By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Country-Life Movement in the United States
Author: Bailey, L. H. (Liberty Hyde), 1858-1954
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 "The Country-Life Movement in the United States" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


The Rural Outlook Set


  Country-Life Movement
  in the United States



  New York



  _All rights reserved_

  COPYRIGHT, 1911,

  Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1911.

  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


  Charles W. Garfield


  I dedicate this budget
  of opinions




  It is not a back-to-the-land movement, 1--This book, 2.


PAGES 4-13

  A transition period, 6--The Commission on Country Life, 7--The three
  fundamental recommendations of the Commission, 9--A national conference
  of country life, 12--A voluntary movement, 12--The international phase,


PAGES 14-30

  Some contrasts of town folk and country folk, 14--Comparisons of town
  and country affairs, 16--The two minds, 17--Will the American farmer
  hold his own? 19--The first two remedies, 21--Movement from city to
  country as remedy, 23--Sending the surplus population to the country,
  25--Back-to-the-village, 26--Can a city man make a living on a farm?
  27--What the city may do, 30.


PAGES 31-43

  Significance of the decline, 32--The abandoned farms, 37--The new
  farming, 41.


PAGES 44-54

  The interests of society in the work, 45--A broad reclamation movement,
  50--Supplemental irrigation, 51--We need reserves, 53.


PAGES 55-60

  (1) The making of a new society, 56--(2) The fighting edge, 57.


PAGES 61-84

  Agriculture in the public schools, 62--The American contribution,
  65--The dangers in the situation, 66--The present educational
  institutions, 68--The need of plans to coördinate this educational work,
  71--Outline of a state plan, 72--A state extension program, 75--Special
  local schools for agriculture, 76--The lessons of experience, 79.


PAGES 85-96

  The affairs of the household, 88--The affairs of the community, 90--The
  woman's outlook, 92--The means of education, 93.


PAGES 97-133

  Hamlet life, 100--The category of agencies, 104 (increase of population,
  105; dividing up of large farms, 106; assembling farms, 106; recreative
  life, 107; local politics, 108; rural government, 108; community program
  for health, 112; local factories and industries, 116; the country store,
  118; the business men's organizations, 119; great corporations, 120;
  local institutions, 122; local rural press, 123; many kinds of extension
  teaching, 123; all kinds of communication, 124; economic or business
  coöperation, 125; personal gumption and guidance, 132)--Community
  interest is of the spirit, 133.


PAGES 134-148

  Reasons for the labor question, 135--The remedies, 137--Public or social
  bearings, 139--Supervision in farm labor, 142--What is the farmer to do?


PAGES 149-164

  Farmer does not get his share, 149--Relation of the question to
  cost-of-living, 153--The farmer's part, 156--The middleman's part,
  157--A system of economic waste, 158--Coöperation of farmers will not
  solve it, 158--It is the business of government, 160--Must be a
  continuing process of control, 161.


PAGES 165-177

  Nature of the fair, 165--Features to be eliminated, 167--Constructive
  program, 167--The financial support, 168--An educational basis, 169--Ask
  every person to prove up, 171--Sports, contests, and pageants,
  173--Premiums, 174--It is time to begin, 175--The fair ground, 176--My
  plea, 177.


PAGES 178-200

  These subjects have a history, 180--They are not party-politics
  subjects, 182--The soil is the greatest of all resources, 183--The soil
  crust, 185--No man has a right to plunder the soil, 188--Ownership _vs._
  conservation, 190--The philosophy of saving, 192--The conservation of
  food, 194--The best husbandry is not in the new regions, 196--Another
  philosophy of agriculture, 197--The obligation of the farmer, 198--The
  obligation of the conservation movement, 200.


PAGES 201-220

  The open country must solve its own problems, 201--Profitable farming is
  not a sufficient object in life, 202--New country professions, 203--The
  personal resources, 204--The meaning of the environment, 205--Historic
  monuments, 208--Improvement societies, 209--Entertainment, 211 (Music
  spirit, 212; drama, 213)--The business of farming, 217.


The country-life movement is the working out of the desire to make rural
civilization as effective and satisfying as other civilization.

It is not an organized movement proceeding from one center or even
expressing one set of ideas. It is a world-motive to even up society as
between country and city; for it is generally understood that country
life has not reached as high development within its sphere as city life
has reached within its sphere.

We call it a new subject. As a "movement," or a recognized set of
problems needing attention, it may possibly be called new; but in
reality it is new only to those who have recently discovered it.

_It is not a back-to-the-land movement._

The country-life movement must be sharply distinguished from the present
popular back-to-the-land agitation. The latter is primarily a city or
town impulse, expressing the desire of townspeople to escape, or of
cities to find relief, or of real estate dealers to sell land; and in
part it is the result of the doubtful propaganda to decrease the cost of
living by sending more persons to the land, on the mostly mistaken
assumption that more products will thereby be secured for the world's

The back-to-the-land agitation is not necessarily to be discouraged, yet
we are not to expect more of it than it can accomplish; but whatever the
outward movement to the land may be, the effort to effectualize rural
society, for the people who now comprise this society, is one of the
fundamental problems now before the people.

The country-life and back-to-the-land movements are not only little
related, but in many ways they are distinctly antagonistic.

_This book._

The foregoing paragraphs indicate the subject of this book. I mean only
to express opinions on a few of the questions that are popularly under
discussion, or that are specially important at this time. I shall
present no studies, and I intend to follow no systematic course. Some of
these subjects I have already discussed with the public, but they may
now have new expression or relations.

The lack of adjustment between city and country must be remedied, but
the remedies lie in fundamental processes and not in the treatment of
symptoms. Undoubtedly very much can be done to even up the economic
situation and the distribution of population; and this needs careful and
continuous study by commissions or other agencies created for the
purpose. We are scarcely in sight of the good that such agencies could
accomplish. I hope that this book may suggest some of the things to be
considered. The past century belonged to the city; the present century
should belong also to agriculture and the open country.


The present revival of rural interest is immediately an effort to
improve farming; but at bottom it is a desire to stimulate new activity
in a more or less stationary phase of civilization. We may over-exploit
the movement, but it is sound at the center. For the next twenty-five
years we may expect it to have great influence on the course of events,
for it will require this length of time to balance up society.
Politicians will use it as a means of riding into power. Demagogues and
fakirs will take advantage of it for personal gain. Tradesmen will make
much of it. Writers are even now beginning to sensationalize it.

But there will also arise countrymen with statesmanship in them; if not
so, then we cannot make the progress that we need. The movement will
have its significant political aspect, and we may look for governors of
states and perhaps more than one President of the United States to come
out of it. In the end, the farmer controls the politics because he makes
the crops on which the wealth of the country depends. There is probably
a greater proportion of tax-payers among voting farmers than among city

Considered in total results, educational and political as well as social
and economic, the country-life movement in North America is probably
farther advanced than in any other part of the world. It may not have
such striking manifestations in some special lines, and our people may
not need so much as other peoples that these particular lines be first
or most strongly attacked. The movement really has been under way for
many years, but it has only recently found separate expression. Most of
the progress has been fundamental, and will not need to be done over
again. The movement is well afoot among the country people themselves,
and they are doing some of the clearest thinking on the situation. Many
of our own people do not know how far we have already come.

_A transition period._

Such undercurrent movements are usually associated with transition
epochs. In parts of the Old World the nexus in the social structure has
been the landlord, and the change in land-tenure systems has made a
social reorganization necessary. There is no political land-tenure
problem in the United States, and therefore there is no need, on that
score, of the coöperation of small owners or would-be owners to form a
new social crystallization. But there is a land problem with us,
nevertheless, and this is at the bottom of our present movement: it is
the immanent problem of remaining more or less stationary on our present
lands, rather than moving on to untouched lands, when the ready-to-use
fertility is reduced. We have had a new-land society, with all the marks
of expansion and shift. We are now coming to a new era; but, unlike new
eras in some other countries, it is not complicated by hereditary social
stratification. Our real agricultural development will now begin.

In the discussion of these rural interests, old foundations and old
ideas in all probability will be torn up. We shall probably discard many
of the notions that now are new and that promise well. We may face
trying situations, but something better will come out of it. It is now a
time to be conservative and careful, and to let the movement mature.

_The commission on country life._

The first organized expression of the country-life movement in the
United States was the appointment of the Commission on Country Life by
President Roosevelt in August, 1908. It was a Commission of exploration
and suggestion. It could make no scientific studies of its own within
the time at its command, but it could put the situation before the
people. President Roosevelt saw the country-life problem and attacked

The Commission made its Report to the President early in 1909. It found
the general level of country life in the United States to be good as
compared with that of any previous time, but yet "that agriculture is
not commercially as profitable as it is entitled to be for the labor and
energy that the farmer expends and the risks that he assumes, and that
the social conditions in the open country are far short of their

A dozen large reasons for this state of affairs, a state that directly
curtails the efficiency of the nation, are given in the Report; and it
suggests many remedies that can be set in motion by Congress, states,
communities, and individuals. The three "great movements of the utmost
consequence that should be set under way at the earliest possible time,
because they are fundamental to the whole problem of ultimate permanent
reconstruction" are: taking inventory of country life by means of "an
exhaustive study or survey of all the conditions that surround the
business of farming and the people who live in the country, in order to
take stock of our resources and to supply the farmer with local
knowledge"; the organizing of a nationalized extension work; the
inauguration of a general campaign of rural progress.

It is suggested that Congress provide "some means or agency for the
guidance of public opinion toward the development of a real rural
society that shall rest directly on the land."

The Report of the Commission on Country Life makes no discussion of the
city-to-country movement.

The Report recognizes the fundamental importance of the agricultural
experiment stations and of the great chain of land-grant colleges and of
government departments and of other agencies; and the work that it
proposes is intended to be supplementary to them.

_The three fundamental recommendations of the Commission._

The taking stock of the exact condition and materials of country life is
immensely important, for we cannot apply remedies before we make a
diagnosis, and an accurate diagnosis must rest on a multitude of facts
that we do not now possess. This is the scientific rather than the
doctrinaire, politics, and oracular method of approaching the subject.
It is of the first importance that we do not set out on this new work
with only general opinions and superficial and fragmentary knowledge.
Every rural community needs to have a program of its own carefully
worked out, and this program should rest on a physical valuation. It may
be some time yet before the importance and magnitude of this undertaking
will impress the minds of the people, but it is essential to the best
permanent progress.

Agricultural extension work of a well-organized kind is now beginning to
come out of the colleges of agriculture, and this must be extended and
systematized so that, with other agencies, it may reach every last man
on the land. A bill to set this work in motion is now before Congress.

The third recommendation of the Commission for immediate action is "the
holding of local, state, and even national conferences on rural
progress, designed to unite the interests of education, organization,
and religion into one forward movement for the re-building of country
life. Rural teachers, librarians, clergymen, editors, physicians, and
others may well unite with farmers in studying and discussing the rural
question in all its aspects. We must in some way unite all institutions,
all organizations, all individuals having any interest in country life
into one great campaign for rural progress."

Conferences are now being held in many parts of the Union by
universities, colleges, state departments of agriculture, chambers of
commerce, business organizations, and other bodies. This will make
public opinion. Such conventions, discussing the larger social,
political, and economic relations of country life, should now be held in
every state and geographical region.

It is now time that states undertake country-life programs. There is
still much attack of symptoms; but persons in political offices, for the
most, are not yet well-enough informed to make the most of the rural
situation as it exists, or to utilize to the best advantage the talent
and the institutions that the country now possesses. One has only to
read the recommendations to legislative bodies to recognize the relative
lack as yet of constructive plans for the improvement of rural

_A national conference on country life._

If there should be state and local conferences for country life, so also
should there be a national conference, meeting yearly. Such a conference
should not be an agricultural convention in the ordinary sense, nor is
it necessary that it be held in commanding agricultural regions. It
should deal with the larger affairs and relations in their applications
to rural civilization.

_A voluntary movement._

The interest in country life is gradually assuming shape as a voluntary
movement outside of government, as it properly should do. It should be
in the best sense a popular movement; for if it is not a really popular
movement, it can have little vitality, and exert little effect on the
mass of the people. As it gets under motion, certain things will
crystallize out of it for government to do; and governments will do

As a pure matter of propagation, such a voluntary organized movement
would have the greatest value; for, in these days, simple publicity
often accomplishes more than legislative action.

_The international phase._

If the interest in rural economics and sociology is world wide, then we
should have international institutions to represent it. Several
organizations now represent or include certain phases. We need such an
institution not so much for propaganda as for research. A Country Life
Institute has been proposed by Sir Horace Plunkett, who is so well known
and admired by all students of rural situations through his far-seeing
work in Ireland and his many fruitful suggestions for America. It would
seem that here is an unusual opportunity for a great and productive


Every one knows that city populations are increasing more rapidly than
country populations. By some persons, this of itself is considered to be
a cause for much alarm. But the relative size of the populations is not
so disturbing as the economic and social relations existing between
these two phases of civilization.

_Some contrasts of town folk and country folk._

We know that farming is the primitive and underlying business of
mankind. As human desires have arisen, other occupations have developed
to satisfy the increasing needs and aspirations, the products of the
earth have been assembled and changed by manufacture into a thousand
forms, and these departures have resulted in more refined products, a
more resourceful civilization, and a more sensitive people.

Complex developments have been taken out of and away from agriculture,
and have left it with the simple and undifferentiated products and the
elemental contact with nature. The farmer is largely a residuary force
in society; this explains his conservatism.

If we have very highly developed persons in the city, we have very
rugged persons in the country. If the sense of brotherhood is highly
evolved in the city, individualism is strongly expressed in the country.
If the world-movement appeals to men in the city, local attachments have
great power with men in the country. If commercial consolidation and
organization are characteristic of the city, the economic separateness
of the man or family is highly marked in the country. The more marked
progress of the city is due to its greater number of leaders and to its
consolidated interests; country people are personally as progressive as
city people of equal intellectual groups, but they have not been able to
attract as much attention or perhaps to make as much headway.

_Comparisons of town and country affairs._

Civilization oscillates between two poles. At the one extreme is the
so-called laboring class, and at the other are the syndicated and
corporate and monopolized interests. Both these elements or phases tend
to go to extremes. Many efforts are being made to weld them into some
sort of share-earning or commonness of interest, but without very great
results. Between these two poles is the great agricultural class, which
is the natural balance-force or the middle-wheel of society. These
people are steady, conservative, abiding by the law, and are to a
greater extent than we recognize a controlling element in our social

The man on the farm has the opportunity to found a dynasty. City
properties may come and go, rented houses may be removed, stocks and
bonds may rise and fall, but the land still remains; and a man can
remain on the land and subsist with it so long as he knows how to handle
it properly. It is largely, therefore, a question of education as to
how long any family can establish itself on a piece of land.

In the accelerating mobility of our civilization it is increasingly
important that we have many anchoring places; and these anchoring places
are the farms.

These two phases of society produce marked results in ways of doing
business. The great centers invite combinations, and, because society
has not kept pace with guiding and correcting measures, immense abuses
have arisen and the few have tended to fatten on the many. There are two
general modes of correcting, or at least of modifying, these abuses,--by
doing what we can to make men personally honest and responsible, and by
evening up society so that all men may have something like a natural

_The two minds._

There is a town mind and a country mind. I do not pretend to know what
may be the psychological processes, but it is clear that the mode of
approach to the problem of life is very different as between the real
urbanite and the real ruralite. This factor is not sufficiently taken
into account by city men who would remove to real farms and make a
living there. It is the cause of most of the failure of well-intentioned
social workers to accomplish much for country people.

All this is singularly reflected in our literature, and most of all,
perhaps, in guide-books. These books--made to meet the demand--illustrate
how completely the open country has been in eclipse. There is little
rural country discoverable in these books, unless it is mere "sights" or
"places,"--nothing of the people, of the lands, of the products, of the
markets, of the country dorfs, of the way of life; but there is surfeit
of cathedrals, of history of cities, of seats of famous personages, of
bridges and streets, of galleries and works of art. We begin to see
evidences of travel out into the farming regions, part of it, no doubt,
merely a desire for new experiences and diversion, and we shall now look
for guide-books that recognize the background on which the cities rest.
But all this will call for a new intention in travel.

_Will the American farmer hold his own?_

What future lies before the American farmer? Will he hold something like
a position of independence and individualism, or will he become
submerged in the social order, and form only an underlying stratum? What
ultimate hope is there for a farmer as a member of society?

It is strange that the producer of the raw material has thus far in the
history of the world taken a subordinate place to the trader in this
material and to the fabricator of it. The trader and fabricator live in
centers that we call cities. One type of mind assembles; the other type
remains more or less scattered. So there have arisen in human society
two divergent streams,--the collective and coöperative, and the isolated
and individualistic.

The fundamental weakness in our civilization is the fact that the city
and the country represent antagonistic forces. Sympathetically, they
have been and are opposed. The city lives on the country. It always
tends to destroy its province.

The city sits like a parasite, running out its roots into the open
country and draining it of its substance. The city takes everything to
itself--materials, money, men--and gives back only what it does not
want; it does not reconstruct or even maintain its contributory country.
Many country places are already sucked dry.

The future state of the farmer, or real countryman, will depend directly
on the kind of balance or relationship that exists between urban and
rural forces; and in the end, the state of the city will rest on the
same basis. Whatever the city does for the country, it does also for

Mankind has not yet worked out this organic relation of town and
country. City and country are gradually coming together fraternally, but
this is due more to acquaintanceship than to any underlying coöperation
between them as equal forces in society. Until such an organic
relationship exists, civilization cannot be perfected or sustained,
however high it may rise in its various parts.

_The first two remedies._

Of course there are no two or even a dozen means that can bring about
this fundamental adjustment, but the two most important means are at
hand and can be immediately put into better operation.

The first necessity is to place broadly trained persons in the open
country, for all progress depends on the ability and the outlook of men
and women.

The second necessity is that city folk and country folk work together on
all great public questions. Look over the directories of big
undertakings, the memberships of commissions and councils, the
committees that lay plans for great enterprises affecting all the
people, and note how few are the names that really represent the ideas
and affairs of the open country. Note also how many are the names that
represent financial interests, as if such interests should have the
right of way and should exert the largest influence in determining
public policies. In all enterprises and movements in which social
benefit is involved, the agricultural country should be as much
represented as the city. There are men and women enough out in the open
country who are qualified to serve on such commissions and directories;
but even if there were not, it would now be our duty to raise them up by
giving rural people a chance. Rural talent has not had adequate
opportunity to express itself or to make its contribution to the welfare
of the world.

I know it is said, in reply to these remarks, that many of the city
persons on such organizations are country-born, but this does not change
the point of my contention. Many country-born townsmen are widely out of
knowledge of present rural conditions, even though their sympathies are
still countryward. It is also said that many of them live in country
villages, small cities, and in suburbs; but even so, their real
relations may be with town rather than country, and they may have little
of the farm-country mind; and the suburban mind is really a town mind.

Every broad public movement should have country people on its board of
control. Both urban and rural forces must shape our civilization.

_Movement from city to country as a remedy._

Some persons seem to think that the movement of city men out to the
country offers a solution of country problems. It usually offers only a
solution of a city problem,--how a city man may find the most enjoyment
for his leisure hours and his vacations. Much of the rising interest in
country life on the part of certain people is only a demand for a new
form of entertainment. These people strike the high places in the
country, but they may contribute little or nothing to real country
welfare. This form of entertainment will lose its novelty, as the
sea-shore loses it for the mountains and the horse loses it for the
motor-car or aëroplane. The farming of some city men is demoralizing to
real country interests. I do not look for much permanent good to come to
rural society from the moving out of some of the types of city men or
from the farming in which they ordinarily engage.

I am glad of all movements to place persons on the land who ought to go
there, and to direct country-minded immigrants away from the cities; but
we must not expect too much from the process, and we must distinguish
between the benefit that may accrue to these persons themselves and the
need of reconstruction in the open country. It is one thing for a family
to move to the land in order to raise its own supplies and to secure the
benefits of country life; it is quite another thing to suppose that an
exodus from city to country will relieve the economic situation or make
any difference in the general cost of living, even assuming that the
town folk would make good farmers. And we must be very careful not to
confuse suburbanism and gardening with country life.

