is a greater factor than nitrogen or potash. How is
this man to be reached, inspired, instructed? Largely by some form of
organization. The second and greater need therefore is co-operation.

Co-operation means faith in agriculture--a faith too seldom found in the
Israel of New England's yeomanry. Co-operation means ideals--ideals of
rural possibilities too seldom dreamed of in the philosophy of the
Yankee farmer. Co-operation means power--power that cannot be acquired
by the lone man, not even by the resolute individualism so dominant in
New England character.

There are three forms of co-operation, all of which are desirable and
even essential if the most rapid agricultural progress in New England is
to be secured--co-operation among individuals, among organizations,
among states.

The farmers of New England must work together. The Grange is stronger in
New England than in any other portion of the country of similar
area--yet not one farmer in ten belongs to the Grange. We need not dwell
on this point, for it is a truth constantly preached through the Grange
and through other means. Let me suggest two ideas relative to
co-operation which have not received so much attention.

Each organization has its peculiar work. The school is to train the
young, the agricultural college to prepare the youth, the farmers'
institute to instruct and inspire the middle-aged and mature. The
experiment station seeks to discover the means by which nature and man
may better work together. The producers' unions endeavor to secure a
fair price for their goods. The Grange enlarges the views of its members
and brings the power which comes from working together, buying together,
meeting together, talking together, acting together. Boards of
agriculture control conditions of health and disease among animals and
plants. The country fair educates and interests. The church crowns all
in its ministrations of spiritual vision, moral uplift, and insistence
upon character as the supreme end of life.

But no institution can do the work of the others. They are members one
of another. The hand cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee. All
these things make for rural progress. None can be spared. The Grange
cannot take the place of the church. The institute cannot supplant the
Grange. The college course cannot reach the adult farmer. The experiment
station cannot instruct the young. The church cannot secure reforms in

These agencies may however co-operate. Indeed the most rapid and most
secure rural progress, the broadest and soundest agricultural growth,
can not take place unless there be this form of co-operation. There will
come added interest, increased efficiency, larger views, greater
ambitions in our agricultural development, if, in each state, all of
these forces work together.

We may therefore welcome most cordially the proposed plan of federating
the various agricultural societies of each state into one grand
committee organized for the purpose of forwarding all the agricultural
interests of that state. Let there be, moreover, a "League for Rural
Progress," in each state or, at least, an annual conference on rural
progress, in each state, in which the representatives of the farmers'
societies, of the schools, of the churches, and indeed all other people
who have the slightest interest in rural advancement may meet to discuss
plans and methods which shall better agriculture and the farmer.

But this is not enough. There ought to be co-operation among these
various social institutions without respect to state lines. The farm
problem in New England is one problem, although differing in details, it
is true, in different states. Co-operation should not stop with the
federating of the organizations of a state. There is no reason, for
instance, why the agricultural colleges and experiment stations of New
England should not co-operate. It is not practicable to prevent all
duplication of work. I do suggest the desirability and the feasibility
of genuine co-operation.

Why should not those in charge of the rural schools of all New England
meet together and discuss the difficulties and achievements as they
exist in different states? Why not have a "New England Society for
Agricultural Education," in which all organizations and all individuals
who are interested in any phase of this subject may meet for discussing
New England problems? Could not boards of agriculture co-operate to some
extent, especially in farmers' institute work with general plans and
ideas? Certainly conferences between these boards ought to yield most
valuable results. Is the idea of a genuine New England fair a mere

Cannot the Granges of New England profitably co-operate more fully? It
is true that there is considerable intervisitation, and yet the rank and
file of members in one state know comparatively little of the progress
and methods of the Grange in an adjoining state; this knowledge is
confined to a few leaders. Would it not be worth while to attempt an
occasional New England assemblage of Grange members, a representative
gathering for discussing Grange work and for enthusing the Grange people
of New England with the possibilities of still further Grange

The idea of New England as a unit of interest in church matters is
already exemplified by the appointment of a New England secretary of the
federation of churches. It is not too much to expect that, in the near
future, all the means for church federation in New England shall work
together, because it is evident that co-operation and unity are demanded
by the nature of the field.

And finally, is it idle to think that there might be a New England
League for Rural Progress or, at least, a New England Conference on
Rural Progress, which shall bring from every corner of New England
representatives of the agricultural colleges, of the Granges, of the
country church, of the rural school, of the country press, and all other
individuals who believe in the possibilities of New England agriculture,
and in the efficiency of the fullest and freest co-operation?

There are several powerful reasons why an attempt to better New England
agriculture will be greatly aided by co-operation that includes every
inch of New England soil from Boston harbor to the Berkshires, and from
Mt. Katahdin to Point Judith.

(1) The importance of New England agriculture. In the appended table is
attempted a comparison between New England as a unit, the state of
Michigan representing an average agricultural state, and the state of
Iowa representing the foremost agricultural state. The figures, taken
from the Census of 1900, are given in round numbers. Such a table is not
conclusive as to agricultural conditions. But it is very suggestive as
to the importance of New England agriculture both industrially and
socially. It will be seen that, with an area only a little larger than
Michigan, New England compares in every respect favorably with that
average state and, in some respects, excels it, while it excels both
Michigan and Iowa by 65 per cent. in gross value of product per acre of
improved land.

