PRESIDENT JONES' MESSAGE.
To the officers and members of the Farmers State Alliance of Texas, Greeting:
DEAR BRETHREN: — Again we are convened in regular session, and you are called upon to assume the legislative responsibilities of our noble order; before entering upon the duties of this meeting I feel it my duty to impress upon your minds the grave responsibilities resting upon you as representatives of the intelligent yeomanry of the great state of Texas. You should realize the fact that you represent a people upon whom the perpetuation of our free institutions most largely depend. The membership in selecting you as their representative have reposed special trust and confidence in your integrity, and ability. This is certainly an important meeting; the real of woe of two hundred thousand trusting agriculturists and laboring people, together with our order and its business enterprises are dependent upon the wisdom and efficiency of your notions during this meeting; hoping that you realize the necessity of concert of notion and perfect harmony, and that you are fully prepared for the arduous duties that now await you, I therefore enter with confidence upon the regular business of this meeting.
Believing that it is only through concentration and united action of the agriculturists of our nation that we will ever be able to break the shackles that now binds the industries of our country in the iron grasp of corporate monopoly, and whereas, in a joint convention composed of the National Farmers Alliance and Co-operative Union of America, the National Farmers Mutual Benefit Association and the National Agricultural Wheel, held in the city of Meridian, Miss., on Dec. 5th, 6th and 7th, 1888, a constitution was adopted merging these three National Agricultural organizations into one consolidated body known as the Farmers and Laborers Union of America, and whereas, said constitution is submitted to this body for its ratification or its rejection, I therefore recommend it to your serious thought and consideration, believing it to be the most effectual means of restoring peace and prosperity to the now prostrate and impoverished industries of our country.
It is a well established fact that in concert of action there is strength. All enterprises and industries which tend to promote the development of the great and many resources of our nation depend wholly upon association; education and cooperation.
In true co-operation there is strength, power and influence, and a remedy for many of the evils now afflicting our country, could our people realize the necessity, importance and power they possess in organization. And whereas the Alliance plan of co-operation is founded upon the true principles of equity and justice, would recommend that you take the necessary steps for a more thorough education of the membership in the principles of the order.
I would call your special attention to the condition of our business enterprise at Dallas. I regard the principles upon which our Exchange is founded, the true principles of co-operation, and the effort as being the greatest ever put forth by any organization for the protection and relief of the laboring classes of our country; but it can never be as powerful, profitable and effectual as it should be until it is relieved of its present embarrassment and our people inspired with confidence in its stability and management; and to realize the power and influence sustained by its maintenance and perpetuation, I would urge the necessity of immediate relief from its present embarrassment and a more definite and permanent plan for future operation.
I would recommend for your consideration the following: Whereas, the by-laws under which the business was created and chartered, provided that the capital stock should be $500,000, divided into twenty-five shares of $20,000 each, to be held as owner in trust for the members of the Farmers Alliance by twenty-five stockholders who shall be elected by the Farmers State Alliance, and whereas, the first amendment to the by-laws and charter provided for the division of the stock into 5000 shares of $100 each, to be sub-divided into fractional shares of $5 each, and where-as the second amendment to the by-laws and charter make each fractional share of $0 a full share of stock (as it should be), it virtually illegalizes and renders unnecessary the twenty-five stockholders, as the ownership of the stock is now vested in the Farmers Alliances and individual members; therefore, I would recommend the abolishion of the beard of twenty-five stockholders and that the business be managed by a board of eleven directors (one from each congressional district) to be elected annually by the Farmers State Alliance. For further information I would respectfully refer you to the report of the business manager and board of directors.
The present credit or mortgage system carries with it the commercial enslavement of the debtor class. By increasing the percent paid by the consumer for the necessities of life, and the decrease in the prices of products through this system, a large percent of our population are doomed to perpetual slavery to the financial and commercial manipulators of our country. The monopolization and contraction of the circulating medium, forces on our people the necessity of credit or mortgage, for the obvious reason that there is not money enough in their hands to enable them to transact their business upon a cash basis. To this unjust manipulation of our finances and transportation can be traced most all of the oppression of our people. Control these and you have solved the vexed question of the cause of industrial depression; this can only be affected by just and intelligent legislative reformation. Therefore, I would call your attention to the necessity of concert of action of all the industrial classes in all things necessary to secure this much needed reformation.
