Community Civics and Rural Life
by Arthur W. Dunn
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Capital is brought into existence in only one way—that is, by consuming less than is produced. If one has a dollar one can spend it either for an article of consumption, say confectionery, or for an article of production, say a spade. He who buys a spade becomes a capitalist to the amount of a dollar—that is, he becomes the owner of tools. The process is precisely the same whether the amount in question is a dollar or a million dollars. [Footnote: T.N. Carver, "How to Use Farm Credit," FARMERS' BULLETIN 593, U.S. Department of Agriculture, p. 2.]


Every business requires capital, some more than others. Farming requires more capital to-day than formerly because of the increased use of machinery. The necessary capital must either be saved by the person who wants to use it, or borrowed from others who have saved it.

The advantage of borrowing is that one does not have to wait so long to get possession of the tools and equipment. One can get them at once and make them produce the means of paying for themselves. Without them the farmer's production might be so low as to make it difficult ever to accumulate enough with which to buy them. With their help he may be able to pay for them—that is, to pay off the debt—in a shorter time than it would take to accumulate the purchase price without them. That is the only advantage of credit in any business, but it is a great advantage to those who know how to use it. [Footnote 2: T.N. Carver, "How to Use Farm Credit," FARMERS' BULLETIN, 593, U.S. Department of Agriculture, p. 2.]


Credit is simply a person's ability to borrow and depends upon the confidence that others place in him. This confidence depends on his reputation for honesty and his known ability to repay. A man, as a rule, has to HAVE something—land or property of other kind— that he can offer as security before he can borrow much. It is for this reason that thrift is essential to a man's credit—thrift and honesty.

There is no magic about credit. It is a powerful agency for good in the hands of those who know how to use it. So is a buzz saw. They are about equally dangerous in the hands of those who do not understand them. ... Many a farmer would be better off to-day if he had never had a chance to borrow money at all, or go into debt for the things which he bought. However, there is no reason why those farmers who do know how to use credit should not have it.

Shortsighted people, however, who do not realize how inexorably the time of payment arrives, who do not know how rapidly tools wear out and have to be replaced, or do not keep accounts in order that they may tell exactly where they stand financially, will do well to avoid borrowing. Debts have to be paid with deadly certainty, and they who do not have the wherewithal when the day of reckoning arrives become bankrupt with equal certainty.

On the other hand there is nothing disgraceful in borrowing for productive purposes. The feeling that it is not quite respectable to go into debt has grown out of the old habit of borrowing to pay living expenses. That was regarded, perhaps rightly, as a sign of incompetency. ... But to borrow for a genuinely productive purpose, for a purpose that will bring you in more than enough to pay off your debt, principal and interest, is a profitable enterprise. It shows business sagacity and courage, and is not a thing to be ashamed of. But it cannot be too much emphasized that the would-be borrower must calculate very carefully and be sure that it is a productive enterprise before he goes into debt. [Footnote: T. N. Carver, "How to Use Farm Credit," p. 2.]


Even though a farmer be thrifty, industrious, and honest, the conditions of farm business are such that it has not always been easy for him to borrow capital. Here again cooperation helps. In some of our states the law permits the organization of CREDIT UNIONS. The members are farmers of a neighborhood or district and, therefore, are acquainted with one another. Each member must buy shares of stock, which provides a certain amount of funds. The union may also receive deposits of money, paying interest on them as a savings bank would do. This increases the funds and also encourages thrift on the part of the farmer. Idle money, or money that might otherwise be spent unwisely, is thus made productive. In some unions, as in Massachusetts, children are encouraged to deposit their small savings, and in some cases half the capital of the union is made up of such small savings deposits. From these funds loans are made to members of the union on reasonable terms, provided they are to be used for productive purposes. The union may also borrow money from the bank in town on the COLLECTIVE CREDIT of its members for the improvement of agricultural conditions in the neighborhood.


Similar aid to the farmers' credit has been given by the national government through the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916. This Act created a Federal Farm Loan Board in the Treasury Department, and twelve Federal Land Banks, one in each of twelve districts into which the United States was divided for that purpose. Through the organization provided by the board and the banks, a farmer may now borrow money on more favorable terms, but only on condition that he agrees to use the money for the purchase and improvement of land or for equipment, and to engage in the actual cultivation of the farm for the development of which he desired the money.

The provisions of the Federal Farm Loan Act afford an excellent illustration of how government promotes citizen cooperation. The government does not lend the money to the farmers; it merely provides the machinery by which the farmers may cooperate among themselves, and also secure the cooperation of investors in all parts of the country, to obtain capital necessary for the proper development of the land. As a rule the farmer can borrow money from the land bank only by being a member of a local "national farm loan association." His dealings with the bank are through this association. His membership in the association gives him better standing and secures for him better terms than he could get if acting separately. Moreover, the money that the bank lends to the farmer comes from the farmers who belong to the association, and from investors in all parts of the country, who buy shares of stock in the bank and bonds issued by the bank on the security of the farmers' land and equipment. The whole scheme is one of cooperation which would be impossible but for the legislation, financial support, and supervision of the government at Washington.


It will be seen then that much of the capital that a farmer uses is borrowed, and is made up of small savings of other people—some of them his neighbors, others in distant places. The same is true with respect to the capital used in all other businesses. The enormous capital of railroads is derived chiefly from the savings of millions of people, some of whom buy shares of railroad stock directly, but most of whom deposit their savings in banks or other institutions which, in turn, lend it to the railroads or invest it in their stock. The farmer or the school boy who has a savings account in a neighboring bank thus may become a partner in various business enterprises of the country. His dollars or dimes, added to the dollars and dimes of many other people, are used to buy machinery and tools and materials, and to pay labor. Because of the service performed by his savings he receives interest on his money.


There are many opportunities for young people to invest savings in productive enterprises,—perhaps more in rural communities than elsewhere. The different kinds of boys' and girls' clubs illustrate the variety of channels through which money may be both earned and invested. As soon as a boy invests a little money in a pig, or a calf, or garden tools, he becomes a capitalist to that extent. It is to be hoped that not many have the experience of the boy described in the following lines: [Footnote: Read by R.H. Wilson, in an address before the National Council of Education, N.E.A. PROCEEDINGS, 1917, p. 133.]

Johnnie bought a little pig with money he had earned, He named her Nell and fed her well, and lots of tricks she learned. But Nellie grew to be a sow, had piggies quite a few, Then father up and sold them, and kept the money, too.

Johnnie took a little calf as pay for hoeing corn, He loved the calf and the calf loved him as sure as you are born. The calfie grew to be a cow, as all good calfies do, Then father up and sold her, and kept the money, too.

Now, Johnnie loved his little pets, but father loved the pelf, So Johnnie left his father's farm and struck out for himself. Said Johnnie's pa, one summer day, "I often wonder why Boys don't like life upon the farm, 'the city' is their cry."

"It always will be strange to me," continued Johnnie's pa, "It only goes to prove, though, how ungrateful children are." When Johnnie heard what father said, he gave a bitter laugh, And thought of his empty childhood and of his pig and calf.

Savings may be deposited in savings banks, which accept small deposits and pay compound interest, usually at a rate of 3 per cent or 3 1/2 per cent. Such banks operate in accordance with state or national laws to protect the depositor against loss. Many schools conduct school savings banks. The pupils bring their small amounts to the teacher or to some pupil acting as "teller," the collected funds then being deposited in some bank in the community. These school banks promote habits of thrift and afford experience in business methods, besides bringing into use in the world's work many small amounts of money that would otherwise be lying idle or spent unwisely.


In 1910 Congress established the Postal Savings System under which any post office may be a savings bank. Any person over ten years of age may deposit money at the postal savings bank in amounts of from $1.00 to $25.00, receiving from the postmaster POSTAL SAVINGS CERTIFICATES as evidence of the deposit. Provision is made for savings accounts of less than a dollar by selling POSTAL SAVINGS STAMPS at ten cents each, ten of which may be exchanged for a dollar certificate. Two per cent interest is paid on postal savings, but savings certificates may be exchanged for POSTAL SAVINGS BONDS, bearing interest at the rate of 2 1/2 per cent.


