Agricultural Wheel.During the winter of 1881-82. the unsatisfactory condition of the market for farm products, and the oppressiveness of the Arkansas mortgage laws through what was known as the "anaconda mortgage," led to a wide discussion among the farmers of that state as to the advisability of organizing for coöperation and mutual protection. On Wednesday evening, Feb. 15, 1882, seven farmers met at McBee's school house, 8 miles southwest of the town of Des Arc, in Prairie county, to consider the question of forming some kind of a farmers' society. A committee, consisting of W. T. McBee, W. W. Tedford and J. W. McBee, was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws and report at same place on the evening of the 22nd. At the adjourned meeting the Wattensas Farmers' club was organized, the objects of which were stated in the constitution as being "The improvement of its members in the theory and practice of agriculture and the dissemination of knowledge relative to rural and farming affairs."
It seems that the name was not altogether satisfactory to some of those interested, for at the meeting on March 1 the question of selecting a new one, with a broader significance, came up for consideration. Some one suggested the name of "Wheel," because "no machine can be run without a drive wheel, and agriculture is the great wheel or power that controls the entire machinery of the world's industries." The society was therefore reorganized under the new name, with the following objects:
"1To unite fraternally all acceptable white males who are engaged in the occupation of farming, also mechanics who are actually engaged in farming.
"2To give all possible moral and material aid in its power to its members by holding instructive lectures, by encouraging each other in business, and by assisting each other in obtaining employment.
"3The improvement of its members in the theory and practice of agriculture and the dissemination of knowledge relative to rural and farming affairs.
"4To ameliorate the condition of the farmers of this country in every possible manner."
By the following spring the organization numbered some 500 members, and on April 9, 1883, representatives of the local wheels in Arkansas met at the residence of W. T. McBee, one of the seven founders, and launched the state wheel, with B. B. McPherson as grand president. Deputies were appointed to carry the order into new territory by the establishment of local wheels, and the organization spread rapidly to other states. On July 28, 1886, delegates from the local wheels in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee met at Litchfield, Ark., and organized the national wheel with Isaac McCracken of Ozone, Ark., as president, and A. B. Gardner of Dresden, Tenn., as secretary and treasurer. The State Wheel Enterprise, published by Louis B. Audigier, at Searcy, Ark., was made the organ of the national organization. This gave a new impetus to the order, which on March 1, 1887, just five years after it was founded, boasted a membership of 500,000, the greater portion of which was in the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri, though the order had extended into the Indian Territory and Wisconsin.
Upon the organization of the national wheel a platform was adopted, in which the following demands were made: The preservation of the public domain of the United States for actual settlers; legislation to prevent aliens from owning land in this country; the coinage of enough gold and silver into money to assure a speedy extinguishment of the national debt; the abolition of national banks and the issue of enough legal tender notes to do the business of the country on a cash basis; legislation by Congress to prevent dealing in futures in agricultural productions; a graduated income tax; a strict enforcement of the laws prohibiting the importation of foreign labor under the contract system; ownership by the people of all means of transportation and communication; the election, of all officers of the national government by a direct vote of the people; the repeal of all laws that bear unequally on capital and labor; the amendment of the tariff laws so that all import duties on articles that enter into American manufactures should be removed, and that duties be levied on articles of luxury, but not high enough to prevent their importation; the education of the masses by a well regulated system of free schools; no renewal of patents at the expiration of the period for which they were originally granted.
A resolution was also adopted by the national wheel pledging the members to support no man for Congress "of any political party, who will not pledge himself in writing to use all his influence for the formation of these demands into laws."
At a meeting of the national wheel at Meridian, Miss., in Dec., 1888, it was recommended that the organization unite with the Farmers' Alliance. A joint meeting of delegates belonging to the two organizations was held at Birmingham, Ala., May 15, 1889, and the two orders were consolidated on Sept. 24, following.Pages 39-41 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project