(2) Agricultural conditions all over New England are quite similar.
Speaking broadly, the soil and climate of one state are the soil and
climate of another. The people are of the same stock, the same views,
the same habits, the same traditions. The demand of the market is fairly
uniform for different sections. The New England city is the New
Englander's special possession as a market. Farm labor conditions are
much the same. In fact, there is hardly a portion of our country, of the
same area, which in all these respects yields itself more completely to
the idea of unity.

(3) The hopefulness of the farm problem. Nearly four millions of city
people live in New England. They must be fed. The nearness of the
market means high-class products. This means intensive agriculture.
Intensive agriculture means education and intelligence. The cities are
growing. Their power of consumption is steadily and rapidly increasing.

(4) The unusual social equipment. It must be remembered that in an area
but little larger than Iowa, which has one agricultural college and one
agricultural experiment station and no Granges to speak of, New England
has, in comparison, six agricultural colleges, six experiment stations,
six boards of agriculture, over a thousand Granges, and numerous
agricultural societies. The means of agricultural education in New
England are more numerous and may be more efficient than in any other
portion of this country of similar area. Moreover, the cities are now in
a position to help solve the problem in New England. They have leaders.
There are in them men with leisure and talent who are interested in this
problem and who are willing to help solve it.

(5) The sentimental side. A campaign for rural progress, with New
England as the unit, ought to arouse the pride and enthusiasm of all the
sons and daughters of New England who still have the privilege of living
within her borders, as well as the interest and sympathy of all her
grandsons who, though living under western skies, still cherish in their
hearts the deepest affection for their Fatherland. Shall not the idea of
uniting all the forces of agricultural betterment that exist in New
England be a stimulus to every farmer in the six states, and, indeed,
attract the sympathy and practical aid of every lover of New England

Adaptation, co-operation: these are the primary needs of New England
agriculture; an adaptation of the farmer and his farm to existing
conditions, a co-operation that unites individual farmers into various
associated efforts, that federates the work and influence of the
different social agencies within the state, and that ultimately secures
the unity of all New England in a great movement for rural advancement.

                        |  New England |   Michigan   |      Iowa
   Total land area--    |              |              |
     square miles       |       62,000 |       57,500 |         55,500
   Number of farms      |      192,000 |      203,000 |        229,000
   Acreage in farms     |   20,500,000 |   17,500,000 |     34,600,000
   Acres of improved    |              |              |
     land               |    8,135,000 |   11,800,000 |     29,900,000
   Value of farms       | $640,000,000 | $690,000,000 | $1,835,000,000
   Value of farm        |              |              |
     products           | $170,000,000 | $147,000,000 |   $365,000,000
   Persons engaged in   |              |              |
     agriculture        |      290,000 |      312,000 |        372,000
   Rural population     |    1,500,000 |    1,200,000 |      1,260,000
   Value of products per|              |              |
     acre of improved   |              |              |
     land               |         $20  |         $12  |           $12
   Number of Granges    |       1,200  |         725  |
   Number of Grange     |              |              |
     members            |     120,000  |      45,000  |



Agricultural education in this country has thus far been an attempt to
apply a knowledge of the laws of the so-called "natural" sciences to the
practical operations of the farm. Comparatively little attention has
been paid to the application of the principles of the "social" sciences
to the life of the farmer. All this is partly explained by the fact that
the natural sciences were fairly well developed when the needs of the
farmer called the scientist to work with and for the man behind the
plow, when a vanishing soil fertility summoned the chemist to the
service of the grain grower, when the improvement of breeds of stock and
races of plants began to appeal to the biologist. Moreover, these
practical applications of the physical and biological sciences are, and
always will be, a fundamental necessity in the agricultural question.

But in the farm problem we cannot afford to ignore the economic and
sociological phases. While it may be true that the practical success of
the individual farmer depends largely upon his business sense and his
technical education, it is folly to hope that the success of agriculture
as an industry and the influence of farmers as a class can be based
solely upon the ability of each farmer to raise a big crop and to sell
it to advantage. General intelligence, appreciation of the trend of
economic and social forces, capacity to co-operate, ability to voice his
needs and his rights, are just as vital acquirements for the farmer as
knowing how to make two blades of grass grow where but one grew before.
It finally comes to this, that the American farmer is obliged to study
the questions that confront him as a member of the industrial order and
as a factor in the social and political life of the nation, with as much
zeal and understanding as he is expected to show in the study of those
natural laws governing the soil and the crops and the animals that he

In this connection it is significant to note that farmers themselves are
already quite as interested in the social problems of their particular
calling and in the general economic and political questions of the day,
as they are in science applied to their business of tilling the soil.
Not necessarily that they minimize the latter, but they seem
instinctively to recognize that social forces may work them ill or work
them good according to the direction and power of those forces. This
statement is illustrated by the fact that the aims, purposes, labors,
and discussions of the great farmers' organizations like the Grange are
social in character, having to do with questions that are political,
economic, sociological.

