The Next Transition in our Agricultural Farms: Providing the Returning Soldier with a Farm, Athenaeum Club. 1918


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The Next Transition in our Agricultural Farms: Providing the Returning Soldier with a Farm, Athenaeum Club. 1918
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Writings and Speeches 1891-1920
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Folder: The Next Transition in our Agricultural Farms: Providing the Returning Soldier with a Farm, Athenaeum Club. 1918


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural extension work -- Florida.
Agriculture -- Florida -- Experimentation.
Agriculture -- Study and teaching -- Brazil -- Minas Gerais.
Agriculture -- Study and teaching -- Florida.
Citrus fruit industry -- Brazil.
Leprosy -- Research -- Brazil.
Minas Gerais (Brazil) -- Rural conditions.
Escola Superior de Agricultura e Veterinaria do Estado de Minas Gerais.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station.
University of Florida. Herbarium.

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Gainesville, November 15, 1918.

Providing the Returning Soldier with a Farm.


Statement of thesis 2
Review of former papers 3
Land ownership prevents wars and riots 7



The land-poor stage 11
The development stage 12
The Agricultural College grant
Homestead Act and modifications
Railroad grants 15
The Conservation stage 16
Reclamation project 17
The Cooperative stage 19



Principle applied in foreign countries
Principle applied in California 22
Problem a difficult one 24
Points to be considered in applying the



Land development in Florida 29
Ready-made farms in Florida 31
Government projects long time and low rate of interest 32


Confidence necessary
Great things expected





Gainesville, November 15, 1918.

Providing the Returning Soldier with a Farm.


Statement of thesis 2
Review of former papers 5
Land ownership prevents wars .'and riots 7



The land-poor stage 11
The development stage 12
The Agricultural College grant 13
/ Homestead Act and modifications 14
Railroad grants 15
The Conservation stage 16
Reclamation project 17
The Cooperative stage 19


Principle applied in foreign countries 21
Principle applied in California 22
Problem a difficult one 24
Points to be considered in applying the principle 26


Land development in Florida 29
Ready-made farms in Florida 31
Government projects long time and low rate of interest 32


Confidence necessary 34
Great things expected 36


Athenaeum Club,
Siovember 15, 1918.

'- -...'-,' .... ,
SI. EIT J!/".ili;'ICIT I2 1 'K !AG IC'LLTLRE:


Gentlemen of the Athenaeumn Club and guests:

I am profoundly pleased to be able to present to you a

paper tonight. The expression of this pleasure is not

the usual perfunctory compliment to wiich every listener

is entitled. In this address I propose to say nothing

about the war. '.Vhat I am about to say would have

been received as pure academic theorizing if the v.'ar

had not occurred and would have been little better if

peace were not an'accomplished fact. It has been a

mott glorious triumph for right and righteousness the

world has ever seen -hern-ef-a.l-it-gla-er-a'd.

-teehnieaitssa It was a triumph of democracy over auto-
rights over
cracy. triumph of the individual &- vested rights.


We have met here tonight to discuss a live and

vitalizing question. If the question is answered in the

affirmative, it will be a tangible expression of the new

era we are now entering. It will be answered in one way or

another before the mass of our population knows that the

question has been asked. In the 30 minutes allotted by

the Constitution of our Club I cannot do more than present

a fair outline.

Let me state the question squarely at the outset

of my address:






In my previous papers to the Athenaeum Club I have

attempted to give a general resume of the agricultural

situation in Florida, or in the United States gener-i

ally, as it occurred at that time,, My first, paper,

presented January 25th, 1907 gave a very general review

of the .status of agricultural higher education in Florida

up to that date. :..,y second paper was on the subject

of Educational advancement .in Florida. One of the

conclusions reached, in that paper reads as follows:

"The old Agricultural College had her op-

portunity,. She passed i't up and thereby was discredited.

