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´╗┐Title: Address delivered by Hon. Henry H. Crapo, Governor of Michigan, before the Central Michigan Agricultural Society, at their Sheep-shearing Exhibition held at the Agricultural College Farm, on Thursday, May 24th, 1866
Author: Crapo, Henry Howland, 1804-1869
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address delivered by Hon. Henry H. Crapo, Governor of Michigan, before the Central Michigan Agricultural Society, at their Sheep-shearing Exhibition held at the Agricultural College Farm, on Thursday, May 24th, 1866" ***

file was produced from scans of public domain works at the
University of Michigan\\\'s Making of America collection.)

Transcriber's note

Minor punctuation errors have been changed without notice. Printer
errors have been changed and are listed at the end. All other
inconsistencies are as in the original.




   Governor of Michigan,







   On Thursday, May 24th, 1866.



_Mr. President, and Members of the "Central Mich. Ag'l Society:"_

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Remote from the theatre of action in the late
rebellion, Michigan has experienced comparatively few of the evils that
followed immediately in its path. The usual pursuits of peaceful life,
were here scarcely disturbed, and by the permission of a Gracious
Providence, the industry of the inhabitants of our State was but little
diverted from its legitimate channels. Nevertheless, while so many of
her patriot sons were engaged in the deadly strife of Southern
battle-fields, and the result of the struggle was in the uncertain
future, a sombre cloud could not fail to brood over our daily life,
interfering with the full enjoyment of the blessings we retained.

Now, however, the roar of cannon and the noise and tumult of war is no
longer heard in our land; the scenes of carnage and blood which our once
peaceful and happy country has recently witnessed are at an end; the
turmoil and strife of armed hosts in deadly conflict have ceased; the
public mind is no longer excited, and the hearts of the people are no
longer pained, by the fearful news of battles fought, and of the
terrible slaughter of kindred and friends. Social order again invites us
to renewed efforts in our respective labor and callings; and we are
permitted "to beat our swords into plow-shares and our spears into

Like the calm and quiet repose of peace when it follows the clamor and
din of war, so is the delightful, cheering and invigorating approach of
spring, as it succeeds the chilling blasts and pelting storms of dreary

The truth of this is verified to us on the present occasion. We have
come together at this delightful spot, and on this beautiful spring day,
not only for the enjoyment of a festive season, but also for the
improvement of our minds and the increase of our present stock of
knowledge on subjects with which our several interests and our
respective tastes are more or less identified.

At your request and upon your kind invitation, I am here to contribute
my share--small though it be--to the general fund. I should, however,
have much preferred the position of a quiet learner to that of an
incompetent teacher--to have _listened_ rather than to have _spoken_.
But being here, it will be my purpose--by your indulgence--to speak, in
general terms, upon such topics as seem to me appropriate to the
occasion. I shall not presume to theorize, or to speculate; neither
shall I travel through unexplored fields with no other guide than
imagination; nor shall I attempt to entertain you with any rhetorical
flourishes, or figures of speech; but in a simple manner endeavor to
give briefly my own views on the several subjects discussed.

The occasion is undoubtedly one affording a wide field for profitable
discussion; yet the space which your greatest indulgence can be expected
to allow me will render it necessary that I confine myself to a very few
topics, and will barely permit a hasty glance at some of those only
which may be considered appropriate in this address. You will therefore,
I trust, remember that in case I do not refer to subjects which you may
deem of importance, it will be from this reason, and not because I may
have considered them unimportant.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the first place, then, permit me a brief reference to this
Association, under whose auspices, and by whose directions--acting in
connection with the officers of the Agricultural College--this festival
is held. Your Society, I understand, extends over the counties of
Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Livingston and Shiawassee, and has been formed
for the purpose of combining and concentrating a wider scope of
individual action than could otherwise be attained, with a view to an
increased interest in the subject of Agriculture and of Agricultural
Fairs; thereby recognizing the principle that "in union there is

The effort is not only laudable, but will, I have no doubt, be
productive of the most beneficial results. In fact we have in this very
effort to bring into notice and give an increased interest to one of our
most important branches of husbandry in our State--the growth and
production of wool--abundant evidence that such will be the result. By
coming together, as on the present occasion, in the spirit of a free,
frank and social interchange of ideas, an increased interest cannot fail
of being awakened, as well as an extensive inquiry instituted, among
farmers generally, not only as to the most desirable breed of sheep, but
also as to the best modes of tending and keeping and feeding the
different kinds, with a view to the greatest profits. The influence of
such a gathering as this is of much value--not only in encouraging a
desire for excellence and creating a spirit of competition and of
laudable emulation, but as furnishing the means for an active exchange
of the more desirable specimens. Those who assemble are enabled to enjoy
a season not merely of relaxation from toil, but also for mutual
consultation and discussion; and a healthy and growing interest in
everything pertaining to Agriculture, in all its varied forms and
branches, is thereby induced.

In this connection I may be permitted to make a few remarks in relation
to the salutary influence which our Agricultural Societies cannot fail
to exert upon the farmers of Michigan, and of the _benefits_ which are
certain to flow from them.

