"Mary, the wife of John Goffe of Rochester, being afflicted with a long illness, removed to her father's house at West Mulling, about nine miles from her own. There she died on 4th June, this present year, 1691. "The day before her departur... Read more of The Dying Mother {101} at Scary Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Co-operation In Farming








The word of hope and cheer for Labor in our days is COOPERATION--that
is, the combination by many of their means and efforts to achieve
results beneficial to them all. It differs radically from Communism,
which proposes that each should receive from the aggregate product of
human labor enough to satisfy his wants, or at least his needs, whether
he shall have contributed to that aggregate much, or little, or nothing
at all. Cooperation insists that each shall receive from the joint
product in proportion to his contributions thereto, whether in capital,
skill, or labor. If one associate has ten children and another none,
Communism would apportion to each according to the size of his family
alone; while Cooperation would give to each what he had earned,
regardless of the number dependent upon him. Thus the two systems are
radical antagonists, and only the grossly ignorant or willfully blind
will confound them.

A young farmer, whose total estate is less than $500, not counting a
priceless wife and child, resolves to migrate from one of the old
States to Kansas, Minnesota, or one of the Territories: he has heard
that he will there find public land whereon he may make a home of a
quarter-section, paying therefor $20 or less for the cost of survey and
of the necessary papers. So he may: but, on reaching the Land of
Promise, whether with or without his family, he finds a very large belt
of still vacant land beyond the settlements already transformed into
private property, and either not for sale at all or held on speculation,
quite out of his reach. The public land which he may take under the
Homestead law lies a full day's journey beyond the border settlements,
to which he must look for Mills, Stores, Schools, and even Highways. If
he persists in squatting, with intent to earn his quarter-section by
settlement and cultivation, he must take a long day's journey across
unbridged streams and sloughs, over unmade roads, to find boards, or
brick, or meal, or glass, or groceries; while he must postpone the
education of his children to an indefinite future day. Gradually, the
region will be settled, and the conveniences of civilization will find
their way to his door, but not till after he will have suffered through
several years for want of them; often compelled to make a journey to get
a plow or yoke mended, a grist of grain ground, or to minister to some
other trivial but inexorable want. He who thus acquires his
quarter-section must fairly earn it, and may be thankful if his children
do not grow up rude, coarse, and illiterate.

But suppose one thousand just such young farmers as he is, with no more
means and no greater efficiency than his, were to set forth together,
resolved to find a suitable location whereon they might all settle on
adjoining quarter-sections, thus appropriating the soil of five or six
embryo townships: who can fail to see that three-fourths of the
obstacles and discouragements which confront the solitary pioneer would
vanish at the outset? Roads, Bridges, Mills,--nay, even Schools and
Churches--would be theirs almost immediately; while mechanics,
merchants, doctors, etc., would fairly overrun their settlement and
solicit their patronage at every road-crossing. Within a year after the
location of their several claims, they would have achieved more progress
and more comfort than in five years under the system of straggling and
isolated settlement which has hitherto prevailed. The change I here
indicate appeals to the common sense and daily experience of our whole
people. It is not necessary, however desirable, that the pioneers should
be giants in wisdom, in integrity, or in piety, to secure its benefits.
A knave or a fool may be deemed an undesirable neighbor; but a dozen
such in the township would not preclude, and could hardly diminish, the
advantages naturally resulting from settlement by Cooperation.

Nor are these confined to pioneers transcending the boundaries of
civilization. I wish I could induce a thousand of our colored men now
precariously subsisting by servile labor in the cities, to strike out
boldly for homes of their own, and for liberty to direct their own
labor, whether they should settle on the frontier in the manner just
outlined, or should buy a tract of cheap land on Long Island, in
New-Jersey, Maryland, or some State further South. I cannot doubt that
the majority of them would work their way up to independence; and this
very much sooner, and after undergoing far less privation, than almost
every pioneer who has plunged alone into the primitive forest or struck
out upon the broad prairie and there made himself a farm.

The insatiable demand for fencing is one of the pioneer's many trials.
Though he has cleared off but three acres of forest during his first
Fall and Winter, he must surround those acres with a stout fence, or all
he grows will be devoured by hungry cattle--his own, if no others.
Whether he adds two or ten acres to his clearing during the next year,
they must in turn be surrounded by a fence; and nothing short of a very
stout one will answer: so he goes on clearing and fencing, usually
burning up a part of his fence whenever he burns over his new clearing;
then building a new one around this, which will have to be sacrificed in
its turn. I believe that many pioneers have devoted as much time to
fencing their fields as to tilling them throughout their first six or
eight years.

It is different with those who settle on broad prairies, but not
essentially better. Each pioneer must fence his patch of tillage with
material which costs him more, and is procured with greater difficulty,
than though he were cutting a hole in the forest. Often, when he thinks
he has fenced sufficiently, the hungry, breachy cattle, who roam the
open prairies around him, judge his handiwork less favorably; and he
wakes some August morning, when feed is poorest outside and most
luxuriant within his inclosure, to find that twenty or thirty cattle
have broken through his defenses and half destroyed his growing crop.

If, instead of this wasteful lack of system, a thousand or even a
hundred farmers would combine to fence several square miles into one
grand inclosure for cultivation, erecting their several habitations
within or without its limits, as to each should be convenient--
apportioning it for cultivation, or owning it in severalty, as they
should see fit--an immense economy would be secured, just when, because
of their poverty, saving is most important. Their stock might range the
open prairie unwatched; and they might all sleep at night in serene
confidence that their corn and cabbages were not in danger of ruthless
destruction. Among the settlers in our great primitive forests, the
system of Cooperative Farming would have to be modified in details,
while it would be in essence the same.

And, once adopted with regard to fencing, other adaptations as obvious
and beneficent would from day to day suggest themselves. Each pioneer
would learn how to advance his own prosperity by combining his efforts
with those of his neighbors. He would perceive that the common wants of
a hundred may be supplied by a combined effort at less than half the
cost of satisfying them when each is provided for alone. He would grow
year by year into a clearer and firmer conviction that short-sighted
selfishness is the germ of half the evils that afflict the human race,
and that the true and sure way to a bounteous satisfaction of the wants
of each is a generous and thoughtful consideration for the needs of all.

* * * * *

And here let me pay my earnest and thankful tribute to Mr. E. V. de
Boissiere, a philanthropic Frenchman, who has purchased 3,300 acres of
mainly rolling prairie-land in Kansas, near Princeton, Franklin County,
and is carefully, cautiously, laying thereon the foundations of a great
cooperative farm, where, in addition to the usual crops, it is expected
that Silk and other exotics will in due time be extensively grown and
transformed into fabrics, and that various manufactures will vie with
Agriculture in affording attractive and profitable employment to a
considerable population. I have not been accustomed to look with favor
on our new States and unpeopled Territories as an arena for such
experiments, since so many of their early settlers are intent on getting
rich by land-speculation--at all events, through the exercise of some
others' muscles than their own--while the opportunities for and
incitements to migration and relocation are so multiform and powerful.
Doubtless, M. de Boissiere will be often tried by stampedes of his
volunteer associates, who, after the novelty of cooperative effort has
worn off, will find life on his domain too tame and humdrum for their
excitable and high-strung natures. I trust, however, that he will
persevere through every discouragement, and triumph over every obstacle;
that the right men for associates will gradually gather about him; that
his enterprise and devotion will at length be crowned by a signal and
inspiring success; and that thousands will be awakened by it to a larger
and nobler conception of the mission of Industry, and the possibilities
of achievement which stud the path of simple, honest, faithful,
persistent Work.





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