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December, 1890, put forth the following, which attracted the attention of the whole country: It demanded the abolition of National banks, the establishiment of sub-treasuries to loan money on farm products and land at 2 per cent. or less, the increase of the circulating medium to $50 per capita, laws against dealing in futures in agricultural products, free and unlimited coinage of silver, laws against alien ownersliip of land, resumption by Congress of all land granted to railroads in excess of that actually used by those roads, reduction of the tariff, an income tax, national control of railroads and telegraph or government ownership of them, and election of United States senators by direct vote of the people. The platform of demands is given in full at the end of this review of the general subject, together with the sub-treasury warehouse scheme and other details.
“Demands” such as these were sufliciently radical in their nature to call forth the sharpest criticism. Among those who opposed them were a number of members of the Alliance itself, led by President Hall of the Missouri State Alliance, who couched his opposition in no uncertain terms.
Of these “demands,” that referring to the sub-treasuries and providing for the loans, aroused the greatest interest. As set forth in the bill introduced into the Senate by Senator Vance of North Carolina, and into the House of Representatives by Mr. Pickler of South Dakota, it was sufficiently startliny. It authorized the appropriation of $50,000,000 to carry out the scheme. Warehouses were to be built in counties whose sales of products had amounted to $500,000 in any one year, and sub-treasurers in charge of them were to be elected by the people. Any owner of cotton, wheat, corn, oats or tobacco was to be at liberty to deposit his crop in these warehouses and receive therefor treasury notes to the extent of 80 per cent. of their market value. Treasury notes issued for these crops were
be legal tender, and to be receivable for customs duties, and all debts, public and private Warehouse receipts, transferable by indorsement, were to be issued stating the value of the crop deposited, the insurance and hauling charges. The interest on the money advanced by the government was to be 1 per cent. The crops deposited were to be redeemed by the surrender of the warehouse receipt and the payment of the advance together with the interest and charges. All money paid to redeem the crops was to be destroyed. The warehouse receipts could be delivered and the crops redeemed at any sub-treasury.
The objections raised to this scheme by those who opposed it, are, first, that it would force the government to become the greatest dealer in farm products the world ever saw since Pharoah on the advice of Joseph cornered the corn of Egypt; second, dealing in farm products is not a legitimate function of government; third, if the government advanced money on farm products, there is no logical reason why it should not advance money on all kinds of manufactures; fourth, if the price fell below the 80 per cent. advanced, the government would lose money; fifth, no clause was introduced to permit the government to foreclose if the depositor did not keep his margin good; sixth, the government would be forced to deal in agricultural products without the power to refuse; seventh, the scheme is the purest or impurest form of class legislation; eighth, the bill is unconstitutional in that it forces the people to advance money for the special benefit of a section of the population; ninth, the notes printed and secured on these farm products being legal tender, in case of the destruction of the security, would have to be paid in whole or in part by the people; tenth, the government is not and cannot be a pawnbroker.
The Farmers' Alliance has made itself felt in politics. In the Congress of 1992–93 it has the following representatives:
Senators, William Alfred Peffer, Kansas, and James H. Kyle, South Dakota. Representatives, Charles L. Moses, L. F. Livingston, R. W. Everett, Georgia; B. H. Clover, John G. Otis, John M. Davis, William Baker, Jerry Simpson, Kansas; Kittel Halvorsen, Minnesota; John C. Kyle, Joseph H. Beeman, Mississippi; W. A. McKeaghan, O. M. Kem, Nebraska, and George W. Shell, South Carolina.
THE PLATFORM OF DEMANDS.
A platform was adopted at St. Louis, but this was superseded by the Ocala platform of the following year, which ran thus:
First. We demand the abolition of National banks; we demand that the government shall establish sub-treasuries or depositories in the several States, which shall loan money direct to the people at a low rate of interest, not to exceed 2 per cent. per annum, on non-perishable farm products and also upon real estate, with proper limitations upon the quantity of land and amount of money. We demand that the amount of the circulating medium be speedily increased to not less than $50 per capita.
Second. We demand that Congress shall pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the dealing in futures on all agricultural and mechanical productions, preserving a stringent system of procedure in trials such as shall secure the
a prompt conviction, and imposition of such penalties as shall secure the most perfect compliance with the law.
Third. We condemn the Silver bill recently passed by Congress, and demand, in lieu thereof, the free and unlimited coinage of silver.
Fourth. We demand the passage of the laws prohibiting alien ownership of land, and that Congress take prompt action to devise some plan to obtain all lands now owned by aliens and foreign syndicates, and that all lands now held by railroads and other corporations in excess of such as is actually used and needed by them, be reclaimed by the government and held for actual settlers only.