There is no employment which keeps man so isolated as that of
Agriculture; and these societies serve, in a very great degree, to
counteract the bad effects of this by bringing mind into intercourse
with mind. They should receive the united and cordial support of every

Whilst professional men are brought into frequent contact with each
other--and the trader is in constant intercourse with his customers--and
the mechanic is associated with those employed with him in the
shops--the farmer spends most of his time with his family, and with his
flocks and herds, and sees comparatively little of others. The
Agricultural Fair brings--or should bring--all the farmers together,
with their wives and daughters, where a healthy, social intercourse is
enjoyed. There a higher standard of excellence in everything is formed.
He there learns that what of his own he had been led to believe was the
best--whether in flocks or herds, or farm products--may be greatly
improved, and his ambition and pride, as well as his interest, are at
once excited to make an advance. At the same time the industrious
housewife, and the blushing Miss, by an examination of the cloths and
flannels--the carpets and quilts--the embroidered skirts and capes--the
collars and slippers, discover that these articles are worthy not only
of their admiration but of their emulation, and they, too, resolve to
copy from a standard of merit higher than their own. Thus is excited
among those so brought together a spirit of competition, and a desire in
their turn to excel.

Another important benefit resulting from Agricultural Fairs, is a more
rapid and general diffusion of knowledge among the farmers in regard to
the advantages and practical utility of new inventions, for the saving
of time and labor in agricultural operations. This is illustrated very
clearly by the exhibition of Mr. Parish's "Stump and Grub Extractor," on
exhibition here. This machine, I understand, was patented on the first
day of the present month, and _now_ all in attendance at this Fair have
had an opportunity of witnessing its operations and judging for
themselves of its merits. An effective machine of this kind is of
incalculable value to the farmer in removing _at once_ from his fields
the unsightly stumps that disfigure them, and which adds so much to the
labor of cultivating those fields. Of the machine itself, I may be
permitted to say, by way of digression, that it surpasses in the
effectiveness of its operations anything of the kind which I have yet
had an opportunity of witness.

But this is not all. The mutual consultation and discussion consequent
upon Agricultural Fairs, begets a spirit of inquiry and a desire for
information in relation to every subject connected with the farmer's
calling, and to gratify which he has recourse to periodicals and other
works in which its various branches are discussed and explained. He will
there learn what agricultural chemistry has done for him, and the
importance and value of the analysis of the different kinds of soil. He
will also find the result of the various systems of husbandry practiced
by others as well as the effects of experiments made, and thereby
secure to himself their benefits without incurring their cost. And
although no amount of reading alone can make a man a farmer, yet the
knowledge derived from a perusal of agricultural papers devoted to the
interests of the tillers of the soil will be of incalculable value to


It will undoubtedly be expected that "Sheep-Husbandry," not only from
the importance of the subject itself, but because of its being the
principal feature in this exhibition, should receive at my hands a due
share of consideration.

I am free to confess, however, that the subject will be approached with
no small degree of hesitancy and distrust on my part, not only because
of my want of practical knowledge in regard to it, but also because it
may be fairly regarded, I think, in many respects at least, as a sort of
debatable ground.

Different views are undoubtedly entertained by equally intelligent and
experienced men, upon this as well as upon other equally important
subjects; and the fact I believe is well established that "Doctors" not
only _may_ but _do_ very often "disagree," and that, too, sometimes very
tenaciously. Should I advance opinions at variance with those
entertained by well-informed and practical men who may listen to me, I
will simply remark that I am not here to lay down rules and establish
principles for the guidance of any one, but to discuss principles and
rules of action, as well as practical questions, with a view to lead
others the more carefully to inquire into and investigate the same.

The subject of Sheep-Husbandry with us is certainly an important
one--wool being a great, leading staple product of our State; and very
much attention is now being paid to it, which is fully justified by the
advantages of our soil and climate for the keeping of sheep. The farmers
of Michigan are fully aroused to the importance of this interest, and
have labored zealously, and at much expense and cost, to improve their
breeds of sheep, and to foster and develop this great interest. They
have certainly done much in this direction; but more--very much more, I
apprehend--remains yet to be done.

It must, however, be remembered that a blind zeal, without that
knowledge which is the result of experience, observation and study, will
do very little in the right direction.

Sheep, like cattle, should be selected for specific purposes, and in
reference to affording the greatest profit under existing, and probable
future circumstances. The exclusive cultivation of this or that
breed--of the fine or coarse, or of the long or short wools--whether
kept exclusively for their wool, or both for their wool and the
shambles, should never be practiced, unless under special and unusual
circumstances. The farmer in this, as in every other agricultural
department, must endeavor to see his relation to the merchant, and adopt
a practice having in view the chances of ultimately reaching the most
certain as well as the most profitable market; for, after all, the
connection between the producer and the manufacturer and merchant, is
but a partnership for loss and gain. The merchant will call upon the
manufacturer for such woolen goods as his market demands, irrespective
of the mere opinion which any one may entertain in favor of this or that
kind of wool; and the manufacturer, in his turn, will call upon the
farmer for just what is wanted. The farmer should therefore, in the
selection of his flocks, have in view the market upon which he is to
rely for the sale of his wool; the texture and weight of fleece; the
health and vigor of body and constitution, as well as the habits and
economy of the animal. He should sedulously seek to bring his sheep to a
high degree of perfection in every respect. In seeking to obtain quality
of fleece it is a self-evident fact that he should not overlook
quantity; and that quantity should also be considered in connection with