She failed to grasp her :opportunity, though she was:

given twenty years to make good. The time'for success.

was ripe; the place was also there, but the man was the

one element wanting."
the -University has
Today ,iAiEe even a more brilliant oppor-
tunity of doing constructive work. The -'aMe question

is whether we see our duty clearly and will then perform



it, My third paper to the Club was presented on Miarch

In it
29th, 1912. -A-that--h-ie I discussed :the work of agri-

cultural extension in the University of Florida. If

at that time I had-stat-e that the State of Florida
by 1918
*would-ty-9-8 be spending $100j000 annuallyAfrom the

State and County treasuries for the Agricultural Ex-

tension work it would have been considered as a wild.

and visionary dream.

My fourth paper presented to the Club on

January 9th, 1914, was on the Everglades of Florida,

stereopticon slides showing the Everglades region were

presented, but the main thought of the paper was the

political significance and present aspect of the develop-
thi. Everglades.
ment of Fortida.


,In my fifth paper, presented October 1st,

1915, I spoke on the subject of the need of vitalizing

the, agricultural and educational work of the State.,

The trend of our Government at that time was directly

in the line ef ,a bureaucratic form. I am happy
of development
to say that after three years tn-which-to-study-and-watch'i- the trend toward a bureaucratic government

has been less active than it was in the year preceding

my paper. A bureaucratic form-crf government may be

more efficient than the individualistic form of-gevern-

=-Hff, but it certainly fails to develop the individual,

and often becomes very oppressive.


America is playing the leading role in

this world's great drama. All the world is looking to

the United States. She must play the part well.

It is up to you and to me to see that WE shall not

be found wanting. I know that we shall come out more

than victorious. You and I, the home guards, must

not slacken our pace nor idle away our time. Our du-

ties have completely changed in less than a fortnight.

Our thoughts and energy must now be directed toward

the construction.


The world's greatest conflicts have always

centered around the ownership of land. If the principle

could be at once established that no nation could acquire

land through the process of war, one of the greatest, if

not the greatest, incentives for war would be removed.

If we can make it possible for every ambitious young

man to acquire a farm on which to live and raise his

family -;'e will at once do away vith a tremendous amount

of unrest and discontent. A riot by land owners who

are tillers of the soil, is unheard of in history.


I. The settlement of America was the result

of land hunger. The prevailing feudal system had oc-

cupied practically all of the desirable area of Europe.

These landlords held the lands'in fee

simple. The lands might be bartered or lost in clash

of arms but always the peasants weait with the lands.

The rents or taxes exacted were about all "the -peaeanm--

could bear. "

If my study of American history teaches me

correctly there were introduced, into America two very

distinct ideals. The Pilgrim fathers landing at Ply-

mouth Rock and Penn in Pennsylvania based their ideals

on individual ownership of land. Virginia and Caro-

lina colonies made settlements based on the ideal then

so prevalent in Europe. The individualistic ideal

attracted the wander es and land-hungry from Europe.


These immigrants settled in almost all the colonies

along the Atlantic Coast, most largely from Mary-

land north as far as Maine. The later immigrants

either passed beyond the coastal border or crowded the

children of the earlier colonists to the unoccupied ter-

ritory toward the West, reaching into the Mississippi

basin. In the South the ideals resembled more closely

those prevailing in Europe, and immigrants without money

had to become employees of someone. This was less at-

tractive and caused a considerable number to seek other

regions even after landing in the South. The large plant-

er finding free labor uncertain and unsatisfactory, natural

ly turned his attention to securing the more dependable

labor of the negro. The Civil War in its essence was a

clash of ideals. Whether you agree with me or not, as to

whether this clash of ideals was the basic cause of the


Civil War, the results could not have been more effective

if Lincoln had announced as the cause.

It took that great southern man, President

Wilson,, to see clearly and to have the courage -to an-

nounce to the world that everybody, even though living

in an alien country had the right to own land. This

ideal, whether expressed or not,, was the conflict be-

tween the junkers and the .tillers of the soil. WVithout

a subservient military system the junkers would long

since have lost their legal the lands.

So much for the development of the American

ideal. I have treated it very briefly but this out-

line should present one of the thoughts necessary to my



Don't forget what my thesis is that the Ameri-

can soldier who wishes to make farming a vocation, be

given an opportunity to receive a well established farm,

not as a gratuity but at a low rate of interest and on

a long term amortization.