When, however, we turn to those public educational agencies that are
intended to assist in the solution of the farm problem, we discover that
they are giving slight attention to the social side of the question. An
examination of the catalogues of the agricultural colleges, whether
separate institutions or colleges of state universities, reveals the
fact that, beyond elementary work in economics, in civics, and
occasionally in sociology, little opportunity is given students to study
the farm question from its social standpoint. With a few exceptions,
these institutions offer no courses whatever in rural social problems,
and even in these exceptional cases the work offered is hardly
commensurate with the importance of the subject. Nearly all our other
colleges and universities are subject to the same comment. The average
student of problems in economics and sociology and education gains on
conception whatever of the importance and character of the rural phases
of our industrial and social life.

It may be urged in explanation of this state of affairs that the liberal
study of the social sciences in our colleges and universities and
especially any large attention to the practical problems of economics
and sociology, is a comparatively recent thing. This is true and is a
good excuse. But it does not offer a reason why the social phases of
agriculture should be longer neglected. The purpose of this article is
less to criticize than to describe a situation and to urge the
timeliness of the large development, in the near future, of rural social

At the outset the queries may arise, What is meant by rural social
science? and, What is there to be investigated and taught under such a
head? The answer to the first query has already been intimated. Rural
social science is the application of the principles of the social
sciences, especially of economics and sociology, to the problems that
confront the American farmer. As a reply to the second query there are
appended at the end of this chapter outlines of possible courses in
agricultural economics and rural sociology, which were prepared by the
writer for the exhibit in "rural economy" at the St. Louis exposition.
There are also subjects that have a political bearing, such as local
government in the country, and primary reform in rural communities,
which perhaps ought not to be omitted. So, too, various phases of home
life and of art might be touched upon. The subjects suggested and others
like them could be conveniently grouped into from two to a dozen
courses, as circumstances might require.

What classes of people may be expected to welcome and profit by
instruction of this character? (1) The farmers themselves. Assuming that
our agricultural colleges are designed, among other functions, to train
men and women to become influential farmers, no argument is necessary to
show how studies in rural social science may help qualify these students
for genuine leadership of their class of toilers. On the other hand, it
may be remarked that no subjects will better lend themselves to college
extension work than those named above. Lectures and lecture courses for
granges, farmers' clubs, farmers' institutes, etc., on such themes would
arouse the greatest interest. Correspondence and home study courses
along these lines would be fully as popular as those treating of soils
and crops. (2) Agricultural educators. The soil physicist or the
agricultural chemist will not be a less valuable specialist in his own
line, and he certainly will be a more useful member of the faculty of an
agricultural college, if he has an appreciative knowledge of the
farmer's social and economic status. This is even more true of men
called to administer agricultural education in any of its phases. (3)
Rural school administrators and the more progressive rural teachers. The
country school can never become truly a social and intellectual center
of the community until the rural educators understand the social
environment of the farmer. (4)Country clergymen. The vision of a
social-service church in the country will remain but a dream unless,
added to the possession of a heart for such work, the clergyman knows
the farm problem sufficiently to appreciate the broader phases of the
industrial and social life of his people. (5) Editors of farm papers,
and of the so-called "country" papers. Probably the editors of the
better class of agricultural papers are less in need of instruction such
as that suggested than is almost anyone else. Yet the same arguments
that now lead many young men aspiring to this class of journalism to
regard a course in scientific agriculture as a vestibule to their work
may well be used in urging a study of rural social science, especially
at a time when social and economic problems are pressing upon the
farmer. As for the country papers, the work of purveying local gossip
and stirring the party kettle too often obscures the tremendous
possibilities for a high-class service to the rural community which such
papers may render. No men, in the agricultural states at least, have
more real influence in their community than the trained, clean, manly,
country editors--and there is a multitude of such men. If as a class
they possessed also a wider appreciation of the farmer's industrial
difficulties and needs, hardly anyone could give better service to the
solution of the farm problem than could they. (6) Everybody else! That
is to say, the agricultural question is big enough and important enough
to be understood by educated people. The farmers are half our people.
Farming is our largest single industrial interest. The capital invested
in agriculture is four-fifths the capital invested in manufacturing and
railway transportation combined. Whether an individual has a special
interest in business, in economics, in education, or in religious
institutions, he ought to know the place of the farm and the farmer in
that question. No one can have a full appreciation of the social and
industrial life of the American people who is ignorant of the
agricultural status.

The natural place to begin work in rural social science is the
agricultural college. Future farmers and teachers of farmers are
supposed to be there. The subjects embraced are as important in solving
the farm problem as are biology, physics, or chemistry. No skilled
farmer or leader of farmers should be without some reasonably correct
notions of the principles that determine the position of agriculture in
the industrial world. A brief study of the elements of political
economy, of sociology, of civics, is not enough; no more than the study
of the elements of botany, of chemistry and of zoölogy is enough. The
specific problems of the farmer that are economic need elucidation
alongside the study of soils and crops, of plant-and stock-breeding. And
these economic topics should be thoroughly treated by men trained in
social science, and not incidentally by men whose chief interest is
technical agriculture.