It is a patent fact, of which if we needed evidence it may be found in
this exhibition as well as in the numerous county exhibitions of similar
character, which have recently been held, where very rarely any other
class of sheep are seen, that a strong preference for fine-wooled
Merinos is very generally, if not almost exclusively, entertained at the
present time among the farmers of this State, and money in the purchase
of that class is of but little account. It is well known that very high
prices are being paid not only for single specimens but for whole flocks
of this breed. This is probably all right, so far as it is necessary for
the purpose of attaining excellence in flocks, upon points already
spoken of. To such a preference there should be no objection, if it be
not carried so far as to superinduce an unprofitable reaction--and
provided that the demand for the grade of wool produced by these sheep
is to have no limit, and that all which can be grown is sure always to
command a remunerative price. But will this probably be so? Let us

As I have already intimated, the demand for any particular quality or
kind of wool will not depend upon the fact that farmer A or farmer B has
such wool to sell, taken from sheep for which he paid very large prices,
and of which he has now a very large flock; but rather because that
particular kind and quality of wool is called for by the manufacturer
simply to fill the orders of the merchant, who in his turn is only
desirous to supply the demands of the consumer.

From an examination of our imports, it appears that in 1863, of _sixty
millions_ of woolen goods, about _forty millions_ were manufactured of
the longer worsted wool. This wool is required to make a fabric of
lustrous appearance for imitations of Alapaca, and for a supply of which
our manufacturers now depend mostly on foreign countries The price of
combing wool has been for some time increasing rapidly, in comparison
with other wool, in consequence of its consumption gaining upon its
growth. And I saw recently that the British farmer had been urged to
increase the production of this article to its fullest extent, both from
a consideration of duty as well as of interest.

The manufacturer of Alapaca cloths--a most beautiful fabric of recent
introduction--and their extensive use, has not only led to this
increased demand, but has enhanced the price of this kind of wool, which
will undoubtedly be maintained, as new fabrics requiring to be made from
long wools, especially for the garments of ladies, are now being
introduced in great variety, and are becoming daily more popular and of
more general use. Another cause for the continued and increasing demand
for these wools is the facility with which they can be used for the
purpose of making imitations of Lama fabrics and Alapacas; and I have no
doubt that factories for the manufacture of these goods will rapidly
multiply in New England and elsewhere, and will soon, to a very great
extent take the place of those now consuming the fine wools.

In support of these views, permit me to give the following extracts from
the work of Mr. Randall, the well known and enthusiastic champion of the
Merinos. He says:

     "In the American market there is a much larger demand for medium
     than fine wools, and the former commands much the best price in
     proportion to its cost of production."

Again he says:

     "American producers of very fine wool have ever fed an expectation,
     but never obtained the fruition of their hopes."

These are significant admissions, coming as they do from such a quarter.

       *       *       *       *       *

The South Downs are a variety of sheep of decided merit; but have never,
I think, been fully appreciated by the farmers of Michigan. They are of
large size and symmetrically formed, with hardy and robust
constitutions, and their wool is fine, short and curled, and destitute
of fibrous spires that give to it the felting properties. It is neither
a short nor a long staple, but ranks in this country as "middle wool."
The shorter staples are made into flannels and light woolen goods; and
the longer are extensively used for combing. Their mutton is
unsurpassed; its flavor is delicate, and the flesh juicy and well
intermixed with fat. They are the most prolific breeders--the proportion
of ewes bringing twins being at least fifty per cent. I recently saw a
fine flock of South Down ewes in the State of New York of which more
than three-fourths of the whole flock had twins.

Among the more desirable varieties or families, for the production of
long wool, in this climate, are, perhaps, the Cotswolds, noble specimens
of which you have had an opportunity of inspecting on this occasion;
and have, I trust, with me, been highly gratified at their weight of
carcass, combined with their fine forms and apparent hardiness of
constitution, as well as the superior fleeces they have now yielded.

My purpose, however, is not to advocate the claims of this or that class
of sheep at the expense of any other, but to present such views for your
consideration as may lead to a more thorough and candid investigation of
the whole matter.

Let me say in continuation of this subject, that in a comparison between
the Cotswold and other long wool varieties, with the fine wool Merinos
the _advantage as to weight of fleece_ is decidedly with the former; and
especially so when their respective fleeces are thoroughly cleansed and
scoured; for whilst the loss of the long wools very rarely reaches
_twenty per cent._, that of the Merinos generally much exceed _fifty per
cent._, and the fleeces of prize rams often more than _seventy per
cent._ Manufacturers are already beginning to make a discrimination
between wool that is clean and that which is not so. Suppose they buy
the South Down, Cotswold and Leicester wools, and their grades, from
which is lost by scouring twenty per cent. only, whilst upon the finest
Michigan wool there is lost _fifty_ per cent. and more--making the cost
of the latter, at ordinary prices, one-third more per pound than the
former, how long will it be before they will study to increase their
consumption of long wool when they can make from _thirty_ to _forty_ per
cent. more cloth with the same money? They will certainly seek to avoid,
in some way, the necessity of buying with their wool so very large a per
centage of grease and dirt, as they claim they are now doing in the
purchase of fine wools.