II. The next step I want to consider is the

gradual development toward this ideal by the government

of the United States.

The United States has had three distinct periods

in the history of her domain. The first period when

she was "land poor". At the close of the Revolution the

public lands were all owned by the separate States. For

example, Virginia owned a vast area stretching indefinitely

into the northwest, probably as far as Indiana. There

was some overlapping of claims by different States, and

also some possibilities that states might quarrel with


a foreign country. The land brought no returns, so was

practically wurthless to the individual State. By ceding

the titles to the Federal Government these difficulties

were removed.

Large areas of the land had been given to the

soldiers of the Revolution for their services.

When the United States secured title to the land'

it was used in part to pay off debts to soldiers and a

larger amount was sold. In the War of 1812 land bounty

was offered to soldiers to enlist. The landlord cer-

tificates ani certificates of land bounty brought about

a period of speculation in vast land areas.


One of the very important and acrimonious issues

between the dominant political parties during the period

up to 1662, was the question of passing a homestead


act. The party that happened to be in power naturally

wanted to keep the lands to be sold for the sake of the

revenue it brought. The Homestead Act, passed in 1662,

was the first step in advance in democracy. Under it

a vast empire was built up in the Mississippi valley.

Soon the mineral land, the coal land law, and a number

of similar acts were passed.

The most important and beneficial actrpassed

was the first Morrill Act, establishing an Agricultural

College in every State. Every State was given ninety

thousand acres of public lands for every Senator and

Representative in Congress. The graduates from these

institutions have provided the engineers who have played

such a conspicuous part in the last four and a half years,

at home and at the front. 'i'he graduates in agriculture

have enabled the country to produce increased crops in

spite of millions of men


having been withdrawn from agricultural pursuits. The

results have surprised even ourselves and certainly

astonished the warring world. The fund has not been

for instance
administered wisely at all times,- North Dakota, fee-

-nstanee-gets an annual return of $9.00 per acre, while

.hode Island gets 49 cents. These are the two extremes.

The Homestead Act worried well in the Mississ-

ippi, valley and in the humid regions generally but in

the arid west the tract was too small. These defects,-

have been remedied by passage in 1909 of the Dry Land
in the dry farming region
Act permitting entry of 320 acres and in 1916 by passage

of the Grazing Act permitting entry of 640 acres. Under

the Homestead Act over 200 million acres were disposed

of. During this 'same period 150 million acres were

granted for common school purposes. At first every


16th section was given, later the 1st section and finally

four sections
the-e-4th-se-'i-aon per township were given for common school


The railroads were given 260 million acres

from the Federal Government., Various States also con-

tribute 125 millionAacres. Florida gave large areas

of her swamp and overflow lands. It is said that she
gave two million more than she possessed andAstill owns

1,250,000 acres.


The Third Stage might be called that of conser-

vation. Some of us will remember that much was said

about it daring Roosevelt's administration. Mr. Pinchot

was oneof the ardent advocates.of the Government conser-

vation, not only of its valuable timber and mineral lands,

but also of its water power. When the government

surveyors discovered a large bad of coal in Alaska pri-

vate parties attempted to get title to the lands by illegal

means. This caused a notorious scandal. Finally the

conservationists won out. The Government instead of

giving the lands to private parties as form,-rly, built

docks at tidewater and built a railroad to the coal fields.

The coal mines are leased and worked by private parties.

It was merely extending the principle of building the

Panama Canal. The potash lake of California, and the

kelp beds are government owned and wokkaid by private

c -ipital.


The vast areas of timber are carefully graded

by cruisers and that portion needed for grazing is

used for that purpose. The United States is now one

of the biggest timber dealers in the world.