To have any continuing effect on the course of rural development, a
person or an agency must become a real part and parcel of the country

_Sending the surplus population to the country._

It is also proposed to send to the country the poor-to-do and the
dissatisfied and the unemployed. This is very doubtful policy. In the
first place, the presumption is that a person who does not do well or is
much dissatisfied in the town would not do well in the country. In the
second place, the country does not need him. We may need more farm
labor, as we need more of all kinds of labor, but in the long run this
labor should be produced mostly in the country and kept there by a
profitable and attractive rural life. The city should not be expected
permanently to supply it. The labor that the city can supply with profit
to country districts is the very labor that is good enough for the city
to keep.

The relief of cities, if relief is to be secured, must lie in the
evolution of the entire situation, and not merely in sending the surplus
population into the country.

In my opinion, the present back-to-the-farm cry is for the most part
unscientific and unsound, as a corrective of social ills. It rests
largely on the assumption that one solution of city congestion is to
send people away from itself to the open country, and on another
assumption that "a little farm well tilled" will abundantly support a
family. There is bound to be a strong reaction against much of the
present agitation. We are to consider the welfare of the open country as
well as that of the city itself. The open country needs more good
farmers, whether they are country-bred or city-bred; but it cannot
utilize or assimilate to any great extent the typical urban-minded man;
and the farm is not a refuge.


It seems to me that what is really needed is a back-to-the-village
movement. This should be more than a mere suburban movement. The
suburban development enlarges the boundaries of the city. It is
perfectly feasible, however, to establish manufacturing and other
concentrated enterprises in villages in many parts of the country.
Persons connected with these enterprises could own small pieces of
land, and by working these areas could add something to their means of
support, and also satisfy their desire for a nature-connection. In many
of the villages there are vacant houses and comparatively unoccupied
land in sufficient number and amount to house and establish many
enterprises; and there would be room for growth. If the rural village,
freed from urban influences, could then become a real integrating part
of the open country surrounding it, all parties ought to be better
served than now, and the social condition of both cities and country
ought to be improved. We have over-built our cities at the expense of
the hamlets and the towns. I look for a great development of the village
and small community in the next generation; but this involves a re-study
of freight rates.

_Can a city man make a living on a farm?_

Yes, if he is industrious and knows how. Many city persons have made
good on the land, but they are the exceptions, unless they began young.

There is the most curious confusion of ideas on this question. We say
that farming requires the highest kind of knowledge and at the same time
think that any man may go on a farm, no matter how unsuccessful he may
have been elsewhere. Even if he has been successful as a middleman or
manufacturer or merchant, it does not at all follow that he would be
successful as a farmer. Farming cannot be done at long range or by proxy
any more than banking, or storekeeping, or railroading, and especially
not by one who does not know how; and he cannot learn it out of books
and bulletins. If a man can run a large factory without first learning
the business, or a theater or a department store, then he might be able
also to run a farm, although the running of a farm of equal investment
would probably be the more difficult undertaking.

I am glad to see earnest city men go into farming when they are
qualified to do so, but I warn my friends that many good people who go
out from cities to farms with golden hopes will be sadly disappointed.
Farming is a good business and it is getting better, but it is a
business for farmers; and on the farmers as a group must rest the
immediate responsibility of improving rural conditions in general.

The younger the man when he begins to consider being a farmer, the
greater will be his chances of success; here the student has the great

City people must be on their guard against attractive land schemes. Now
and then it is possible to pay for the land and make a living out of it
at the same time, but these cases are so few that the intending
purchaser would better not make his calculations on them. Farming is no
longer a poor man's business. It requires capital to equip and run a
farm as well as to buy it, the same as in other business. It is a common
fault of land schemes to magnify the income, and to minimize both the
risks and the amount of needed capital. Plans that read well may be
wholly unsound or even impossible when translated into plain business
practice. The exploiting of exceptional results in reporter's English
and with charming pictures is having a very dangerous effect on the
public mind; and even some of these results may not stand business

_What the city may do._

It is not incumbent on cities, corporations, colleges, or other
institutions to demonstrate, by going into general practical farming,
that the farming business may be made to pay: thousands of farmers are
demonstrating this every day.

If the city ever saves the open country, it will be by working out a
real economic and social coördination between city and country, not by
the city going into farming.

We need to correct the abnormal urban domination in political power, in
control of the agencies of trade, in discriminatory practices, and in
artificial stimulation, and at the same time to protect the evolution of
a new rural welfare. The agrarian situation in the world is not to be
met alone by increasing the technical efficiency of farming.


The decline in rural population grows out of economic conditions. Men
move to the centers, where they can make the best living for themselves
and families. It is difficult, however, for the farmer to "pull up
stakes" and move. He is tied to his land. The result is that many men
who really could do better in the town than on their farms are still
remaining on the land. These persons will continue to remove to towns
and cities as they are gradually forced off their lands; or if they are
not forced off, their children will go, and the farm will eventually
change hands.

Social reasons also have their influence in the movement of rural
populations to towns. The social resources in the country in recent
years have been very meager, because the social attractions of the towns
have drawn away from the activities of the open country, and also more
or less because the population itself is decreasing and does not allow,
thereby, for so close social cohesion.

It is not to be expected that the counter-movement from the towns and
cities to the open country will yet balance in numbers the movement of
population from the country to the city.

It is important that conditions be so improved for the open country that
those who are born on the farms and who are farm-minded shall feel that
opportunities are at least as good for them there as in the city, and
thereby prevent the exodus to the city or to other business of persons
who really ought to remain in the rural regions.

_Significance of the decline._

It is commonly assumed that a decline in rural population in any region
is itself evidence of a real decline in agriculture. This conclusion,
however, does not at all follow. The shift in population as between town
and country is an expression of very many causes. In some cases it may
mean a lessening in economic efficiency in the region, and in some cases
an actual increase in such efficiency.

It must be remembered that we have been passing from the rural to the
urban phase of civilization. The census of 1900 showed approximately
one-third of our people on farms or closely connected with farms, as
against something like nine-tenths a hundred years previous. It is
doubtful whether we have yet struck bottom, although the rural exodus
may have gone too far in some regions; and we may not permanently strike
bottom for some time to come.

We think of Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, and other early patriots as
countrymen, and we are likely to deplore the fact that countrymen no
longer represent us in high places. The fact is that "the fathers"
represented all society, because society in their day was not clearly
differentiated between city and country. They were at the same time
countrymen and city men, but the city was the incidental or secondary
interest. To-day, the conditions are reversed. The city has come to be
the preponderating force, and the country is largely incidental and
secondary so far as the shaping of policies is concerned; but this does
not prove that a greater ratio of country population is needed. The
number of persons now living in the open country is probably sufficient,
if the persons were all properly effective. The real problem before the
American people is how to make the country population most effective,
not how to increase this population; the increase will be governed by
the operation of economic law.

The sorting of our people has not yet reached its limit of approximate
stability. Many persons who live on the land really are not farmers, but
are the remainders of the rural phase of society.

A decline in rural population in any region may be expressive of the
general adjustment as between country and city; it may mean the passing
out of active cultivation of large areas of land that ought to be in
forest or in extensive systems of agriculture; it may mean the moving
out of well-to-do farmers to cheaper lands, as an expression of the
land-hunger of the American; it may be due in some cases to the retiring
of well-to-do persons from the farms to the town; and other causes are
at work in particular localities. The rural population of Iowa is
decreasing, but the agricultural production and land valuation are

The lessened production of live-stock, of which we have recently heard
so much, is probably not due to any great extent, if at all, to
decreasing rural population. It is in part due to the shift in farming
following the passing of the western ranges, and in part to the lack of
a free market, and in part to a changing adjustment in farming
practices. This situation will take care of itself if the markets are
not manipulated or controlled.

Many publicists are alarmed at the lessened production of farm products
in comparison with imports, and fear that the balance of trade will be
seriously turned against us, with a rise in the rate of exchange. It is
not to be expected that we shall maintain our former rate of export of
raw crops, nor is it desirable from the point of view of maintaining the
fertility of our lands that we should do so; but the maintenance of
production is now to depend on farming every acre better, in larger
farms as well as in smaller farms, rather than on taking up new acres.

The ultimate importance of agriculture to civilization, in other words,
lies not in the number of persons it supports, but in the fact that it
must continue to provide supplies for the populations of the earth when
mining and exploitation are done, when there are no new lands, and when
we shall have taken away all the first flush of the earth's bounty. The
character of the farm man, therefore, becomes of supreme importance, and
all the institutions of society must lend themselves to this personal

We shall never again be a rural people. We want the cities to grow; and
as they grow they should learn how to manage themselves. How they shall
meet their questions of population is not my problem; and I have no
suggestions to make on that subject.

_The abandoned farms._[1]

If persons move from any part of the country until there is a marked
absolute falling off in population, it must follow that certain lands
shall be left unused, or shall be combined with adjacent lands into
larger business units. It is no anomaly that there are "abandoned farms"
(they are seldom really abandoned, but more or less unused), and it is
natural that they should be in the remoter, hillier, and poorer regions.
So are shop buildings abandoned on back streets, and likewise factories
on lonely streams.

    [1] Another discussion of this subject may be found in "The State
    and the Farmer."

Some farms in the remote or difficult regions are still well utilized,
because a skillful man has met the situation; others may be very nearly
or quite disused; between the two extremes there is every shade of
condition. Some farms are falling into disuse for one reason and some
for another. In some cases, it is because the family is merely broken up
and is moving off. In other cases, it is because the farm can no longer
make a good living for a man and his family, giving him the things that
a man of the twentieth century wants. A farm in the hill region that was
large enough to support a man fifty or seventy-five years ago, may not
support him at the present time with all his increase in desires (page

It is no solution of any question merely to put other families back on
disused farms. It is worse than no solution to place there a more
ignorant family than was on the place originally; and yet there is a
movement all over the country to place raw foreigners on such farms as
owners or renters. Because these farms are cheap, they appeal to city
people, and they become temptations to real estate dealers.
Bargain-counter farms are rarely good investments.

What is to be done with these farms is, at bottom, a plain economic
question. If they will not pay in ordinary farming, no one should be
forced to occupy them. They might be well utilized, in many cases, for
community or county forestry purposes. Every county in the East that
has many remote and difficult hill lands could probably profit by a
system of public forestry, organized on a comprehensive state plan.

I have said that farms are abandoned for all kinds of reasons. It does
not follow because a family has given up a certain farm that the place
has ever been really tested on its merits; the man may not have been a
farmer at all, but only a resident. Misfortune in the family, or the
lack of children, may be the reason for the desertion. So it happens
that some so-called abandoned farms are first-class properties to
purchase as ordinary farms.

The best lands will naturally be the first to be taken up by persons who
know. And the value of land for farming will depend very much on its
accessibility and nearness to market. Even though it is possible to
raise two hundred and fifty bushels of potatoes on a distant hilltop, it
does not follow that it is profitable to raise them there. Many persons
who are now living on difficult lands, would undoubtedly be much better
off if they were in cities or towns; but as a rule, a man cannot safely
enter a new business after forty years of age.

We must, of course, do the best we can to help the man who actually
lives on one of these difficult farms, to enable him to make the very
most of his opportunities. This is being done through many agencies. He
has been taught in methods of soil handling, fertilizing, grass-growing,
stock-raising, drainage, and many other particular features. But it is
also important that we do not encourage others to enter the same

So I have no fear of the abandoned farm, although I wish that we had a
fundamental treatment of the whole situation,--like state programs,--so
that lands in the process of returning to nature may be managed in a
large and systematic way, that they might contribute the best results to
the community and the country. We now know how to make these lands
productive, but there is a larger question than this. Such lands--once
farmed and now going fallow--may be found from California to Maine. In
many cases they are not being abandoned rapidly enough, and this
accounts for the human tragedy connected with some of the old
homesteads. But they will all be used in good time, and we shall need

Little of the older country is worn out. Some of the best land values
now lie in the old East and South. Movement to these lands from the
Western lands is now beginning, and this is a sound tendency, as are
most spontaneous movements inside the farming business itself; the
railroads and real estate dealers may be expected to even up the

_The new farming._

Although the ratio of farmers to the whole population may still
decrease, the actual number of farmers will increase. The rural
districts will fill up. More young men and women will remain on farms
and more persons will go from towns to farms as rapidly as the business
becomes as lucrative as other businesses requiring equal investment,
risks, and intelligence. The open country will probably fill up mostly
with the natural increase of the country population, and there will be
some to spare for the cities. We shall face the question of congestion
of farm districts.

The general growth of population will make additional demands on the
farm, not only because there will be more persons to supply, but also
because desires increase with the increase of wealth. It may require no
more food to sustain a well-to-do person than a poor-to-do person, but
as one increases his income he greatly extends the range of his food and
improves its quality. Luxuries increase.

But beyond his actual food, one's desires increase directly with his
income; and, aside from the minerals and metals, most of the material
that is used in the arts and manufactures, in clothing, shelter, and
adornment, is raised from the land. The human-food products do not
comprise one-half the output of the land.

We have covered in a way the "easy" farming regions. But in the end, all
the country will be needed for productive uses; and the best
civilization will come only when we conquer the difficult places as well
as utilize the easy ones. We shall develop greater skill in farming than
we have yet dreamed of. The raw and ragged open country that we see
everywhere from trolley-lines and railway-trains is not at all a
necessary condition; it is only a phase of a transition period between
the original conquest of the country and the growing utilization of our
resources. The more completely we conquer and utilize it, the more
resourceful and hopeful our people should be. Country life will become
more differentiated and complex. Speaking broadly, we are now in the
rough and crude stage of our agricultural development; but the situation
will develop only as it pays and satisfies persons to live in the

To meet the economic, social, educational, religious, and other needs of
these great open regions will require the very best efforts that our
people can put forth; and our institutions are not now sufficiently
developed to meet the situation adequately.


All forms of reclamation, by which lands are made available for
agricultural use, profoundly affect society and institutions; and any
person who is interested in rural civilization must necessarily,
therefore, be interested in these means and their results. Because
reclamation by irrigation has progressed farther than other means, and
has become a national policy, I shall confine my remarks to it chiefly.

The best rural civilization will develop out of native rural conditions
rather than be imposed from without. Irrigation makes a rural condition:
it provides the possibility for a community to develop; and it must,
therefore, color the entire life of the community.

Irrigation communities are compact. As all the people depend on a single
utility, so must the community life tend to be solidified and tense.
Probably no other rural communities will be so unified and so intent on
local social problems. We shall look, therefore, for a very distinct and
definite welfare to arise in these communities; and they will make a
peculiar contribution to rural civilization.

The life of the irrigation community will be expressed not only in
institutions of its own, but in a literature of its own. Much of the
world's literature does not have significance to country-life
conditions, and very little of it has significance to an irrigation
civilization. I look for poetry to come directly out of the irrigation
ditch and to express the outlook of the people who depend for their
existence on the canal and the flood-gate.

_The interests of society in the work._

The people have made it possible for irrigation-reclamation to be
developed; for whether the work is performed by government directly or
by private enterprise, it nevertheless rests mostly on national
legislation; and this legislation expresses the consent and the interest
of society in the work. All the people have not only a right to an
interest in irrigation-reclamation, but they carry an obligation to be
interested in it, since it reclaims and utilizes the fundamental
heritage of all the people. I take it that society's interest in the
work is of two kinds: to see that the land is properly utilized and
protected; to see that persons desiring homes shall have an opportunity
to secure them. Society is not interested in speculation in land or in
mere exploitation.

I hope that the irrigation people realize their obligation to the
society that makes it possible for them to develop their irrigation
systems. Not every person in the nation agrees to the policy of national
reclamation, but society has given it a trial. The people in the West
are interested in developing their localities and their commonwealths,
and in securing settlers to them; and with this feeling we all must
sympathize. The people in the East have a remoter interest, but it is
none the less real. I have no fear that the irrigation-settlement of the
West will set up disastrous competition in products with the East, as
many Eastern people anticipate; the areas involved in the new irrigation
projects are too small and the development too slow for that. But there
is danger that the producing-power of the land may not be safeguarded,
and all the people, East as well as West, must have concern for use of
Western land. The very fact that irrigation-farming is intensive
increases the danger. From an agricultural point of view, the greatest
weakness in this farming is the fact that the animal, or live-stock,
does not occupy a large place in the system. Other systems of
maintaining fertility must be developed.

Society has a right to ask that we be careful of our irrigated valleys.
They are abounding in riches. It is easy to harvest this wealth, by the
simple magic of water. We will be tempted to waste these riches, and the
time will come quickly when we will be conscious of their decline. This
seems remote now, but the danger is real. Not even the fertility of the
irrigation waters will maintain the land in the face of poor
agricultural practice.

I am not contending that irrigation-farming is proceeding in a wasteful
way, or that systems are not developing that will protect society; I am
calling attention to the danger and to the interest of all the people in
this danger; and I hope that we may profit by the errors of all new
settlements thus far made in the history of the world.

It is the flat valleys of the great arid West that will be opened by
irrigation. These valleys are small areas compared with the uplands, the
hills, and the unirrigable regions. Society is interested also that we
be careful of the uplands and hills, for in the arid regions they give
small yield in forage and in timber; this forage and timber must be most
thoughtfully protected. When the producing-power of the irrigated lands
begins to decline, the West cannot fall back on its dry hills.

We are everywhere in need of better agriculture, not only that every
agriculturist may do a better business, but also that agriculture may
contribute its full share to the making of a better civilization. Here
and there, as we learn how to adapt ourselves to the order of nature, we
begin to see a really good agriculture in the process of making. A good
agriculture is one that is self-sustaining and self-perpetuating, not
only increasing its yields year after year from the same land, but
leaving the land better and richer at each generation. This must come to
pass from the land itself and from the animals and crops that one
naturally brings to the land, and not merely by the addition of mined
fertilizing materials brought from the ends of the earth. Thus far in
history, it is only when the virgin fatness begins to be used up,
speaking broadly, that we put our wits to work. Then the rebound comes.
The best agriculture thus far has developed only after we have struck
bottom, and we begin a constructive effort rather than an exploitative
effort; and this comes in a mature country. This is why so great part
of the European agriculture is so much better than our own, and why in
old New England such expert and hopeful farming is now beginning to
appear. The East is in the epoch of rebound. The East is in the process
of becoming more fertile; the West is in the process of becoming less

In Western North America, the business systems have been developed to
great perfection, and the people are possessed of much activity, and are
so far escaped from tradition that they are able to do things in new
ways and to work together. I hope that this great region also will apply
at the outset all the resources of business and of science to develop an
agriculture that will propagate itself.

_A broad reclamation movement._

When all the lands are taken that can be developed or reclaimed by
private resources, there remain vast areas that require the larger
powers, and perhaps even the larger funds, of society (or the
government) to bring into utilization. One class of lands can be
utilized by means of irrigation. This form of land-reclamation is much
in the public mind, and great progress has been made in it.

There remain, however, other lands to be reclaimed by other means. There
is much more land to be reclaimed by the removal of water than by the
addition of water. There are many more acres to be adapted to productive
uses by forest planting and conservation than by irrigation. There are
vastly larger areas waiting reclamation by the so-called "dry-farming"
(that is, by moisture-saving farming completely adapted to dry regions).
And all the land in all the states must be reclaimed by better farming.
I am making these statements in no disparagement of irrigation, but in
order to indicate the relation of irrigation to what should be a
recognized national reclamation movement.

_Supplemental irrigation._

Let me say further that irrigation is properly not a practice of arid
countries alone. Irrigation is for two purposes: to reclaim land and
make it usable; to mitigate the drought in rainfall regions. As yet the
popular imagination runs only to reclamation-irrigation. This form of
irrigation is properly regulated by the federal government.

Now and then a forehanded farmer in the humid region, growing high-class
crops, installs an irrigation plant to carry him through the dry spells.
As our agriculture becomes more developed, we shall greatly extend this
practice. We shall find that even in humid countries we cannot afford to
lose the rainfall from hills and in floods, and we shall hold at least
some of it against the time of drought as well as for cities and for
power. We have not yet learned how to irrigate in humid regions, but we
certainly shall apply water as well as manures to supplement the usual
agricultural practices.

We must learn to reckon with drought as completely as we reckon with
winter or with lessening productiveness. We probably lose far more from
dry spells than from all the bugs and pests.