The South Downs, as I have already stated, as well as the long wool
sheep, have a decided advantage in the quantity and value of meat which
they yield for the shambles; for no one, I apprehend, will deny the fact
they not only yield more wool but very much more flesh to the live
weight than do the Merinos. And this is a fact worthy the serious
consideration of farmers, and certainly a strong argument in favor of
the more general breeding of long wool sheep. The war, and perhaps other
causes, have very seriously reduced our supply of meats, the waste of
which cannot soon be repaired. Many of our soldiers will not again
return to rural life, which will be quite too tame for them after the
long, protracted excitement of war. They will seek other occupations,
and be consumers rather than producers of meats. In addition to this a
tide of foreign immigration is setting in upon our shores, where they
will continue to swarm for years to come as never before, hungry for
meat; and it has been conclusively demonstrated that the ratio of our
ordinary increase of population far exceeds the production of cattle and
sheep, which deficiency in beef and mutton must hereafter be supplied in
some way. I will again quote from Mr. Randall's work. He says:

     "I am strongly impressed with the opinion that the production of
     mutton has been too much disregarded as a concomitant of the
     production of wool. Near large meat markets mutton is the _prime
     consideration_, and wool but the accessory."

Here, then, is a potent combination of circumstances, which were never
before brought together, guaranteeing an abundant remuneration, as I
believe, to those who may engage in this particular branch of husbandry;
and the field, although now new, will nevertheless, I have little doubt,
be very soon successfully occupied. I cannot but hope that our ambitious
and enterprising stock breeders will secure to themselves their full

Perhaps I have already exhausted your patience by dwelling so long upon
this subject; but regarding it--as I most certainly do--as a very
important one, and this being an appropriate occasion for its
discussion, you will, I trust, bear with me a moment longer, whilst I
venture to make a few practical suggestions, before taking leave of it.
Let me then say, in this matter of Sheep Husbandry, in addition to what
has already been said, that you should guard against extreme views of
any kind. Merinos are undoubtedly a valuable and a very desirable breed
of sheep, as witness the noble specimens exhibited on this occasion; but
you do not want them and nothing else, unless they will pay a better
profit than any other sheep; nor should you pay an extravagantly high
price for them merely to enrich the sheep-breeders of another State; nor
because it is fashionable to do so. You should remember that the South
Downs, the Leicesters, the Cotswolds, as well as some others perhaps,
also have their respective claims to favor and are worthy of your
consideration. My own opinion is that a grade of sheep may be produced
by a cross between the Cotswolds and some other varieties, which will
furnish a staple of fine, long, combing wool of lustrous appearance,
that will prove--all things considered--quite as remunerative as fleeces
from the choicest Merinos and their grades.

You should, also, avoid the too common error of overstocking with sheep
when the price of wool is high. Sheep Husbandry has been a very
profitable branch of business for the farmers of this State; but like
every other business it may be overdone, and is liable to fluctuations
and changes. Sheep must be well fed and cared for in order to produce
heavy fleeces; and there is certainly a limit to the number which may
profitably be kept upon any farm; and it not unfrequently happens that a
flock of fifty sheep on a small farm, will yield a larger net profit
than would a flock of five hundred if kept upon the same farm.

When the price of wool is high, the farmers are too reluctant to sell
off their sheep, and thus become liable to an overstock. In fact, this
is now the great danger of the wool-growers of Michigan. The best
economy, and the most judicious management, will be to keep down the
number of your flocks to your means of pasturage and feed; and
constantly aim to improve the grade and quality of those you retain by
disposing of the less desirable specimens for mutton. Your motto should
be to elevate the standard of your flocks, rather than to increase their
number beyond your means of feeding.

Another evil is also to be guarded against,--that of giving your
attention to sheep to the exclusion of cattle. I am aware that in the
past there have been--in this State--few advocates for the raising of
cattle, and that the sound judgment of any man would at once be brought
into question who should attempt to do so. But I think there has been
more of prejudice than reason in this. The farmer, as a mere matter of
policy, should not confine himself to any one thing, as thereby the
fluctuations and changes incident to any branch of business, may very
possibly--nay very probably--disappoint his hopes and expectations. If
he has only sheep on which to rely, a sudden fall in the price of sheep
and wool, or a general prevalence of any of the diseases to which sheep
are always liable, would be a serious disaster to him; whereas, if his
attention is directed to both sheep and cattle, as well as to horses,
swine, &c., his chances of certain and continued success are very
greatly multiplied. In fact, cattle are already commanding enormous
prices in consequence of a general scarcity everywhere, not only for the
shambles, but for the dairy, and this deficiency will not, I apprehend,
be very soon supplied. I have recently visited some of the more highly
cultivated portions of the State of New York, where I found good fair
cows were worth _one hundred dollars_ each and not easily to be had at
that. Good sized, first quality working oxen, are now worth here $250
per pair; and a large lot of cattle has recently been sold for beef in
Flint, at seven cents per pound, live weight. Horses, too, are scarce,
and must continue to be so for a long time, as their destruction by the
late war was very great, and years will be required to replace those so
destroyed, especially in the rebel and border States, which must be
supplied from the North. Swine, also, are now deficient, and principally
because, a few years since, for a time the price of pork was very low,
and their growth was in consequence, at once almost abandoned. The
farmer should take a broader view of things, and pursue a steady, onward
course, avoiding all extremes, as well as sudden changes. As a large
portion of his farm products are more adapted to the feed of cattle,
horses and swine than to sheep, he should, if for no other reason, keep
a due proportion of these animals, any excitement in favor of sheep
notwithstanding. My own opinion most decidedly is, that the time has
come when the best interests of the farmers of Michigan require that a
portion of the attention now being devoted to sheep husbandry should be
directed to that of other kinds of stock.

