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given such assistance through carefully thought out plans, which include low rates of interest, a small initial payment, and a long time, ranging from thirty to seventy-five years, in which to complete payments. In America, where the difficulties of land purchase are fully as great as in those countries, with the price of unimproved land fully as high, we have left the poor man to deal with the private land settlement agent, who is only concerned with his commission, has no enduring interest in the settler's success, and where credit from the commercial banks is entirely a matter of personal favor. In other words, we have left that feature of progress, on which the endurance of the republic largely depends, to the land sharks and loan sharks.

The people who would like to own farms are finding it too difficult. They are accepting tenantry, or are moving to the cities. As a rule the American goes into the city, and where he stays in the country he is being discriminated against because he is too independent, and the American rural population is being displaced by an alien peasantry drawn in many sections from the Orient, or from those portions of Europe where the conditions of living are hardest.

Land owned by nonresidents and farmed by this kind of tenantry is taking on a corporate form. I talked recently with the manager of a corporation that owns thousands of acres of farming land. He said they had this business organized on a scientific basis. They have a definite rotation of crops; they have a fixed rental; they select their renters from only three nationalities, none of them American. They go abroad for tenants because the European and Asiatic peasant will pay higher rent because they have a lower standard of living. In many states the tenant family moves every year, or more than half of them move every year. The consequence is that the tenant can take no interest in education. He has no permanent share in community life. High rents leave him an inadequate margin for living, raising up a new generation, poorly clothed, poorly educated, lacking the independence and hopefulness that was once the finest contribution of rural districts to American life.

There is one valley in the West larger than the state of Delaware which thirty years ago was public land. Today that land is held in great estates of two thousand, ten thousand, even twenty and thirty thousand acres. Seventy per cent of it is farmed by tenants, and these include a large influx of white tenants from other southern states, peons from Mexico, Japanese, Chinese, Filippinos, forming a part of the welter of races and languages, as many of these tenants cannot speak English. Anything resembling an American democracy is impossble under those conditions, and this is not an isolated illustration, but one that is becoming more and more typical. It is evident that something must be done that will make land ownership a principle of rural life. That conclusion has been reached by Europe and immense sums of money have been spent to purchase great landed estates and improve and turn them over to farmer peasants on long time and low rates of interest In France the farmers are land owners. Since the beginning of this century Denmark has been changed from a land renting to a land owning nation. In Ireland land tenantry is rapidly becoming a memory. In New Zealand and Australia many millions of dollars have been spent in the purchase of land which has been subdivided, improved, and sold to people of limited means who are paying their way.

Reform Legislation in California

At the last session of its legislature California determined to make a beginning by the passage of a law providing for the state to buy land and, under state aid and direction, to divide, improve, and sell to settlers on long-time payments under conditions which would create an organized community. In the university it was seen that the young men who studied agriculture were being driven away from the pursuit for which they were trained because they had not the capital to buy land. It was felt that an effort should be made to provide opportunities for young men so that they could marry and go on these homes as owners. What if they do have to spend years paying for them, they are theirs to use and to occupy, and they are at the same time making provision for old#age, and life is a success. There were objections to this legislation on the ground that it was socialism, that constitutionally it was not proper use of government money to buy land from one individual and sell it to another group of individuals. It was therefore found necessary to state the purpose of this legislation and show that it was something beyond mere traffic in land. I will read the first paragraph of the Act, because it has exerted great influence in shaping public opinion.

Section I. The legislature believes that land settlement is a problem of great importance to the welfare of all the people of the State of California and for that reason through this particular act endeavors to improve the general economic and social conditions of agricultural settlers within the state and of the people of the state in general.

That board was given an appropriation which enables it to finance the improvements needed by settlers. A tract of six thousand acres has been purchased, subdivided into farms and farm laborers' allotments, and will be sold to settlers at cost on twenty years' time with interest at five per cent and with an initial payment of five per cent of the cost. Thousands of dollars have been spent in improvements and in making the land ready for cultivation. The farmer must have a capital of fifteen hundred dollars. An inspection of the statements made by those applicants of their capital and experience and their worth shows how great a need there is all over this country for some agency that will give to the next generation the opportunity that was formerly afforded by free public land.

Another thing needed is a more attractive rural architecture. The plans of the California Settlement Board aim to create this. The board has had the generous co-operation and support of a number of architects, of the Diamond Match Company, one of the large manufacturers of building material, and has been fortunate in securing as one of its staff a man who has been trained to be a farmstead engineer. He confers with settlers about the grouping of farm buildings, the location of the orchard, the garden, and the things that make the rural home attractive, or the reverse, and it is believed that this settlement when completed will represent something new and distinctly superior in the appearance which it presents to the casual visitor and in the comfort and satisfaction of the wives and children who live in it.

One of the distinctive features of the first settlement is that it is to be a place for the breeding of fine stock, not so much because of the increased profit which will result, as because it gives to the farmers and their families the added interest which comes from trying to produce finer quality and higher type of animals. Nothing in my experience as a boy on a farm was more enjoyable than the weeks spent in preparing animals for exhibit at the county fair, and a community that is seeking to create a reputation for quality will have a source of interest as enduring as any that the city can furnish.