The normal schools may well discuss the propriety of adding one or two
courses which bear on the social and economic situation of the rural
classes. While these schools do not now send out many teachers into
rural schools, they may do so under the system of centralized schools;
and in any event they furnish rural school administrators, as well as
instructors of rural teachers. There seems to be a growing sentiment
which demands of the school and of the teacher a closer touch with life
as it is actually lived. How can rural teachers learn to appreciate the
social function of the rural school, except they be taught?

Nor is there any reason why the theological seminaries, or at least the
institutions that prepare the men who become country clergymen, should
not cover some of the subjects suggested. If the ambition of some people
to see the country church a social and intellectual center is to be
realized, the minister must know the rural problem broadly. The same
arguments that impel the city pastor to become somewhat familiar with
the economic, social, and civic questions of the day hold with equal
force when applied to the necessary preparation for the rural ministry.

The universities may be called upon to train teachers and investigators
in rural social science for service in agricultural colleges, normal
schools, and theological seminaries. Moreover, there is no good reason
why any college or university graduate should not know more than he does
about the farm problem. There can be little doubt that the interest in
the farm question is very rapidly growing, and that the universities
will be but meeting a demand if they begin very soon to offer courses in
rural social science.

The arguments for rural social science rest, let us observe, not only
upon its direct aid to the farmers themselves, but upon its value as a
basis for that intelligent social service which preacher, teacher, and
editor may render the farming class. It is an essential underlying
condition for the successful federation of rural social forces. Indeed
it should in some degree be a part of the equipment of every educated

It may not be out of place to add, in conclusion, that instruction in
rural social problems should be placed in the hands of men who are
thoroughly trained in social science as well as accurate, experienced,
and sympathetic observers of rural conditions. It would be mischievous
indeed if in the desire to be progressive any educational institution
should offer courses in rural social science which gave superficial or
erroneous ideas about the scientific principles involved, or which
encouraged in any degree whatever the notion that the farmer's business
and welfare are not vitally and forever bound up with the business and
welfare of all other classes.


  I. Characteristics of the Agricultural Industry.
     Dependence upon nature.
     Capital and labor as applied to agriculture.
     The laws of rent and of decreasing returns in agriculture.
     Relation of agriculture to other industries and to the welfare of

 II. History of the Agricultural Industry.
     In ancient times.
     Status in Europe prior to the eighteenth century.
     The struggle to maintain its standing after the advent of commerce
       and manufacture.
     In the United States.
       The pioneer stage.
       Development of commercial agriculture.
       The new farming.

III. Present Status of the Farming Industry.
     The world's food supply.
     Agricultural resources of the United States.
       Geographical factors.
         Soils, climate, fertility, natural enemies, etc.
     Statistics of farms, farm wealth, production, etc.
     Leading sub-industries, cereals, stock, etc.
     Distribution of production.

 IV. The Agricultural Market.
     Description of the market--local, domestic, foreign.
     Mechanism of the market.
       Banks and local exchange facilities.
       Boards of trade.
     Prices of agricultural products.
       Movements of prices.
       Agricultural competition.
       Depressions of agriculture.
       Influence of "options."
     Transportation of agricultural products.
       Primary transportation--wagon roads and trolley lines.
       Railroad and water transportation.
         Delivery methods.
       Incidents of the transportation system--elevators, etc.
       Imperfect distribution of agricultural products.
     Development of the market.
       Increase of consumption of products--manufacture of farm products
         as a factor.
       The factor of choicer products.
       The factor of better distribution of products.
       The local market as a factor.
       The foreign market as a factor.

  V. Business Co-operation in Agriculture.
     Historical sketch.
     Present status.
       Miscellaneous business co-operation.
     Difficulties and tendencies.

 VI. Agriculture and Legislation.
     Land laws and land policies of the United States.
     Agriculture and the tariff.
     Taxation and agriculture.
     Food and dairy laws.
     Government aid to agriculture.

VII. General Problems.
     Agricultural labor.
     Machinery and agriculture.
     Interest rates, indebtedness, etc.
     Tenant farming.
     Large vs. small farming.
     Business methods.
     Immigration and agriculture.



1. Definitions.
2. Relation of the sociological to the economic, the technical, and the
     scientific phases of agriculture.

Part I



Movements of the Farm Population

1. Statistical survey.
2. The movement to the West.
     History, causes.
3. The movement to the cities.
   _a_) Growth of cities.
   _b_) Depletion of rural population in certain localities.
4. Causes of the movement to the cities.
   _a_) Industrial, social, and psychological causes.
5. Results of the movements of the farm population.
   _a_) Results both good and bad.
   _b_) Résumé of industrial and social results.


Social Condition of the Rural Population

Nativity; color; illiteracy; families; health; temperance; crime;
morality; pauperism; defectives; insanity; etc.


The Social Psychology of Rural Life

1. Isolation and its results.
2. The farm home and its environment.
3. Traits of family life.
4. Traits of individual life.