But, to return again from this digression to the subject of sheep and

One of the most serious difficulties with which the farmers have to
contend, is the combinations that are too often sought to be made by
purchasers to secure their wool at the lowest possible figures. The
manufacturers and wool buyers, undoubtedly act in concert,--at least to
some considerable extent,--to depress the price, and especially so,
before and about the time the new clip is coming in. They are well
drilled in this, and many of their operations are systematic and
efficient. At such time they pretend not to be in want of wool,--that
the demand will be light, &c. Purchases are made very sparingly, and
temporary supplies are procured from other sources, even at a higher
cost than the farmers ask. This is done upon the ground that an
occasional sacrifice of this kind pays well in the end, if thereby they
are able to keep down the price of the great bulk of domestic wool.
Sometimes fictitious sales are reported, and various other means are
employed to this end, with the view that a few holders, at
least,--either from necessity or timidity,--may be induced to sell, and
thus aid their efforts to establish low prices.

It thus becomes the duty of the farmers to act with much consideration,
study and wisdom; and purely as a matter of self-defense, to adopt some
concert of action among themselves for the protection of their own
interests. When the price is low and the market dull at the time of
shearing, there should not be too much haste in making sales. In 1861, I
think it was, the farmers were over anxious to sell, for no other reason
than because at that time the price of wool was very low and the market
dull. They then overlooked the well established commercial fact that
depressed markets generally advance, rather than retrograde, and that
Government disbursements then certain to be made would create funds and
a higher market, and that the demand for the staple would increase. They
consequently sold for _twenty-five cents_ per pound, fleeces, that in
less than three months commanded _forty-five_ to _fifty_ cents. They
also, in many instances, offered to sell their fleeces for less than
half the sum they would bring in a very few weeks. On the other hand, as
is too common, when wool at the time of shearing commands a high price
and the market is brisk, the farmers are inclined to hold on for still
higher prices. But this is another mistake in the opposite direction.
The rule should be,--"_sell_" when the market is quick, and prices are
good;--and "_hold on_" when the market is dull and prices are low.

Before leaving this subject, permit me to call your attention to another
important matter in connection with sheep husbandry in this State.
Sufficient care has not heretofore been taken to clean and otherwise
properly prepare this great and important staple for market, and the
consequence has been that the character and representation of "Michigan
wool," I am sorry to discover, has been very seriously lowered in the
market, and a great loss to the producers has thereby been sustained. It
is a fact, perhaps not generally known, that from this cause alone,
"Ohio wool" sells for about _five_ to _ten cents_ per pound more than
"Michigan wool." In an interview which I recently had with an extensive
eastern manufacturer, who was induced last season for the first time to
purchase a lot of "Michigan wool," he expressed his surprise that the
Michigan wool growers should be so heedless of their own interests as to
overlook this important fact. From his statements I learned that the
prejudice of the manufacturers against "Michigan wool" was so great that
many of them would not buy it at hardly any price when they could get
"Ohio wool." He said a large proportion of our wool was poorly washed,
and that this was true of a great proportion of our finest and best
lots; and that it was not only sent to market in this condition, but was
badly and slovenly put up, with much larger twine than they use in
Ohio,--the fleeces, also having a torn and jagged appearance; and many
of them, when opened, were found to contain the _unwashed_ tags. He,
however, expressed himself highly pleased with the quality of the wool
he had purchased, and said it compared favorably in that respect with
any he had ever received from Ohio; and he believed if our wool could be
sent to market as clean and in as good condition otherwise as the Ohio
wool,--and the prejudice which has been created against it, in
consequence of this not having been the case heretofore, could once be
removed, he doubted not that "Michigan wool" would command in the market
the highest prices and the most ready sales.

This is certainly a serious matter, and prompt and efficient measures,
of some kind, should at once be taken to remedy the evil; and every
wool-grower should feel, as he really is, personally interested in the
work. I commend this subject, gentlemen, to your serious consideration,
and trust some concert of action will be had to prevent a continuance of
this great evil, and to place "Michigan wool" where it should most
certainly stand, at the head of the list. If this can be done in no
other way, I would suggest the formation of a "Wool-Growers Board of
Trade," or some other efficient organization for the purpose--if for no
other--of tracing out and holding up to scorn every individual who shall
aid in inflicting so serious an injury to this great interest, and of
doing so great a wrong to his neighbors and fellow-citizens, and that,
too, from the base and fraudulent motive of selling dirt and tags as
fine wool--for be assured that any imposition of this sort, practiced
upon manufacturers, will recoil upon our own heads; and where _one_ cent
will thus be saved, thousands, yes, tens of thousands of dollars, will,
as a necessary consequence, be indirectly lost to the farmers of
Michigan. And the loss they have sustained from this cause during the
last three or four years will undoubtedly exceed the enormous sum of two
millions of dollars.

But I must take leave of this subject.


Permit me now to occupy your attention for a brief space whilst I speak
of this Institution--the State Agricultural College--upon whose grounds
we are now assembled, and where by the kindness and courtesy of its
officers, we have been so cordially welcomed and so pleasantly
entertained. It is not, I think, inappropriate to the occasion that I
should do so.

Let me remind you then, in the outset of my remarks on this subject,
that this Institution is in its early infancy; and that notwithstanding
the beautiful landscape which is spread out before us; with its verdant
fields just springing into luxuriance, dotted with the finest specimens
of the choicest breeds of sheep and cattle, with the College grounds
skillfully laid out and now in process of being tastefully adorned by
Art, a few years only have been numbered with the past since not only
this spot, but all the surrounding country, as well as almost the entire
territory of our young, but noble and now highly prosperous State, was
an unbroken wilderness, covered with the primeval forest, the entangled
woods giving shelter and concealment to wild and ferocious beasts, as
well as to the wandering and savage red man. What a change has thus been
wrought in a few short years! the result of the toil and privation of
the adventurous pioneers, of whom many have already become intelligent,
enterprising and forehanded farmers.

