Farmers' Coöperative Association.On Jan. 23, 1873, the Farmers' Institute at Manhattan, Kan., passed a resolution recommending the farmers of the state to organize into clubs and place themselves in correspondence with the secretary of the state board of agriculture. The resolution further provided that whenever a sufficient number of such clubs had reported to the secretary, that official be requested to call a state convention, each county agricultural or horticultural society and each township farmers' club to he entitled to one delegate.
Pursuant to this arrangement Alfred Gray, secretary of the state board of agriculture, on Feb. 10, 1873, issued a call for a state convention of farmers to assemble at Topeka on March 26. The convention was in session for two days, and on the 27th a Farmers' Coöperative Association was organized with the following officers: President, John Davis; vice-president, Joseph K. Hudson; secretary, Alfred Gray; treasurer, Henry Bronson; directors, T. B. Smith, John Mings, O. W. Bill, A. H. Grass and J. S. Van Winkle.
A constitution was adopted, article 2 of which declared: "The objects of this association shall be the collection of statistics relative to the products of the state, and their amount, cost and value, to assist the farmers in procuring just compensation for their labor; to coöperate with similar organizations in other states in procuring cheap transportation, and remunerative prices for surplus products, and act generally in the interest of the producing class."
In a long preamble to a series of resolutions, the purposes of the organization were further defined as being for the purpose of showing that farmers can come together and coöperate like other folks for the common good; to control the prices of their products through their own boards of trade or their appointed agents, so that nothing should be thrown on the market for less than the cost of production and a reasonable profit; to secure a reduction in railroad freight rates; to enable them to purchase their supplies at lower prices; to secure tax reform, the abolition of sinecure offices, the reduction of salaries and a rigid economy in public expenditures; to encourage home manufactures, so that the money paid for agricultural implements, etc., might be kept in the state, and to use all honorable means to prevent the remainder of the public domain from falling into the "hands of railroad monopolies and land sharks."
The resolutions following this preamble are given in full, for the reason that they show the state of the farmers' minds at that time, their views on questions of public policy, their grievances, etc. The resolutions were as follows:
"1That organization is the great want of the producing classes at the present time, and we recommend every farmer in the state to become a member of some farmers' club, grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, or other local organization.
"2That the taxes assessed and charged upon the people, by the national, state and local governments, are oppressive and unjust, and vast sums of money are collected, far beyond the needs of an economic administration of government.
"3That we respectfully request our senators and members of Congress to vote for and secure an amendment to the tariff laws of the United States, so that salt and lumber shall be placed on the free list, and that there shall be made a material reduction in the duty on iron, and that such articles as do not pay the cost of collection be also placed on the free list.
"4That we earnestly request the legislature of our state, at its next session, to enact a law regulating freights and fares on our railroads, upon a basis of justice, and that we further request our members of Congress to urge the favorable action of that body, where the full power exists beyond all doubt, to the same end; and, if need be, to construct national highways at the expense of the government.
"5That the act passed by the legislature, exempting bonds, notes, mortgages and judgments from taxation, is unjust, oppressive, and a palpable violation of our state constitution, and we call upon all assessors and the county boards to see that said securities are taxed at their fair value.
"6That the practice of voting municipal bonds is pernicious in its effect, and will inevitably bring bankruptcy and ruin on the people, and we therefore are opposed to all laws allowing the issuance of such bonds.
"7That giving banks a monopoly of the nation's currency, thereby compelling the people to pay them such interest therefor as they may choose to impose, seven-tenths of which interest we believe is collected from the farmers, is but little less than legalized robbery of the agricultural classes.
"8That for the speedy and thorough accomplishment of all this we pledge each other to ignore all political preferences and prejudices that have swayed us hitherto to our hurt, and support only such men for office as are known to be true to our interests, and in whose intregrity and honesty we have the most implicit confidence."
The proceedings of the convention, accompanied by an address to the farmers of Kansas, were printed and distributed over the state, with the result that a number of local coöperative associations were formed in different localities, all of which took pattern from the parent or state organization. In time most of these associations wound up their affairs and went out of existence, the Farmers' Alliance (q. v.) extending its operations in such a way as to absorb practically all kindred organizations.Pages 629-631 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.
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