The Social Aspect of Current Agricultural Questions

1. Tenant farming.
2. Large vs. small farms.
3. Farm labor.
4. Irregular incomes.
5. Farm machinery.
6. Specialization in farming.
7. Immigration.

Part II



Means of Communication in Rural Districts

1. Importance and status of rural communication.
2. The new movements for better rural communication.
   _a_) Highways.
   _b_) Rural free mail delivery.
   _c_) Rural telephone.
   _d_) Interurban electric railways.


Farmers' Organizations

1. Value of.
2. Difficulties in organizing.
3. Forms that organizations may take.
4. History and work of farmers' organizations in the United States.
5. General deductions from study of farmers' organizations.


Rural Education

1. Distinction between rural and agricultural education.
2. The country school.
   _a_) Its importance, organization, maintenance, instruction, and
   _b_) The rural school as a social center.
   _c_) The township unit, the consolidated school, the centralized
3. High-school privileges for rural pupils.
4. The rural library.
5. Other agencies for rural education.


Means of Agricultural Education

1. Historical.
2. Research in agriculture.
3. Agricultural instruction to resident students.
   _a_) Higher education in agriculture.
   _b_) Secondary education in agriculture.
   _c_) Primary education in agriculture.
4. Extension teaching in agriculture.
5. Miscellaneous agencies for agricultural education.
   _a_) Farmers' societies.
   _b_) The farm press.
   _c_) The county paper.
   _d_) Industrial departments of steam railways.


The Rural Church

1. Present status.
2. Difficulties in country church work.
3. The awakening in the rural church.
4. The institutional rural church.
5. The Y. M. C. A. in the country.
6. The rural Sunday school.
7. The rural social settlement.


The Social Ideal for Agriculture

1. The importance of social agencies.
2. The preservation of the "American farmer" essential.
3. Relation of this ideal to our American civilization.
4. The federation or co-operation of rural social agencies.



It is almost trite to assert the need of the "socialization"--to use a
much-worked phrase--of the country. It is possible that this need is not
greater than in the cities, but it is different. Among no class of
people is individualism so rampant as among farmers. For more than a
century the American farmer led the freest possible social life. His
independence was his glory. But, when the day of co-operation dawned, he
found himself out of tune with the movement, was disinclined to join the
ranks of organized effort, and he prefers even yet his personal and
local independence to the truer freedom which can be secured only
through co-operative endeavor. Moreover, the social aspect of the rural
problem is important not merely because the farmer is slow to
co-operate. The farm problem is to be met by the activities of social

We may say (assuming the home life, of course) that the church, the
school, and the farmers' organization are the great rural social
institutions. They are the forces now most efficient, and the ones that
promise to abide. This classification may appear to be a mere truism,
when we suggest that under the church should be placed all those
movements that have a distinctively religious motive, under the school
all those agencies that are primarily educational in design, and under
farmers' organizations those associations whose chief function is to
settle questions which concern the farmer as a business man and a
citizen. But the classification answers fairly well. It includes
practically every device that has been suggested for rural betterment.

There are two interesting facts about these rural institutions: (1) None
of them is doing a tithe of what it ought to be doing to help solve the
farm problem. The church is apparently just about holding its own,
though that is doubted by some observers. Rural schools are not, as a
rule, keeping pace with the demands being made upon them; comparatively
few students in the whole country are studying scientific agriculture.
Not one farmer in twenty belongs to a strong farmers' organization. (2)
All these institutions are awakening to the situation. Progress during
the last decade has been especially gratifying. Co-operative efforts
among farmers are more cautious, but more successful. The Grange has
nearly doubled its membership since 1890; and it, as well as other farm
organizations, has more real power than ever before. The rural-school
question is one of the liveliest topics today among farmers as well as
educators. Opportunities for agricultural education have had a marvelous
development within a decade. Discussion about rural church federation,
the rural institutional church, rural social settlements, and even
experiments in these lines are becoming noticeably frequent. The Young
Men's Christian Association has, its officers think, found the way to
reach the country young man.

The institutions which we have just discussed, together with the
improvement that comes from such physical agencies as assist quicker
communication (good wagon roads, telephones, rural mail delivery,
electric roads), constitute the social forces that are to be depended
upon in rural betterment. None can be spared or ignored. The function of
each must be understood and its importance recognized. To imagine that
substantial progress can result from the emphasis of any one agency to
the exclusion of any other is a mistake. To assert this is not to
quarrel with the statement we frequently hear nowadays that "the
_church_ should be the social and intellectual center of the
neighborhood;" or that "the _school_ should be the social and
intellectual center of the neighborhood;" or that "the _Grange_ should
be the social and intellectual center of the neighborhood." It is
fortunate that these statements have been made. They show an
appreciation of a function of these agencies that has been neglected.
The first item in rural social progress is that the country preacher,
the rural teacher, the country doctor, the country editor, the
agricultural editor, the agricultural college professor, and especially
the farmer himself, shall see the social need of the farm community. But
to assert, for instance, that the church shall be _the_ social center of
that community may lead to a partial and even to a fanatical view of
things. I would not restrain in the slightest the enthusiasm of any
pastor who wants to make his church occupy a central position in
community life, nor of the teacher who wants to bring her school into
relation with all the economic and social life of the farm, nor of the
leader of the farmers' organization who sees the good that may be done
through the social and intellectual training which his organization can
give. But if there is danger that the preacher in the pursuit of this
ideal, shall ignore the social function of the school and of the
farmers' organization, or that the teacher, or the farmer, or anybody
else who is interested, shall fail to see that there is a logical
division of labor among rural social forces, and that it is only the
intelligent and efficient and harmonious co-operation of all these
forces that will insure the best progress, then to such I appeal with
all the power at my command to recognize not only the breadth of the
whole movement, but to appreciate the limitations of their own special
interests. There are things that the church cannot do and should not
attempt to do. There are things the school cannot do and should not
attempt to do. Accepting our conventional division of social agencies,
we may say that efficient rural progress stands upon a tripod of forces,
and that balance can be maintained only when each is used in its proper