The means of transportation is one of the important factors in advancing civilization, developing the wealth and resources of our country, stimulating industry and promoting the general welfare, comfort, and prosperity of our people by properly distributing the products of labor. It is not the railroads that are detrimental to the proper distribution of our products, but the abuse of the powers and chartered rights which these soulless corporations wield, thereby absorbing the profits of the agriculturists of our state. These corporations have used their shrewdness in forming and manipulating rioge and combinations to enrich themselves at the expense and to the frustration of the producers and consumers to such an extent that it has aroused the hostility of society. I would recommend that you demand legislation for the better control of these gigantic corporations.
Nothing is more judicative of the stability and tends more to promote the welfare and general prosperity of a nation, or a surer safeguard against the domineering and corrupting influences of powerful monopolistic corporations and combinations of capital, than a nation of free and independent land holders, living upon their own freehold and occupying a place they call home; theirs to improve; theirs to cultivate; theirs to beautify and theirs to enjoy. Now, therefore, seeing; our lands, the heritage of the people, rapidly passing into the hands of domestic and foreign corporations and syndicates, points directly towards a system of landlordism and tenantry that is exceedingly dangerous, and threatens the very existence of our civil and political institutions, and as most of the troubles and abuses that environ this question can be removed by and through, legislative action only, would recommend that this body speak out in thundering tones that dare not be disregarded, and demand a law prohibiting the monopolization by syndicates, corporations and alien ownership of lands in Texas. Lands of America should be owned and controlled by citizens of America.
While our order is strictly non-partisan in politics, yet one of its purposes is to educate the people in the science of political economy and of economical government. It is an evident fact that the producers have been for a number, of years, and are now, oppressed by gigantic corporations shielded by unjust legislation, and from their indifference and lack of information and individuality in political affairs, have lost that influence and respect by our legislative bodies that their interests should demand. We have allowed politics and law-making to drift into the hands of machine politicians, until we have reached a period of almost financial and commercial slavery. Hence, if we would regain our prosperity and sustain our free institutions, individuality and republican form of government, we must educate the masses in the true principles of political economy, with the ballot-box closely guarded on the one side by equity and justice, and on the other by true patriotism and honesty.
It is a well established fact that the moral and social influences and training of the youthful minds that forms the basis of an orderly and useful life, depends largely if not wholly upon the ladies of the country. It is a true saying that "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
The influence for good of our lady membership, both morally and socially, tends to the elevation of our order to a higher degree of refinement and social entertainment; hence their presence in our councils is indispensable. They tend to a great measure to inspire the male members with that degree of patriotism that is so essential to the best interests of our noble order. They should be encouraged to grace the regular meetings of the Alliance by their attendance; they should be invited to participate in all matters that in any manner is tending to the advancement of the cause; they can always be relied upon to add great moral strength to any and all such movements, and they can be the means by which the interest in our meetings will always be sufficient to insure a large attendance on the part of the male membership. Therefore would recommend and earnestly suggest that you provide more efficient means for their encouragement and entertainment to the end that our meetings may be blessed with their presence.
Education, to be practical, useful and effectual, begins at the fireside. Upon the tender minds are implanted more effectually the true principles of life and its duties.
The destiny of a republican form of government depends upon the purity of the ballot, and as this is held by every man there can be no safety, except as is guaranteed by its intelligent use. This is the bulwark of our nation's strength and it is the duty of our order, through education, to produce this intelligence and virtue, and thus rear and offer as gifts to our country a generation of men and women who can comprehend and appreciate their obligations as American citizens.
While our state provides facilities for rudimentary instruction, yet the cost of a higher education is so great that few among the laboring classes can ever hope to override the obstacles in their way and climb successfully to the more lofty heights of a university course. Therefore would recommend that you take such action as in your wisdom you deem beat for the raising of our free schools to a higher grade of education.
In this connection I will also call your attention to the now existing system by which our people are annually filched out of thousands of dollars to pay tribute to those who force upon us a too frequent change in text books for our children, it is a burning shame that we are forced to submit to the dictates of each and every teacher that comes along, and be compelled to purchase a new set of school books. Were those in power competent to discriminate between right and wrong the system now in vogue would be done away with, and simple justice be meted out to the parents of those who attend our public schools. I earnestly urge upon you the necessity of prompt action on your part in this matter, find the defects and apply the necessary remedy, it is in your power and it is your duty to exercise it.