The purchase of Liberty Bonds or Savings Stamps and Thrift Stamps is a good investment and a patriotic act. The money raised in this way is used for the national defense and for reconstruction after the war. The Savings Division of the United States Treasury Department carries on a campaign of thrift education. Among other things, it promotes the organization of savings societies and thrift clubs, because thrift is a habit which is encouraged by the example and cooperation of others. In Randolph County, Indiana, for example, each consolidated school has its thrift club, and over 75 per cent of the pupils are members. One of these schools sold over $11,000 worth of thrift stamps, and others sold from $1500 to $3500 worth. Savings societies exist among the workmen of many industries, and employers report that these have increased the purchase of homes, and have resulted in a saving of materials and tools because of the habits of thrift established.


Among the many other agencies to promote thrift we shall only mention BUILDING AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS and INSURANCE. The purpose of building and loan associations is to help people of small means to purchase or build homes. Insurance affords a particularly good illustration of organized cooperation. The PREMIUMS paid by thousands of policy holders produce a large sum of money, part of which goes to pay the expenses of the insurance company, but most of which is invested in enterprises that cause the amount rapidly to increase. Out of this fund the occasional losses of individuals are paid. Life insurance is a good form of investment. It provides for the future of the family of the insured in case of his death. By the ENDOWMENT plan the insured may himself receive, at the end of a specified number of years, all that he has paid in premiums together with interest.

During the war our national government itself insured the soldiers against death or injury. This was known as WAR RISK INSURANCE. At the end of the war the soldier had the privilege of converting the war risk insurance into a regular form of insurance, still provided, however, by the government itself. One of our states also, Wisconsin, sells life insurance to its citizens.

As we proceed with our study we shall encounter other aspects of thrift in various chapters. As a nation we may be thrifty or unthrifty in the use of our resources (see Chapters XIV and XV). Thrift is as essential in our "community housekeeping," which is carried on by government, as in our homes and business. But we can hardly expect thrift to become a national characteristic unless it first becomes a personal habit.

Are you a capitalist? If so, explain in what way.

What forms does the capital take with which your father does business?

What capital does an Eskimo have? the American Indians when the country was first settled?

Do you belong to a thrift club? Would it be desirable to organize one in your school? Confer with your teacher and principal about it. Write to the Savings Division, U.S. Treasury Department, Washington, D.C., for literature regarding organization.

Is there a credit union, or a savings association, or other organization to promote thrift in your community? If so, find out how it operates.

Write a story on the subject, "What my five dollars may accomplish after I put it in the savings bank, before it comes back to me with interest."

Why are people willing to accept a lower rate of interest from a postal savings bank than from an ordinary savings bank?



Series A: Lesson 6, Capital. Lesson 13, U.S. Food Administration. Lesson 14, Substitute foods. Lesson 15, Woman as the family purchaser. Lesson 21, Borrowing capital for modern business. Lesson 22, The commercial bank and modern business.

Series B: Lesson 7, An intelligently selected diet. Lesson 22, Financing the war. Lesson 23, Thrift and war savings.

Series C: Lesson 7, Preserving foods. Lesson 8, Preventing waste of human beings. Lesson 14, The U.S. Fuel Administration. Lesson 16, The Commercial Economy Board of the Council of National Defense.

Write Savings Division, U.S. Treasury Department, for materials; especially "Ten Lessons in Thrift," and "Teaching Thrift in Elementary Schools." Both of these contain lists of readings.

The Post-Office Department has publications descriptive of the postal savings service.

Farmers' Bulletins, U.S. Department of Agriculture, relating to thrift.

Federal Farm Loan Act, How It Benefits the Farmer, Farmers' Bulletin 792.

See references in footnotes in this chapter.

Dunn, THE COMMUNITY AND THE CITIZEN, Chapter XIV, "Waste and Saving."

The local public library, the State Library, and the State Agricultural College, will doubtless furnish lists of references and perhaps provide materials.

The United States Bureau of Education will send list of references.




If you wanted to buy a farm, what facts would you investigate in regard to land and location?

What farm in your neighborhood comes nearest to meeting your requirements in these matters? Explain fully why.

Make a sketch map of a farm in your neighborhood, preferably one upon which you have lived, showing as nearly as you can the boundaries, the position of highlands and lowlands, marshes, timber, streams, etc. Also the position of house, barns, bridges, roads, and other important features.

Did the features of the land indicated on your map determine the location of the buildings? of the roads and bridges? the kinds of crops raised on different parts of the farm?

Should the surface features of the land be taken into account in determining the position of the house and barns in relation to each other? Why?

Has the character of the land influenced the life of the farmer's family in any way? Explain.


Directly or indirectly, geographical conditions affect every aspect of community life and help or hinder us in satisfying all of our wants (see Chapter I). Their influence is chiefly felt, however, in their relation to the economic interest of the people; that is, in relation to earning a living and the production of wealth.


Every step that man has taken to make his relations with the land permanent and definite has been a step of progress in civilization, as when, for example, the savage hunter became a herdsman, or the herdsman an agriculturist. We live to-day in an age of machinery, which is a result of turning to our use the metals from the depths of the earth and the power derived from the forces of nature, as in the application of steam, electricity, and the explosive force of gasoline. Many have had a part in this work of establishing relations with the land: explorers; scientists who have discovered the uses of our varied mineral and vegetable resources and how to make the forces of nature serve us; engineers who have built our railroads and bridges and tunneled our mountains. A most important part has been taken by those who win their living directly from nature's resources—the woodsman, the miner, the farmer; and the service of the farmer has been especially great in giving stability to our community life.


Those American Indians were most civilized who had developed agriculture to the highest point, because this meant a settled life. If we recall the story of the colonization of America we shall remember that it was not successfully accomplished by the gold hunters and fur traders who came first, but only when those came who, as farmers, began to cultivate the soil. Later, as the population moved westward across the Alleghenies into the Mississippi Valley and on to the Pacific Coast, the hunters and trappers were the scouts who found the way, while the real army that took possession of the land was an army of farmers.

Did the American Indians who formerly lived in your locality lead a settled life? Why? Were they agriculturists to any extent? If so, what do you know of their method of agriculture?

Of what pastoral peoples have you read? Why was their life more settled than that of hunting peoples? Why less settled than that of farmers?

Why were settlements by gold hunters and fur traders likely not to be permanent?

Do you know of important mining towns that have had a brief life?


The story of how individuals acquired the right to own land is an interesting one, but too long to be told here. The right has long been recognized and protected by government. If your father owns a piece of land he doubtless has a DEED for it, containing an accurate description of the land and giving him title to ownership. In each county there is an office of government where all deeds are recorded—the office of the recorder or register of deeds.

The record of every piece of land is thus kept and is open to examination by any one. If a man wishes to buy a piece of land he will go to the office of the recorder and find out whether the title to the land is clear. Only by so doing may he be protected against error or fraud.


Since lands are likely to change hands a number of times, and since men frequently MORTGAGE their lands as security for loans or other indebtedness, thus giving to others a claim to their land, it is sometimes a tedious and difficult task for a buyer to trace the record back and to be sure that the title to the land is clear. It sometimes requires months. There are lawyers who make a business of examining the records and making ABSTRACTS OF TITLES. This involves expense. Besides, there is always the chance that a mistake may be made somewhere. For this reason some states have adopted a plan known as the TORRENS SYSTEM of land transfer, from the name of the man who devised it in Australia.

Under the Torrens System the government itself, through its proper officer, may examine the title to any piece of land. The land is then REGISTERED, and the owner is given a certificate as evidence. If a mortgage is placed on the land or if it changes hands the transaction is recorded on the certificate and in the office records. A mere glance at the record of registry or at the certificate is sufficient to ascertain the title to the land. Thus time and expense are saved; and moreover the government gives its absolute guarantee to the owner or buyer as to his rights in the land.

The Torrens System is in use in some form in fourteen states of the Union, in the Philippines and Hawaii, and in various other countries of the world.