And more than this: Michigan, although but recently settled, and one of
the youngest in the great sisterhood of States, has been the first to
establish a professional school for the agricultural education of her
sons, in which is not only taught the sciences and their application to
agriculture, but also agriculture as an art, with such experiments as
are calculated to impart a more thorough and practical knowledge of the
same; and connected with the study of these a department of manual
labor; the legitimate effect of all which is to increase the student's
desire for knowledge as well as his love of study, and to remove the
barrier too often existing between the educated and laboring
classes--which can only be done by giving a better education to those
who labor, and by removing the prejudices of the educated against labor.

But I propose to speak more definitely of the aims and objects of this
Institution, as well as its claims to the favor and support of the
farmers of Michigan. They need not be told, I think, that its design is
to promote their benefit. But have the farmers of this State, as a
class, heretofore recognized this fact? And have they in return for the
advantages which it proposes to them, given it that countenance and
encouragement which it claims at their hands? I fear not. There are, it
is true, noble exceptions to this; yet it is also true that a large
proportion of their number have looked upon it with suspicion and
distrust, as though its purpose was to do them a wrong--to inflict upon
them an evil. They have not merely withheld from it their aid and
support, but their active influence has too often been exerted to its
disadvantage and prejudice. This is certainly wrong--very wrong!

Let us look a little into this matter. Is knowledge--a knowledge of
those sciences which are intimately connected with agriculture as an
art--of no value to the farmer? Is it necessary that he should be a dolt
in order to be fitted for his vocation? Will ignorance and bad husbandry
increase his crops or enable him to find a better market for his
products? Or, will his enjoyment, in his daily round of toil, be any
greater because unconscious that he is groping his way along in the
dark? No! For however that may have been in the past it is certainly not
the case now. And although "ignorance," as it is said, may be "bliss,"
yet in these days, at least, it must be a sort of negative bliss.

Ignorance is certainly not power; nor does it lead to wealth as a means
of comfortable support and enjoyment--which is the legitimate end of all
labor. Will _ignorance_ give respectability, or sweeten the toil of the
husbandman? Will it elevate his thoughts and desires to higher and
nobler aims, or inspire him to "look from nature up to nature's God?"
Will it lead him instead of a fixed stolid gaze upon the earth over
which he walks, to engage in the study of those great and omnipotent
laws which regulate all matter, and which so wonderfully, yet certainly
control both the animal and vegetable kingdoms? No! It will accomplish
none of these desirable ends, but the very reverse of them all.

This proposition is so self-evident to intelligent men, that to advance
it to such an audience as the one before me--except as the basis of an
argument--must be entirely superfluous. But what was the social position
of the farmers, let me ask--even in this highly favored country--fifty
or sixty years ago? Were they not then regarded as men without
knowledge--devoid almost of sensibilities--unfitted for anything except
the mere routine of daily labor and toil--and capable only of delving in
the soil day by day? And were they not then considered, even by
themselves as well as by others, as occupying the very lowest position
in the scale of society? Such were the facts. Every person who was
regarded as too ignorant and uncultivated for other pursuits, was, by
common consent, considered as having a prescriptive right to farming as
a vocation. In fact ignorance was regarded as the proper and sufficient
diploma for the farmer. And as a consequence he was not only poor and
without influence, but too often considered by others as without
respectability merely because he was a farmer; and all that was conceded
to him--in fact all that he claimed for himself--was a simple
subsistence upon the hardest fare, without any of the luxuries, and very
often with a scarcity of the necessaries of life.

Remember, I am speaking of the farmers, as a class, _fifty_ or _sixty_
years ago--before there were any county fairs, or agricultural colleges,
newspapers or magazines, and when agriculture was the result of labor
without knowledge, system or calculation.

But although the farmers have emerged from this condition very slowly,
yet what is their position now? Are they not regarded as being on a
level at least with those of other callings in social importance? Do
they not occupy positions of confidence and trust in society? Are they
not found in our Legislative Halls in fair proportion with men of
different pursuits? This is certainly true: and the advance alone is the
result of a higher mental culture--of a wider range of thought--and of
an increased fund of knowledge, and consequently of an improved system
of farming.

And if the advance of agriculture and the condition of the farmer have
been tardy, as compared with the improvement in other departments of
labor--in other avocations of life--it is solely because science and
study have not as soon been applied to agriculture--and because also the
farmer has not been permitted the advantages resulting from so early a
development of facts connected with his calling as have other classes of

But the great work is now fairly in progress of elevating the farmer to
his true position in the social order of society--of teaching him that
his vocation, instead of being the dull, unintellectual lot of the
ignorant, is the most noble and dignified, as well as the most conducive
to men's happiness in which he can be engaged; and nothing is now
wanting to secure the steady advancement of this work, but for the
farmers to do justice to themselves and to their calling, by laying hold
of the means for that end which are placed within their reach. Assuming
all this to be undeniably true, where can be found more potent agencies
in the work of elevation than Agricultural Colleges? And why, then,
should any farmer in this State hold back from giving this Institution
his cordial and hearty support? And stranger still--why should he put
himself in antagonism to its success? Such an attitude, to my mind, is
not merely unwise, but preposterous--yes, suicidal. If the College is
not what it should be, the more his self-interest should prompt him to
bestow upon it his aid. It is the _Farmers' Institution_--founded for
_his_ benefit, at much cost; and if _he_ does not feel an interest in it
and labor to make it a success, who will? Who should?