We reach now the heart of the topic, which is how these various social
forces may be brought into co-operation--a co-operation that is
intelligent and real. I would suggest, first of all, the encouragement
of all efforts along this line that are already under way. For
instance, there are scattered all over this country individual pastors
who are seeking to make their churches the social and intellectual
beacon-lights of the community. There are other individuals who are
endeavoring to apply the social-settlement idea to the needs of the
country. There are associations which attempt to bring together the
teachers and the school patrons for mutual discussion of educational
topics. In numerous instances the farmers' organizations include in
their membership the country pastor, the district school teacher and
perhaps the country doctor. In these and doubtless in other ways the
idea we are dealing with is being promulgated, and up to a certain point
this fact of promiscuous initiative is entirely satisfactory and
desirable. So long as the work is done it makes little difference who
does it. Every attempt to bring any of these agencies into closer touch
with the farm community is to be welcomed most heartily. But beyond a
certain limit this promiscuous work must be unsatisfactory. The efforts
and interests of any one social agency are bound to be partial. Indeed
the more effective such an agency is, the more partial it is likely to
be. Intensity is gained at the expense of breadth. The need for
federation exists in the desirability of securing both the intensity and
the breadth.

The precise method of securing this federation of effort is not easy to
foresee. It can be determined only by trial. It must be worked out in
harmony with varying conditions. Some very general plans at once suggest
themselves: (1) Let the agricultural college in each state take the lead
in the movement, acting not so much as an organization as a
clearing-house and a go-between. Let it direct conferences on the
subject, and seek to bring all who are interested in rural affairs into
touch and sympathy. (2) Have a "League for Rural Progress," made up of
representatives from the churches, the agricultural colleges, the
departments of public instruction, the farm press, various farmers'
organizations, etc. (3) Enlarge the "Hesperia movement," which now seeks
to secure co-operation between school and farmers' organization, by
including in it the church.

It may be of interest to note that this idea of a federation of rural
social forces is getting a foothold and has indeed already crystallized
into organization. A brief description of what has actually been done
will therefore not be out of place.

So far as the writer is aware, the first meeting based on the definite
idea of co-operation between school, church, and Grange was held at
Morris, Connecticut, in the summer of 1901 and was organized by Rev. F.
A. Holden, then pastor at Morris. This meeting was a very successful
local affair, held in connection with "Old Home Week" celebration.

Probably the first attempt to hold a similar meeting on a large scale
was the conference at the Agricultural College, Michigan, in February,
1902. It was a joint meeting of the Michigan Political Science
Association and the Agricultural College and farmers' institutes. The
practical initiative was taken by the Political Science Association
under the leadership of its secretary, Professor Henry C. Adams, who had
the cordial co-operation of President Snyder of the Agricultural College
and Professor C. D. Smith, then superintendent of farmers' institutes.
It was a notable gathering, and its promoters were rejoiced to see the
splendid attendance of farmers particularly; teachers and clergymen did
not attend as freely as might have been expected. The programme was a
strong one and included men of national reputation and topics covering a
wide range of interests.

The addresses were published in the _Michigan Farmers' Institute
Bulletin_ for 1901-02, and were also gathered into a publication of the
Michigan Political Science Association under the title _Social Problems
of the Farmer_.

The state of Rhode Island has organized on a permanent basis. In 1904
there was held in Kingston, at the College of Agriculture and Mechanic
Arts, a "Conference on Rural Progress." It was a one-day meeting, well
attended by representative farmers, clergymen, and educators. A
committee was appointed to discuss further procedure, and the next year
there was held in the halls of Brown University a two-days' conference.
The programme included addresses on: The Grange, The Country Church,
School Gardens, and several phases of practical agriculture. Among the
speakers were the assistant secretary of agriculture, Hon. N. J.
Bachelder, now Master of the National Grange, and Dr. Josiah Strong.

In the spring of 1906 there was organized "The Rhode Island League for
Rural Progress," which was constituted through representation from the
following organizations: State Board of Agriculture; Rhode Island
College of Agriculture; State Federation of Churches; State Grange;
State Association of School Superintendents; State League of Improvement
Societies; Washington County Agricultural Society; Newport Agricultural
Society; Rhode Island Horticultural Society; Newport Horticultural
Society; Rhode Island Poultry Association; Florists and Gardeners' Club;
Kingston Improvement Association.