When settlers began to occupy the lands west of the Alleghenies, many of them laid claim to tracts without much regard for the claims of others. Boundary lines were indefinite. Where surveys were made they were often inaccurate. Much confusion resulted. Disputes arose that frequently found their way into the courts and dragged on for many years. The government sought to put an end to this state of affairs, and in Thomas Jefferson's administration a survey was begun to establish lines by which any piece of land might be located and defined with exactness.

The government survey was begun by establishing certain north and south lines known as PRINCIPAL MERIDIANS. There are twenty-four of these, the first being the meridian that separates Indiana from Ohio, while the last runs through the state of Oregon. At intervals of six miles east and west of the principal meridians were established other meridians called RANGE LINES. A parallel of latitude was then chosen as a BASE LINE, and at intervals of six miles north and south of the base line were established TOWNSHIP LINES. These township lines with the range lines divide the country into areas six miles square called TOWNSHIPS. A township may thus be located with reference to its nearest base line and principal meridian (see diagram I).

Since meridians converge as we go north (look at a globe), the townships are not exactly square, and become slightly smaller toward the north. To correct this, certain parallels north and south of the base line were chosen as CORRECTION LINES, from which the survey began again as from the original base line.

Each township is divided into SECTIONS one mile square, and therefore containing 640 acres each. These sections are numbered in each township from 1 to 36 as indicated in diagram III. Each section is further subdivided into halves and quarters, which are designated as in diagram IV.

This government survey has been made only in the "public lands" (see below, p. 197). It is still being carried on by the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior. In 1917 more than 10,000,000 acres, or nearly 16,000 square miles, were surveyed. In that year there still remained unsurveyed more than 900,000 square miles of public land, 590,000 of which were in Alaska and 320,000 in the United States proper. In the original thirteen states along the Atlantic seaboard a similar survey has been made, but either by private enterprise or under the authority of the state or county governments. Massachusetts has recently spent a large sum of money in a new survey of the state for the purpose of verifying and correcting doubtful boundaries.

Has your father a deed to the land you live on? If so, ask him to show it to you and explain it. How is the land described?

At the first convenient time, make a visit to the office of the recorder of deeds in your county, and ask to have some of the records shown and explained to you, preferably the record of the property you occupy. Where is the office of the recorder? (A visit of this sort should be in company with the teacher or parent. A class excursion for this and other purposes may well be arranged for.)

What is a MORTGAGE? An ABSTRACT OF TITLE? (Consult parents.)

Is the Torrens System in use in your state?

Is your state a "public land state"?

From the deed to your father's land, or from the records in the recorder's office, or from a map of your county showing the survey lines, locate the land you live on, as indicated in the accompanying diagrams.

In what section and township is your schoolhouse?

Are there still any "public lands" in your state?

Are the boundary lines of farms in your neighborhood regular or irregular? How does this happen?

Do you know of any boundary disputes between farmers or other citizens in your community? What machinery of government exists to settle such disputes?


At the close of the Revolutionary War, the territory of the United States extended west as far as the Mississippi River. That part of this territory which lay west of the Allegheny Mountains had been claimed by seven of the thirteen states that formed the Union; but soon after the war they ceded these western possessions to the United States, having received a promise from Congress that these lands, which were largely unoccupied at the time, should be disposed of "FOR THE COMMON BENEFIT OF THE UNITED STATES." They thus became PUBLIC LANDS; that is, they belonged to the people of the nation as a whole. The common interest in these public lands was one of the chief influences that kept the thirteen states united under one government during the troubled times between the close of the Revolution and the adoption of the Constitution in 1789. As time went on, the public lands of the nation were increased by the acquisition of new territory, [Footnote: Louisiana Territory was acquired in 1803, Oregon in 1805, Florida in 1812 and 1819, Texas in 1845, California and New Mexico in 1846-48, the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, Alaska in 1867.] Of the 3,600,000 square miles comprising the United States and Alaska more than three fourths has at some time been public land; but of this there now remain, exclusive of Alaska, only about 360,000 square miles, much of which is forest and mineral land, unsuitable for agriculture.


To turn this great domain with all its resources to the fullest service of the nation has been one of the greatest problems with which our government has had to deal. In the early part of our history various plans were tried by which to secure the occupancy and development of the agricultural lands by farmers, until in 1862 the first Homestead Act was passed by Congress.

About 10,000,000 acres of the public land were given to soldiers who fought in the Revolution and in the War of 1812 in recognition of then-service to their country. About 60,000,000 acres were later given to veterans of the Mexican War.

Until the year 1800 the plan in use for the disposition of the public lands was to sell large areas to colonizing companies, with the expectation that these companies would find settlers to whom they would sell the land in small quantities at a profit. This was not successful, as actual settlers found it difficult to get land they wanted at prices they could afford.

From 1800 to 1820 lands were sold in small areas ON CREDIT. Many bought more than they were able to pay for, and much land so disposed of had to be taken back by the government.

In 1820 a third plan was adopted: That of selling land for cash in any quantity to any purchaser. This led to speculation, individuals and companies of individuals buying recklessly, without intention of actual settlement, but with the purpose of selling again at a profit. This brought on a financial panic in 1837.

Then followed the "PREEMPTION" plan, by which actual settlers could "preempt" land (get the first right to it) by merely taking possession and paying a cash price of $1.25 an acre.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was an extension of the preemption plan; but instead of paying a cash price, the settler could acquire the land merely by living on it for a period of five years (now three) and paying fees of about $40.00.


The Homestead Act, like earlier laws, made a direct appeal to men's desire to earn a living, to acquire property, and especially to own homes. It has been modified from time to time, but in all essentials it still remains in force and provides that any citizen of the United States who has reached the age of twenty-one, or who is the head of a family, may acquire a farm on condition of living upon it for a period of three years, cultivating the land and erecting a dwelling, and paying to the government a small fee. The size of the farm that he may so acquire varies according to the nature of the land, but the usual homestead on good agricultural land is limited to 160 acres.

The purpose of the government has been to encourage ACTUAL SETTLEMENT in order to secure the development of the nation's resources, and for this purpose to allow each settler enough land to enable him to support a family in comfort. It was decided that 160 acres of GOOD FARM LAND was enough.

Some portions of the public land, however, are less productive than others. Where the rainfall is slight and where irrigation is impracticable, and yet where crops can be raised by the "dry farming" process, the law allows a settler to take 320 acres.

A settler may also obtain 320 acres in the "desert lands" of some of the western states. These lands may be made productive by irrigation, but the settler must construct his own irrigation system. Originally 640 acres were allowed in such lands, but the amount has been reduced to 320 acres, and the Commissioner of the General Land Office now recommends (1916) that it be further reduced to 160 acres.

In those parts of the desert region which the government has already reclaimed by irrigation, thus making the land extremely fruitful, the amount usually allowed a settler is from 40 to 80 acres.

There are regions where the land is suitable only for stock raising and for forage crops. Here Congress has decided that 640 acres is a fair amount for the support of a family.

Lands that are valuable for their timber and mineral resources are disposed of on different terms, but on somewhat the same principle.


At the close of the war in 1918 a plan was proposed by the Secretary of the Interior to secure the occupation of land by returning soldiers. Since the lands suitable for farming in their natural state have practically all been disposed of; the plan contemplates the reclamation of arid and swamp lands, and of land from which the forests have been cut but which are still covered with stumps. It is proposed that returned soldiers shall be employed by the government in the work of reclaiming the land, and that those who desire to become farmers may buy their farms in the reclaimed lands at a reasonable price, and with a period of thirty or forty years in which to pay for them. The Secretary of the Interior said: "This plan does not contemplate anything like charity to the soldier ... He is not to be made to feel that he is a dependent. On the contrary, he is to continue in a sense in the service of the Government. Instead of destroying our enemies he is to develop our resources." Much of the land whose reclamation by and for returning soldiers is thus contemplated is not now public land, but is lying idle in the hands of private owners.