_We need reserves._

But even though we should recognize a national reclamation movement to
include all these phases and others, it may not be necessary or
advisable in the interest of all the people, that every last acre in the
national domain be opened for exploitation or settlement in this decade
or even in this century. The nation may well have untouched reserves. No
one knows what our necessities will be a hundred years hence. Land that
has never been despoiled will be immeasurably more valuable to society
then than now; and society holds the larger interest.

When the pressure of population comes, we shall fall back on our
reserves. The rain-belt states will fall back on their wet lands, their
uplands, and their hills. These hills are much more usable than those of
the arid and semi-arid West can ever be. The Eastern and old Southern
states have immense reserves, even though the titles may be largely in
private ownership. New York is still nearly half in woods and swamps
and waste, but practically all of it is usable. New York is an
undeveloped country, agriculturally. The same is true of New England and
Pennsylvania and great regions southwards. Forests and sward grow
profusely to the summits of the mountains and hills. Vast areas eastward
are undeveloped and unexploited. Even the regions of the so-called
"abandoned farms" are yet practically untouched of their potential

I have no regret that these countries are still unsettled. There is no
need of haste. When the great arid West has brought every one of its
available acres into irrigation, and when population increases, the
Eastern quarter of the country will take up the slack. It is by no means
inconceivable that at that time the Eastern lands, newly awakened from
the sleep of a century, will be the fresh lands, and the older regions
will again become the new.

We should be careful not to repeat, even on a small scale, the
recklessness and haste with which we have disposed of our reserves
before their time.


We know that the whole basis of civilization is changing. Industry of
every kind is taking the place of the older order. Its most significant
note is that it brings the people of the world together in consultation
and in trade. We are escaping our localism, and we look on all problems
in their relation to all mankind. Brotherhood has become a real power in
the world.

But what does industry in itself, including all forms of land-culture,
offer as an ultimate goal to civilized man? What are to be the man's
ideals toward which he should lead his thoughts?

I am not one of those who consider a sordid and commercial end to be the
necessary result of industrialism. We must develop the ideals in an
industrial civilization, that they may lead us into the highest
personal endeavor; and everywhere it should be possible for a man to
make the most of himself. There must be something in every business
beyond the financial gain if it is to make any final contribution to
civilization. Finding this ultimate, industrial society will grow into
perfect flower.

So far as agriculture is concerned, I see two points of high endeavor
within the business, lying beyond the making of a good living, and
toward which the coming countryman may set his imagination.

(1) _The making of a new society._

A new social order must be evolved in the open country, and every farmer
of the new time must lend a strong hand to produce it. We have been
training our youth merely to be better farmers; this, of course, is the
first thing to do, but the man is only half trained when this is done.
What to do with the school, the church, the rural organizations, the
combinations of trade, the highways, the architecture, the library, the
beauty of the landscape, the country store, the rousing of a fine
community helpfulness to take the place of the old selfish
individualism, and a hundred other activities, is enough to fire the
imagination and to strengthen the arm of any young man or woman.

The farmer is to contribute his share to the evolution of an industrial

(2) _The fighting edge._

Theodore Roosevelt, with his power to discern essentials, has given us a
good rallying phrase in "the fighting edge." When man ceases to be a
conqueror, he will lose his virility and begin to retrograde. As
localism gives way to brotherhood, militarism will pass out; but this
does not mean that mankind will cease to contend.

The best example I have seen of the development of determination and
fine social brotherhood is in the making of the Panama Canal. The making
of the Canal is in every sense a conquest. It is a new civilization that
the 40,000 or 50,000 folk are constructing down there, and every man,
whether he is employed in the commissariat, the sanitary department, in
an office, on a steam shovel, or with a construction gang, will tell you
that he is building the Canal. All these people are giving a good
account of themselves because they are doing the work under the flag and
because they are contending with vast difficulties.

We have scarcely begun even the physical conquest of the earth. It is
not yet all explored. The earth is an island, and it is only two years
ago that we got to one end of it. There are mountains to pierce,
sea-shores to reclaim, vast stretches of submerged land to drain,
millions of acres to irrigate and many more millions to utilize by
dry-farming, rivers to canalize, the whole open country to organize and
subdue by means of local engineering work, and a thousand other great
pieces of construction to accomplish, all calling for the finest spirit
of conquest and all contributing to the training of men and women. There
is no necessity that the race become flabby.

Now, my point is that the prime high endeavor laid before every farmer
is to conquer his farm, and this means contest with storm and flood and
frost, with blight and bug and pest, and with all the other barriers
that nature has put against the man that tills the land. We have made a
tremendous mistake, in my estimation, in trying to portray farming
merely as an easy business. The sulky-plow has been too much emphasized.
We are giving the young men more means and tools by which to wage the
contest, but the contest can never stop. In the nature of things,
farming cannot be an easy and simple business, and this is why it has
produced a virile lot of men and women, and why it will continue to do
so. It is a question whether, if our civilization is ever evened up, we
shall not look again to the open country for strong working classes, for
the course of much of our city industrialism is to make dependent men
and managed men, and we need to exercise every precaution that it does
not make clock-watchers and irresponsible gang-servers (page 139).

Farming will attract folk with the feeling of mastery in them, even more
in the future than in the past, because the hopelessness, blind
resignation, and fatalism will be taken out of it. Those who are not
masterful cannot conquer a farm. The man weighing one hundred and fifty
pounds who is afraid of a San José bug would better go to the city,
where he can find some one to help him fight his battles. The farmer
will learn how to adapt his scheme to nature, and how to conquer the
things that are conquerable; and this should make it worth his while to
be a farmer.


How to make country life what it is capable of becoming is the question
before us; and while we know that the means is not single or simple, we
ought to be able to pick out the first and most fundamental thing that
needs now to be done.

It is perfectly apparent that the fundamental need is to place
effectively educated men and women into the open country. All else
depends on this. No formal means can be of any permanent avail until men
and women of vision and with trained minds are at hand to work out the
plans in an orderly way.

And yet it is frequently said that the first necessity is to provide
more income for the farmer; but this is the result of a process, not the
beginning of it. And again it is said that organization is the first
necessity, even to make it possible to use the education. If
organization is necessary to make the best use of education, then it
assumes education as its basis. Educated men will make organization
possible and effective, but economic organization will not insure
education except remotely, as it becomes a means of consolidating an
unorganic society.

But there is no longer any need to emphasize the value of education. It
would now be difficult to find an American farmer who requires
convincing on this point. Yet I have desired to say that there is no
other agency, using education in its broad sense, that can by any
possibility be placed ahead of it.

_Agriculture in the public schools._

Agriculture is now a school subject. It is recognized to be such by
state syllabi, in the minds of the people, and in the minds of most
school men. It is finding its way into high-schools and other schools
here and there.

There is no longer much need to propagate the idea that agriculture is a
school subject. It is now our part to define the subject, organize it,
and actually to place it in the schools.

We must understand that the introduction of agriculture into the schools
is not a concession to farming or to farmers. It is a school subject by

It is the obligation of a school to do more than merely to train the
minds of its students. The school cannot escape its social
responsibilities; it carries these obligations from the very fact that
it is a school supported by public money.

The schools, if they are to be really effective, must represent the
civilization of their time and place. This does not mean that every
school is to introduce all the subjects that engage men's attention, or
that are capable of being put into educational form; it means that it
must express the main activities, progress, and outlook of its people.
Agriculture is not a technical profession or merely an industry, but a
civilization. It is concerned not only with the production of materials,
but with the distribution and selling of them, and with the making of
homes directly on the land that produces the material. There cannot be
effective homes without the development of a social structure.

Agriculture therefore becomes naturally a part of a public-school system
when the system meets its obligation. It is introduced into the schools
for the good of the schools themselves. It needs no apology and no
justification; but it may need explanation in order that the people may
understand the situation.

If agriculture represents a civilization, then the home-making phase of
country life is as important as the field farming phase (page 93). As is
the home, so is the farm; and as is the farm, so is the home. Some of
the subjects that are usually included under the current name of home
economics, therefore, are by right as much a part of school work as any
other subjects; they will be a part of city schools as much as of
country schools if the city schools meet their obligations. They are not
to be introduced merely as concessions to women or only as a means of
satisfying popular demand; they are not to be tolerated: they are
essential to a public-school program.

_The American contribution._

The American college-of-agriculture phase of education is now well
established. It is the most highly developed agricultural education in
the world. It is founded on the democratic principle that the man who
actually tills the soil must be reached,--an idea that may not obtain in
other countries.

We are now attempting to extend this democratic education by means of
agriculture to all ages of our people, and there is promise that we
shall go farther in this process than any people has yet gone; and this
fact, together with the absence of a peasantry, with the right of
personal land-holding, and with a voice in the affairs of government,
should give to the people of the United States the best country life
that has yet been produced.

America's contribution to the country-life situation is a new purpose
and method in education, which is larger and freer than anything that
has yet been developed elsewhere, and which it is difficult for the Old
World fully to comprehend.

The founding of the great line of public-maintained colleges and
experiment stations means the application of science to the
reconstruction of a society; and it is probably destined to be the most
extensive and important application of the scientific method to social
problems that is now anywhere under way.

_The dangers in the situation._

It is not to extol our education experiment that I am making this
discussion, but to measure the situation; and I think that there are
perils ahead of us, which we should now recognize.

There are two grave dangers in the organization of the present
situation: (1) the danger that we shall not develop a harmonious plan,
and thereby shall introduce competition rather than coöperation between
agencies; (2) the danger that the newer agencies will not profit fully
by our long experience in agriculture-teaching.

An internal danger is the giving of instruction in colleges of
agriculture that is not founded on good preparation of the student or is
not organized on a sound educational basis. Winter-course and special
students may be admitted, and extension work must be done; but the first
responsibility of a college of agriculture is to give a good educational
course: it deals with education rather than with agriculture, and its
success in the end will depend on the reputation it makes with school

There is also danger that new institutions will begin their extension
work in advance of their academic educational work; whereas, extension
and propaganda can really succeed only when there is a good background
of real accomplishment at home.

There is necessity that we now reorganize much of our peripatetic
teaching. It is no longer sufficient to call persons together and exhort
them and talk to them. We have come about to the end of agricultural
propaganda. All field and itinerant effort should have a follow-up
system with the purpose to set every man to work on his own place with
problems that will test him. We have been testing soils and crops and
fertilizers and live-stock and machines: it is now time to test the man.

There is also danger that we consolidate too many rural schools in
towns. If it is true that the best country life is developed when
persons live actually on their farms, then we should be cautious of all
movements that tend to centralize their interests too far from home, and
particularly to centralize them in a town or in a village. The good
things should come to the farm rather than that the farm should be
obliged to go to the good things.

_The present educational institutions._

We must first understand what our institutions of education are. The
extension of agriculture-education in institutions in the United States
(beyond the regular colleges of agriculture) is in four lines: as a part
of the regular public-school work; in unattached schools of agriculture
publicly maintained; in departments attached to other colleges or
universities; in private schools. The last category (the private
schools) may be eliminated from the present discussion.

The separate or special-school method is well worked out in Wisconsin
(county plan), in Alabama and Georgia (congressional-district plan),
Minnesota (regional plan), with other adaptations in Louisiana,
Oklahoma, Michigan, Maryland, and elsewhere.

In New York, the movement for special schools has taken an entirely new
direction. Two schools are connected with existing institutions of
higher learning of long-established reputation (being the only schools
of this kind, state-maintained, attached to liberal arts universities)
and one is unattached; none of them has a defined region or territory.
These institutions are established on a more liberal financial plan than
the special schools of other states, standing somewhat between those
schools and the agricultural college type.

While much publicity has been given to the unattached-school plan, the
main movement is the adding of agriculture-education to the existing
public-school systems. Only eight or ten of the states have entered into
any regular development of separate or unattached schools, whereas in
every state the movement for agriculture in the public schools is well
under way. The public schools are of definite plan; the unattached
schools are of several plans, or of no plan; and in some states an
intermediate course is developing by the establishing of public
high-schools (one to a county, a congressional district, or other
region) in which instruction in agriculture and household subjects is
highly perfected.

Aside from the foregoing particular institutions, many general colleges
and universities are introducing agricultural work in order to meet the
increasing demand and to keep up with educational progress.

Agricultural work is proceeding in nearly all the states under the
auspices of the United States Department of Agriculture, some of it
distinctly educational in character; and there is agitation for the
passage of a national bill to further secondary or special
agriculture-education in the states.

State departments of agriculture, the indispensable experiment stations,
veterinary colleges, departments of public instruction, farmers'
institutes, voluntary societies, are all attacking the country-life
problem in their own ways; and the powerful work of the agricultural
press, although not coming within the scope of this paper, should not be
overlooked as an educational agency.

In the meantime, the colleges of agriculture are growing rapidly and are
approaching the subject from every side, and are assuming natural and
inevitable leadership.

_The need of plans to coördinate this educational work._

There is no doubt that all these agencies are contributing greatly to
the solution of the rural problem, and there is now probably very little
inharmony and little duplication of effort. In the newness and
enthusiasm of the effort, good fellowship holds the work together in all
the states or at least keeps it from collision. But the situation is
inherently weak, because there is no plan or system, and no united
discussion of the grounds on which the work rests. I have been in
correspondence on this question with public men in every state in the
Union, and I find a general feeling that the present situation is
fraught with danger, and that there is great need of organization or at
least of federation of the forces within each state; and ultimately
there must be federation on a national basis. The work should be
coöperative rather than competitive.

What is to be the policy of the state in agriculture-education? Where is
the headship to lie? What are to be the spheres of the different
institutions and agencies? What board or agency is to correlate and
unify all the parts, to insure a progressive and well-proportioned

_Outline of a state plan._

A general law should define the state's policy in education by means of
agriculture and in the development of rural affairs, and outline methods
that it proposes to follow, so that the work may be coördinated
throughout the state and that a definite plan may be projected. The
duties of all the classes of institutions should be defined and
relations should be established between them. The people should know to
what they are committing themselves.

This law should not, of course, be designed to suppress the activities
of any institution. It might not place any institution under the
domination of any other institution. The schools, colleges, and other
institutions for the betterment of agriculture should have their own
autonomy and responsibility, and they should be developed to the highest
point of efficiency in their respective spheres.

The fundamental consideration in such a law should be to develop the
agriculture and advance the country life of the state by organizing the
work of all the agencies on a systematic plan, so that an orderly
development may be secured. Such a recognized general policy should do
much to insure each institution in the system its proper state support.

It is probably too much to expect that a fundamental state law could be
projected abstractly. Laws are gradually built up to meet urgent needs
as they arise; but if the principles are kept in mind, the making of
separate and special laws might be so guided as to produce a harmonious

Some of the particular points that I think should be desired in such a
law or series of laws are these:

     1. It should propound a policy in the development of country life;

     2. It should name the classes of institutions that it proposes to
     utilize in the execution of this policy;

     3. It should define the functions of the different classes of

     4. It should state the organic relationships that ought to exist
     between them all;

     5. It might provide an advisory council to guide agricultural
     education and advancement in the state. I think that the directors
     or responsible heads of such institutions established for the
     betterment of agriculture throughout the state should constitute
     such consulting body, to which questions of policy and procedure
     should be referred and which, of course, should serve without
     remuneration. This council might include also the commissioner of
     agriculture and the superintendent of public instruction. It might
     be well to have one, two, or three other persons appointed by the
     governor. The council would constitute a natural conference of the
     parties that are immediately responsible for this work, without
     taking the management of any institution out of the hands of an
     existing board. The idea of such a body is to further the
     coördination by conference, rather than to have plenary power. Its
     moral influence ought to be all the greater because of its lack of
     conferred power.

_A state extension program._

As soon as a state has produced strong institutions for research and
education in agriculture, it will need to provide an agency for
utilizing the results. A state extension program, on a coördinating plan
between all the institutions but proceeding from one educational center,
and which all the institutions would have a right to use for the spread
of their work among the people, could accomplish vast benefits. It
should comprise institutes, utilize the state system of fairs
educationally, afford an organ for the making of agricultural surveys
and demonstrations, spread an educational propaganda on the agricultural
law, collect and collate the experience of the farmers of the state. It
could assort and apply the information that the state, at great expense,
accumulates through its various separate agencies. It could utilize the
students, whom the state provides with free tuition. The germ of such an
enterprise already exists in most of the states.

_Special local schools for agriculture._[2]

I am committed to the idea that there should be strong local centers of
interest in rural communities, for thereby we develop local pride and
incentive. There are several ways, on the educational side, of
developing local institutions and interest.

    [2] See "The State and the Farmer," p. 150; "The Training of
    Farmers," p. 167; "Cyclopedia of American Agriculture," IV, p. 474.

The first way is to make it possible and practicable for the existing
public schools to introduce agriculture and domestic economy. I suggest
that many or most localities would do better to develop the country-life
work in the existing schools than to ask the legislature for a separate
special school. We have only begun to understand what such redirected
and expanded schools may accomplish.

Another means of securing local knowledge and developing local interest
is by the establishing of demonstration farms and field-laboratories. It
is doubtful whether a permanent demonstration farm in a community is
desirable; in general, the demonstration may be temporary, depending on
the presence in the community of some special difficulty. In some
circumstances, the enterprise may amount to a local testing station.
Enterprises of this sort are bound to take on great importance in the
redirection of country life.

Local societies and organizations may be encouraged to take up
educational and experiment work.

Departments of agriculture will probably be added by colleges or other
educational institutions, and these will serve as local centers at the
same time that they reach the larger field.

Again, a winter school or short-course of, say, a month's or two months'
duration may be held in different parts of the state. The localities
should coöperate in the expenses, thereby becoming partakers in the

Eventually there should be an agricultural agent resident in every
county, and perhaps even for smaller regions, whose office should be to
give advice, to keep track of animal and plant diseases and pests and
secure the services of experts in their control, to organize
conferences, winter-courses, and the like, and otherwise to be to the
agricultural affairs what the pastor is to religious affairs and the
teacher to educational affairs. (See "The Training of Farmers," p. 257.)

Finally, we may ask the state to place a special school of agriculture
in the locality, but only after it is clear that other means cannot
produce the desired results. An unattached school of agriculture is not
an easy thing to administer successfully, even at the best; and the
difficulty would be all the greater if its care were to be confined to
local boards, which would probably have small understanding of the
peculiar educational requirements. It is probable that a state may
wisely establish a very few special schools, but an educational program
needs first to be worked out, a competent system of control must be
found, and the people should know in advance what is involved. It is not
enough merely that a locality desires a school: the larger question is
the state's interest. In all local enterprises of this kind in which
state aid is asked for, it ought to be understood that the locality
itself is to coöperate in the securing of equipment and funds.

_The lessons of experience._

The demand for agriculture-education is now widespread; the subject is
becoming "popular." All kinds of plans are being tried or discussed.

Persons do not seem to realize that we have had about one hundred years
of experience in the United States in agriculture-education, and that
this experience ought to point the way to success, or at least to the
avoiding of serious errors. The agricultural colleges have come up
through a long and difficult route, and their present success is not
accidental, nor is it easy to duplicate or imitate. First and last,
about every conceivable plan has been tried by them, or by others in
their time or preceding them; and this experience ought to be utilized
by the other institutions that are now being projected in all parts of
the country.

Plans that certainly cannot succeed are now being projected. The
projectors seem to proceed on the idea that it requires no background of
experience to enable an institution to teach agriculture, whereas
agriculture-education is the most difficult and also the most expensive
of all education yet undertaken.

To teach agriculture merely by giving a new direction or vocabulary to
botany, chemistry, geology, physics, and the like is not to teach
agriculture at all, although it may greatly improve these subjects
themselves. To put a school of agriculture in the hands of some good
science-teacher in a general college faculty with the idea that he can
cover the agricultural work and at the same time keep up his own
department, is wholly ineffective (except temporarily) and out of
character with the demands of the twentieth century (but in high-schools
a good science teacher may handle the work, or an agriculture teacher
may carry the science). To suppose that "agriculture" is one subject for
a college course, to be sufficiently represented by a "chair," is to
miss the point of modern progress. To give only laboratory and
recitation courses may be better than nothing, but land-teaching, either
as a part of the institution or on adjacent farms, must be incorporated
with the customary school work if the best results are to be secured. To
make a school farm pay for itself and for the school is impossible
unless the school is a very poor or exceedingly small one; and yet this
old fallacy is alive at the present day. To have a distant farm to visit
and look at, in order to "apply" the "teachings" of chemistry, botany,
and the like, falls far short of real agriculture instruction. To
develop a "model farm" that shall be a pattern to the multitude in exact
farming is an exploded notion: there are many farmers' farms that are
better adapted to such purpose (the demonstration farm is the modern
adaptation of the idea, and it is educationally sound).