The most difficult and intricate conservation

work undertaken by th. Federal Goverrnmant is the Reclama-

tion one. In the arid region about $125,000,000 have

been sppnt on the variolos projects. Not only did irri-

gation have to be established but drainage also. No

irrigation project is complete without its drainage com-

plement. The first irrigation project, established

in the arid west was by Brigham Young. After the region

was opened to general settlement, numerous private irri-

gation projects were established, but nearly all of

these have faildd. Some irrigation projects have

been established by various States, and succeeded


moderately well. Ready made farms on the Government

projects can be delivered to the private owner at

from 650 to 100 an acre.

The reason the Federal Government can succeed

in this work while private enterprises fail, is that

the Government has practically unlimited credit, and

unlimited time.

I have reviewed the conservation work so

briefly because it is of so recent a time that we are

all quite familiar with it.

The Fourth Stage in the development of our

land ownership ideal, may be called the cooperative

one. We have just entered it.



We have the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Work.

The Smith-Hughes Agricultural Schools. The Tick

Eradication work. There is also much other work

of a cooperative nature that is being done.

Briefly the proposition is that the State or

the local community shall furnish the land and the

G )ver:nment develop it, and sell it to the soldier

who intends to become a farmer. The farm will be all

ready for cropping purposes. No farm will be sold

to a soldier who cannot pay in cash at least 0l of, the

cost of the farm. The rate of interest will be low,

and the amortization period long.


III. 1'he problem that is absorbing the atten-

tion of America today is that of providing homes for the

returning soldiers. This problem in itself would
be worth our attention
hardly ab b=~Oas as a nation, if it did not involve the

more fundamental farms
larger and-fre-at e-r problem of providing opport-tuni-e-e-

for millions of people who are .still in their youth,

and other millions not yet born with a similar opportu-

nity. I, would not give it more than a passing

it will
thought if it were not for the fact that-the-r!L : -Tiw -

-ld-iae-i-s--t4e e- -o-j-ee4---3<-~w-e -ay- establish a

by our government.
broad and fundamental principle-in-this--cointry.

Land without people is a wilderness; people without

Land is a mob. For examples see Russia and Mexico.

This problem of providing land for all of those who

wish to occupy it is one that has received attention


by statesmen from early times, even ante-dating the

Christian era. It was a problem even in Biblical

times, and I dare say if we were able to go even

back of
-beyond written history we would find that someone ;

among the rulers hid recognized this as a fundamental

and difficult problem to solve. .

The most, enlightened and advanced countries .

in the world have taken this question up and solved

it in various ways. Denmark has used her method;

France has used her method. England Micnsg tovthe
principle of landlordism has been trying

to find a solution without great success.

Australia took up this question about twelve years

ago and discussed it widely. She even went so far as

to send to America for an expert on this subject te-

-eeme-a;n-a;vi&e-wih-her. He remained for about ten

years and as a result Australia has established a law


that fits her social conditions much more satisfac-

torily than do the laws in most other civilized coun-

tries. Dr. Elwood Mead, now of the University of Cal-

ifornia, was the man chosen to assist the Australian

government. Since the outbreak of the war Australia

has further developed this law so that the returning

soldier may receive 1000 acres and up to as high as ,o,

?5u00 in cash with which to start operations. One of

the provinces of Canada has amended her law so that a

returning soldier may receive three 160-acre farms

, and up to as high as $2500 in Cash.

California has been studying this question for a

number of years. Three years ago last August Dean

Hunt, of the Agricultural College, told me they were

working on and formulating a law whereby they expected


to eliminate the land shark from California. In

other words they proposed to amend their laws in such

a way that a bona fide farmer would be able to secure
for little more than
a farm N the cost of improvements and have a long term

of years in which to pay for ii improvements. An

article in the last number of the Country Gentleman
of the proposed plan.
gives a general outline, wtthoat-gring-anyone-any-par-

-If lartn-forimation-on-thtas-seb-eet. California has

gone further in the development of the ideal. She

not only provides a farm for the actual farmer, but

* also provides living quarters for the laborer who wish-

es to adopt farm labor as his vocation. The usual

unit adopted for the farm laborer is a small house

with two acres of land. This property, fully improved,

can be bought at cost on a long term amortization.