The state of California has recently enacted a law known as the Land Settlement Act, which provides for "a demonstration in planned rural development." "Its first idea is educational, to show what democracy in action can accomplish." Under the terms of this act the state acting through a Land Settlement Board and with the cooperation of experts from the University of California, has purchased several thousand acres of land at Durham, in Butte County, which it sells to settlers on easy terms. It also lends money to settlers for improvement and equipment for the farmers.

The California Land Settlement Act is significant, because it eliminates speculation, it aims to create fixed communities by anticipating and providing those things essential to early and enduring success.

Another feature is the use it makes of cooperation. The settlers are at the outset brought into close business and social relations. It reproduces the best feature of the New England town meeting, as every member of the community has a share in the discussions and planning for the general welfare. This influence in rural life has been lacking in new communities in recent years. In the great movement of people westward with its profligate disposal of public land, settlement became migratory and speculative. Every man was expected to look out for himself. Rural neighborhoods became separated into social and economic strata. There was the nonresident landowner; the influential resident landowner; the tenant, aloof and indifferent to community improvements; and, below that, the farm laborer who had no social status and who in recent years, because of lack of opportunity and social recognition, has migrated into the cities where he could have independence and self-respect, or has degenerated into a hobo.

At Durham, for the first time in American land settlement, the farm laborer who works for wages is recognized as having as useful and valuable a part in rural economy as the farm owner. The provisions made for his home are intended to give to his wife and children comfort, independence, and self-respect; in other words, the things that help create character and sustain patriotism. The farm laborers' homes already built are one of the most attractive features of the settlement; and when the community members gather together, as they do, to discuss matters that affect the progress of the settlement, or to arrange for cooperative buying and selling, the farm laborer and his family are active and respected members of the meetings.

From maps in school histories study the claims of the seven states to western lands.

What is the Ordinance of 1787?

Make reports on the circumstances connected with our various territorial acquisitions.

From whom did the colonists get the right to the land in the original thirteen colonies?

Do you know anyone who has ever taken up a "homestead claim"? If so, learn how it was done.

If possible, get a description of a "land lottery" and a "land rush" in newly opened public lands.

Get all the information you can about the plan to provide land for the soldiers, referred to above. Do you think this is a better plan than that of giving land to soldiers outright? Why? Is your state likely to cooperate with the national government in carrying out this plan? How?


The policy of the government of disposing of the public lands to individuals has of course been of great benefit to the latter; but we should not lose sight of the fact that the national well-being is the first consideration. As the Commissioner of the General Land Office said in a recent report (1916), "Every acre of public land disposed of under this line of legislation is AN INVESTMENT, the profits to be found in the general development of the welfare of the nation at large."


It has been no simple matter to administer our public lands, and mistakes have been made. Sometimes the interests of individuals have not been sufficiently safeguarded. Many settlers have suffered serious loss, and many promising communities have failed, through the taking of homesteads in regions of little rainfall, as in western Kansas and Nebraska. The government now seeks to protect homesteaders against such errors by distinguishing carefully between lands suitable for ordinary agriculture and those suitable only for dry-farming and stock-raising, by informing prospective settlers in regard to the facts, and by allowing larger entries in lands of the latter classes. Another mistake was made in allowing many of the first claimants to stock- raising lands so to locate their claims as to acquire the exclusive use of the only available water supply for miles around, thus making useless other large tracts. This might have been avoided by a little foresight.


On the other hand, the land laws have sometimes been abused. Large quantities of public land have fallen into the hands of speculators whose purpose is not to develop its resources, but to make a profit from the increased value of the land due to the efforts of others. Immense areas of land have thus been withheld from production, or have been made to produce to a limited extent only, to the great loss of the nation.


In the days of transcontinental railroad building, large tracts of land were given to the railroad companies by the government, with the expectation that they would dispose of it at reasonable prices to settlers attracted by the new transportation facilities, and would use the proceeds in railway development. In fact, however, large quantities of this land have been held in an unproductive state for speculative purposes.

An illustration of this is the case of the Oregon and California Railroad land grant, made by Congress in 1869 and 1870, and comprising more than 4,200,000 acres, most of which bore a heavy growth of valuable timber. "This railroad grant ... contained a special provision to the effect that the railroad company should sell the land it received to actual settlers only, in quantities not greater than one-quarter section to one purchaser and at a price not exceeding $2.50 an acre. By this precaution it was intended that in aiding the construction of the railroad an immediate impetus should also be given to the settlement and development of the country through which the road was to be constructed."

After selling some of the lands according to the terms of the agreement, the railroad company ceased to live up to these terms and sold large bodies of the land to lumber interests, thus putting a stop to the development of the region in the way intended by the government. The government brought action against the railroad company, the outcome of which is that the government has bought back from the company at $2.50 an acre all of the lands of the grant which remained unsold, amounting to about 2,300,000 acres and valued at from $30,000,000 to $50,000,000.

These lands are being classified "in accordance with their chief value, either in power-site lands, timber lands, or agricultural lands," and are to be disposed of accordingly. The timber will be sold separately from the land, and the land will then be opened to homestead entry.

By this arrangement the railroad company gets for the land all that it was entitled to under the terms of the original grant. In addition, provision is made for the payment to the counties in which the land lies of the taxes which the railroad company has not paid. As the lands are sold, the proceeds are to be divided between the state and the United States, the state receiving 50 percent, 40 percent being paid into the general reclamation fund of the United States (see Chapter XIV, p. 213), and 10 per cent into the general funds of the United States Treasury.

(From the Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 1916, pp. 46-49).

This is a striking illustration of how our government, acting through Congress, the Courts, and the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior, has sought to obtain justice for all parties concerned, and to fulfill the original purpose of securing the development of the land in the interest of the state and the nation.


Something like 133,000,000 acres of our public lands have from time to time been turned over to the states, the proceeds to be used for the promotion of public education, for the construction of roads, and for other purposes (see Chapters XVII and XIX). In some cases these lands have not been used altogether for the purposes for which they were granted. School lands have sometimes been sold at a nominal price to individuals who have reaped the profit, whereas the lands might have been so administered by the states as to have brought large returns for educational purposes. In some cases, state officials have made unwise investments of the funds derived from the sale of the lands, thereby losing them for the use of the state.


The control, or "monopolizing," of the public land by large holders is said to be one of the causes of increasing tenantry (Chapter X, p. 116); for as the available supply of desirable farming land is diminished, the actual home-seeker is driven to take less productive lands, or to purchase from the large holders at a higher price. The more recent land laws limit the amount of public land that an individual may acquire to an area sufficient to enable him to make a comfortable living for a family (see above, p. 199). They also exact from the homesteader an agreement that he will actually occupy and cultivate the land.


The responsibility for the defects in our methods of administering the public lands rests in part upon our governmental representatives, who have not always dealt wisely with the extremely difficult problem. But it rests also upon each individual citizen. There are those, be it said to our shame, who deliberately seek to defeat the purpose of the laws and to appropriate to their own selfish uses the lands which belong to the nation as a whole. There is one division of the General Land Office in Washington known as the Contest Division. Before it come, not only the ordinary disputes that are likely to arise between rival claimants, but also cases of alleged fraud and violation of the land laws. In the year 1916 MORE THAN 12,000 CASES OF ALLEGED FRAUD WERE ACTED UPON, AND NEARLY 12,000 OTHER CASES AWAITED ACTION AT THE END OF THE YEAR! But the responsibility comes much closer home than this. Many of us who would not think of violating the law have failed to appreciate the value of the gifts that nature has given us, and have apparently been "too busy" to inform ourselves as to whether or not our public lands have been administered solely for the purpose to which Congress devoted them just after the Revolution. This, like every other matter of community interest, requires team work.

The community has certain rights to a citizen's land that are clearly recognized as superior to the citizen's rights. Acting through its government, it may take a part of a citizen's property by taxation (see Chapter XXIII). Taxes are paid in money; but if a citizen does not pay the tax upon his land, the government may sell the land for enough to cover the obligation.