To teach agriculture of college grade requires not only persons who know
the subject, but an organization well informed on the educational
administration that is required. There must be a body of experience in
this line of work behind any teaching on a college plane that shall be
really useful; when this body of experience does not exist, the work
must necessarily grow slowly and be under the most expert direction. The
presumption is still against successful agriculture work in the literary
and liberal arts institutions, because such teaching demands a point of
view on education that the men in these institutions are likely not to
possess. Agriculture cannot be introduced in the same way that a
department or chair of history or mathematics can be organized; it
requires a different outlook on educational procedure, a different order
of equipment and of activities, and its own type of administration.

I am much afraid that some of the newer unattached institutions, in
their eagerness to make departures and to be self-sufficient, will not
profit by our long development, and that the secondary schools and
others may make many of the mistakes that the regular colleges of
agriculture long ago have made. The presumption is against any school
that expects to develop merely a local enterprise, without reference to
other schools or to experience.

I am sure we all want to encourage the introduction of agriculture into
all educational institutions, but we should not be misled merely by the
word "agriculture"; and in the interest of good work we should be
careful not to encourage any enterprise of this kind until convinced
that it has been well studied and that it will be administered in the
interest of rural progress.


On the women depend to a greater degree than we realize the nature and
extent of the movement for a better country life, wholly aside from
their personal influence as members of families. Farming is a
co-partnership business. It is a partnership between a man and a woman.
There is no other great series of occupations in which such
co-partnership is so essential to success. The home is on the farm, and
a part of it. The number of middle-aged unmarried men living on farms is
very small. It is quite impossible to live on a farm and to run it
advantageously without family relation.

It follows, then, that if the farming business is to contribute to the
redirection of country life, the woman has responsibilities as well as
the man. As the strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link,
so will the progress of rural civilization be determined by the
weakness of the farm as an economic unit, or by the weakness of the home
as a domestic and social unit.

Now, the farmer himself cannot have great influence in redirecting the
affairs of his community until he is first master of his own
problem,--that is, until he is a first-class farmer. In the same way, a
woman cannot expect to have much influence in furthering the affairs of
her rural community until she also is master of her own problem, and her
problem is primarily the home-making part of the farm. In the mastering
of his or her own problem, the farmer or his wife may also contribute
directly to the progress of the community. Every advance in the
management of the household contributes to the general welfare: it sets
new ideas under way.

If the farming business must in general be reorganized, so also must the
householding part of it be reorganized. The solution of the farm-labor
problem, for example, lies not alone merely in securing more farm
"hands," but in so directing and shaping the business that less farm
hands will be needed to secure a given economic result; so also the
solution of the household-labor problem is not merely the securing of
more household help, but the simplification of householding itself.

So far as possible, the labor that is necessary to do the work of the
open country, whether in-doors or out-doors, should be resident labor.
The labor difficulty increases with reduction in the size of the family.
Families of moderate size develop responsibility, and coöperation is
forced on all members of it, with marked effect on character. The single
child is likely to develop selfishness rather than coöperation and sense
of responsibility. To a large extent, the responsibility of the
household should rest on the girls of the family; and all children,
whether boys or girls, should be brought up in the home in habits of

It is fairly possible by means of simplification of householding and by
a coöperative industry amongst all members of the family, so to reduce
the burden of the farm wife that she may have time and strength to give
to the vital affairs of the community.

_The affairs of the household._

It is essential that we simplify our ideals in cooking, in ornament, in
apparel, and in furnishing; that we construct more convenient and
workable residences; that we employ labor-saving devices for the house
as well as for the barns and the fields.

We are so accustomed to the ordinary modes of living that we scarcely
realize what amount of time and strength might be saved by a simplified
table and by more thoughtful methods of preparing food. In respect to
houses, it should be remembered that the present farm dwellings are
getting old. A good part of the farm houses must soon be either rebuilt
or remodeled. The first consideration is so to build or remodel them
that steps may be saved to the housewife. We have not thought, in the
past, that a woman's steps cost time and energy. Within twenty years
all first-class farm houses will have running water, both into the
house and out of the house.

It is rather strange that in our discussions of the farm-labor problem,
we do not realize that a gasoline engine or a water engine may save the
labor of a man. Farmers are putting power into their barns. They should
also put power into the house. This may be accomplished by means of a
small movable engine that can be used either in the house or barn, or
else by installing an engine in a small building betwixt the house and
the barn, so that it can be connected either way. This can be used to
lighten much household labor, as pumping of water, meat-chopping,
laundering, dish-washing, vacuum-cleaning, and the like.

Eventually, there must be some form of community coöperation in the
country to save household labor. Already the care of milk has been taken
from great numbers of farm homes by the neighborhood creamery, or at
least by the building of a milk-house in which the men by the use of
machinery perform labor that was once done by the housewife. Whenever
there is a coöperative creamery, there may also be other coöperative
attachments, as a laundry, or other appliances. It will be more
difficult to bring about coöperation in these regards in country
districts than in the city, but with the coming of good roads,
telephones, and better vehicles, it will be constantly more easy to

_The affairs of the community._

I have said that it is important that the country woman have strength
and time to engage in the vital affairs of the community. I am thinking
of the public sentiment that women can make on any question that they
care to discuss thoroughly and collectively, whether this sentiment is
for better orcharding, better fowls, better roads, extending of
telephones, improving the schoolhouse or church or library. It is
needful that women in the country come together to discuss woman's work,
and also to form intelligent opinions on farming questions in general.

The tendency of all "sociables" in country and town is to bring persons
together to eat, to gossip, and to be entertained. We need to redirect
all these meetings, and to devote at least a part of every such meeting
to some real and serious work which it is worth while for busy and
intelligent persons to undertake.

Every organization of women should endeavor to extend its branches and
its influence into the open country as well as into the cities and
towns. Every public movement now has responsibility to country-life
questions as well as to town questions.

I think it important that there be some means and reason for every farm
woman going away from home at least once a week, and this wholly aside
from going to town to trade. There should be some place where the women
may come together on a different basis from that of the ordinary daily
routine and the usual buying and selling. I do not know where this
social center should develop, and in an atmosphere that is not conducive
to gossip. In some neighborhoods it might focalize in the church parlor.
The center should be permanent, if possible. It should be a place to
which any woman in a community has a right to go. An ideal place for
such a center would be the rural library, and I hope that such libraries
may arise in every country community, not only that they may supply
books but that they may help provide a meeting-place on semi-social
lines. I think that if I were a woman in charge of a rural library, I
should never be satisfied with my work until I had got every woman in
the community in the habit of coming to the library once every week.

_The woman's outlook._

The woman needs very much to have the opportunity to broaden her
horizon. The farmer has lived on his farm; he is now acquiring a world
outlook. The woman has lived in her house; she also is acquiring a world
outlook. As the house has been smaller and more confining than the farm,
it has followed that woman's outlook has been smaller than man's.

I think it is necessary also that the woman of the farm, as well as the
man, have a real anchor in her nature environment. It is as necessary to
the woman as to the man that her mind be open to the facts, phenomena,
and objects that are everywhere about her, as the winds and weather, the
plants and birds, the fields and streams and woods. It is one of the
best resources in life to be able to distinguish the songs and voices of
the common fields, and it should be a part of the education of every
person, and particularly of every country person, to have this respite.
The making of a garden is much more than the growing of the radishes and
strawberries and petunias. It is the experience in the out-of-doors, the
contact with realities, the personal joy of seeing things germinate and
grow and reproduce their kind.

_The means of education._

If country women are to develop a conscious sense of responsibility in
country-life betterment, education facilities must be afforded them. The
schools must recognize home-making subjects equally with other
subjects. What becomes a part of the school eventually becomes a part
of the life of the people of the region.

The leadership in such subjects is now being taken by the colleges of
agriculture. This is not because domestic subjects belong in a college
of agriculture more than elsewhere, but only that these colleges see the
problem, and most general colleges or universities have not seen it. The
college of agriculture, if it is highly developed, represents a
civilization rather than a series of subjects; and it cannot omit the
home-making phase if it meets its obligation to the society that it
represents (page 64).

If the customary subjects in a college of agriculture are organized and
designed to train a man for efficiency in country life and to develop
his outlook, so also is a department of home economics to train a woman
for efficiency and to develop her outlook to life.

Home economics is not one "department" or subject, in the sense in which
dairying or entomology or plant-breeding is a department. It is not a
single specialty. It stands for the whole round of woman's work and
place. Many technical or educational departments will grow out of it as
time goes on. That is, it will be broken up into its integral parts, and
it will then cease to be an administrative department of an educational
institution; and very likely we shall lose the terms "home economics,"
"household economics," "domestic science," and the rest.

I would not limit the entrance of women into any courses in a college of
agriculture; on the contrary, I want all courses open to them freely and
on equal terms with men; but the subjects that are arranged under the
general head of home economics are her special field and sphere. On the
other hand, I do not want to limit the attendance of men in courses of
home economics; in fact, I think it will be found that an increasing
number of men desire to take these subjects as the work develops, and
this will be best for society in general.

Furthermore, I do not conceive it to be essential that all teachers in
home economic subjects shall be women; nor, on the other hand, do I
think it is essential that all teachers in the other series of
departments shall be men. The person who is best qualified to teach the
subject should be the one who teaches it, whether man or woman.

As rapidly as colleges and universities come to represent society and to
develop in all students a philosophy of life, the home-making units will
of necessity take their place with other units.


It is generally agreed that one of the greatest insufficiencies in
country life is its lack of organization or cohesion, both in a social
and economic way. Country people are separated both because of the
distances between their properties, and also because they own their land
and are largely confined to its sphere of activities. There is a general
absence of such common feeling as would cause them to act together
unitedly and quickly on questions that concern the whole community, or
on matters of public moment.

This lack of united action cannot be overcome by any single or brief
process, but as one result of a general redirection of rural effort and
the stimulating of a new or different point of view toward life. It will
come as a result of a quickened agricultural life rather than as an
effect of any direct plan or propaganda. When the rural social sense is
thoroughly established, we shall be in a new epoch of rural

It is now the habit to say that this desired rural life must be
coöperative. A society that is fully coöperative in all ways is one from
which the present basis of competition is eliminated. I think that no
one intends, however, in the common discussion of coöperation to take
sides on the theoretical question as to whether society in the end will
be coöperative or competitive; these persons only mean that coöperative
association is often the best means to secure a given result and that
such association may exert great educational influence on the

Theoretically, the coöperative organization of society may be the
better. Practically, a capitalistic organization may be better: it
quickly recognizes merit and leadership; but if it is better, it is so
only when it is very carefully safeguarded.

It cannot be contended that a coöperative organization is correct
because the majority rules. Majorities show only what the people want,
not necessarily what is best. Minorities are much more likely to be
right, because thinking men and fundamental students are relatively few;
yet it may be the best practice, in common affairs, to let the majority
have its way, for this provides the best means of education.

It will now be interesting to try to picture to ourselves some of the
particular means by which social connection in the open country may be
brought about. It is commonly, but I think erroneously, thought that
community life necessarily means a living together in centers or
villages. I conceive, on the contrary, that it is possible to develop a
very effective community mind whilst the persons still remain on their
farms. In this day of rapid communication, transportation, and spread of
intelligence, the necessity of mere physical contiguity has partly
passed away.

That is, "isolation," as the city man conceives of it, is not
necessarily a bar to community feeling. The farmer does not think in
terms of compact neighborhoods, trolley cars, and picture shows. The
country is not "lonely" to him, as it is to a city man. He does not
search for amusement at night.

_Hamlet life._

It is said that the American farmer must live in hamlets, as does the
European peasant. The hamlet system that exists in parts of Europe
represents the result of an historical condition. It is the product of a
long line of social evolution, during which time the persons who have
worked the land have been peasants, and to a greater or less extent have
not owned the land that they have worked.

Some persons fear that the American farmer is drifting toward peasantry.
This notion has no doubt arisen from the fact that in certain places the
man who works the land is driven to great extremity of poverty, and he
remains uneducated and undeveloped; but ignorance and poverty do not
constitute peasantry. The peasanthood of the Old World is a social caste
or class, and is in part a remnant of feudal government, of religious
subjugation, and of the old necessity of protection. The present day is
characterized by the rise of the people on the land; this movement is a
part of the general rise of the common people (or the proletariat). If
popular education, popular rights, and the general extension of means of
communication signify anything, it is that we necessarily are developing
away from a condition of peasantry rather than toward it, however much
degradation or unsuccess there may be in certain regions or how much
inadjustment there may be in the process (page 129).

In contradistinction to the exclusive hamlet system of living together,
I would emphasize the necessity that a first-rate good man must live on
the farm if he is to make the most of it. Farming by proxy or by any
absentee method is just as inefficient and as disastrous in the long run
as the doing of any other business by proxy; in fact, it is likely to be
even more disastrous in the end because it usually results in the
depletion of the fertility of the land, or in the using up of the
capital stock; and this becomes a national disaster. I hold that it is
essential that the very best kind of people live actually on the land.
The business is conducted on the land. The crops are there. The
live-stock is there. The machinery is there. All the investment is in
the place itself. If this business is to be most effective, a good man
must constantly be with it and manage it. A farm is not like a store or
a factory, that is shut up at night and on Sunday.

The more difficult and complex the farming business becomes, the greater
will be the necessity that a good man remain with it.

We must remember also that if the landowner or the farmer lives in a
village or hamlet and another man lives on his farm, a social division
at once results, and we have a stratification into two classes of
society; and this works directly against any community of interest. It
is not likely that the farmer who has retired to town and the hired man
who works his farm under orders will develop any very close personal
relation. The farmer becomes an extraneous element injected into the
town, and has little interest in its welfare, and he has taken his
personality, enterprise, and influence out of the country. He is in a
very real sense "a man without a country." The increase of his living
expenses in town is likely to cause him to raise the rent on his farm,
or, if the tenant works for wages, to reduce the improvements on the
place to the lowest extent compatible with profit. We need above all
things to produce such a rural condition as will satisfy the farmer to
live permanently in the country rather than to move to town when the
farm has given him a competence.

I am not to be understood as saying that farmers ought never to live in
town. There will always be shifting both ways between town and country.
In some cases, small-area farming develops around a village; or a
village grows up because the farms are small and are intensively
handled. In irrigation regions, the whole community may be practically a
hamlet or village. In parts of the Eastern states, small farmers
sometimes live in the village and go to the farm each day, to work it
themselves. But all these are special adaptations, and do not
constitute a broad agricultural system.

In time we probably shall develop a new kind of rural settlement, one
that will be the result of coöperative units or organizations, and not a
consolidation about the present kinds of business places; but it is a
question whether these will be villages or hamlets in the sense in which
we now use these words.

_The category of agencies._

My position, therefore, is that we must evolve our social rural
community directly from the land itself, and mostly by means of the
resident forces that now are there.

This being our proposition, it is then necessary to discover whether,
given permanent residence on pieces of land, it is still possible to
develop anything like a community sense. I do not now propose to discuss
this question at any length, but merely to call attention to a few ways
in which I think the neighborhood life of the open country may be very
distinctly improved.

In this discussion, I purposely omit reference to public utilities and
governmental action, because they are outside my present range. The
farmer will share with all the people any needful improvement that may
be made in regulation of transportation and transportation rates, in
control of corporations, in equalizing of taxation, in providing new
means of credit, in extending means of communication, in revising
tariffs, in reforming the currency, and in perfecting the mail service.

To work out the means of neighborhood coöperation, there should be
sufficient and attractive meeting places. The rural schoolhouse is
seldom adapted to this purpose. The Grange hall does not represent all
the people. The church is not a public institution. Libraries are yet
insufficient. Town halls are few, and usually as unattractive as
possible. There is now considerable discussion of community halls.
Several of them have been built in different parts of the country to
meet the new needs, and the practice should grow.

1. The mere _increase of population_ will necessarily bring people
closer together, and by that much it will tend to social solidarity.

2. The natural _dividing up of large farms_, which is coming both as a
result of the extension of population and from the failure of certain
very large estates to be profitable, will also bring country people
closer together. The so-called "bonanza farms" are unwieldy and
ineffective economic units; and many farmers are "land poor."

3. We shall also _assemble farms_. The increasing population on the land
will not always result in smaller farms. Most of the richer and more
profitable lands will gradually be divided because, with our increased
knowledge and skill, persons can make a living from smaller areas. The
remoter and less productive lands will naturally be combined into larger
farm areas, however, because a large proportion of such lands cannot
make a sufficient profit, when divided into ordinary farm areas, to
support and educate a present-day family (page 38). Contiguous areas of
the better lands will be combined with them, in order to make a good
business unit. As several farms come together under one general
ownership, this owner will naturally gather about him a considerable
population to work his lands.

The probability is that, under thoroughly skillful single management, a
given area of remote or low-productive lands will sustain a larger
population than they are now able to sustain under the many indifferent
or incompetent ownerships. It is to be hoped that some of these
amalgamated areas will develop a share-working or associative farming of
a kind that is now practically unknown.

4. The _re-creative life_ of the country community greatly needs to be
stimulated. Not only games and recreation days need to be encouraged,
but the spirit of release from continuous and deadening toil must be
encouraged. The country population needs to be livened up. This will
come about through the extension of education and the work of ministers,
teachers, and organizations. All persons can come together on a
recreation basis (pp. 173, 211).

The good farmer will have one day a week for recreation, vacation, and

5. _Local politics_ ought to further the entire neighborhood life,
rather than to divide the community into hostile camps. All movements,
as direct nominations, that stimulate local initiative and develop the
sense of responsibility in the people will help toward this end.

6. _Rural government_ is commonly ineffective. It needs awakening by men
and women who have arrived at some degree of mastery over their
conditions. We talk much of the need of improving municipal government,
but very little about rural government; yet government in rural
communities is inert and dead, as compared with what it might be, and
there is probably as much machine politics in it, in proportion to the
opportunities, as in city government. Very much of the lack of gumption
in the open country is due to the want of a perfectly free and able
administration of the public affairs.[3]

    [3] See "The Training of Farmers," pp. 26-28, and "The State and the
    Farmer," p. 125.

The whole political organization of rural communities needs new
attention, and perhaps radical overhauling. As I write these sentences,
I have before me a newspaper in which a progressive surgeon expresses
his opinion (which he has verified for me) on the question of
supervision of health in a rural county in an Eastern state. He found
the statistics too inaccurate and too indefinite to enable him to draw
exact conclusions, but these are approximately the facts:

"No township seems to have deliberately paid its health officer, and but
one town deliberately paid its poor physician. The others paid various
bills for 'quarantine' and 'fumigating' and 'fees' and other misleading
items. There was no way in which to distinguish between the care of the
poor and the sick-poor except to guess and to figure on what I happened
to know about. A----, the richest and largest township, has no health
officers, and spent $200 for the poor in a population of 4000 people
living in an area of 93 square miles. B----, the poorest township, with
a population of 1000, and an area of 36 square miles, paid her health
officer $28 and her poor physician $23.

"One township has 2170 inhabitants living in 51 square miles of
territory, worth one and one-eighth million dollars. Its supervisor is
paid $352.95 a year for a few days' work; its officers are paid $612.95.
It costs $274.79 each year to elect these officers, and I understand
each township is to spend about $5000 for good roads. The health officer
that cares for these 2000 people over 51 miles of territory gets $42.53
a year, and the poor physician $34; while the sick-poor get helped to
the munificent sum of $59.36, or two and one-half cents from each
citizen. The health officers get almost exactly two cents a head for
caring for the inhabitants over 51 square miles of land. The supervisor
gets out of each inhabitant seventeen cents a year, the officers get
thirty cents, while the sick-poor take from each citizen almost three
cents. The discrepancy is too glaring to need comment. A community
assessed a million dollars and probably worth two millions spends $40 a
year on public health, and $60 a year on one-sixteenth of its population
for sickness."