This league held the Third Annual Conference on Rural Progress, April 10
and 11, 1906, the first day's session being at Brown University,
Providence, and the second day's at East Greenwich. Its fourth meeting
was held in Newport in March, 1907. In Rhode Island the idea lying back
of this conference has certainly approved itself to all who are
interested in rural matters.

The following is the constitution of the league:


     Rhode Island League for Rural Progress

     I. NAME.--The name of this body shall be the "Rhode Island League
     for Rural Progress."

     II. OBJECT.--The object of the League shall be to secure the
     co-operation of the various individuals, organizations, and
     agencies which are working for any phase of rural advancement in
     this state.

     III. MEMBERSHIP.--Any organization interested in rural advancement,
     which may desire to co-operate with the work of the League, may be
     represented in the League.

     Any individual in the state interested in rural progress may become
     a member of the League upon the payment of one dollar annual fee.

     IV. OFFICERS.--The administrative work of the League shall be
     conducted by a council, to be composed of one delegate from each
     organization represented in the League, to serve until superseded.
     The council at the time of each annual conference shall choose from
     among its members a president, a vice-president, and a
     secretary-treasurer, and these officers shall act as an executive

     V. MEETINGS.--The meetings of the League shall be held at the call
     of the executive committee. There shall, however, be at least one
     annual Conference on rural progress held under the auspices of the

     VI. FINANCES.--The funds necessary to forward the work of the
     League may come from three sources:

     _a_) Contributions made by organizations belonging to the League
     and represented on the council, such contributions to be voluntary
     and in such amount as the respective organizations may designate.
     The council may, however, make up a schedule of desired
     contributions from the various organizations and present it to the
     different organizations.

     _b_) Membership fees from individual members, $1.00 per year from
     each member.

     _c_) Private subscriptions.

Probably the first successful attempt to organize a permanent league for
rural progress was accomplished in 1904 through the efforts of Rev. G.
T. Nesmith, of Hebron, Ill. It was called "The McHenry County
Federation," and has held three annual meetings and seems to be on a
solid basis. Mr. Nesmith has endeavored to keep the purpose of the
league on a high plane by endeavoring to state clearly the object of the
federation, which is, "that the people of McHenry County might have
life, and have it more abundantly, and this life was not to be a narrow
life. It was the largest aggregate and highest symmetry of the sixfold
ends of individual and community action, viz., health, wealth,
knowledge, sociability, beauty, and righteousness." He also endeavored
to make it clear that "the federation does not seek to supplant the
other forces. It rather seeks to be a clearing-house of the ideas of all
the federated organizations; to be a mount of vision from which each may
look and get a complete vision of life; to be a fraternal bond which
shall link all together in common ties of sympathy, fellowship, and

The results thus far obtained are perhaps best described by quoting the
words of Mr. G. W. Conn, Jr., superintendent of schools of McHenry

     There is one noticeable omission in the constitution--a provision
     for the proper financing of the federation. This is partially
     explained by the fact that the federation has largely centered
     about the county Teachers' Association and the county Farmers'
     Institute, organizations that are supported in a financial way by
     the county and the state appropriations. These appropriations, in
     addition to some voluntary gifts, have been sufficient to meet the
     necessary expenses of the meetings.

     I think that I am safe in saying that the interest and also the
     attendance has probably increased 100 per cent. at each session.
     Each year has also seen a much larger percentage of our local men
     and women helping out on the programme. It is a little early in its
     history to expect much evidence of material results, but I believe
     that results are already putting in an appearance, especially from
     the esthetic standpoint. Without doubt more trees have been planted
     about the country homes and along the country roadsides of this
     county than in any two preceding years. In a great many places
     roads have been cleaned. Refuse and weeds have been removed and
     burned. Landscape gardening on a simple scale is putting in an
     appearance in places where it was little expected. The naming of
     farms is another feature that is rapidly growing. Boys' country
     clubs are being formed and this year, for the first time, three of
     these clubs met with the federation, had a banquet, and formed a
     county organization.

     Of course not all of these movements are rightfully to be
     attributed to the direct influence of the county federation. The
     public schools of the county have been largely instrumental in
     stirring the public conscience to a livelier appreciation of the
     beautiful. The regular observance of Arbor and Bird Days in our
     schools has done much toward initiating this movement. However, the
     federation has been the great factor in uniting otherwise
     independent organizations into one large machine for stirring the
     social consciousness and molding public sentiment. It has proved to
     be an efficient association in at least three ways, in
     co-ordinating our efforts, harmonizing our methods, and broadening
     the field of operation.

The constitution of this league is given herewith in full:

     1. NAME.--The name of this organization shall be, The McHenry
     County Federation of Rural Forces.

     2. OBJECT.--The object of the Federation is to gain a higher
     symmetry and a larger aggregate of health, wealth, knowledge,
     sociability, beauty, and righteousness to the citizens of McHenry

     3. ELEMENTS OF THE FEDERATION.--The Federation shall consist of the
     following organizations: The Farmers' Institute, Teachers'
     Association, Domestic Science Association, Pastors' Association,
     Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the Young Men's Christian

     4. MEMBERSHIP.--Any county organization may become a member of the
     federation by recommendation of the Executive Committee.