But why have a portion of the farmers of Michigan seemed to look with
distrust upon this Institution, and in some cases, I regret to say,
seemed to regard it as a sort of wrong to themselves; and if they have
not actually opposed, have, at least, withheld from it their support? I
must confess, that should I give what seemed to me to be the true answer
to these questions, it might be regarded by some who have not very
carefully looked into the subject, as an assumption on my part
unwarranted by facts.

Would that it were so; that I were mistaken. But having given the
subject some little thought and investigation, you will, I trust, permit
me the honest expression of my own views upon this important matter. It
is for that purpose and none other, that I am here. But you, Mr.
President, as well as all those now present, can certainly take no
personal exception to these views, as the very fact of such presence
shows that you are not of the class to which I may allude; and I am
gratified in being able to say that I believe there are very many
others, not present, who are the warm and devoted friends of this
Institution; and who, with you, I most certainly hope, constitute the
rule and not the exception.

But the answer: And in giving which, I will avail myself of the
privilege conceded to a certain class of men,--that of answering one
question by asking another. Why then do men ever oppose or neglect their
own interests? To my mind, only from want of knowledge, from prejudice
or self-will--or some other of the same brood of enemies to man's
success in laudable undertakings; and of which _ignorance_ is the chief,
and may be regarded as the prolific source of all the others. In this
case, undoubtedly, as in others, some are opposed from a mere notion of
opposition, or from a mere whim; others again, simply to agree with, or
differ from, some, who are either in favor or opposed; whilst some must
oppose whatever they themselves do not originate;--and, others again,
have no doubt been led honestly to entertain a distrust which has
finally grown into an opposition, through the influence of
misrepresentations, or from a perversion of facts by those whose
interests, from some cause, are at variance with its success.

But I am quite certain that the whole opposition and indifference to
this Institution, so far as it may come from the farmers themselves, is
unnatural and fictitious, and will soon pass away as does everything
else which is built upon such foundation. It is said by some that "the
Institution has been a mistake from the beginning;" that it "was located
wrong;" that it "was not started right;" that it "has been badly
managed;" and that it "is an expensive concern, and will never pay;" and
a great deal more. But it is very easy to say all this, and yet there
may be very little reality in it, and still less reason.

Let me here say to the objectors and fault-finders,--suppose all this be
true? who _then_ is to blame? Is the Institution itself responsible for
all these mistakes? Or, are they not rather the consequences of
unavoidable and untoward circumstances, magnified and aggravated by
_your_ opposition, and over which its friends and managers could have no
possible control. I admit the probability that the early success of the
College would have been more certainly secured, had an old and highly
cultivated farm been purchased for the purpose; but for this the means
were wanting. You say, perhaps, that College students should not be
required to _clear land and dig stumps_. True; but when the officers and
managers of such an Institution are _compelled_ to do this, and to reach
the end desired as best they may through such means, they are certainly
entitled to all praise, and richly deserve the meed of commendation for
even partial success, and which should be all the dearer to us because
of being reached under such adverse circumstances. That the facilities
which the College now possesses are inadequate to the proper
accommodation of those who wish to avail themselves of its advantages,
and even to the extent of the limited number of students now belonging
to it, is certainly to be regretted. But this is an evil to be overcome
by the patient and persistent efforts of its friends, and not by the
antagonism and opposition of its enemies; by making the most out of the
limited means at command, and not by abandoning the whole because the
means are not now all we could desire. That its management may have been
a matter of criticism with those who have known but little about it, or
who have taken little or no pains to investigate the facts, is not
strange; yet, for one, I am clearly of the opinion that--when all the
difficulties with which it has had to contend, are duly considered--its
management, thus far, has been all that any person could reasonably hope
for or expect; and more--that its officers and professors are entitled
to great credit and much praise, for securing under so much
discouragement, that degree of success which is apparent here even to
the casual observer; and claim of us, and are entitled to receive at our
hands, a proper and just recognition of their valuable services, and the
fidelity with which they have been rendered.

       *       *       *       *       *

Farmers of Michigan! Be not led astray by such objections as I have
stated, or by any others of a similar import. You have here a noble
Institution, in faithful and competent hands--one that will soon be of
incalculable value to you--and one, too, that will reflect much credit
not only upon you, but upon the whole State. And although it may not now
be all you could wish or desire, yet when we consider what it now is in
view of the difficulties with which it has had to contend, we have a
sure guarantee, that it will yet be a success and will realize all your
reasonable expectations. Let me ask of you, in all earnestness and
candor, to give it now your warm, your hearty support, so that you may
not only assist in securing for yourselves and the public the great end
of its establishment, but that you may, by and by, safely, and without
the fear of successful contradiction, lay claim to the honor of being
among its early friends and upholders. There is something noble and
magnanimous in rendering substantial aid and support to a cause in the
hour of its weakness and in the time of its need; whilst there is
something not only selfish but mean, in stepping forward with proffers
of assistance, and with spurious claims of imaginary or intended favor,
when such assistance is no longer needed, and when the heat and burden
of the day has been borne by others; for, be assured, that the time is
coming when no farmer will covet the distinction of having been among
the number of the enemies of this Institution.