Fifth. Believing in the doctrine of “equal rights to all and special privileges to none,” we demand that our national legislation shall be so framed in the future as not to build up one industry at the expense of another; and we further demand a removal of the existing beavy tariff tax from the necessities of life that the poor of our land must have; we further demand a just and equitable system of graduated tax on incomes; we believe that the money of the country should be kept as much as possible in the hands of the people, and hence we demand that all national and State revenues shall be limited to the necessary expenses of the government economically and honestly administered.
Sirth. We demand the most rigid, honest and just State and National governmental control and supervision of the means of public communication and transportation, and if this control and supervision does not remove the abuse now existing, we demand the government ownership of such means of communication and transportation.
Serenth. We demand that the Congress of the United States submit an amendment to the Constitution providing for the election of United States Senators by direct vote of the people of each State.
The following additional plank in the platforin was proposed, at the Ocala meeting, by Mr. Davie, of Kentucky, and was the subject of a spirited debate:
Whereas, There is now a bill known as the Sub-Treasury bill in the hands of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, which should have been reported and acted upon at the last session, and which, if enacted into law, would bring the financial relief so much needed by all classes and industries;
Therefore, Be it resolved that this National Convention of the Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union, do most respectfully and earnestly ask that said bill be enacted into law as soon as possible, or some other measure that will carry out these principles and meet the necessities of the toiling masses. *
* For most recent developments concerning the Farmers' Alliance, up to the moment of going to press, see Addenda, preceding Index.
THE SUB-TREASURY WAREHOUSE SCHEME.
The following is the full text of the “Sub-Treasury bill.” It was introduced in the Senate by Mr. Vance, of North Carolina, and in the House of Representatives by Mr. Pickler, of South Dakota :
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there may be established in each of the counties of each of the States of this United States a branch of the Treasury Department of the United States, to be known and designated as a sub-treasury, as hereinafter provided, when one hundred or more citizens of any county in any State shall petition the Secretary of the Treasury requesting the location of a sub-treasury in such county, and shall,
1. Present written evidence, duly authenticated by oath or affirmation of county clerk and sheriff, showing that the average gross amount per annum of cotton, wheat, oats, corn and tobacco produced and sold in that county for the last preceding two years exceeds the sum of $500,000, at current prices in said county at that time; and,
2. Present a good and sufficient bond for title to a suitable and adequate amount of land to be donated to the government of the United States for the location of the sub-treasury buildings; and,
3. A certiticate of election showing that the site for the location of such sub-treasury has been chosen a popular vote of the citizens of that county, and also naming the manager of the sub-treasury elected at said election for the purpose of taking charge of said sub-treasury under such regulations as may be prescribed. It shall in that case be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to proceed without delay to establish a sub-treasury department in such county as hereinafter provided.
DEPOSITS OF CROPS.
Sec. 2. That any owner of cotton, wheat, corn, oats or tobacco may deposit the same in the sub-treasury nearest the point of its production, and receive therefor Treasury notes, hereinafter provided for, equal at the date of deposit to 80 per centum of the net value of such products at the market price, said price to be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, under rules and regulations prescribed, based upon the price current in the leading cotton, tobacco or grain markets of the United States; but no deposit consisting in whole or in part of cotton, tobacco or grain imported into this country shall be received under the provisions of this act.
ISSUE OF TREASURY NOTES.
Sec. 3. That the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause to be prepared Treasury notes in such amounts as may be required for the purpose of the above section and in such form and denominations as he may prescribe, provided that no note shall be of a denomination of less than $1, or more than $1,000.
Sec. 4. That the Treasury notes issued under this act shall be receivable for customs, and shall be a full legal tender for all debts, both public and private, and such notes when held by any national banking association sliall be counted as part of its lawful reserve.
Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the manager of the sub-treasury when cotton, grain or tobacco is received by him on deposit, as above provided, to give a warehouse receipt showing the amount and grade or quality of such cotton, tobacco or grain, and its value at date of deposit; the amount of Treasury notes the sub-treasury has advanced on the product; that the interest on the money so advanced is at the rate of 1 per centum per annum; expressly stating the amount of insurance, weighing, classing, warehousing and other charges that will run against such deposit of cotton, grain or tobacco. All such warehouse receipts shall be negotiable by endorsement.