     5. OFFICERS.--The officers of the Federation shall consist of a
     president, as many vice-presidents as there are component
     organizations, a secretary-treasurer, and an Executive Committee.

     6. COMMITTEES.--The Executive Committee shall be composed of the
     president, the secretary-treasurer, and the presidents of the
     component organizations.

     There shall be an Auditing Committee and a Committee on
     Resolutions, each consisting of three members and to be appointed
     by the president.

     The Nominating Committee shall consist of two members from each of
     the component organizations and they shall be appointed by the

     7. DUTIES.--The Executive Committee shall select the date and fix
     the place of every meeting. They shall also prepare the programme.

     The presidents of the component organizations shall be _ex-officio_
     vice-presidents of the Federation.

     8. AUDITING.--All bills shall be paid by the treasurer after the
     same have been countersigned by the Auditing Committee.

     9. TERM OF OFFICE.--The terms of all officers shall be one year or
     until their successors are elected.

     10. HOW ELECTED.--All officers shall be elected by ballot.

The Massachusetts Conference for Town and Village Betterment has dealt
with some phases of the federation idea. Its object is "to contribute to
the formation of a strong, definite, and united purpose among the forces
working for the improvement of civic and social conditions in
Massachusetts, by bringing together all town and village improvement
societies, citizen's associations, civic clubs, and other organizations
interested in this purpose."

The Massachusetts Agricultural College, in celebrating the fortieth
anniversary of its opening to students, October 2, 1907, held a four
days' conference on rural progress. The programme covered nearly the
whole field of rural development and was made possible by the
co-operation of the State Board of Agriculture, the State Grange, the
Massachusetts Civic League, the Connecticut Valley Congregational Club,
the State Committee of the Y. M. C. A., the Western Massachusetts
Library Club, and the Head-Masters' Club of the Connecticut Valley. No
permanent organization was formed, but the general idea of federation of
rural social forces was fully emphasized and thoroughly appreciated.

An attempt was made in the spring of 1907 to bring together the various
elements of rural progress in all the New England states. Under the
initiative of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture there was
held in March, 1907, a New England Conference on Rural Progress. This
meeting was held very largely for the purpose of discovering the
sentiment among the leaders of New England agriculture with respect to
the desirability and practicability of federating on so large a scale.
In addition to the main meeting, the presidents of the agricultural
colleges of New England were called together in a special section, and
the same was true of the directors of the New England experiment
stations, the masters of the various state granges, the secretaries of
the various state boards of agriculture, and the leaders in the New
England Federation of Churches.

The idea of federation was clearly approved by the delegates present,
and a temporary organization was effected. It was voted to hold a
similar conference in Boston in the spring of 1908.

It is probably true that the first and most important step in bringing
about a federation of rural social forces is to educate all concerned to
the _desirability_ of such a federation--to sow the seeds of the idea.
So far as machinery is concerned it may not be necessary to form any new
organization. Indeed, what is chiefly necessary is a sort of
_clearing-house_ for an exchange of ideas and plans among all who are at
work on any phase of the rural social problem. There is need of a
central bureau that shall emphasize the necessity of a study of
agricultural economics and rural sociology, and press the value of
co-operation in the work of social progress in the country. There is
need that somewhere "tab" shall be kept on the whole rural social
movement. We need a directing force to assure a comprehensive view and
study of the whole rural problem. It is important that some
investigations should be carried on that are not likely to be taken up
by some other agency. It would be desirable to have a certain amount of
publication, and in various other ways to carry on a campaign of
education. Above all, it would be desirable to initiate local, state,
and national conferences pervaded by the spirit and purpose of securing
the hearty co-operation of all rural social forces, of all the
organizations that have any rural connection whatever, and of all
individuals who have the slightest genuine interest in any phase of the
farm problem.

Such a bureau should keep in constant touch with, secure the confidence
of, and supply appropriate literature to, country teachers, preachers,
editors, doctors, and business men, and, more than all, to intelligent
and progressive farmers. And let me add at this point, that it must be
fully understood that the work contemplated cannot possibly achieve
large success unless it is done _with_ the farmers, rather than _for_
the farmers. The problem is far from that of doing a missionary work for
a down-trodden and ignorant class. It is a much less heroic, a much more
commonplace task. It is simply carrying the idea of co-operation of
individuals a step farther, and endeavoring to secure the co-operation
of interests that have precisely the same goal, although traveling upon
different roads. The prime purpose of the movement is to bring the
specialist into close touch with the more general phases of the problem,
to secure breadth and wholeness, to assure well-balanced effort.

     [NOTE.--A paper with the title of this chapter was read before the
     American Civic Association in 1901, at Minneapolis. A portion of
     the paper is retained here. The history of the development of the
     idea of federation is brought down to the present time.]

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