The advantages of our Agricultural College, in connection with an
experimental farm, are too obvious to every intelligent mind to require
that I should occupy your time in dwelling upon them. And, when I speak
of an experimental farm, I do not mean a mere model farm, by which a
specimen of good farming only is exhibited; but, like this, a farm
embracing a variety of soils--adapted to an extensive range of
experiments--and where the value of the different kinds of grain may be
tested, as well as the relative advantages of different modes of
tillage; the relative effect and value, by actual trial, as well as by
analysis, of various manures as fertilizers; and the economy of labor;
as well as the comparative value of the different breeds of cattle,
sheep, horses, swine, &c., &c., with a view to the introduction and
dissemination among the farmers of the State, of such as should prove
the most profitable; or of such as could be most successfully used for
obtaining the most desirable grades. Such a farm as this, under the
efficient and skillful management of its present able and persevering
Superintendent, cannot fail to be of very great benefit to the farmers
of this State, and should, both as a matter of duty to others and of
interest to themselves, receive their united and generous support. And I
am firmly of the opinion that when they shall afford this Institution
such aid, it will soon become one of the first among our noble
institutions of learning, and will be a just cause of pride, not merely
to the farmers themselves, but to every intelligent person throughout
the whole extent of our noble State.

And now let me invoke, for the future prosperity and success of this
College, not merely the liberality of the farmers--or what they may
regard as such--in the payment of a trifling tax for its maintenance,
but what is of equal importance, and which it has a right to demand in
justice to itself--their earnest advocacy of its claims.


But I have already, I fear, trespassed quite too far upon your patience,
and should, perhaps, before this, have relieved you from further
infliction. Yet seeing before me, many--if not all--of the students of
this College, I must beg your indulgence for a moment longer, whilst I
address to them a very few remarks.

Let me say, then, to you, young gentlemen, that you are now in the
enjoyment of privileges for the acquisition of that knowledge so
essential to success in after life, which were denied to me--and the
absence of which I have felt as a great and serious loss through the
whole period of my existence. See to it that you place a just value upon
these privileges, and that you do not abuse them. Whilst most of you, I
trust, are fitting yourselves for the employment of farming as an
avocation, some, perhaps, may be looking forward to other professions
and pursuits. I, however, on this occasion, must confine my remarks to
those of the former class.

And to such I would briefly remark, that the value and importance of an
agricultural education to the youth whose lives are to be devoted to the
highly reputable occupation of farming, begin now to be admitted, and
happy will it be for our common country, when such education shall be
regarded as a necessity. Labor is no longer degrading, but is creditable
and dignified; and agricultural pursuits are no longer regarded as
disgraceful or ignoble by any except the fop and the coxcomb, but are of
all employments the most honorable in which men can be engaged. Nor is
it, as has been too often supposed, a cheerless life of toil and
fatigue, but has many substantial and endearing charms. It is also the
fountain-head for the supply of all our wants; and when contrasted with
other employments, its advantages cannot fail to be appreciated. Whilst
those who seek a profession must be content to spend many weary years of
wasting study--of constant struggle--before they can begin to live, the
farmer has at once before him, health and quiet, ease and contentment,
as well as the enjoyment of sober pleasures which do not cloy, and
whilst the chances of those who engage in commercial pursuits are, that
about _ninety-five_ out of every _one hundred_ are destined to failure,
the farmer is exempt from such a hazard, for the chances of failure with
him are found to be only about _four_ in every _one hundred_.

I do not, of course, in this comparison, include those who, having no
land of their own, are obliged to toil for others as laborers, and who
cannot therefore be ranked as farmers.

To the farmer, if each day does bring its labors, it also brings its
pleasures; and even as he toils in his dusty fields, he can derive
unalloyed pleasures, not only from the study and care of his bleating
flocks and lowing herds, but from the prospect of an abundant harvest as
he looks over his fields of waving grain or contemplates his orchards of
rich and luscious fruits. And each day renews to him these pure and
substantial pleasures, which afford not only gratification, but health.
With the farmer there are no all-absorbing cares, no corroding
anxieties, no vitiating excitement. He is measurably freed from the
seductions of enervating pleasures. From the green fields and fresh air
he drinks constant draughts of inspiration. His great study is, or
should be, Nature and Nature's God. To him each season has its profits
and its pleasures; for he knows that while he rests or sleeps his fields
are working for him. He is also freed, in a great measure, from the
baleful influences which attend that false ambition so often excited by
other pursuits.

My young friends, when you leave your "Alma Mater" and fix upon your
route for life's journey, let your choice of a profession be carefully
and wisely made; and then, with undeviating course, pursue it steadily
and persistently to the end, for in this only will be found your
reasonable chances of ultimate success.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. President, I have already detained you and this audience quite too
long; and with many thanks for your kind and patient attention, I will
now bring my remarks to a close.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note

The following changes have been made to the text:

Page 11: "recently visted" changed to "recently visited".

Page 12: "not generally kown" changed to "not generally known".

Page 19: "knowlege so essential" changed to "knowledge so essential".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address delivered by Hon. Henry H. Crapo, Governor of Michigan, before the Central Michigan Agricultural Society, at their Sheep-shearing Exhibition held at the Agricultural College Farm, on Thursday, May 24th, 1866" ***

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