I know when this subject is first approached one

instinctively feels that it cannot be done, but you

know the old anecdote of the man who was in jail; he

insisted on his rights and called in his attorney.

When the attorney arrived he frankly told his client,

"they can't put you'in jail for tLhat". Or we might

feel like the countryman who attended a show for the

first time, and when he saw the remarked,

"'taint so, there aint no such animal".

The problem is not an impossible one, it is simply

a difficult one and the greatest difficulty of all that

have to be encountered is in the inaredulity of the

average man. In the early part of my address Z took

a considerable amount of time to present to you some-

what clearly, though in outline, the development of the

land laws and their attitude toward land in the United


Later I discussed somewhat fully the reclamation pro-

ject and also mentioned a number of other conservation

projects that were being carried out by the United

States government. During the century and a half of

our existence we have learned a great many things

but we did not accumulate knowledge or experience as

rapidly during the early part of our existence as we

have in the latter portion. During the last 25 years

the development in the United States has been nothing

short of a revolution. The strides made from the time

of financing the building of the Union Pacific Railway

to that of financing the Panama Canal have certainly

been marvellous. I remember with what. loud acclaim

people said that the Panama Canal would never be built.

Adding almost in the same breath that if ever it was

built it would cost the government ten times the amount


engineer it
-thaazmax= t of money that .evA-.: estimated4to cost. The

reclamation projects had a thorny time in Congress;

they were put over, and are now an accomplished fact.

A railroad was built by the government in far-off Alaska

but I doubt whether there is one voter in a thousand

who knows that the government is owning and operating

a railroad in that far distant country.

The following are some of the points that need

to be considered in carrying out the details of this

soldiers' home building proposition.

(1) The soldier should never be allowed to look upon

this as an endowment, but merely as an opportunity.

(2) The colony must have a community sentiment.( This

:was strikingly exemplified in our army ,.O.iE.;
.. flraft
every boy in the '1' fn went in almost reluct-

antly. Ninety days in camp made him a most ardent


booster for the army and for winning the war. )

(3) The group must be large enough so that it can be

properly organized and properly supervised.

(4) The settler must have some investment in the en-

terprise. It should not take on the aspect of

charity. It should refuse to receive those who

have not a sufficient =a3FF cF force of character

Sto have already saved and accumulated some money.

A young man at twenty-five having accumulated

one thousand dollars is pretty certain to be able

to manage an enterprise with a ten thousand .dol-

lar capital.

(5) Every incentive to abandon the proposition or abuse

the privilege must be removed.

(6) In all the successful schemes the prospective

purchaser must have enough money to make the first

S... .... -28-

p. payment. In Denmark 10% is required, the state

providing for 90, and this debt is paid off by

long time amortization, allowing sevenity-five

years in which to pay off the principal.


IV. Government versus P2mfate Development.

I have been discussing phases of this prob-

lem during the last three years with professors of

political economy, with settlers in Florida, and also

with land owners who hold up to as high as one and a

half million acres of land. I have seen and studied

land development schemes in Florida for a decade and a

half, becoming intimately acquainted with some fifty or

one hundred of them. It has pleased me very greatly

to notice how the development of the ideal has taken

place among the land owners. I am inclined to believe

that the ideal has developed more rapidly among them

than among the people who wish to settle upon the land.

Twelve years ago there was not a single project in the

State of Florida that permitted the settler to have a


long time in which to pay for his land. Five years

was considered about the extreme limit. Most of them

required full payment for the land in three years.

This process did not attract settlers, but only specu-

lators. No man who expected to make farming a business

and who knww anything about that business believed for

build a home on it,
a minute that he could take raw landhand in five years

make it pay for itself. It was easy enough to convince

a speculator that ten acres of land in Florida was an

El Dorado that h- could unload on the other fellow"

at several thousand percent profit before the end of

three years.