REDEMPTION OF DEPOSITS. Sec. 6. That the cotton, grain or tobacco deposited in the sub-treasury under the provisions of this act may be redeemed by the holder of the warehouse receipt herein provided for, either at the sub-treasury in which the product is deposited, or at any other sub-treasury, by the surrender of such warehouse receipt and the payinent in lawful money of the United States of the same amount originally advanced by the sub-treasury against the product, and such further amount as may be necessary to discharge all interest that may have accrued against the advance of money made on the deposit of produce, and all insurance, warehouse and other charges that attach to the product for warehousing and handling. All lawful money received at the subtreasury as a return of the actual amount of money advanced by the government against farm products as above specified, shall be returned, with a full report of the transaction, to the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall make record of the transaction, and cancel and destroy the money so returned. A sub-treasury that receives a warehouse receipt as above provided, together with the return of the proper amount of lawful money and all charges as herein provided, when the product for which it is given is stored in some other sub-treasury, shall give an order on such other sub-treasury for the delivery of the cotton, grain or tobacco, as the case may be, and the Secretary of the Treasury shall provide for the adjustment between sub-treasuries of all charges.
DUTIES OF OFFICIALS. Sec. 7. The Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe such rules and reg. ulations as are necessary for governing the details of the management of the sub-treasuries, fixing the salary, bond and responsibility of each of the managers of sub-treasuries (provided that the salary of any manager of a subtreasury shall not exceed the sum of $1,500 per annum), holding the managers of sub-treasuries personally responsible on their bonds for weights and classifications of all produce, providing for the rejection of unmerchantable grades of cotton, grain or tobacco, or for such as may be in bad condition; and shall provide rules for the sale at public auction of all cotton, corn, oats, wheat or tobacco that has been placed on deposit for a longer period than twelve months, after due notice published. The proceeds of the sale of such product shall be applied, first, to the reimbursement to the sub-treasury of the amount originally advanced, together with all charges, and, second, the balance shall be held on deposit for the benefit of the holder of the warehouse receipt, who shall be entitled to receive the same on the surrender of his warehouse receipt. The Secretary of the Treasury shall also provide rules for the duplication of any papers in case of loss or destruction.
BUILDING TO BE ERECTED. Sec. 8. It shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury, when Section 1 of this act shall have been complied wih, to ca:ise to be erected, according to the laws and customs governing the construction of government buildings, a suitable sub-treasury building, with such warehouse or elevator facilities as the character and amount of the products of that section may indicate as necessary. Such buildings shall be supplied with all modern conveniences for handling and safely storing and preserving the products likely to be deposited.
Sec. 9. That any gain arising from the charges for insurance, weighing, storing, classing, holding, shipping, interest or other charges, after paying all expenses of conducting the sub-treasury, shall be accounted for and paid into the Treasury of the United States.
Sec. 10. The term of office of a manager of a sub-treasury shall be two years, and the regular election to fill such office shall be at the same time as The election for members of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States. In case of a vacancy in ihe oflice of manager of the subtreasury by death, resignation or otherwise, the Secretary of the Treasury shall have power to appoint a manager for the unexpired term.
FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS APPROPRIATED.
Sec. 11. The sum of $50,000,000, or so much thereof as may be found necessary to carry out the provisions of this act, is hereby appropriated out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated for that purpose.
Séc. 12. That so much of any or all other acts as are in conflict with the provisions of this act is hereby repealed.
The annual salaries of the officers of the national organization are fixed by the statutory laws as follows: President, $3,000, office and traveling expenses, and $900 for stenographer; secretary, $2,000 and office expenses; treasurer, $500; lecturer, $2,000 and actual traveling expenses; members of the Executive Committee, $500 each and traveling expenses when in actual service, except that the chairman shall have $2,000. A per capita tax of 5 per cent. on members must be paid into the national treasury annually to defray expenses.
"The National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union has its headquarters at Washington, D. C., and is strongest in numbers of any organization of the kind in the Southern States. It is also represented in some of the central Western States. The officers of the National Farmers' Alliance are as follows: President..
.Col. L. L. POLK, North Carolina. Vice-President..
B. H. CLOVER, Kansas. Secretary-Treasurer.
.J. H. TURNER, Georgia. Lecturer.
.J. F. WILLETTS, Kansas. Erecutive Board: Chairman, C. W. Macune; A. Wardall, J. F. Tillman. Judiciary Department: Chairman, R. C. Patty; Isaac McCracken, A. E. Cole. Legislative Committee: C. W. Macune and A. Wardall.
The President, Secretary and Chairman of Executive Board have their headquarters at 239 North Capitol Street, Washington, D. C.