Again, the government may take a citizen's land for public uses, if the interests of the community demand it, by what is called the RIGHT OF EMINENT DOMAIN. For example, if the interests of the community demand that a new road be built, the government will seek to buy the necessary land from the farmers along the line of the proposed highway. Some farmer may say that he does not want the road to run through his farm, or he may try to get a price beyond what his land is worth. The government may then CONDEMN the required land and fix a price despite the farmer's objections. The citizen whose land is taken must, however, be paid for it; the Constitution of the United States protects him by the provision, "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation" (Amendment V, last clause).

The right of eminent domain may be exercised to secure a site for a schoolhouse, a post-office, an army post, or courthouse, or for any other public purpose. The government also authorizes corporations that perform a public service to exercise the right, as in the case of railroads which must obtain a right of way for their tracks, and sites for their yards and stations.


Finally, by the exercise of what is known as the POLICE POWER, the government may control the use to which a citizen may put his land. Occasion for the exercise of the police power arises most frequently in cities, where it is necessary to control the construction of buildings for fire protection, and to regulate the kinds of business that may be conducted. In country districts it does not usually make so much difference what a man does on his own land; but even there the police power may be exercised, as when the state of Idaho passed a law forbidding the herding of sheep within a certain distance of towns.


There is another way in which government establishes relations between the people and the land. Citizens of the United States have certain political rights and duties, such as voting, holding office, and paying taxes. These rights may be enjoyed and the duties performed only within certain districts which the government creates for this purpose. Thus, a citizen has a right to vote within the state where he lives, but not in any other state. He must cast his vote within his own county, township, and precinct. The boundaries of the states are established by the national government (except the original thirteen states of the Union, whose boundaries were fixed before the national government was organized); but they may not be changed afterward without the consent of the states affected. The states organize their own counties and townships [Footnote: In the public land states the political township usually, but not always, corresponds with the township surveyed by the national government. See pp. 194-196.] and other districts. Villages and cities are granted definite boundaries by the state, and organize themselves into wards and precincts. There are legislative, congressional, judicial, and revenue districts, the boundaries of which are fixed by state and national governments. Locally, there are school districts. The boundaries which separate one nation from another are determined by agreement, or treaty, between the nations concerned. Uncertainty or indefiniteness in regard to national boundary lines has been the cause of much international strife, and was an important factor in the European war begun by Germany in 1914.

If you live in a "public land" state, for what uses have public lands been given to the state? Have the school lands in your state been wisely used?

Is it easy for a young man to acquire a farm in your locality? to keep up improvements on a farm that he owns? Has it been easy for a farmer in your locality to borrow money? (Consult parents and friends.)

Have the farmers of your locality made much use of the Federal Farm Loan Act? Do they think it is a good law?

Have you heard of forced sales of land in your community to pay taxes?

Do you know of cases of the exercise of the right of eminent domain in your community? For what purposes? Was it exercised by local, state, or national government?

In what ways does government control the use to which you may put the land on which you live?

In what township do you live? school district? congressional district? state legislative district? revenue district?


Annual reports of the Secretary of the Interior.

Annual reports of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, Department of the Interior, Washington.

The General Land Office has published a large wall map showing the land surveys, the national forests, and many other important items. It may be secured from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, for $1.

See the New International Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Americana on public lands, national forests, and other topics referred to in this chapter.


Series A: Lesson 4, What nature has done for a typical city.




In the preceding chapter we learned that as a nation we have not been altogether thrifty in the disposal and use of our public lands. The same thing will have to be said regarding the use of the resources of the land, of which the soil is by far the most valuable.

It is said that 1200 boys in Ohio, organized in clubs, increased the average yield of corn from 35 bushels to 81 bushels per acre. The average returns per acre from the soil of the United States were lower before the war than in any European country, except Russia. The following table gives the production per acre of four cereals in the United States and five European countries in 1913. The same relative position of the United States would be shown if we took the average production of these countries for a series of years.



The low position of the United States in agriculture is by no means due to inferior ability on the part of the American farmer. The Secretary of Agriculture says that

Even now no farmer in the world can compare with the American farmer in agricultural efficiency. His adaptability to new and changing conditions, to the use of improved machinery and processes, coupled with the great natural resources with which the nation is endowed, make him far superior to any of his competitors. It is true that he does not produce more per acre than the farmers of some other nations. Production per acre, however, is not the American standard. The standard is the amount of production for each person engaged in agriculture, and by this test the American farmer appears to be from two to six times as efficient as most of his competitors.


As long as we had a great abundance of unoccupied land it would perhaps have been uneconomic to increase the production of that which was occupied by the costly methods of agriculture used in Belgium, Germany, and other thickly settled countries. But the old methods of farming not only failed to get from the soil all that it was then capable of producing, they also robbed it of fertility without restoring to it what was taken from it. Thus the loss caused by wasteful methods was passed on to future generations. To continue such methods in the light of our present knowledge and with our growing population is thriftless in the extreme. Methods of preserving and restoring the fertility of the soil and of obtaining the largest returns from it are now receiving the most careful attention from both state and national governments.


A great deal of land lies idle that might be productive of food— not only arid, swamp, and cut-over lands, mentioned in later paragraphs, and land held for speculation, but also vacant lots and unused back yards in cities and villages, and waste or unused portions of cultivated farms. It is largely from city and village lots that the School Garden Army obtained its remarkable results. It is astonishing how many farmers buy instead of raising their vegetables for the table, as well as feed for their stock.

Texas, for instance, has purchased $200,000,000 worth of food products yearly from northern markets which might have been produced more cheaply at home. It takes 15 to 20 acres of land in Texas to grow cotton enough to buy 160 bushels of canned sweet potatoes, while one acre of Texas soil would produce the same quantity, and uncanned. [Footnote: THRIFT, a monograph published by the National Education Association, 1918.]

Such topics as the following should be studied, consulting parents, farmers of the locality, and such printed sources of information as are available.

The important cereal crops of your state. The average yield per acre of each. Increase or decrease in yield in recent years.

The work of corn clubs and other boys' and girls' clubs to increase the yield of crops in your state.

The difference between "production per acre" and "production per person engaged in agriculture."

The difference between "intensive" and "extensive" agriculture.

"Single crop" and "diversified crop" types of agriculture in your locality. Advantages of each.

Extent to which farmers of your locality raise their own table vegetables and stock feed.

Evidence furnished by your town, or neighboring towns, during the war, of the wealth-producing power of vacant lots or unused backyards.


Much of our public land has been nonproductive solely because of the lack of moisture. In 1902 a law known as the Reclamation Act was passed by Congress, providing that the proceeds from the sale of public lands in states containing arid regions,[Footnote: The states to which this law applies are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. See map.] except such as were already devoted to educational and other public purposes, should be used for the construction and maintenance of irrigation works. This reclamation work is in charge of the Reclamation Service of the Department of the Interior, whose engineers have built great dams and reservoirs from which the water has been led by canals and ditches into the desert. By 1916 more than 1,000,000 acres had been irrigated under this act, the crop value in that year reaching $35,000,000. The reclaimed land is disposed of to actual settlers in accordance with the homestead laws, each homesteader repaying the government in annual installments the cost of reclaiming the land he occupies. The fund so created is used by the government for further reclamation projects. The Department of Agriculture sends its experts to advise with the farmers in regard to the problems peculiar to the reclaimed regions. "Every effort should be and is, therefore, being made to promote the success of the farmer, and on the basis of his success to increase the prosperity of the country." [Footnote 2: Report of the Reclamation Service, 1912- 1913, p. 4.]

The Yuma project in Arizona opened a new Valley of the Nile where four crops of alfalfa are now raised on what once were arid lands. The streets of Yuma and Somerton are crowded with the automobiles of farmers, enriched by thousands of acres of splendid long-staple cotton, alfalfa, corn, and feterita. Another irrigated valley in Arizona, that of the Salt River, has few superiors in the world and has come in three years into great prosperity. Arizona planted to cotton last year 92,000 acres. Its crop was 96 per cent perfect, the best record in the United States. [Footnote: Arthur D. Little, "Developing the Estate," ATLANTIC MONTHLY, March, 1919.]