Necessarily that form of private development

placed most of the companies in the hands of a receiver
and rfrequently officers in the hands of the sherifff. "

We have at the present time, in the State of Flori-


,ia a number of private development projects that are

furnishing ready-made farms at a moderate price. They

require an initial payment usually of about 25%, the

basis of payments being the cost of the improvements and

lands, plus a handsome profit on the cost of the money

invested. The deferred payments rarely extend be-

yond five years. While these projects are immeasurably

better than were thd projects ten years ago, they are

still impossible from the standpoint of the farmer.

In talking with the heads of these development organiza-

tions, I am told quite frankly by them that unless they

can cash in, in the course of five years, their project

is a failure. In other words, they must either be

able to unload the stuff in the course of five years or .

have progressed far enough so that another bond may be

be floated on the project. This, you see, makes it im-

pof-sibl.e for a successful agricultural development.


The government, on the other hand, is not partic-

ularly concerned about whether the money is paid back

in twenty or in fifty years. The individual dies,

but the government lives on.

The various government projects that have been

undertaken, some of which I have already mentioned,

the Panama Canal, the Alaskan railway, the reclamation

projects, if you will examine close into any of the

projects of recent times you will be struck forcibly

by the fact that the government can carry out a long

time and a big project far more economically than can

a private individual. It is doubtful whether all the

money on Wall Street could have built the Panama Canal

in twice the time. There is no private reclamation

project in existence that can deliver to an individual

a ready made farm at so low

States Reclamation Service.

government cannot do these 1

as an individual, remember

man and the giraffe.

.'' ~

a figure as can our United

When you say that the

big things as economically

the anecdote of the country-


V. PsychlogQy.ogf the Situation.

In any business or political undertaking, it

is necessary for the success of that undertaking, that

all interested shall have confidence in its success.

Ih these war times we have coined a new word, or given

a new meanin- to an old word. 'It is the word "morale".

When President Roosevelt wanted to put the Panama Canal

proposition over, he began publicity in all sorts.

of ways. De Lesseps had made a failure of the project.

The French people had been looked upon as the greatest

engineers in the world. They were looked upon as a

people who had all the money they needed, and if they

wanted more all they had to do was to make up their

minds to get it and the money was forthcoming. With

the Panama Canal failure staring the world in the face


it was not an easy matter to change the belief that

the project could be put over. If the Canal project

had been taken up without the confidence of those

Who ought to know, there would have been no Panama

Canal, or at least not in our day.

Let us apply the present day psychology to the

problem in hand. In the first place no people ever had

greater confidence in the ability of their government

than we have at the present time. In the second place,

the atmosphere is simply surcharged with the belief

that pre-war conditions will never return. The country

is simply filled with expectation that something great,

something revolutionary, and something unusual will


I need not dwell on this point longer. To my

mind the psychology of the situation has a greater


bearing on the problem than any one of the other

four points that I have named.



(1) I want to repeat: land without people is

a wilderness; people without land is a mob. Examples,

Russia and Mexico.

(2) Our American civilization has developed step

by step from that of private ownership and profiteer-

ing in large landed areas to that where we now believe

that it would be a sin to continuei.n such flagrant mis-

use of our God-given heritage.

(3) The psychological moment has arrived when

we can make a beginning of the next great era in the

development of the agriculture of the Unites States.

If a farm is provided for every returning soldier who

desires one,thhere is no logical reason why every future

the head of a family
young man when he becomes- '.- -1 should not be given..



a similar opportunity.

(4) ihis is a question that you and I must

decide for ourselves, and we must at this critical

moment have a clear insight into the whole problem

and be able to answer it affirmatively.

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Gainesville, November 15, 1918.

Providing the Returning Soldier with a Farm.


Statement of thesis 2
Review of former papers 3
Land ownership prevents wars and riots 7



The land-poor stage 11
The development stage 12
The Agricultural College grant 13
Homestead Act and modifications 14
Railroad grants 15
The Conservation stage 16
Reclamation project 17
The Cooperative stage 19


Principle applied in foreign countries 21
Principle applied in California 22
Problem a difficult one 24
Points to be considered in applying the principle 26


Land development in Florida 29
Ready-made farms in Florida 31
Government projects long time and low rate of interest 32


Confidence necessary 34
Great things expected 35