Whatever opposition was felt in the state and outside has now disappeared. All now believe that the money invested will be returned, and there has been a great gain in mobilizing and co-ordinating the State's knowledge and credit. The State authorities now favor a larger appropriation next year, not only because of a conviction that the State has entered on a service that it can safely and wisely perform, but because it is believed that we are working out in a practical way a solution of the question of what we are to do with the soldier who comes back to us with a longing for life in the country, or whose health requires him to live in the country. It will not do to send those men to rented farms, or to send them to the parts of the country that are either too wet or too dry. Each state wants its soldiers to come back to the neighborhood they left. A system like that of California, financed by the nation and operating under the state and national direction and responsibility, could easily provide farms under conditions which would enable the soldiers qualified for country life to pay for them. In Australia over a hundred million dollars have been spent creating homes for soldiers. In Canada thirty million acres of land have been dedicated to this purpose, and funds have been raised to improve five thousand farms for soldiers. If we are to take care of our own we must make provision for buying land and financing settlers in sections where land is owned and cultivated, and we must do this under conditions as favorable as are being provided by other democracies of the world.


James Weldon Johnson, Field Secretary, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, New York

I am down to speak on the changing status of Negro labor. It might be well, in a dozen words, to trace the change in the status of the Negro during his history in this country, because it has a bearing on what I wish to say on the topic assigned to me. The Negro in America has passed through four distinct and well marked epochs. The first began with the landing of twenty-odd naked savages on the shores of Virginia in 1619. The second had for its duration the great war in which he gained his physical freedom. The third was marked by the change in the organic law of the land which conferred upon him the rights of citizenship. And today he is going through a fourth epoch, an epoch which began with the hurling of the German armies through Belgium; an epoch in which he sees the beginning of his economic and industrial emancipation; an epoch which is big with spiritual meanings for him, because in it must be answered more fully than ever before the question, "Can full and unlimited democracy be realized for all the people, or is the hope of it a mere dream?"

We shall not attempt to review these epochs historically, or to trace the course of opinion regarding the Negro from the time when it was a question as to whether or not he had a human soul and could be made susceptible to religious teaching, or whether or not he had sufficient gray matter in his skull to master the rudiments of learning and the intricacies of English speech, or whether or not he would revert to barbarism if given his freedom, down to the present time, when it is a question as to whether or not he shall be admitted to full participation in American democracy. There is no longer anything to be gained from discussing the Negro problem academically. Once it was popular, and still is among some backward people, to discuss theoretically whether the Negro is capable of advancement. The very shifting of the ground of controversy concerning the race renders any such discussion obsolete. We shall then go at once to the influences now at work on the Negro and to the efforts that he himself is making.

Migration Northward

The present war set in motion a great many blind forces; that is, forces whose course was not foreseen when they were first unloosed and whose effect cannot now be controlled. These forces are at work all over the world, and many of them are operating directly upon the American Negro.

The most striking example of how some of these forces are operating upon the Negro is shown in the "exodus" from the South. As we know, when the war came it took thousands of men out of the industrial and labor fields in the North back to the colors of their native lands in Europe, and cut off the supply normally furnished by immigration, thus creating what might be called a vacuum in the industrial world. This resulted in a steadily increasing stream of Negroes from the South rushing into the North to fill the vacuum that had been produced. They have gone up by the thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, until today the number is roughly estimated to be anywhere between half a million and seven hundred and fifty thousand.

At first there were many complaints about the shiftlessness of Negro labor; and it is true that a number of Northern employers, accustomed to steady workmen, had good cause for complaint. And there was a reason: the rush of Negroes northward was started by the railroads sending labor recruiting agents South and having them spread the news that they had free transportation for as many men as wanted to go north to work at so much per day; these notices gave only a day or two to those who wished to take advantage of the offer. As a result, many of the most shiftless and unreliable of the race, attracted by the prospect of a trip North, were gathered in. The steady, reliable class would demand more time and more definite information before they would be willing to pull up and leave. However, by a natural process, this condition is being rectified. Since the first great rush, the people coming North are more and more largely of the steady, reliable class. This is due to the fact that agents are no longer recruiting wholesale in the South. The people who have come North and secured jobs are writing back to their relatives and friends to come on. This is by far the better method, for in most cases, those who write have their eyes on a job for those who come. This process is selective, and is already producing a steady flow northward of the best element of colored working people, who become adjusted economically and socially as soon as they arrive.

They are being engaged in many lines of industry, especially in the steel and allied industries, where large numbers from the southern iron districts are finding work in which they are already skilled. The demand is so great that notices of jobs for wages ranging from $3.00 to $6.00 a day are frequently read in the colored churches of northern cities. The opinion regarding Negro labor is constantly rising, and many employers are testifying that it is as good as any they ever had. And so the Negro has this chance, the first in his history, to get his hand upon the thing by which men live, to become for the first time a real factor in the world of labor. He has at last come into what is rightfully his own, the opportunity that has heretofore been denied him and given to the stranger.

But the Negro comes up against a problem he has never had to face before, and that is union labor. In the North, in almost every field the unions shut him out, and he finds himself in the position of an independent or a scab. Many colored men skilled in their trades have had to turn to common labor because they were not allowed to join the unions. So after all, this thing we call the Negro problem and which

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