The physician proposes a county commission to take the place of the
board of supervisors. He declares that the members of the board have
outgrown their usefulness. "They should be junked along with other
stagecoaches and a nice, new 60 h. p. county commission put in their
place. The fact is that the system is wrong. Our 'government' is a
survival of early times, and our science is up to date. They do not fit.
You cannot expect supervisors who were useful in the time of Adam, when
there were no cities, no problems, no roads, to serve in the twentieth
century with its surgical treatment of degenerates, its germs and
prophylactics, its preventive medicine and its scientific spirit.
Supervisors could look after noxious plants and animals in the old days,
and they could paper the court-house and eat fat dinners at the
poor-house. They did fairly well at settling line fences, drinking sweet
cider, and blarneying with insurgents. But they are out of place when
it is a question of constructing roads of macadam, of building a
tuberculosis hospital for an $18,000,000 county, and especially they are
out of place when it is a question of dozens of defectives in the jails
and thousands outside who ought to be in hospitals."

7. A _community program for health_[4] is much needed. The farmer lives
by himself in his own house, on his own place. If a disease arises in
his neighbor's family, it is not likely to spread to his family.
Therefore, disease has seemed to him to be a personal rather than a
neighborhood matter. There is the greatest need that the farmer possess
a community sense in respect to disease and sanitary conditions. If the
city is the center of enlightenment, it should help the country to get
hold of this problem.

    [4] Another discussion of rural health will be found in my "Training
    of Farmers," pp. 46-68. The Century Co.

We should have a thoroughgoing system of health supervision and
inspection for the open country as well as in the city. Health
inspection should run out from the cities and towns into all the
adjoining regions, maintaining proper connections with state departments
of health. It should be continuous. It should include inspection of
animals as well as of human beings. In other words, the whole region is
a unit, one part depending on the other. The remarks of the physician,
just quoted, indicate how great is the need of an organized health
supervision for country communities.

We need meat inspection laws for meat killed and sold within the states,
to supplement the inter-state law. We need community slaughter-houses in
which all slaughtering of animals shall be under proper inspection. We
need state milk inspection programs. It is not right that any large city
should be compelled to inspect the milk throughout the state in order to
protect itself. It is not right to the farming districts that such
inspection should center in the city.

We must not assume that the farmer is specially guilty of sanitary
faults. There are many such shortcomings in the open country, and I
accept them without apology; but I can match them every one in city
conditions. The fact is that the whole people has not yet risen to an
appreciation of thoroughly sanitary conditions, and we cannot say that
this deficiency is the special mark of any one class of our population.
Persons ride along the country roads and see repulsive barn-yards,
glaring manure piles, untidy back-yards, and at once make remarks about
them. All these things are relegated to the rear in towns and cities and
are not so visible, but they exist there.

I know that there are very filthy stables in the country districts, but
I have never known worse stable conditions than I have seen in cities
and towns. All progress in these directions must come slowly, and we
must remember that it is expensive to rebuild and reorganize a stable.
No doubt one of the reasons for the high cost of living is the demand of
the people that pure-food laws shall be enacted and enforced, for this
all adds to the cost of food supplies; similarly, we must expect a
betterment in conditions of stabling to result in increased price of
dairy products. In the cost of living we must figure the expense of
having clean and pure food.

The farmer is much criticized for polluting streams; but when the farmer
pollutes one stream occasionally, a city will pollute a whole system of
streams continually. One of the greatest sins of society is the
wholesale befoulment of streams, lakes, and water-courses. I do not see
how we can expect to be called a civilized people until we have taken
care of our refuse without using it to fill up ponds and lakes, and to
corrupt the free water supplies of the earth.

If the countryman has been ignorant of sanitary conditions, we must
remember that his ideas are largely such as he has derived from
teachers, physicians, and others.

We cannot expect a man to develop within himself enough community pride
and altruism to compel him to go to great expense for the benefit of the
public; but he will gladly contribute his part to a public program.

8. _Local factories and industries_ of whatever kind tend to develop
community pride and effectiveness. Creameries have had a marked effect
in this way in many places, giving the community or locality a reason
for existence and a pride in itself that it never had before, or at
least that it had not enjoyed since the passing out of the small
factories. There is much need of local industries in the open country,
whether they are distinctly agricultural or otherwise, not only for the
purpose of providing additional employment for country people but to
direct the flow of capital and enterprise into the country and to
stimulate local interest of all kinds. It is not by any means essential
that all the new life in country neighborhoods should be primarily

Much has been said of late about the necessity of introducing the
handicrafts in the open country in winter with the idea of providing
work for farm people during that season. I do not look for any great
extension of this idea in real agricultural sections, and for the
following reasons: (1) because as better agriculture develops, the
farms will of themselves employ their help more continuously. Modern
diversified and intensive farming brings about this result. The
present-day dairying employs men continuously. The fruit-grower needs
help in winter for pruning and spraying. Live-stock men need help in
feeding and caring for the animals. Modern floriculture and
vegetable-gardening are likely to run the year round. (2) The conditions
of American country life are such that skilled handicraft has not arisen
amongst the rural people, and we cannot expect that it will arise.
Skilled artisanship of this kind is not the growth of a generation, nor
is it a result of the utilization of merely a few weeks or months of
time. (3) It is very doubtful whether such handicrafts as are often
mentioned could compete in the markets with the goods produced by
consolidated factories, or could find a sufficient patronage of people
interested in this kind of handicraft products.

I am not arguing against the introduction of handicrafts, but wish only
to call attention to what I think to be an error in some of the current
discussions. I am convinced that local industries of one kind or another
will find their way into the open country in the next generation, and
greatly to the advantage of the country itself; but the most useful of
them will be regular factories able to compete with other factories.
Their largest results will come not in providing employment for persons
who temporarily need it, but in developing a new community life in the
places where they stand.

9. _The country store_ ought to be a factor in rural betterment. How to
make it so, I do not know. The country store is the nexus between the
manufacturers or the city jobbers, with their "agreements," on the one
hand, and the people, on the other hand, whose commercial independence
the jobbers may desire to control. The country merchant takes up the
cause of the large dealer, because his own welfare is involved, and he
unconsciously becomes one of the agencies through which the open country
is drained and restrained. The parcels post--which must come--will
probably considerably modify this establishment, although I do not look
for its abolition nor desire it. Certain interests make strong
opposition to the parcels post on the ground that it will ruin the
country merchant and, therefore, the country town. I doubt if it will do
any such thing; but even if it should, the end to be gained is not that
the country merchant shall not be disturbed, but that the people at
large may be benefited. No one knows just what form of readjustment the
parcels post will bring about; but trade will very soon readjust itself
to this condition as it has reacted to the introduction of farm
machinery, good roads, the telegraph and telephone, rural free delivery.

The trader in the small town in some parts of the country is likely to
own the people. He is almost necessarily opposed to coöperation and to
any new movements that do not tend to enlarge his trade.

I wish we might also do something with the country hotel.

10. _The business men's organizations_, or chambers of commerce, in
villages and country cities will not confine their activities within
the city boundaries in the future. A wholly new field for usefulness
and for the making of personal reputation lies right here. The business
organization of one village or city should extend out into the country
until it meets a similar organization from the adjoining village, and
the whole region should be commercially developed (pages 122-123). A
chamber of commerce could exert much influence toward making a better
reputation for the pack of apples, or for other output of the region.

11. The influence of certain _great corporations_ is likely to be felt
on the rural readjustment. This is particularly true of the new interest
that railroads are taking in Eastern agriculture. A coördination between
railroads and farming interests will do very much for the property of
both sides; and the railroads can exercise great power in tying country
communities together. The Wall Street Journal comments as follows on the
situation, after calling attention to the fact that the "Eastern trunk
lines have already entered upon a campaign for the encouragement of

"Thirty-six years ago the Pennsylvania state legislature made an effort
to save the farmers of that state from the damaging competition of
ruinously low rates on Western grain to Eastern mills and to the
seaboard. The result was practically nil. Eastern farmers were left so
completely out in the cold that thousands of them sold out and went West
to raise more grain there, still further to handicap the Eastern
producer. The widespread bankruptcy of the middle states farmers during
the eighties was a consequence partly of cut-throat competition among
railroads to haul Western grain to the East at less than cost, and
partly the result of a general depression from which it took ten full
years to recover.

"What is it that has brought the railroads to the farmers on terms of
coöperation for the development of their common territory? It is the
same thing which has served the railroads so admirably in the solution
of their cost problems. It is science applied to reducing the expenses
of transportation in the one case, and to the greater mastery of the
resources of the soil in the other case. In this lies the possibility
of increasing railway freight to and from rural sources. The coöperation
of transportation and agriculture, in the East especially, is not wholly
new, but it is highly significant.

"Nothing could be more encouraging than the service which the railroads
are beginning to render in the better distribution of population over
the land, by putting a premium on good farming and encouraging the young
to find careers for themselves in rural industries."

12. _Local institutions_ of all kinds must have a powerful effect in
evolving a good community sense. This is true in a superlative degree of
the school, the church, the fair, and the rural library. These
institutions will bring into the community the best thought of the world
and will use it in the development of the people in the locality.

Such institutions must do an extension work. The church, from the nature
of its organization, could readily extend itself beyond its regular and
essential gospel work. The high-school will hold winter-courses and will
take itself out to its constituency. The library ought to occupy its
whole territory (page 92).

Similarly, village improvement societies should organize country and
town together, extending tree-care, better roads, lawn improvement, and
other good work throughout the entire community contributory to the
city. Civic societies, fraternal orders, hospital associations, business
organizations (page 119), women's clubs and federations, could do the

13. _The local rural press_ ought to have a powerful influence in
furthering community action. Many small rural newspapers are meeting
their local needs, and are to be considered among the agents that make
for an improved country life. In proportion as the support of the
country newspaper is provided by political organizations, hack
politicians, and patent medicine advertisements, will its power as a
public organ remain small and undeveloped.

14. The influence of the _many kinds of extension teaching_ is bound to
be marked. Reading-courses, itinerant lectures, the organizing of boys'
and girls' clubs, demonstration farms, the inspections of dairies,
orchards, and other farms, and of irrigation supplies, the organization
of such educational societies as cow-testing societies, and the like,
touch the very core of the rural problem. The influence of the traveling
teacher is already beginning to be felt, and it will increase greatly in
the immediate future. I mean by the traveling teacher the person who
goes out from the agricultural college, the experiment station, the
state or national department of agriculture, or other similar
institutions, to impart agricultural information, and to set the people
right toward their own problems.

15. The modern extension of _all kinds of communication_ will unite the
people, even though it does not result in making them move their
residences. I have in mind good highways, telephones, rural free
deliveries, and the like. The automobile is already beginning to have
its effect in certain rural communities, but we have yet scarcely begun
to develop the type of auto-vehicle which is destined, I think, to make
a very great change in country affairs. The improvement of highways on a
regular plan will itself tend to organize the rural districts. We must
add to all this a thoroughly developed system of parcels post, not only
that the farmer may receive mail, but that he may also have greater
facilities and freedom to transact his business with the world (page

16. _Economic or business coöperation_ must be extended. There is much
coöperation of this kind among American farmers, more than most persons
are aware. Some of it is very effective, but much of it is coöperative
only in name. It takes the form of milk organizations, creameries, fruit
associations, poultry societies, farmers' grain elevators, unions for
buying and selling, and the like, some of which are of great extent.

A really coöperating association is one in which all members take active
part in government and control, and share in their just proportions in
the results. It is properly a society, rather than a company. Many
so-called coöperative units are really stock companies, in which a few
persons control, and the remainder become patrons; and others are mere
shareholding organizations.

Business coöperation in agriculture is of three kinds: (1) coöperative
production; (2) coöperative buying; (3) coöperative selling. The last
two are extensively practiced in many regions. Coöperative production of
animals and crops is practically unknown in the rural communities in the
United States, and we are not to expect it to arise in those communities
to any extent under the present organization of society. Colonies
organized on a coöperative basis may practice it within their
membership, but it is doubtful whether persons who are well equipped to
be farmers will enter such organizations for this purpose so long as it
is so easy to make a financial success at independent farming.

There is a fourth form that should be mentioned, although it is not
coöperation in the real sense, but rather a form of combination. I refer
to movements to control the production or output of commodities, as of
wheat, cotton, tobacco, maize, and arbitrarily to fix the price. This
cannot be permanently accomplished with any of the great staples, and
even if it could be accomplished, in my opinion it would be an economic
and social error.

Very much has been said about the necessity of business coöperation
among farmers, and the importance of the subject can hardly be
overstated; and yet it should be understood that economic coöperation is
only one of many means that may be put in operation to propel country
life. The essential thing is that country life be organized: if the
organization is coöperative, the results--at least theoretically--should
be the best; but in one place, the most needed coöperation may be
social, in another place educational, in another religious, in another
political, in another sanitary, in another economic in respect to buying
and selling and making loans or providing insurance. When the chief
deficiency in any region is economic, then it should be met by an
organization that is primarily economic. Some of the effective
coöperation in the West, so often cited, is really founded on the
land-selling spirit of the community.

In some parts of the United States, the financial status of the farmer
is very low, but in general the economic condition is in advance of
other conditions. The American farmer is prosperous,--not as prosperous
as he ought to be, but so prosperous that he can conduct his own
business without support or aid of his neighbors. Although he might gain
financially by coöperation in any case, he nevertheless desires his
complete freedom of action, even at the risk of some loss. The
psychology of the American farmer is in the end the determining factor.

In other countries, this may not be so true, and particularly not when
the farmers live under such a condition of peasanthood (or do not
comprise a middle class) that no one of them in a community is able
independently to buy his tools or his live-stock, or to secure
sufficient funds to provide a small working capital, when both sales and
purchases are very small, and when the entire community is practically
subjugated by a political system. The big people are more likely to
combine than to coöperate. Close coöperation naturally works best in a
peasantry and under a paternal government; it becomes a means of
bringing up the peasantry, of relieving them of oppression, and of
giving them the rights that should be theirs as a part of their

In Denmark, the coöperative movement has been one means of the salvation
of the country, following the disastrous German war. The movement in
some parts of the world is really a culture movement, having for a
background the general good of society.

The American white farmer is not a peasant; he is not submerged in a
hopeless political and economic slavery; he has his vote, his free
school, his fee to hold property without let or hindrance, his full
right to make the most of himself, his "rights" (pages 100 and 65). I
think it will be possible for him to exercise these privileges and at
the same time to share the benefits of coöperation; but coöperation is
not necessary to win him these privileges. It is not the unit in his
life, not the nucleus out of which all other agencies must evolve, or
the leaven that will raise the lump: it is itself one coördinating part
in a program of evolution. We do not have the problem of peasant
proprietorship. For the most part, the American farmer has already won
his economic independence, if not his just rewards.

We should not be impatient if our farmers do not organize themselves
coöperatively as rapidly as we think they ought to organize.

Economic personal coöperation may be expected to thrive best in a
community of small farmers. It is a question whether we shall develop
the strongest leaders in a condition of more or less uniform small
farms. There is much to be said in favor of rather large farming (say
500 to 1000 acres), for a business of this proportion demands a strong
man. This does not mean landlordism, which is a part of a political and
hereditary system, but merely large and competent business organization.
Such farmers, if they are so minded, can accomplish great things for
their fellows.

I am looking for some of the best results in coöperation to come from
the establishment of field-laboratories and demonstration farms, to
which the farmers of the locality contribute their personal funds in the
expectation of an educational result. The best results to country life
cannot possibly come by the government continuing to take everything to
the farmer free of cost and without the asking. Disadvantaged or
undeveloped regions must be aided freely, but as rapidly as any
localities or industries get on their feet, they should meet the state
part way, and should assume their natural share of the expense and
responsibility. This form of coöperation is already well under way; and
I suspect that in many localities that have been dead to all forms of
coöperative effort, this idea will afford the starting-point for a new
community life.

From this form of education-coöperation, it would be but a step to a
neighborhood effort to introduce new crops and high-class bulls, to
undertake drainage enterprises and reforestation; and to unite on
business matters.

It is possible for a national organization movement to come out of the
existing agricultural institutions in the United States.

We may picture to ourselves a perfectly coöperating rural society that
will have all the means of its salvation within itself. Even if we
accept this picture, we cannot say that the structure will rise out of
one seed or starting-point, or that one phase of coöperation is of
necessity primary and another final. Our theoretical structure will
arise from several or many beginnings; it will be a complex of
numberless units; whatever range of coöperation is found, by
investigation, to be now most needed in any community, must be the one
with which we are to set that community going.

17. In the end everything depends on _personal gumption and guidance_.
It is not strange that we have lacked the kind of guidance that brings
country people together, because we have not had the kind of education
that produces it; and, in fact, this kind of guidance has not been so
necessary in the past as it is now. A new motive in education is
gradually beginning to shape itself. This must produce a new kind of
outlook on country questions, and it will bring out a good many men and
women who will be guides in the country as their fellows will be guides
in the city. They will be captains because they will perform the common
work of farming regions in an uncommon way.

I think we little realize to-day what the effect will be in twenty-five
years of the young men and women that the colleges of agriculture in
these days are sending into the country districts.

_Community interest is of the spirit._

In conclusion, let us remember that everything that develops the common
commercial, intellectual, recreative, and spiritual interests of the
rural people, ties them together socially. Residing near together is
only one of the means of developing a community life, and it is not now
the most important one. Persons who reside close together may still be
torn asunder by divergent interests and a simple lack of any tie that
binds; this is notably true in many country villages.

Community of purpose and spirit is much more important than community of
houses. Community pride is a good product; it produces a common mind.


It is a general complaint in the United States that there is scarcity of
good labor. I have found the same complaint in parts of Europe, and
Europeans lay much of the blame of it on America because their working
classes migrate so much to this country; and they seem to think we must
now be well supplied with labor. Labor scarcity is felt in the cities
and trades, in country districts, in mines, and on the sea. It seems to
be serious in regions in which there is much unemployed population. It
is a real problem in the Southern states.

While farmers seem now to complain most of the labor shortage, the
difficulty is not peculiarly rural. Good farmers feel it least; they
have mastered this problem along with other problems. As a matter of
fact, it is doubtful whether there is a real labor shortage as measured
by previous periods; but it is very difficult to secure good labor on
the previous terms and conditions.

_Reasons for the labor question._

The supposed short labor supply is not a temporary condition. It is one
of the results of the readjustment and movement of society. A few of the
immediate causes may be stated, to illustrate the nature of the

(1) In a large way, the labor problem is the result of the passing out
of the people from slavery and serfdom,--the rise of the working classes
out of subjugation. Peoples tend always to rise out of the laboring-man
phase. We would not have it otherwise if we desire social democracy.

(2) It is due in part to the great amount and variety of constructive
work that is now being done in the world, with the consequent urgent
call for human hands. The engineering and building trades have extended
enormously. We are doing kinds of work that we had not dreamed of a
half-hundred years ago.

(3) In some places the labor difficulty is due to the working-men being
drawn off to other places, through the perfecting of industrial
organization. The organization of labor means companionship and social
attraction. Labor was formerly solitary; it is now becoming gregarious.

(4) In general, men and women go where things are "doing." Things have
not been doing on the farms. There has been a gradual passing out from
backward or stationary occupations into the moving occupations. Labor
has felt this movement along with the rest. It has been natural and
inevitable that farms should have lost their labor. Cities and great
industrialism could not develop without them; and they have made the
stronger bid.

(5) In farming regions, the outward movement of labor has been specially
facilitated by lack of organization there, by the introduction of farm
machinery, by the moving up of tenants into the class of renters and
owners, by lack of continuous employment, by relatively low pay, by
absence of congenial association as compared with the town. Much of the
hired farm labor is the sons of farmers and of others, who "work out"
only until they can purchase a farm. Some of it is derived from the
class of owners who drift downward to tenants, to laboring men, and
sometimes to shifters. We are now securing more or less foreign-born
labor on the farms. Much of this is merely seasonal; and when it is not
seasonal, the immigrant desires to become a farm owner himself. If the
labor is seasonal, the man may return to his native home or to the city,
and in either case he is likely to be lost to the open country.

_The remedies._

There is really no "solution" for the labor difficulty. The problem is
inherent in the economic and social situation. It may be relieved here
and there by the introduction of immigrants or by transportation of
laborers at certain times from the city; but the only real relief lies
in the general working out of the whole economic situation. The
situation will gradually correct itself; but the readjustment will come
much more quickly if we understand the conditions.