The principal irrigation projects of the Reclamation Service are shown on the accompanying map.


Five or six times as much arid land has been reclaimed by private enterprise as by the Reclamation Service. The first extensive irrigation project in the West was a cooperative enterprise by the Mormon colonists in Utah. It is said that about two fifths of the land irrigated in the United States is supplied with water by works built and controlled by individual farmers or by a few neighbors, while another one third is supplied by stock companies. As early as 1877 Congress passed "a desert land law," by which homesteads were granted in the arid lands on condition that the settlers should irrigate the land. In 1894 the Carey Act was passed by Congress under which the national government may give to a state as much as a million acres of arid public land within its borders, on condition that the state provides for its irrigation. The work is done by private stock companies, with whom the state makes a contract for the purpose. The most extensive irrigation project undertaken by private enterprise is that of the Imperial Valley in California, which derives its water from the Colorado River. Under the laws of California the Imperial Valley region has been organized as an "irrigation district," with power to levy taxes for the development and support of the irrigation work. Each state in which irrigation is practiced has its own laws regulating the use of water by farmers and other consumers.

The theory is that the state regulates the appropriation of the water, exercising this power and holding the land in trust for the public ... It is the duty of every state to which the Reclamation Act is applicable to assist with every resource under its control.[Footnote: Water Supply Paper, 234, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior, p. 66.]

Reference has been made in Chapter XIV to the proposed plan for the reclamation and settlement of new areas of arid land by returning soldiers.


There are probably 80,000,000 acres of swamp lands in the United States which could be made productive by drainage. Farmers themselves could reclaim much of this land at comparatively small cost, greatly increasing their own profit and the wealth of the country.

One farm in Wisconsin has 40 acres of poorly drained land that in its present condition is practically worthless. $25.00 per acre spent in drainage will make this 40-acre tract the equal of any in the district, and good land is selling there at $150.00 per acre. [Footnote 2: "Unprofitable Acres," in YEAR BOOK, Department of Agriculture, 1915, P. 147.]

The national government has at various times granted to the states swamp lands aggregating 60,000,000 acres, with the expectation that the states would reclaim them. The states have, however, done very little to fulfill the expectation. These swamp lands are among those whose reclamation by returning soldiers is proposed by the government.

Investigate and report on the following topics:

The work of the Reclamation Service of the national government.

If you live in one of the states to which the Reclamation Act applies, report on what has been accomplished by it in your state.

The development of one of the irrigation projects shown on the map.

Irrigation by private or state enterprise in your state (if any), and what it has accomplished.

The reclamation of Utah by the Mormons.

The development of the Imperial Valley of California.

The laws regulating the use of water for irrigation in your state (if an irrigated state).

The swamp areas in your locality or state. Progress made in their reclamation.

The reclamation of swamp or marshy land on particular farms of your locality.

The extent of idle cut-over land in your locality, why it is idle, the uses to which it could be put if reclaimed.


By the construction of dams, reservoirs, and canals the waters of a few of our streams are turned to the work of reclaiming land. Our unused water resources are very great. Niagara Falls have been harnessed for industrial uses, and with only a small part of their power in use they light the streets and houses, run the street cars, and turn the wheels of industry in Buffalo and Toronto and the neighboring region. But so far we are making use of less than 10 per cent of the power easily available from our streams. "The water now flowing idly from our hills to the sea could turn every factory wheel and every electric generator, operate our railroads, and still leave much energy to spare for new developments." [Footnote: Arthur D. Little, "Developing the Estate," ATLANTIC MONTHLY, March, 1919, p. 388.] It is probably not too much to expect that when our undeveloped water power is utilized it will provide electric light and power for every farm in the land. Our nation has allowed many of the best water power sites of the country to fall into the hands of private speculators who hold them undeveloped, as in the case of farmlands, forests, and other resources.


Floods are not only immensely destructive of property, causing a loss of $100,000,000 along the Mississippi River alone in a single year, but they carry to the sea water that might be used for irrigation and for industry. Reservoirs, such as are built for irrigating projects, regulate the flow of water in streams and prevent floods. In New England and New York reservoirs have been built for this very purpose, and probably 10 per cent of the flood waters that originate in these states is saved in this way and turned to industrial uses. Similar conservation of flood waters occurs in Minnesota, but it is estimated that for the country as a whole not more than one per cent of the flood waters is saved. [Footnote: "Conservation of Water Resources," Water Supply Paper 234, U.S. Geological Survey, 1919.] There are areas in which the reservoir system is impracticable, as in the lower Mississippi Valley. Here all that can be done is to protect the adjacent land by means of levees while controlling the floods farther up the valley.


Larger use of water power would conserve another valuable resource—coal. Of this fuel we have vast resources—"in West Virginia alone more than Great Britain and Germany combined." But the supply is not inexhaustible and we are mining it and using it in an extravagant manner. The loss here is not merely of heat and power and light, but of many valuable products of coal, including dyes, ammonia, vaseline, and many others.


Floods are increasing in the United States. This is due chiefly to the destruction of our forests by wasteful lumbering and by fire. In forested areas the ground absorbs the rainfall more easily, while in areas barren of trees and other vegetation it runs off the surface. The destruction of the forests, therefore, involves not only the loss of the timber, but also the loss caused by the floods, including the washing away of the soil.


In 1891 Congress authorized the President to establish "forest reserves," the first to be created being the "Yellowstone Park Timberland Reserve." From time to time new reserves were established, and in 1907 the name was changed to the National Forests. In 1917, more than 176 million acres were included within the National Forest boundaries, 21 million acres of which, however, belonged to private owners. They are administered by the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, at the head of which is the Chief Forester. They are grouped in seven districts with a district forester in charge of each. Over each of the 150 forests in the seven districts there is a forest supervisor; and each forest is further subdivided into ranger districts under district rangers who not only look after timber sales and the use of the forests generally, but also "help build roads, trails, bridges, telephone lines, and other permanent improvements."

A ranger must naturally be sound in body, for he is called upon to work for long periods in all kinds of weather. He must also know how to pack supplies and find food for himself and his horse in a country where it is often scarce. Besides a written test, prospective rangers are examined in compass surveying, timber work, and the handling of horses. [Footnote: "Government Forest Work," Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, p. 15.]

There are also employed in the Forests great numbers of logging engineers, lumbermen, scalers, planting assistants, guards, and others. In the great war, the Forest Service raised two regiments of men who went to France to assist in the various kinds of forestry work necessitated by the war.


The purpose of the Forest Service is to secure the use of the forests "in such a way that they will yield all their resources to the fullest extent without exhausting them, for the benefit primarily of the home builder. The controlling policy is serving the public while conserving the forests." [Footnote: "The Status of Forestry in the United States," Forest Service Circular 167, 1909, p. 5.] Timber is cut and sold, but always with a view to developing future growth. The forests are protected against fire. Burned-over areas are reforested by planting. Water power sites are protected. The freest possible use of forest pasture land is permitted, but under such regulations as to prevent injury to the forests and the denudation of the land by overgrazing. In 1915, nine million cattle, horses, sheep, and goats were pastured in the forests. In 1916 it was said that "more than 20 million dollars will probably be spent in the next ten years in building good roads in the National Forests." [Footnote 2: "Opening up the National Forests by Road Building," YEAR BOOK of the Department of Agriculture, 1916. Also reprinted in separate Leaflet No. 696.]


But our timber resources are not all in the National Forests, and the waste continues to an appalling extent.

With a total annual cut of 40,000,000,000 feet, board-measure, of merchantable lumber, another 70,000,000,000 feet are wasted in the field and at the mill. In the yellow-pine belt the values in rosin, turpentine, ethyl alcohol, pine oil, tar, charcoal, and paper stock lost in the waste are three or four times the value of the lumber produced. Enough yellow-pine pulp-wood is consumed in burners, or left to rot, to make double the total tonnage of paper produced in the United States.