Now that THE SOUTHERN MERCURY is owned and controlled by the Farmers State Alliance of Texas, and recognizing it as the great educator and disseminator of the necessary information for the enlightenment of our people and the perpetuation of our noble order; and while it has fearlessly fought the battles of the farmers against monopolization of transportation, binder twine and jute bagging combinations and all other oppressive forms of monopoly, it is an evident fact that our paper can make our little headway agaluar those soulless combines and oppressors of the people, without the co-operation and support of membership. And whereas, it has failed to receive the necessary encouragement and support that is necessary for its success to enable it to reach that high degree of usefulness that should characterize the official journal of so powerful an organization as the Farmers Alliance of Texas. Therefore I would earnestly impress upon your minds the necessity of immediate efficient action for the proper maintenance of our official organ. For further information I respectfully refer you the report of the printing board.
This seems to be the age of trusts. There is scarcely an important article that the laboring classes have to use that is not controlled by an infamous combination commonly known as a trust. There seems to be a screw loose somewhere in this land of ours that permits the existence of these unholy combinations. The centralization of the money power of the land into the hands of a few is one of the primary causes that make trusts possible. The unnatural greed of a certain class of our people contributes in no small degree to their existence; but there lies a remedy and a relief in the hands of the law-making branch of our national and state governments, which if properly exercised and honestly administered, the relief would be apparent to everybody; but under the present condition of affairs the outlook is far from bright, for those who honestly labor and contribute in such a large degree to the stability of our government and upon whom there rests the safety of the nation. I refer to the toiling agriculturists of our beloved country; therefore the remedy, as far as it lies in our power to discern, is with the proper use of the suffrage granted us by the framers of our nation's constitution — the ballot.
During the past twelve months many have been the vicissitudes through which we have been called to pass. The past year has been the most trying and critical period in the history of our order.
The last five months of 1888 was a period of sore trials, disappointments, heartaches, dissentions, disintegration and desertion. A period that threatened the very existence of our order and its business enterprises, and tried the very souls and patriotism of our membership.
In contemplating the causes that disturbed the harmony and prosperity of our order I find them of a serious nature, and would insist that you cannot guard too closely against their recurrence.
Since January 1st, 1889, the order has been on an upward tendency. While it is true we have lost considerable in numerical strength, yet in my opinion the principles of the order are more firmly rooted in the hearts of the membership than at any time in our history.
The remaining membership being tried as by fire, sifted as wheat, leaving them better educated with more earnestness, zeal and determination for the protection and perpetuation of the order.
As your executive head I have served you for the last twelve months to the best of my ability, giving to the order my best efforts and entire time. Daring our darkest hours I have endeavored to stand at the post of duty, watching with zealous care every turn of the wheel, and availed myself of every opportunity to steer our bark clear of the rocks, outride the breakers and finally reach the port of peace.
Perhaps I have made mistakes; others might have done better; but having passed through an ordeal from which stout hearts shrank and upon which the brave entered with reluctance, I feel thankful that I am now able to give back to you the dear old Farmers State Alliance of Texas on a more solid basis than ever before in her history. Your constant support and encouragement was my greatest assistance, and the very prop that sustained me in my arduous duties and guaranteed to us hope and success and victory. I shall ever remember and appreciate your patriotism and fidelity during those trying hours.
During the year I have traveled and delivered one hundred and thirty-six private and public lectures, being compelled to (fake the field to the neglect of my office work (that is to say, delays in attending to correspondence), from urgent demands and inability of our lecturers to furnish the necessary information and instruction.
Now brethren, hoping and trusting that you fully understand the situation and that you in your deliberations will be calm, brave and just towards one another and that pure patriotism and love for the order may characterize each member in your efforts to save our business enterprises and further its interests. I commend the work to your intelligence and care, assuring you that my motto shall be "Equal rights to all and special privileges to none."
May He who ruleth all things guide and direct you in your deliberations, save and protect our order, free our nation from monopolistic and corporate oppression and rescue our people from financial and commercial servitude.
When writing to the Mercury upon any subject whatever always address your letters to "The Southern Mercury," Dallas, Texas, and not to any individual. Make remittances payable to "The Southern Mercury." By complying with this simple request, your letters will be insured prompt attention.
The jute people will use foul means to carry the day against cotton bagging. Every opportunity they can grasp to make shippers of cotton baled in cotton bagging pay something extra, will not be let passed by, so as to keep them from using cotton bagging next year. Keep clear of all points where there are interests which are in any way identified with the word jute. Galveston has a jute bagging factory.
The Houston Post is teeth and toe-nail against the jute trust. The Houston Post unquestionably represents the city of Houston. The sentiments of the Post regarding cotton bagging are, therefore, those of its people. Now, what is the reason the Alliance cotton growers should not bulk their cotton and ship it to Houston? Now whatever.