As new interest arises in the open country and as additional values
accrue, persons will remain in the country or will return to it; and the
labor will remain or return with the rest. As the open country fills up,
we probably shall develop a farm artisan class, comprised of persons who
will be skilled workmen in certain lines of farming as other persons are
skilled workmen in manufactures and the trades. These persons will have
class pride. We now have practically no farm artisans, but solitary and
more or less migratory working-men who possess no high-class manual
skill. Farm labor must be able to earn as much as other labor of equal
grade, and it must develop as much skill as other labor, if it is to
hold its own. This means, of course, that the farming scheme may need to
be reorganized (pages 86 to 90).

Specifically, the farm must provide more continuous employment if it is
to hold good labor. The farmer replies that he does not have employment
for the whole year; to which the answer is that the business should be
so reorganized as to make it a twelve months' enterprise. The
introduction of crafts and local manufactures will aid to some extent,
but it cannot take care of the situation (page 115). In some way the
farm laborer must be reached educationally, either by winter schools,
night schools, or other means. Every farm should itself be a school to
train more than one laborer. The larger part of the farm labor must be
country born. With the reorganization of country life and its increased
earning power, we ought to see an increase in the size of country

_Public or social bearings._

It is doubtful if city industrialism is developing the best type of
working-men, considered from the point of view of society (page 59). I
am glad of all organizations of men and women, whether working-men or
not. But it seems to me that the emphasis in some of the organizations
has been wrongly placed. It has too often been placed on rights rather
than on duties. No person and no people ever developed by mere
insistence on their rights. It is responsibility that develops them. The
working-man owes responsibility to his employer and to society; and so
long as the present organization of society continues he cannot be an
effective member of society unless he has the interest of his employer
constantly in mind.

The real country working-men must constitute a group quite by
themselves. They cannot be organized on the basis on which some other
folk are organized. There can be no rigid short-hour system on a farm.
The farm laborer cannot drop his reins or leave his pitchfork in the air
when the whistle blows. He must remain until his piece of work is
completed; this is the natural responsibility of a farm laborer, and it
is in meeting this responsibility that he is able to rise to the upper
grade and to develop his usefulness as a citizen.

It is a large question whether we are to have a distinct working-class
in the country as distinguished from the land-owning farmer. The old
order is one of perfect democracy, in which the laboring-man is a part
of the farmer's family. It is not to be expected that this condition can
continue in its old form, but the probability is that there will always
be a different relation between working-man and employer in the country
from that which obtains in the city. The relation will be more direct
and personal. The employer will always feel his sense of obligation and
responsibility to the man whom he employs and to the man's family.
Persons do not starve to death in the open country.

Some persons think that the farming of the future is still to be
performed on the family-plan, by which all members of the family perform
the labor, and whatever incidental help is employed will become for the
time a part of the family. This will probably continue to be the rule.
But we must face the fact, however, that a necessary result of the
organization of country life and the specialization of its industries,
that is now so much urged, will be the production of a laboring class by

_Supervision in farm labor._

It is doubtful whether we shall extend the industrial organization of
labor to the open country, and yet there should be some way of
administering farm labor. The growth of the tendency to coördinate
farming industries, in order to overcome the disastrous effects of much
of the competitive farming, will allow for supervision of labor,
however, and will make for efficiency. The standardizing of agricultural
practice will also do much to produce the community mind that is so much
desired (p. 97). On this line, Dean H. E. Cook, who has given much
thought to labor questions, writes me as follows:

"The production of iron, paper, and manufactured products generally has
been standardized, and the cost laid down in the market is well known,
and therefore placed squarely on a cash basis. Directly the opposite is
the case in the manufacture of farm crops, and so we find the family to
be the farm crop-producers. The wife and the children are a part of the
working force of the farm, which is not found in any other industry. In
fact, our laws are very rigid in preventing the employment of women and
children in nearly every class of work, except on the farm. We find no
provision by statute or moral sentiment which says that the farmer must
not employ his eight- or ten-year-old boy, as is very often the case, in
most laborious tasks. This state of affairs is not the desire of the
farmer, but has become a necessity because of the very low prices for
his products, occasioned by the intense competition of the rapidly
extending area. Our government has taken every means within its grasp to
populate these large areas of cheap rich land. Of course it meant wealth
to the nation, but it meant poverty to those who had established homes
and investments in the older sections.

"Our methods, unlike other manufacturers and producers, are not
standardized. That is, we find in every community persons having each
his own conception of soil-handling, crop-growing, and marketing. In a
single locality can be found an endless variety of corn, as an
illustration. Especially is this true in the East. Surely corn growing
fourteen feet high and corn growing six feet high are not calculated to
bring the same results. The farmers themselves are unlike. I suppose we
are distantly removed from the time when we shall have a uniform type of
men and women bred for the farm. It seems to me that methods which would
unify or standardize our practices and prices--within certain
limitations, to be sure--would tend to unify the tendencies and the type
of the people.

"In our present state of undevelopment or adjustment, I do not think it
is possible profitably to pursue the production of crops with employed
labor, such as we find in our manufacturing establishments; and it may
be debatable whether that plan would be an improvement, so far as the
social life is concerned, over the present family-plan, although I
firmly believe that the time is approaching when the profits of the
business will warrant a cash payment for everything done on the farm. As
a connecting link between the family-plan and the future cash-plan, it
seems to me we ought to take on in each neighborhood the same methods
of supervision that are now employed in the factories. One man of skill
and adaptability supervises the work of many. In agriculture we have but
one illustration of this principle, namely, our butter and cheese
factories, where one man has in charge the manufacturing of the milk of
many. I think we could profitably use a similar agency in trucking,
soil-handling, crop-growing, animal-feeding, and general
farm-management. Furthermore, we are more in need, as the writer sees
it, of this standardizing or coöperation in farm-management, than we are
in the manufacture of milk products. This plan would use the family as a
unit of labor on the farm, with the attendant light risk, or no risk at
all; and in case of failure of crops of having to pay cash for the

"The cow-test association is a part of this general plan of local
supervision. I can foresee how there may come out of this cow-test
movement, a growth which will mean just what I have tried to outline.
The man who does nothing now but the testing of the milk from each cow
may develop into an expert who will give advice on soils, crops,
cow-feeding, and other things (page 123).

"When the communities around certain natural centers, as the cheese
factories or creameries in dairy sections, perhaps a small hamlet in
trucking sections, have become thoroughly organized or, more properly
speaking, standardized, we shall find it comparatively easy to bring a
number of these local units together, because the individuals who form a
part of the movement have learned the true principles underlying
coöperation. Until these local units are worked out, in my opinion we
shall never be able to form any great coöperative movement which will
not break of its own weight, because of a lack of annealing processes."

_What is the farmer to do?_

"How may I secure labor?" is probably the most persistent question now
asked by farmers; but it is a question that cannot be answered, any more
than one may tell another what crops he shall grow, what markets he
shall find, or what manner of house he shall build. This is one of the
great problems of farming, as it is of engineering, of the building
trades, and of factories. Each farmer must work it out for himself, as
he works out the problem of fertility and machinery. He must work far
ahead, and consider it as a part of all his plans.

In many or most cases, it resolves itself into a question of
personality,--of making a place that is worth while to a good man and
then of the farmer interesting himself in the man. One can now hardly
expect to secure labor on demand for brief periods, for the scheme of
things is more and more in the direction of continuous employment; and
the old range of prices cannot hold. If the farmer's scale of business
is small and operates only for a part of a year, he cannot expect to
secure the best and most reliable help.

The farmer will find increasing aid from public labor-distributing
bureaus, for these agencies must extend with the extension of population
and the complexity of industry. In time, the state and nation will
provide competent machinery for placing working-men where they can best
serve themselves and society, thus relieving both employer and employed
from much waste of effort. As farm labor is not a separate difficulty,
the problem will tend to better and better solution along with the rest.
If the distributing agencies are not now wholly satisfactory, the farmer
must recognize that they are only beginning, and that he should
coöperate with them. The problem of utilizing the immigrant, for
example, is one of distribution; but distribution is really not
accomplished merely by sending a certain number of immigrants to a
certain number of places,--immigrant and employer must find the
situation to be mutually satisfactory.

Any effort which assumes that labor must necessarily come to the
old-type farm, is only temporary. The farm must readjust itself to meet
the labor problem. In the meantime, through the labor bureaus, by
looking long ahead, by organizing a labor club in the community, by some
person acting as a labor agent and supplying farmers as they need, by
trying to make a year-round activity in the neighborhood, the situation
may be met more or less.


To make farming profitable is no longer a question merely of raising
more produce. We have passed that point. We now have knowledge and
experience enough to enable us greatly to increase our yields, if only
we put the knowledge into practice.

_Farmer does not get his share._

But the farmer, speaking broadly, does not get his share of the proceeds
of his labor, notwithstanding the increase in the price of farm
products. A few farmers here and there, producing a superior article and
favored by location or otherwise, can be quite independent of marketing
systems; but the larger number of farmers never can be so situated, and
they must grow the staples, and they are now at the mercy of many
intermediaries. The farmer's risks, to say nothing of his investment and
his labor, are not sufficiently taken into account in our scheme of
business,--risks of bad years, storm, frost, flood, disease to stock and
crop, and many things over which he has practically no control.

A merchant in a small city may want as much as twenty per cent
commission to sell produce, and then retain the privilege of returning
to the grower all the product that spoils on his hands or that he is
unable to sell; he invests little capital, takes no risk, and makes more
than the man who buys his land, prepares the crop months in advance, and
assumes every risk from seed-time to dinner-table. I am citing this case
not to say that it is a subject for public control nor even to assert
that the merchant's commission is intrinsically too great, but only to
illustrate the disadvantage in which the farmer often finds himself; and
the farmer may even have no escape from this disadvantage, for all the
merchants within his market region may agree to sell his produce only on
such terms, and he may be obliged to accept these terms or not to sell
his wares.

The manufacturer knows the cost of his products and charges his price.
The farmer usually does not know the cost, and in general he makes no
selling price; the prices of his staple produce are made for him.

That the producer does not secure his proportionate share of the selling
price in many products is a matter of the commonest knowledge, and much
study has been made of the question. If the question is put in another
way, the consumer pays too great a margin, in great numbers of cases,
over the cost of production. The following press item, coming to my hand
as I write, is an example (given for what it is worth), although not
extreme: "The government of New York, and not the government in
Washington, is where the people of this city must look, if they expect
to see reduction in living expenses. A bushel of beans, for which the
producer in Florida receives $2.25, with the transportation 50 cents for
the 800-mile haul, should not cost the New York consumer $6.40 a bushel.
The producer receives 35 per cent of the final price, the transporter 8
per cent, and the dealers 57 per cent. This is not a fair division. The
problem is not one of trusts, tariffs, and other Washington matters, but
simply one of providing straight and cheap ways open from all gardens
and farms to kitchens and tables."

The poorer the country or the less forehanded the people, the harder is
the pinch of the usurer and the trader, and all the machinery of trade
is likely to be manipulated against the defenseless man who stands
stolidly between the handles of the plow.

Of course, such conditions do not obtain with all products. In some of
the great staples, as wheat, the cost of transportation and commissions
is often reduced by competition and scientific handling to probably its
lowest terms. But that there are abuses and extortions, and remediable
conditions, in the middleman system--by which I mean collectively all
traders between producer and consumer--no one will attempt to deny. The
farmer cannot rise to his proper place until the stones are taken off
his back.

The abuses must be checked and discriminations removed, whether in the
middleman trade itself, rates of express companies and other carriers,
or stock-market gambling. The middleman system has had a free field to
play in, the wealth of the country to handle; it has exercised its
license, and in too many cases it has become parasitic, either protected
by law and custom or unreachable by law or custom. It is a shame that
our economic machinery is not capable of handling the situation.

_Relation of the question to cost-of-living._

It is customary just now to attribute the high cost of living to
lessened production due to a supposed decline of agriculture, and to
advise, therefore, that more persons engage in farming for the purpose
of increasing the product. This position is met by an editorial of the
New York Tribune, which holds that intermediary trading combinations are

"It is true that the raising of cattle for the market has almost ceased
in the East and that agriculture generally has not kept pace with the
demand for food products. Yet it is hard to believe that agriculture in
any part of the Union would steadily decline in the face of an enormous
appreciation of the cost to the consumer of all farm products, were
there not some powerful disturbing factor operating to deny the farmer
the benefits of that appreciation. If the Eastern farmer could have
reaped a legitimate share of the increase in the price of farm produce
which has taken place in the last twenty years, he would certainly be in
position to command all the labor he needs and to develop resources now
neglected because it does not pay to develop them. Under normal
conditions economic law would certainly drive labor and energy into a
field of production in which there had been the greatest relative
expansion in the selling price of products.

"Yet economic law has not operated to stimulate agriculture, because the
returns from steadily mounting prices have not really reached the
producer. Thirty years ago the fattening of steers for the local markets
was common in the East. But when the vast Western ranges were opened,
and the great packing houses were established, the cheapness of range
beef, refrigerated and delivered in Eastern cities, was used as a weapon
to kill off the cattle industry of the East. When the Eastern cattleman
was driven out of business, the price of beef rose, but virtually all
the increase has gone to the packing combinations, which fix their own
price to the Western range man and their own price to the consumer and
artificially control the supply so as to discourage increased production
in the West and to prevent a revival of production in the East. The
country is growing in population at the rate of twenty to twenty-five
per cent each decade. But Secretary Wilson has shown that the supply of
food animals is not being maintained in proportion to population. In the
last decade cattle have remained about stationary in numbers, swine are
actually decreasing, and, while more sheep are available, the supply has
diminished relatively to population.

"It can hardly be contended that with steadily diminishing supplies and
steadily increasing prices the law of supply and demand would not work
out a new balance, stimulating production through easy profits, were
there no artificial interception of the producer's normal share of the
advance in price. Were there a free market for the Eastern raiser of
stock, milk, and food products generally, with the middleman's
commissions properly restricted, Eastern farming would probably be
profitable enough to hold its own against manufacturing and to compete
successfully with the manufacturer for labor."

_The farmer's part._

Of course, it is necessary to teach every farmer how to grow more crops,
for this is his business, and it also enlarges his personal ambition and
extends his power and responsibility; but merely to grow the crops will
not avail,--this is only the beginning of the problem: the products must
be distributed and marketed in such a way that the one who expends the
effort to produce them shall receive enough of the return to identify
him with the effort. Thereafter, social and moral results will follow.

_The middleman's part._

I recognize the service of the middleman to society. I know that the
distributor and trader are producers of wealth as well as those who
raise the raw materials; but this is no justification for abuses. I know
that there are hosts of perfectly honest and dependable middlemen. We do
not yet know whether the existing system of intermediary distributors
and sellers is necessary to future society, but we do not see any other
practicable way at present. In special cases, the farmer may reach his
own customer; but this condition, as I have suggested, is so small in
proportion to the whole number of farmers as not greatly to affect the
general situation. We do not yet see any way whereby all farmers can be
so organized as to enable them to control all their own marketing.
Therefore, we must recognize middleman-practice as legitimate.

_A system of economic waste._

But even though we yet see no way of general escape from the system, we
ought to provide some means of regulating its operation. The present
method of placing agricultural produce in the hands of the consumer is
for the most part indirect and wasteful. Probably in the majority of
cases of dissatisfaction, the person whom we call the middleman does not
receive any exorbitant profit, but the cost of the commodities is piled
up by a long and circuitous system of intermediate tolls and

_Coöperation of farmers will not solve it._

It is commonly advised that farmers "unite" or "organize" to correct
middleman and transportation abuses, but these troubles cannot be solved
by any combination of farmers, because this is not an agricultural
question. It is as much a problem for consumers as for producers. It is
a part of the civilization of our day, completely woven into the fabric
of our economic system. The farmer may feel its hardship first because
he must bear it, while the consumer, to meet higher prices, demands more
pay of his employer or takes another stitch out of somebody else. But it
is essentially a problem for all society to solve, not for farmers
alone, particularly when it operates on a continental basis. This also
indicates the futility of the arbitrary control of prices of the great
staples by combinations of farmers (page 126).

Of course, temporary or local relief may be secured by organizations of
producers here and there, or of consumers here and there (probably
consumers can attack the problem more effectively than producers), and
by the establishment of public markets; but no organization can
permanently handle the question unless the organization is all the

The present agitations against middleman practices and stock-market
gambling ought to compel Congress to pass laws to correct the evils that
are correctable by law, and the organizations then should keep such
touch on the situation that the laws will be enforced.

It has been suggested that the superabundant middlemen go into farming;
but no one can compel them to go to farming, and they might not be
successful farmers if they should attack the business, and the farming
country might not need them or profit by them,--for it is not
demonstrated that we need more farmers, although it is apparent that we
need better farmers.

_It is the business of government._

It is the business of any government to protect its people. Governments
have protected their countries from invasion and war, but the greatest
office of government in modern times is to develop its own people and
the internal resources of its realm. We are beginning to protect the
people from the over-lording of railroads, from unfair combinations in
trade, and from the tyranny of organized politicians. It is just as much
the business of government to protect its people from dishonest and
tyrannous middlemen lying beyond the practical reach of individuals. The
situation has arisen because of lack of control; there is no conspiracy
against the farmer.

It is said that competition will in the end correct the middleman evil,
but competition does not correct it; and competition alone, under the
present structure of society, will not correct it in most cases because
"agreements" between traders restrict or remove competition: the
situation does not have within itself the remedies for its own ills.

When we finally eliminate combinations in restraint of trade, the
middleman abuses may be in the process of passing out. It is to check
dishonesty on the one hand and to allow real competition on the other
that I am now making suggestions.

_Must be a continuing process of control._

I have no suggestion to make as to the nature of the laws themselves.
There are many diverse situations to be met; and I intentionally do not
make my remarks specific. Of course, any law that really attempts to
reach the case must recognize the middleman as exercising a public or
semi-public function, and that, as such, he is amenable to control,
even beyond the point of mere personal honesty. The licensing of
middlemen (a practice that might be carried much further, and which is a
first step in reform) recognizes this status; and if it is competent for
government to license a middleman, it is also competent for it to
exercise some oversight over him. It is not necessary that government
declare an agency a monopoly in order to regulate it. Commercial
situations that unmistakably involve service to the public are proper
for governmental control in greater or lesser degree. The supervision of
weights and measures is a good beginning in the regulation of middleman

But the enactment of laws, even of good laws, is only another step in
the solution. A law does not operate itself, and the common man cannot
resort to courts of law to secure justice in such cases as these. There
must be a _continuing process_ of government with which to work out the
reform and to adjust each case on its merits. Whatever the merits of the
laws, their success lies in the continuing application of them to
specific cases by persons whose business it is to discern the facts
rather than to prove a case.

There are three steps in the control of the middleman: (1) an aroused
public conscience on the question; (2) good fundamental laws for
interstate phases and similar state laws for local phases; (3) good
commissions or other agencies or bodies to which any producer or
consumer or middleman may take his case, and which may exercise
regulatory functions. The interstate commerce commission has
jurisdiction over so much of the problem as relates to the service and
rates of common carriers; no doubt, its powers could be extended to
other interstate phases. Perhaps departments of agriculture, in states
in which public service commissions have not been established, could be
given sufficient scope to handle some of the questions.

Of course, some of the middlemen and associated traders will contend
that all this interferes with business and with private rights, but no
man has a private right to oppress or defraud another or to deprive him
of his proper rewards; and we must correct a faulty economic system.
There is little danger that the legitimate business of any honest
middleman will be interfered with.

I know that commissions and similar bodies have not always been wholly
successful. This is because we have not yet had experience enough, have
not consciously trained our people for this kind of work, and have not
been able to make water-tight laws. Neither do older systems now prove
to be adequate. New economic conditions must bring new methods of
regulation and control.

I have no desire that society (or government) engage in the middleman
business or that it take over private enterprise; but no government can
expect to throw back on the producer the responsibility of controlling
the middleman. I look for the present agitation to awaken government to
the necessity of doing what it is plainly its duty to do. In future, a
government that will not protect its people in those cases in which the
people, acting to the best of their individual and coöperating capacity,
cannot protect themselves, will be known as either a bad government or
an undeveloped government.