But the wastes in lumbering, colossal though they are in absolute amount, are trivial compared to the losses which our estate has suffered, and still endures, from forest fires. The French properly regard as a national calamity the destruction of perhaps a thousand square miles of their fine forests by German shells. And yet the photographs that they show of this wreck and utter demolition may be reproduced indefinitely on 10,000,000 acres of our forest lands swept each year by equally devastating fire for which our own people are responsible. You have doubtless already forgotten that forest fire which last autumn, in Minnesota, burned over an area half as large again as Massachusetts, destroying more than twenty-five towns, killing 400 people, and leaving 13,000 homeless. [Footnote: "Developing the Estate," ATLANTIC MONTHLY, March, 1919, pp. 384-385.]

The nation has been defrauded of a great deal of wealth in timber by speculators who have taken advantage of the homestead laws.

Single tracts of 160 acres often have a value for the timber alone of $20,000 ... Lands acquired ... under the guise of the homestead law are to-day in the hands of lumber companies who promptly purchased them from the settlers as soon as the title passed, and are either reserving them for later cutting or are holding the land itself after cutting for from $40 to $60 an acre, or even more—a speculative process which effectively prevents the possibility of men of small means acquiring and establishing homes there. [Footnote 2: "The National Forests and the Farmer," in YEAR BOOK, Department of Agriculture, 1914, p. 70.]

To prevent this sort of thing, the government now sells the timber and the land separately, withholding from agricultural entry heavily timbered land until the timber is cut off.

In the Kaniksy National Forest, in Idaho and Washington, timber sales have been made to include much of the remaining agricultural timberland. Within eight years fully 10,000 acres of land will be made available for settlement. Permanent homes will be established and there will be available for the use of the communities approximately $225,000 for roads and schools, their share of the proceeds from the sale of the timber. [Footnote 3: IBID., p. 71.]


Besides the National Forests, there are more than 4,000,000 acres of STATE FORESTS.

Twenty-four states have forestry departments, sometimes under a state board or a commission, sometimes under the control of a single state forester, as in Massachusetts and Virginia. In New York, New Jersey, and Wisconsin the state forestry is a part of the work of a general "conservation commission." In Connecticut it is centered in the state agricultural experiment station, and in Texas in the agricultural college. In South Dakota the state forester is under the "commissioner of schools and public lands." So there is great variety in the organization of forestry work, and great variation in the amount and kind of attention given to it.


The difference between the number of states having state forests and the number having forestry departments is due to the fact that the public forests embrace only a small part of the timbered land of a state. It will be noted from the table on page 225 that only one southern state (North Carolina; two if Maryland is counted) has state forests. Six of them (eight with Maryland and Virginia) have state forestry departments. More attention is now being given to forest preservation and use in the South than these facts indicate, because of cooperation between state and national governments, chiefly through the county agents. Such cooperation also exists in the northern states. The map on page 242 shows cooperation for fire protection in New Hampshire.


The conservation of our forest resources requires cooperation on the part of citizens. In many states there are "timberland owners' fire protective associations," in 1917 about fifty of them. There is an American Forestry Association that publishes a magazine devoted to forestry, AMERICAN FORESTRY; a Society of American Foresters; The Camp Fire Club of America, with a committee on conservation of forests and wild life. Besides, there is a considerable number of local associations with similar purposes.


It is not always realized how important to our welfare the forests are, especially from the point of view of agricultural production. A very large part of the timbered area of the United States is in small woodlands on privately owned farms. Not only are the timber resources themselves of great value, but the relation of woodland to agriculture is very close, especially in its effect upon soil erosion.

Altogether it has been estimated that erosion is responsible for an annual loss in this country of approximately $100,000,000. To the farmer it means money out of pocket from start to finish. It impairs the fertility and decreases the productivity of his land, and may even ruin it altogether; it renders irrigation more difficult and more costly; by reducing the possibilities of cheap water power development it tends to keep up the price and check the more extended use of electricity; and by interfering with navigation it helps to prevent the development of a comprehensive system of cheap inland water transportation. But the farmer is not the only sufferer. The entire community is directly affected by the loss and is justified in taking heroic measures to remedy the evil.

If the problem is to be solved we must cease to accelerate surface run-off by burning the forests and brush fields, overgrazing the range, clearing steep slopes for agriculture, and practicing antiquated methods of cultivation. On the contrary, the farmer, the forester, and the stockman must cooperate in seeing that the land is so used that surface run-off, particularly at the higher elevations, is reduced to a minimum.

Children in particular should have their interest actively aroused and their support enlisted. In one state, "gully clubs" have been organized by the state forester. These are composed largely of school children who take an active part in the work of gully reclamation and particularly in finding and checking incipient gullies before it is too late. Why could not such organizations as boy scouts, girl scouts, and campfire girls be used in the same way? [Footnote: "Farms, Forests, and Erosion," YEAR BOOK of the Department of Agriculture, 1916, pp. 107-134.]


Soil, water, and forests are only a few of the rich natural resources of our country, although they are among the most important. Great as the mineral production of our country now is, we have only begun to open the mineral storehouse. On the other hand, we have been extremely wasteful of some of our minerals, as in the case of natural gas, oil, and coal. The war has done more, perhaps, than anything else to open our eyes to our mineral wealth and to convict us of our wastefulness in the past. In the light of what it has shown us we should redouble our efforts to conserve our resources. Our government has been gradually developing a program of conservation which we should help to make effective. At the end of this chapter will be found references to interesting accounts of our national wealth, and of what the government is doing to conserve it in other directions than those described in this chapter. Many of these references are to publications issued by the government itself, which can be obtained for the asking.

Investigate and report on.

Losses in your state from periodic floods. Measures adopted or proposed to control them.

The by products of coal and of petroleum.

The Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture.

A description of your state forests (if any).

Forestry in your own state, public and private.

Losses from forest fires in your state.

The life of a forest ranger.

The use of the farm woodlot in your locality.

The extent and effects of soil erosion in your locality or state. Measures taken to prevent it.

The feasibility of "gully clubs" in your locality.

The mineral resources of your state. Uses in war and peace.

Game laws of your state.



Series A: Lesson 13, The United States Food Administration. Lesson 14, Substitute Foods.

Series B: Lesson 5, Saving the soil. Lesson 6, Making dyes from coal tar. Lesson 9, How men made heat to work. Lesson 13, The Department of the Interior.

Series C: Lesson 4, Petroleum and its uses. Lesson 5, Conservation as exemplified by irrigation projects. Lesson 6, Checking waste in the production and use of coal. Lesson 10, Iron and steel. Lesson 14, The United States Fuel Administration. Lesson 16, The Commercial Economy Board of the Council of National Defense.

Reports of your State Agricultural College and Experiment Station, and of your State Geologist and other officers having to do with the natural resources of your state.

Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Interior. That for 1915 (pp. 1-30) contains an interesting review of our natural resources and their use; also (pp. 151-209) a comprehensive and interesting discussion of our mineral resources and their development. That for 1918 contains an account of the plan for land reclamation by and for soldiers.

Publications of the Geological Survey, the Bureau of Mines, and the Reclamation Service (all in the Department of the Interior), and of the Bureau of Fisheries (Department of Commerce).

Publications of the Forestry Service (Department of Agriculture).

Among the numerous publications of the Department of Agriculture may be mentioned:

Farmers' Bulletin 340(Declaration of Governors for the conservation of natural resources).

The National Forests and the farmer, YEAR BOOK 1914, 65-88.

Importance of developing our natural resources of potash, YEAR BOOK 1916, pp. 301-310.

Agriculture and Government reclamation projects, YEAR BOOK 1916, 177-198.

Farms, forests, and erosion, YEAR BOOK 1916, 107-134.

The farm woodlot problem, YEAR BOOK 1914, 439-456.

Economy of farm drainage, YEAR BOOK 1914, 245-256.

Economic waste from soil erosion, YEAR BOOK 1913, 207-220.

Unprofitable acres, YEAR BOOK 1915, 147-154.

Consult "Guide to United States Government Publications," U.S. Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1918, No. 2; also, "The Federal Executive Departments as Sources of Information," U.S. Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1919, No. 74.