Much is said about the necessity of redirecting rural institutions. The
fairs are mentioned among the rest. I shall now indicate an experiment
that might be tried with existing county and local fairs, not only as a
suggestion for the fairs themselves, but as an illustration of how
completely it is possible to reconstruct an institution that is long
established in conventional methods.

I do not think a fair that carries only one or two weeks' interest
during the year is justifiable; but of this aspect of the question I am
not now speaking.

_Nature of the fair._

The county fair has not changed its general basis of operation in recent
years, and yet the basis of country life is changing rapidly. Many fairs
are doing excellent work and are worth to the people all that they cost
in effort and money; but the whole plan of the county fair is
insufficient for the epoch that we are now entering. I should not
discontinue the local fairs: I should make them over.

The fairs have been invaded by gambling, and numberless catch-penny and
amusement and entertainment features, many of which are very
questionable, until they often become great country medleys of acrobats
and trained bears and high-divers and gew-gaws and balloon ascensions
and side-shows and professional traveling exhibitors and advertising
devices for all kinds of goods. The receipts are often measured by the
number of cheap vaudeville and other "attractions" that the fair is able
to secure. And as these things have increased, the local agricultural
interest has tended to drop out. In some cases the state makes
appropriations to local fairs; it is a question whether the state should
be in the showman business.

I should like to see one experiment tried somewhere by some one,
designed to project a bold enterprise on a new foundation. It would
first be necessary to eliminate some of the present features, and then
to add a constructive program.

_Features to be eliminated._

I should eliminate all gate receipts; all horse trots; all concessions
and all shows; all display of ordinary store merchandise; all sales of
articles and commodities; and all money premiums.

_Constructive program._

Having taken out the obstructions, unnecessaries, and excrescences, I
should enter on a constructive program. I should then begin to make a
fair. I assume that the fact of a person living in a community, places
on him responsibilities for the welfare of that community. We should
make the county fair one of the organized means of developing this
welfare. Therefore, I should assume that every citizen in the county, by
virtue of his citizenship, is a member of the county fair and owes to it
an allegiance.

It would then devolve on the persons who are organizing and operating
the work, representing the fair association, to develop in him his sense
of allegiance and coöperation. I should not discourage any citizen of
the county from coöperating in the enterprise, or allow him to escape
his natural responsibilities, because he felt himself unable or
unwilling to pay an admission fee, any more than I should eliminate any
person because of religion, politics, color, or sex.

_The financial support._

Of course, it requires money to run a fair. I should like to see the
money raised by voluntary contribution in a new way. I should have it
said to every resident in the county that he and his family may come
uninterruptedly to the fair without money and without price; but I
should also say to him that money is needed, and that all those persons
who wish to give a certain sum would be provided with a badge or
receipt. I suspect that more money could be more easily raised in this
way than by means of gate receipts.

I should have this money collected in advance by means of an organized
effort through all the schools and societies in the county, setting
every one of them at work on a definite plan.

Of course, the state or other agency could contribute its quota of funds
as theretofore.

_An educational basis._

In other words, I should like to see, in this single experiment, a
complete transfer from the commercial and "amusement" phase to the
educational and recreation phase. I should like to see the county fair
made the real meeting place for the country folk. I should make a
special effort to get the children. The best part of the fair would be
the folks, and not the machines or the cattle, although these also would
be very important. I should make the fair one great picnic and
gathering-place and field-day, and bring together the very best elements
that are concerned in the development of country life.

I should work through every organized enterprise in the county, as
commercial clubs, creameries, coöperative associations, religious
bodies, fraternal organizations, insurance societies, schools, and
whatever other organized units already may exist.

It is often said that our fairs have developed from the market-places of
previous times, and are historically commercial. We know, of course,
that fairs have been market-places, and that some of them are so to this
day in other countries. I doubt very much, however, whether the history
is correct that develops the American agricultural fair from the
market-place fairs of other countries. From the time when Elkanah Watson
exhibited his merino sheep in the public square of Pittsfield,
Massachusetts, in 1807, in order that he might induce other persons to
grow sheep as good as his, and when the state of New York started its
educational program in 1819, the essence of the American idea has been
that a fair is an educational and not a trading enterprise. But whatever
the history, the agricultural fair maintained by public money owes its
obligation to the people and not to commercial interests.

_Ask every person to prove up._

I should have every person bring and exhibit what he considers to be his
best contribution to the development of a good country life.

One man would exhibit his bushel of potatoes; another his Holstein bull;
another his pumpkin or his plate of apples; another a picture and plans
of his modern barn; another his driving team; another his flock of sheep
or his herd of swine; another his pen of poultry; another his plan for a
new house or a sanitary kitchen, or for the installation of
water-supplies, or for the building of a farm bridge, or the improved
hanging of a barn door, or for a better kind of fence, or for a new kink
in a farm harness, or the exhibition of tools best fitted for clay land
or sandy land, and so on and on.

The woman would also show what she is contributing to better
conditions,--her best handiwork in fabrics, her best skill in cooking,
her best plans in housekeeping, her best ideas for church work or for
club work.

The children would show their pets, what they had grown in the garden,
what they had made in the house or the barn, what they had done in the
school, what they had found in the woods.

I should assume that every person living on the land in the country has
some one thing that he is sure is a contribution to better farming, or
to better welfare; and he should be encouraged to exhibit it and to
explain it, whether it is a new way to hang a hoe, or a herd of
pure-bred cattle, or a plan for farmers' institutes. I should challenge
every man to show in what respect he has any right to claim recognition
over his fellows, or to be a part of his community.

I should ask the newspapers and the agricultural press to show up their
work; also the manufacturers of agricultural implements and of
country-life articles of all kinds.

I should also ask the organizations to prove up. What is the creamery
contributing to a better country life? What the school? The church? The
grange? The coöperative exchange? The farmers' club? The reading club?
The woman's society? The literary circle? The library? The commercial
clubs? The hunting or sportsman's clubs?

_Sports, contests, and pageants._

I should give much attention to the organization of good games and
sports, and I should have these coöperative between schools, or other
organizations, such organizations having prepared for them consecutively
during the preceding year. I should introduce good contests of all
kinds. I should fill the fair with good fun and frolic.

I should want to see some good pageants and dramatic efforts founded on
the industries, history, or traditions of the region or at least of the
United States. It would not be impossible to find simple literature for
such exercises even now, for a good deal has been written. By song,
music, speaking, acting, and various other ways, it would not be
difficult to get all the children in the schools of the county at work.
In the old days of the school "exhibition," something of this spirit
prevailed. It was manifest in the old "spelling bees" and also in the
"lyceum." We have lost our rural cohesion because we have been attracted
by the town and the city, and we have allowed the town and the city to
do our work. I think it would not be difficult to organize a pageant, or
something of the kind, at a county fair, that would make the ordinary
vaudeville or sideshow or gim-crack look cheap and ridiculous and not
worth one's while.


If we organize our fair on a recreation and educational basis, then we
can take out all commercial phases, as the paying of money premiums. An
award of merit, if it is nothing more than a certificate or a memento,
would then be worth more than a hundred dollars in money. So far as
possible, I should substitute coöperation and emulation for competition,
particularly for competition for money.

It is probable that the fair would have to assume the expense of certain
of the exhibits.

_It is time to begin._

This kind of fair is not only perfectly possible, but it is feasible in
many places, if only some one or two or three persons possessed of good
common sense and of leadership would take hold of the thing
energetically. One must cut himself loose from preconceived notions and
probably from the regular fair associations. He must have imagination,
and be prepared to meet discouragements. He need not take the attitude
that present methods are necessarily all bad; he is merely concerned in
developing a new thing.

Because I should not have horse races in my fair, I do not wish at all
to be understood as saying that horse races are to be prohibited. Let
the present race courses in the fair grounds be used for horse races, if
the people want them. We have June races now, and they could be held at
other times of the year when persons who are interested desire to have
them. My point is that they are not an essential part of a county
agricultural fair. They rest on a money basis, and do not represent the
people. Neither do I say that all traveling shows and concessions are
bad; but most of them are out of place in a county fair and contrary to
its spirit.

If the horse races were organized for the purpose of developing the
horses of the county, then I should admit them; but I should give them
only their proportionate place along with other means of developing
horse-stock,--as of work horses, farm horses, draft horses, driving

_The fair ground._

An enterprise of the kind that I project need not necessarily be held on
a fair-ground of the present type, although that might be the best place
for it. If there is a good institution in the county that has grounds,
and especially that has an agricultural equipment worthy of observation,
I should think that the best results would be secured by holding the
fair at that place. This kind of a fair would not need to be inclosed
within a Chinese wall. Of course, there would have to be buildings and
booths and stables in which exhibitions could be made.

In every fair there should nowadays be an assembly hall in which
lectures, exhibitions, simple dramas, worth-while applicable moving
pictures, and other entertainment features can be given.

_My plea._

My plea, therefore, is that some one somewhere make one experiment with
a county fair designed to bring all the people together on a wholly new
idea. The present basis is wrong for this twentieth century. The old
needs are passing; new needs are coming in. I should have the fair
represent the real substantial progress of rural civilization, and I
should also have it help to make that progress. It should be a power in
its community, not a phenomenon that passes as a matter of course, like
the phases of the moon.

I do not expect all this to materialize in a day; but I want to set a
new picture into my readers' minds.


The conservation movement is the expression of the idea that the
materials and agencies that are part of the furniture of the planet are
to be utilized by each generation carefully, and with real regard to the
welfare of those who are to follow us. The country-life movement is the
expression of the idea that the policies, efforts, and material
well-being of the open country must be highly sustained, as a
fundamental essential of a good civilization; and it recognizes the fact
that rural society has made relatively less progress in the past century
than has urban society. Both movements are immediately economic, but in
ultimate results they are social and moral. They rest on the assumption
that the welfare of the individual man and woman is to be conserved and
developed, and is the ultimate concern of governments; both, therefore,
are phases in a process of social evolution.

These are the twin policies of the Roosevelt administration, an economic
and social movement for which that administration will be first
remembered after the incidents and personalities of the time have lost
their significance.

Not only the welfare but the existence of the race depends on utilizing
the products and forces of the planet wisely, and also on securing
greater quantity and variety of new products. These are finally the most
fundamental movements that government has yet attempted to attack; for
when the products of the earth shall begin to disappear or the arm of
the husbandman to lose its skill, there is an end to the office of
government. At the bottom, therefore, the conservation and country-life
movements rest on the same premise; but in their operation and in the
problems that are before them they are so distinct that they should not
be confounded or united. These complementary phases may best work
themselves out by separate organization and machinery, although
articulating at every point; and this would be true if for no other
reason than that a different class of persons, and a different method of
procedure, attach to each movement. The conservation movement finds it
necessary, as a starting-point, to attack intrenched property interests,
and it therefore discovers itself in politics, inasmuch as these
interests have become intrenched through legislation. The country-life
movement lacks these personal and political aspects, and proceeds rather
on a broad policy of definite education and of redirection of

_These subjects have a history._

Neither conservation nor country life is new except in name and as the
subject of an organized movement. The end of the original resources has
been foreseen from time out of mind, and prophetic books have been
written on the subject. The need of a quickened country life has been
recognized from the time that cities began to dominate civilization; and
the outlook of the high-minded countryman has been depicted from the
days of the classical writings until now. On the side of mineral and
similar resources, the geologists amongst us have made definite efforts
for conservation; and on the side of soil fertility the agricultural
chemists and the teachers of agriculture have for a hundred years
maintained a perpetual campaign of conservation. So long and
persistently have those persons in the agricultural and some other
institutions heard these questions emphasized, that the startling
assertions of the present day as to the failure of our resources and the
coördinate importance of rural affairs with city affairs have not struck
me with any force of novelty.

But there comes a time when the warnings begin to collect themselves,
and to crystallize about definite points; and my purpose in suggesting
this history is to emphasize the importance of the two formative
movements now before us by showing that the roots run deep back into
human experience. It is no ephemeral or transitory subject that we are
now to discuss.

_They are not party-politics subjects._

I have said that these are economic and social problems and policies. I
wish to enlarge this view. They are concerned with saving, utilizing,
and augmenting, and only secondarily with administration. We must first
ascertain the facts as to our resources, and from this groundwork
impress the subject on the people. The subject must be approached by
scientific methods. The "political" phase, although probably necessary,
is only temporary, till we remove impedimenta and clear the way.

It would be unfortunate if such movement became the exclusive program of
a political party, for then the question would become partisan and
probably be removed from calm or judicial consideration, and the
opposition would equally become the program of a party. Every last
citizen should be naturally interested in the careful utilization of our
native materials and wealth, and it is due him that the details of the
question be left open for unbiased discussion rather than to be made the
arbitrary program, either one way or another, of a political
organization. Conservation is in the end a plain problem involving
economic, educational, and social situations, rather than a political

The country-life movement is equally a scientific problem, in the sense
that it must be approached in the scientific spirit. It will be
inexcusable in this day if we do not go at the subject with only the
desire to discover the facts and to arrive at a rational solution, by
non-political methods.

_The soil is the greatest of all resources._

The resources that sustain the race are of two kinds,--those that lie
beyond the power of man to reproduce or increase, and those that may be
augmented by propagation and by care. The former are the mines of
minerals, metals, and coal, the water, the air, the sunshine; the latter
are the living resources, in crop and live-stock.

Intermediate between the two classes stands the soil, on which all
living resources depend. While the soil is part of the mineral and
earthy resources of the planet, it nevertheless can be increased in its
producing power. Even after all minerals and metals and coal are
depleted, the race may sustain itself in comfort and progress so long as
the soil is productive, provided, of course, that water and air and
sunshine are still left to us. The greatest of all resources that man
can make or mar is the soil. Beyond all the mines of coal and all the
precious ores, this is the heritage that must be most carefully saved;
and this, in particular, is the country-life phase of the conservation

To my mind, the conservation movement has not sufficiently estimated or
emphasized this problem. It has laid stress, I know, on the enormous
loss by soil erosion and has said something of inadequate agricultural
practice, but the main question is yet practically untouched by the
movement,--the plain problem of handling the soil by all the millions
who, by skill or blundering or theft, produce crops and animals out of
the earth. Peoples have gone down before the lessening fertility of the
land, and in all probability other peoples will yet go down. The course
of empire has been toward the unplundered lands.

_The soil crust._

Thinner than a skin of an apple is the covering of the earth that a man
tills. The marvelously slight layer that the farmer knows as "the soil,"
supports all plants and all men, and makes it possible for the globe to
sustain a highly developed life. Beyond all calculation and all
comprehension are the powers and the mysteries of this soft outer
covering of the earth. For all we know, the stupendous mass of materials
of which the planet is composed is wholly dead, and only on the surface
does any nerve of life quicken it into a living sphere. And yet, from
this attenuated layer have come numberless generations of giants of
forests and of beasts, perhaps greater in their combined bulk than all
the soil from which they have come; and back into this soil they go,
until the great life principle catches up their disorganized units and
builds them again into beings as complex as themselves.

The general evolution of this soil is toward greater powers; and yet, so
nicely balanced are these powers that within his lifetime a man may ruin
any part of it that society allows him to hold; and in despair he throws
it back to nature to reinvigorate and to heal. We are accustomed to
think of the power of man in gaining dominion over the forces of
nature,--he bends to his use the expansive powers of steam, the energy
of the electric current, and he ranges through space in the light that
he concentrates in his telescope; but while he is doing all this, he
sets at naught the powers in the soil beneath his feet, wastes them, and
deprives himself of vast sources of energy. Man will never gain dominion
until he learns from nature how to maintain the augmenting powers of the
disintegrating crust of the earth.

We can do little to control or modify the atmosphere or the sunlight;
but the epidermis of the earth is ours to do with it much as we will. It
is the one great earth-resource over which we have dominion. The soil
may be made better as well as worse, more as well as less; and to save
the producing powers of it is far and away the most important
consideration in the conservation of natural resources.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to devise a system of farm accounting
that shall accurately represent the loss in producing power of the land
(or depreciation in actual capital stock). The rising sentiment on the
fertility question is just now reflected in the proposal to ask Congress
and the states to make it a misdemeanor for a man to rob his land and to
lay out for him a farm scheme. This is a chimerical notion; but the
people are bound to express themselves unmistakably in some way on this

Even if we should ultimately find that crops do not actually deplete
land by the removal of stored plant-food in the way in which we have
been taught, it is nevertheless true that poor management ruins its
productivity; and whatever the phrase we use in our speaking and
writing, we shall still need to hold the land-usurer to account.

_No man has a right to plunder the soil._

The man who tills and manages the soil owes a real obligation to his
fellow-men for the use that he makes of his land; and his fellow-men owe
an equal obligation to him to see that his lot in society is such that
he will not be obliged to rob the earth in order to maintain his life.
The natural resources of the earth are the heritage and the property of
every one and all of us. A man has no moral right to skin the earth,
unless he is forced to do it in sheer self-defense and to enable him to
live in some epoch of an unequally developed society; and if there are
or have been such social epochs, then is society itself directly
responsible for the waste of the common heritage. We have given every
freeholder the privilege to destroy his farm.

The man who plunders the soil is in very truth a robber, for he takes
that which is not his own, and he withholds bread from the mouths of
generations yet to be born. No man really owns his acres: society allows
him the use of them for his lifetime, but the fee comes back to society
in the end. What, then, will society do with those persons who rob
society? The pillaging land-worker must be brought to account and be
controlled, even as we control other offenders.

I have no socialistic program to propose. The man who is to till the
land must be educated: there is more need, on the side of the public
welfare, to educate this man than any other man whatsoever (page 36).
When he knows, and his obligations to society are quickened, he will be
ready to become a real conservator; and he will act energetically as
soon as the economic pressure for land-supplies begins to be acute. When
society has done all it can to make every farmer a voluntary conservator
of the fatness of the earth, it will probably be obliged to resort to
other means to control the wholly incompetent and the recalcitrant; at
least, it will compel the soil-robber to remove to other occupation, if
economic stress does not itself compel it. We shall reach the time when
we shall not allow a man to till the earth unless he is able to leave
it at least as fertile as he found it.

I do not think that our natural soil resources have yet been greatly or
permanently depleted, speaking broadly; and such depletion as has
occurred has been the necessary result of the conquest of a continent.
But a new situation will confront us, now that we see the end of our raw
conquest; and the old methods cannot hold for the future. The conquest
has produced great and strong folk, and we have been conserving men
while we have been free with our resources. In the future, we shall
produce strong folk by the process of thoroughness and care.

_Ownership_ vs. _conservation_.

This discussion leads me to make an application to the conservation
movement in general. We are so accustomed to think of privileged
interests and of corporation control of resources that we are likely to
confuse conservation and company ownership. The essence of conservation
is to utilize our resources with no waste, and with an honest care for
the children of all the generations. But we state the problem to be the
reservation of our resources for all the people, and often assume that
if all the resources were in private ownership the problem would thereby
be solved; but, in fact, the conservation question is one thing and the
ownership of property quite another. A corporation may be the best as
well as the worst conservator of resources; and likewise, private or
individual ownership may be the very worst as well as the best
conservator. The individual owner, represented by the "independent
farmer," may be the prince of monopolists, even though his operations
compass a very small scale. The very fact that he is independent and
that he is intrenched behind the most formidable of all
barriers--private property rights--insure his monopoly.

In the interest of pure conservation, it is just as necessary to control
the single men as the organized men. In the end, conservation must deal
with the separate or the individual man; that is, with a person. It
matters not whether this person is a part of a trust, or lives alone a
hundred miles beyond the frontier, or is the owner of a prosperous
farm,--if he wastes the heritage of the race, he is an offender.

We are properly devising ways whereby the corporation holds its property
or privileges in trust, returning to government (or to society) a fair
rental; that is, we are making it responsible to the people. What shall
we do with the unattached man, to make him also responsible? Shall we
hold the corporate plunderer to strict account, and let the single
separate plunderer go scot-free?

_The philosophy of saving._

The conservation of natural resources, therefore, resolves itself into
the philosophy of saving, while at the same time making the most and
best progress in our own day. We have not developed much consciousness
of saving when we deal with things that come free to our hands, as the
sunshine, the rain, the forests, the mines, the streams, the earth; and
the American has found himself so much in the midst of plenty that
saving has seemed to him to be parsimony, or at least beneath his
attention. As a question of morals, however, conscientious saving
represents a very high development. No man has a right to waste, both
because the materials in the last analysis are not his own, and because
some one else may need what he wastes. A high sense of saving ought to
come out of the conservation movement. This will make directly for
character-efficiency, since it will develop both responsibility and
regard for others.

The irrigation and dry-farming developments have a significance far
beyond their value in the raising of crops: they are making the people
to be conservators of water, and to have a real care for posterity.

Civilization, thus far, is built on the process of waste. Materials are
brought from forest, and sea, and mine, certain small parts are used,
and the remainder is destroyed (page 20); more labor is wasted than is
usefully productive; but what is far worse, the substance of the land is
taken in unimaginable measure, and dumped wholesale into endless sewer
and drainage systems. It would seem as if the human race were bent on
finding a process by which it can most quickly ravish the earth and make
it incapable of maintaining its teeming millions. We are rapidly
threading the country with vast conduits by which the fertility of the
land can flow away unhindered into the unreachable reservoirs of the

_The conservation of food._

The fundamental problem for the human race is to feed itself. It has
been a relatively easy matter to provide food and clothing thus far,
because the earth yet has a small population, and because there have
always been new lands to be brought into requisition. We shall eliminate
the plagues and the devastations of war, and the population of the earth
will tremendously increase in the centuries to come. When the new lands
have all been opened to cultivation, and when thousands of millions of
human beings occupy the earth, the demand for food will constitute a
problem which we scarcely apprehend to-day. We shall then be obliged to
develop self-sustaining methods of maintaining the producing-power of

We think we have developed intensive and perfected systems of
agriculture; but as a matter of fact, and speaking broadly, a permanent
organized agriculture is yet unknown. In certain regions, as in Great
Britain, the producing-power of the land has been increased over a long
series of years, but this has been accomplished to a great extent by the
transportation of fertilizing materials from the ends of the earth. The
fertility of England has been drawn largely from the prairies and plains
of America, from which it has secured its food supplies, from the guano
deposits in islands of the seas, from the bones of men in Egypt and the
battlefields of Europe.

We begin to understand how it is possible to maintain the
producing-power of the surface of the earth, and there are certain
regions in which our knowledge has been put effectively into operation,
but we have developed no conscious plan or system in a large way for
securing this result. It is the ultimate problem of the race to devise
a permanent system of agriculture. It is the greatest question that can
confront mankind; and the question is yet all unsolved.

_The best husbandry is not in the new regions._

The best agriculture, considered in reference to the permanency of its
results, develops in old regions, where the skinning process has passed,
where the hide has been sold, and where people come back to utilize what
is left. The skinning process is proceeding at this minute in the
bountiful new lands of the United States; and in parts of the older
states, and even also in parts of the newer ones, not only the skin but
the tallow has been sold.

We are always seeking growing-room, and we have found it. But now the
Western civilization has met the Eastern, and the world is
circumferenced. We shall develop the tropics and push far toward the
poles; but we have now fairly discovered the island that we call the
earth, and we must begin to make the most of it.

_Another philosophy of agriculture._

Practically all our agriculture has been developed on a rainfall basis.
There is ancient irrigation experience, to be sure, but the great
agriculture of the world has been growing away from these regions.
Agriculture is still moving on, seeking new regions; and it is rapidly
invading regions of small rainfall.

About six-tenths of the land surface of the globe must be farmed, if
farmed at all, under some system of water-saving. Of this, about
one-tenth is redeemable by irrigation, and the remainder by some system
of utilization of deficient rainfall, or by what is inappropriately
known as dry-farming. The complementary practices of irrigation and
dry-farming will develop a wholly new scheme of agriculture and a new
philosophy of country life (page 44).

Even in heavy rainfall countries there is often such waste of water from
run-off that the lands suffer severely from droughts. No doubt the hilly
lands of our best farming regions are greatly reduced in their
crop-producing power because people do not prepare against drought as
consciously as they provide against frost (page 52). It is often said
that we shall water Eastern lands by irrigation, and I think that we
shall; but our first obligation is to save the rainfall water by some
system of farm-management or dry-farming.

Agriculture rests on the saving of water.

_The obligation of the farmer._

The farmer is rapidly beginning to realize his obligation to society. It
is usual to say that the farmer feeds the world, but the larger fact is
that he saves the world.

The economic system depends on him. Wall Street watches the crops.

As cities increase proportionately in population, the farmer assumes
greater relative importance, and he becomes more and more a marked man.

Careful and scientific husbandry is rising in this new country. We have
come to a realization of the fact that our resources are not unlimited.
The mining of fertilizing materials for transportation to a few spots
on the earth will some day cease. We must make the farming sustain
itself, at the same time that it provides the supplies for mankind.

We all recognize the necessity of the other great occupations to a
well-developed civilization; but in the nature of the case, the farmer
is the final support. On him depends the existence of the race. No
method of chemical synthesis can provide us with the materials of food
and clothing and shelter, and with all the good luxuries that spring
from the bosom of the earth.

I know of no better conservators than our best farmers. They feel their
responsibility. Quite the ideal of conservation is illustrated by a
farmer of my acquaintance who saves every product of his land and has
developed a system of self-enriching live-stock husbandry, who has
harnessed his small stream to light his premises and do much of his
work, who turns his drainage waters into productive uses, and who is now
troubled that he cannot make some use of the winds that are going to
waste on his farm.

_The obligation of the conservation movement._

What I have meant to impress is the fact that the farmer is the ultimate
conservator of the resources of the earth. He is near the cradle of
supplies, near the sources of streams, next the margin of the forests,
on the hills and in the valleys and on the plains just where the
resources lie. He is in contact with the original and raw materials. Any
plan of conservation that overlooks this fact cannot meet the situation.
The conservation movement must help the farmer to keep and save the


In the preceding pages I have tried to develop the reader's point of
view. To do this, I have gone over very briefly some of the questions
that are now actively under discussion. There are other matters, of a
more personal nature, that need to be discussed, or at least mentioned,
in connection with even a sketchy consideration of the country-life
movement; and some of these I now place together in a closing budget.

_The open country must solve its own problems._

It may first be said that the reconstruction of the open country must
depend in the main on the efforts of the country people themselves. We
are glad of all interchange of populations; the influx of country blood
has thus far been invaluable to cities; the outgo of city people has set
new aspirations into the country, and it is still necessary to call on
the cities for labor in times of pressure: but stated in its large
terms, the open country will rise no higher than the aspirations of the
people who live there, and the problems must be solved in such way that
they will meet the conditions as they exist on the spot.

_Profitable farming is not a sufficient object in life._

It may then be said that it is the first duty of every man to earn a
decent living for himself and those dependent on him; and a countryman
cannot expect to have much influence on his time and community until he
makes his farm pay in dollars and cents.

But the final object in life is not to make money, but to use money in
developing a higher type of endeavor and a better neighborhood. The
richest farming regions do not necessarily have the best society or even
the best living conditions. Social usefulness must become a fact in
country districts. The habit of life in the usual farm family is to take
everything to itself and to keep it. Standards of service must take the
place of standards of property.

_New country professions._

The country-life movement does not imply that all young persons who
hereafter shall remain in the country are to be actual farmers. The
practice of customary professions and occupations will take on more
importance in country districts. The country physician, veterinary,
pastor, lawyer, and teacher are to extend greatly in influence and

But aside from all this, entirely new occupations and professions are to
arise, even the names of which are not yet known to us. Some of them are
already under way. There will be established out in the open country
plant doctors, plant-breeders, soil experts, health experts, pruning and
spraying experts, forest experts, farm machinery experts, drainage and
irrigation experts, recreation experts, market experts, and many others.
There will be housekeeping experts or supervisors. There will be need
for overseers of affiliated organizations and stock companies. These
will all be needed for the purpose of giving special advice and
direction (page 78). We shall be making new applications of rural law,
of business methods for agricultural regions, new types of organization.
The people will find that it will pay to support such professions or
agents as these.

Country life will become more complex as rapidly as it becomes more

_The personal resources._

The attitude toward one's world has much to do both with his
effectiveness and with his satisfaction in living; and this is specially
true with the farmer, because he is so much alone and has so few
conventional sources of entertainment. It may be important to provide
new entertainment for the farmer; but it is much more important to
develop his personal resources.

The simple life, as Pastor Wagner so well explains, is a state of mind.
It is a simplification of desire, a certain directness of effort and of
purpose that brings us quickly to a result, and such an attitude that we
derive our satisfactions from the humble and the near-at-hand. The
countryman is the man who has the personal touch with his environment.

With the increasing differentiation of country life, it is of the first
importance that the country people do not lose their simplicity of

_The meaning of the environment._

It is too little appreciated that every natural object makes a twofold
appeal to the human mind: its appeal in the terms of its physical or
material uses, and its appeal to our sense of beauty and of personal
satisfaction. As the people progresses in evolution, the public mind
becomes constantly more sensitive to the conditions in which we live,
and the appeal to the spiritual satisfaction of life constantly becomes
stronger. Not only shall the physical needs of life be met, but the
earth will constantly be made a more satisfactory place in which to

We must not only save our forests in order that they may yield timber
and conserve our water supplies, but also that they may adorn and
dominate the landscape and contribute to the meaning of scenery. It is
important that our coal supplies be conserved not only for their use in
manufacture and the arts, but also that smoke does not vitiate the
atmosphere and render it unhealthful, and discolor the objects in the
landscape. It is of the greatest importance that water supplies be
conserved by storage reservoirs and other means, but this conservation
should be accomplished in such a way as not to menace health or offend
the eye or destroy the beauty of contiguous landscape. The impounding of
waters without regard to preserving natural water-falls, streams, and
other scenery, is a mark of a commercial and selfish age, and is a
procedure that cannot be tolerated in a highly developed society. It is
important that regulations be enacted regarding the operation of steam
roads through woody districts, not only that the timber may be saved,
but also that the natural beauty of the landscape may be protected from
fire and other forms of destruction. The fertility of the soil must be
saved, not only that products may be raised with which to feed and
clothe the people, but also that the beauty of thrifty and productive
farms may be saved to the landscape. The property-right in natural
scenery is a tenure of the people, and the best conservation of natural
resources is impossible until this fact is recognized.

On this point the Commission on Country Life makes the following
statement: "In estimating our natural resources we must not forget the
value of scenery. This is a distinct asset, and it will be more
recognized as time goes on. It will be impossible to develop a
satisfactory country life without conserving all the beauty of landscape
and developing the people to the point of appreciating it. In parts of
the East, a regular system of parking the open country of the entire
state is already begun, constructing the roads, preserving the natural
features, and developing the latent beauty in such a way that the whole
country becomes part of one continuing landscape treatment. This in no
way interferes with the agricultural utilization of the land, but rather
increases it. The scenery is, in fact, capitalized, so that it adds to
the property values and contributes to local patriotism and to the
thrift of the commonwealth."

_Historic monuments._

The general tendency of our time is to dump everything into the cities,
particularly into the large cities. It is there that we assemble our
treasures of art, our libraries, our dramatic skill, our specimens of
statuary and architecture; and it is there that the aspiring men also
assemble to work out their destinies. And yet there have been events in
the open country. Great men have lived there. Things have come to pass.
We should be interested to record these events of the rural country, as
well as the events that are associated with the congested city. Persons
of quickened intelligence will not live contentedly in the outer country
if it provides nothing more than subsistence. Every new memorial in the
farming country is one additional reason for people to live there.

The open country as well as the city has a history; but one would not
discover the fact from monuments that he may see.

It may not be possible now to erect elaborate monuments far in the
country to commemorate historical events, but records may be made, and
it is at least possible to roll up a pile of stones.

_Improvement societies._

Of late years there has sprung up a line of societies in villages and
small cities whose province it is to create public sentiment for the
betterment of the place in general good looks, and which, for lack of a
better name, are generally collectively known as "village improvement
societies." These organizations have had much effect in making the
villages attractive. Their influence extends far and wide, but the
organization itself in any case ought to take in all the surrounding
territory, with the purpose to secure a coöperative action between town
and country (page 122). The entire region, not city or town alone,
should be organized.

In many rural communities, there could well be an open-country
improvement society; or an organization might be formed, from the church
or otherwise, to care for a particular interest, as the school ground or
the cemetery. The average country cemetery particularly needs attention.

The care of all the public or semi-public property of a township or a
neighborhood is somebody's responsibility, and this responsibility
should be recognized in organization. The pride of the community could
be greatly stimulated if a group of people should associate to look
after roadsides, lake shores and river banks, waste places, deserted and
dilapidated buildings, weeds, raw spots, paths, dangerous places,
mosquito ponds, breeding places of insects, stray dogs, horse sheds,
trees, birds, wild flowers, telegraph and telephone depredations,
cemeteries, church grounds, school grounds, almshouse grounds, picnic
grounds, historic places, patriotic events, bits of good scenery, and
to give advice on lawns, back-yards and barn-yards, advertising signs.


All persons seem to be agreed that more entertainment and recreation
should be provided for country residents; but it does not follow that
vaudeville, and the usual line of moving pictures, and the traveling
concert would add anything really worth while, although these are often
recommended by town folk. The Board Walk kind of pageant may very well
be left at the sea-shore.

But we certainly need entertainment that will help country people over
the hard and dry places, and raise their lives out of monotony. The
guiding principles are two: an entertainment that shall express the best
that there is in country life; one that shall set the people themselves
at work to produce it, rather than to bring it in bodily from the

I would not eliminate good things merely because they come from the
outside, and no one would deny the countryman the touch with any of the
masterpieces; but I am speaking now of a form of effort that shall
quicken an entire country district and leave a permanent impression on
it. I would rather leave the situation as it is than to introduce the
meaningless performances of the city thoroughfare and the resorts.

The movement to provide new and better sports, games, and general
recreation is now well under way, and I do not need to explain it here;
but two things ought to begin to receive attention: music and drama.

The _music spirit_ seems to be dying out in the country. I hear very
little joyous song there, even though the people may be joyous. The
habit of self-expression in song and music needs much to be encouraged
in home and school and grange and church. I think the lack is in part
due to the over-mastering influence of professional town music, and in
part to the absence of study of simple country forms. Simplicity is not
now the fashion in music. The single player with a simple theme and the
single singer with a melodious and untrilled strain are not much heard
at gatherings now. Some of the best singing I hear is now and then out
among the folk,--a simple direct song as plain and sweet as a bird's
note. I hope we shall not lose it.

A _drama_ of some kind is very much needed for country districts. It
should be a new form, something in the way of representing the end of
the planting, the harvest, the seasons, the leading crops, the dairy,
the woods, the history and traditions of the neighborhood or the region.
Many of the pieces should be acted out of doors, and they should be
produced chiefly by local talent. Such simple plays for the most part
need yet to be written, but the themes are numerous. Why not have a
festival or a generous spectacle of Indian corn, and then fill the whole
occasion full of the feeling of the corn? As pure entertainment, this
would be worth any number of customary theatricals, and as a means of
bringing out the talent of the community it would have very positive
social value. The traveling play usually leaves nothing behind it.

The themes for short, simple, and strong dramatic presentation are
almost numberless,--such episodes and events, for example, as the
plowing, the reaping, the husking, the horse-shoeing, the hay-stacking,
the wood-chopping, the threshing, the sugaring, the raising of the barn,
the digging of the well, the herding of the cattle, the felling of the
tree, the building of the church, the making of the wagon, the bridging
of the creek, the constructing of the boat, the selling of the farm, the
Indians, the settlers, the burst of spring, the dead of winter, the
season of bloom, the heyday of summer.

We do not sufficiently appreciate how widespread and native is the
desire to dramatize. The ritual of fraternal orders is an illustration.
We see it in the charades of evening parties. The old school
"exhibition" made a wonderful appeal. Every community likes to see its
own people "take parts." At nearly every important grange meeting, and
at other country meetings, some one must "recite," and the recitation
usually has characters, situations, and "take-offs." It is too bad that
we do not have better literature to put in the hands of these reciters;
in the meantime, I hope that the custom will not die out.

One who has seen the consummate Passion Play at Oberammergau must have
had the thought impressed on him that there is much latent talent among
the country folk, and also that it is much worth the while of a
community to develop this talent. Aside from its transcendent theme,
this stupendous play appeals to the world because of its simplicity and
directness and because of its reality, for these are the very kind of
folk that might have taken part in the mighty drama had the Great Master
lived in Oberammergau.

The nativeness of the play impresses one. The very absence of so much
that we associate with the ordinary drama gives the play an appeal,--the
absence of the studied stride and strut, of the exaggerated make-ups,
and of the over-doing of the parts. The play is grounded in the lives of
the people in the community.

We cannot expect another place to become an Oberammergau, but it is
possible for something good to come out of any spot. This thought is
vividly expressed by W. T. Stead in his account of the Passion Play:

"As I write, it is now two days after the Passion Play. The crowd has
departed, the village is once more quiet and still. The swallows are
twittering in the eaves, the blue and cloudless sky over-arches the
amphitheater of hills. All is peace, and the whole dramatic troupe
pursue with equanimity the even tenor of their ordinary life. Most of
the best players are woodcarvers; the others are peasants or local
tradesmen. Their royal robes or their rabbinical costumes laid aside,
they go about their ordinary work in the ordinary way as ordinary
mortals. But what a revelation it is of the mine of latent capacity,
musical, dramatic, intellectual, in the human race, that a single
mountain village can furnish, under a capable guidance, and with
adequate inspiration, such a host competent to set forth such a play
from its tinkers, tailors, plowmen, bakers, and the like! It is not
native capacity that is lacking to mankind. It is the guiding brain,
the patient love, the careful education, and the stimulus and
inspiration of a great idea. But, given these, every village of country
yokels from Dorset to Caithness might develop artists as noble and as
devoted as those of Oberammergau."

_The business of farming._

After all is said and done, the first question still remains,--the
opportunity to make a good living on a farm, and the possibility of
leading a life that will be personally satisfactory.

There has never been a time when farming as a whole has been so
prosperous as now, notwithstanding the fact that there are hardships in
many regions. The whole occupation is undergoing a process of
readjustment, and it is natural that the readjustment has become more
complete and perfect in some places and in some kinds of farming than in
others. We have but recently passed through a time in which the farming
business, except in special regions or special cases, could not be
really profitable and attractive.

To make a good and satisfactory living on the farm is a matter both of
temperament and of first-class training. There are great series of city
vocations in which any person with fair ability can succeed; but farming
is a personal business and each man is his own manager. No one should
ever go into farming impersonally.

Many persons are making a comfortable living on farms, a better living
in fact than persons of similar ability and expending similar energy are
making in town. Other persons are failing.

I am not advising anybody to establish himself in the open country; but
I am saying that the time has now come when good talent need not avoid
the open country.

This is a good time for the well-trained farm-minded young man or woman
to go into agriculture; but one should be sure that he has the

There is no need that farming provide only a narrow and deadening life.
One may express there all the resources of a good education.

The college man is now beginning to affect the sentiment and the
practice in rural communities. Formerly a college man going back to the
farm was likely to be the subject of distrust and even ridicule. This
attitude is passing very rapidly in the good rural regions.

In his public relations, most of the ambition of the countryman has been
to hold office. It is a form of small political entertainment, too often
with no thought of any particular service to the community. We have a
wholly distorted idea of the "honor" of holding office; there is no
honor in an office unless it contributes something worth while to
society. We cannot expect strong leadership to develop in the open
country until there are better things to look forward to than merely to
hold the small political places. Many opportunities for rendering
prominent public service will now arise in the farm country; perhaps
this book will suggest a few of them. And it ought to be some
satisfaction to a young man or woman to know that he or she is part of a
world-movement, and to feel that it is no longer necessary to explain or
to apologize for being a countryman or a farmer.

We have been living in a get-rich-quick age. Persons have wanted to make
fortunes. Our business enterprises are organized with that end in view.
Persons are now asking how they may live a satisfactory life, rather
than placing the whole emphasis on the financial turnover of a business.
There is greater need of more good farmers than of more millionaires.

My reader may wish to know what constitutes a good farmer. I think that
the requirements of a good farmer are at least four:

The ability to make a full and comfortable living from the land;

to rear a family carefully and well;

to be of good service to the community;

to leave the farm more productive than it was when he took it.


Obvious printer errors have been corrected without comment. Other than
obvious errors, the author's spelling and use of punctuation have been
preserved as in the original publication.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Country-Life Movement in the United States" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.