Report of the National Conservation Commission (1909), Senate Document 676, 60th Congress, 2nd Session.




There is nothing more discouraging than to have the product of one's labor swept away by disaster. The farmer who has every prospect of a bumper crop after a hard season's work may have his hope dashed by smut in his grain, or by a visitation of grasshoppers, or by storm and flood. Cholera may carry off his hogs, or hoof-and-mouth disease his cattle. Rats and other rodents may eat his grain. Fire may destroy his barn or his home. The thief may steal his pocketbook or his automobile. His investments may prove unfortunate, or be swept away by somebody's bad management or fraud. Some thoughtless boys or deliberate vandals may ruin in a few minutes a beautiful lawn or trees that have taken years to grow and have involved great expense and effort.


The individual's loss is also a loss to the community. It is reported by the Department of Agriculture that nearly $800,000,000 damage was done to crops by insects in a single year. Animal diseases cause a direct loss to our country estimated at $212,000,000 annually. Hog cholera alone costs $75,000,000 a year. Smut destroys more than $50,000,000 a year in cereals. Food and feed products to the value of $150,000,000 a year are destroyed by prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and other rodents. It is said that prairie dogs often take half the pasturage of western cattle ranges. It is estimated that the killing of wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and lynxes saved more than $2,000,000 worth of livestock in 1918. Floods have destroyed $100,000,000 in property in the Mississippi Valley alone.

The loss from fire in the United States is said to equal the value of our total product of gold, silver, copper, and petroleum.

The buildings consumed by fire in 1914, if placed on lots of 65 feet frontage, would line both sides of a street extending from New York to Chicago. A person journeying along this street of desolation would pass in every thousand feet a ruin from which an injured person was taken. At every three fourths of a mile in this journey he would encounter the charred remains of a human being who has been burned to death. [Footnote: "The Fire Tax and Waste of Structural Materials in the United States," Bulletin 814, U. S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.]


Protection against loss of property is one of the chief services performed for us by our government. We have already noted in Chapter XII what a great deal of work both the national and state governments are doing to prevent loss of crops and of livestock from disease, insects, and other causes. What this may mean to the individual farmer and to the country is suggested by the case of a farmer who had hundreds of acres of corn destroyed in some manner unknown to him. A single visit from a representative of the Department of Agriculture showed him the cause of the trouble, the corn rootworm, and how it could be eradicated by a simple rotation of crops. The farmer said that this knowledge would save him $10,000 a year.


The state and national governments spend a great deal of money in equipping experimental laboratories and employing scientists to seek out these enemies of the farmer and of the nation, to find methods of destroying them or counteracting their effects, and to advise the farmer how he may protect himself and his neighbors. While the government provides leadership in these matters, it depends upon the cooperation of the people to get results, as we have seen in so many cases. A farmer may destroy all the rats, or ground squirrels, or prairie dogs on his place, but the trouble will be repeated unless there is community cooperation. The same thing is true of animal and plant diseases, insect enemies, and so on.

Investigate and report on:

Further facts regarding losses to farmers of the United States due to insect and bird enemies, predatory animals, animal and plant diseases.

Similar losses in your own state.

Estimated losses of individual farmers in your locality from any of these causes.

The value of insect-eating birds as property savers.

Campaigns against rabbits and prairie dogs in the West.

Bounties on wolves and other predatory animals in your state.

The work of your state experiment station to prevent loss of property.


Some kinds of protection require effort beyond the powers of individual citizens, or even of combined citizen action. This is the case with flood protection. Millions of dollars in property have been destroyed, thousands of lives lost, and untold suffering caused by the periodic recurrence of floods in certain sections of the country, as in the lower Mississippi Valley, or as in Ohio, a few years ago. The individual farmer has some responsibility for such floods, because by looking after his own drainage and preserving his own timberland he may help decrease the amount of water that flows into the streams and ultimately causes such havoc farther down the valley. But such efforts are helpful only in connection, with the larger efforts of the government. Even state governments cannot alone control the floods, because the waters that cause damage in Louisiana and Mississippi come from the states along the entire course of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Moreover, the destruction caused in Louisiana or any other state is a loss to the entire nation. The control of floods requires the combined efforts of national and state governments, as well as of local communities and individuals.

Levees have been built along some of our rivers that are subject to flood, notably the lower Mississippi, where the work has been done by the joint action of the states affected, through their local levee boards and their state boards of engineers, and the United States Mississippi River Commission. The United States government has spent large sums for river improvements, but there is a general feeling that the money has not always been wisely spent. At all events the work has been restricted to navigable streams under the power of the national government to regulate interstate commerce. Recently, however, the President has approved a law passed by Congress appropriating $45,000,000 for the control of the floods of the Mississippi by improvements from the headwaters of the river to the mouth of the Ohio. The law also includes the appropriation of $5,000,000 for the protection of the Sacramento Valley in California. This law was passed under the power given to Congress by the Constitution "to lay and collect taxes...for the common defense and general welfare of the United States" (Art. I, sec. 8, clause i).


Great saving of property has been effected by the United States Weather Bureau. The work of this Bureau is wonderful, but it is not mysterious. Just as the movements of a ship or of a railroad train may be reported day by day, and hour by hour, by telegraph, so the appearance and movement of a storm center or of a cold wave or of a flood are reported from a multitude of observing stations. There are central weather-forecasting stations at Chicago, New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C. Weather forecasts are made up at these points from observations telegraphed in from observing stations, and within two hours are telegraphed to about 1600 distributing stations, from which they are further distributed to about 90,000 mail addresses daily, to all newspapers, and are made available to 5,500,00 x3 telephone subscribers. A farmer may call central by telephone and learn with remarkable certainty what the weather for twenty-four hours will be, except in the case of local thunder showers which may drench his fields while passing by those of his neighbor.

"It may be said without exaggeration that the San Francisco office of the Weather Bureau has saved to the citrus fruit growers of California more money within the last five years than the annual appropriation for the entire Bureau during a period of twenty years." "In the citrus fruit districts of California it is reported that fruit to the value of $14,000,000 was saved... during one cold wave." "The value of the orange bloom, vegetables, and strawberries protected and saved on a single night in a limited district in Florida...was reported at over $100,000." "The warnings issued for a single cold wave... resulted in saving over $3,500,000 through the protection of property." "Signals displayed for a single hurricane are known to have detained in port on our Atlantic coast vessels valued with their cargoes at over $30,000,000." Flood warnings are sent in from about 60 centers along our rivers, enabling farmers to remove their cattle from bottom lands, to save their crops when they are ready for cutting, and otherwise to determine their farming operations. They are also of the greatest service to railroads, business men, and home owners, in cities. These are but a few illustrations of the services performed by the Weather Bureau.

Investigate and report on:

The building of levees in your state. Where, by whom, their value.

The amount of money spent in your state for river improvement (or harbor improvement).

How the Weather Bureau forecasts the weather, storms, floods.

How to read a weather map.

Experiences of individual farmers of their locality with regard to benefits derived from the Weather Bureau.

How a merchant in your town may be benefited by the Weather Bureau.

The losses in your state and locale from frost.

Preventable Losses

A great deal of the property loss referred to is due to causes for which we are not responsible, such as storms, the depredations of insects, and epidemics of animal disease. But some of it is due to our own carelessness. It was said on page 176 that wastefulness is our chief national sin. Carelessness is the twin sister of wastefulness; they go hand in hand. Enormous waste is caused by fire, and most fires are due to carelessness—carelessness in handling matches, in the use of oil stoves, in accumulations of rubbish, in disposing of hot ashes, in smoking where there are inflammable materials.

Fire Protection in Cities

In cities and towns the safety of our own property from fire is largely dependent upon the care of others. If our neighbor is careless, our property as well as his may be destroyed. Under such circumstances it is necessary to have rules to regulate conduct for the common safety. The materials with which we may build, the thickness of our walls, the construction of our flues, the storage of explosive or inflammable materials, the disposal of rubbish and ashes, and many other things, are regulated by law. This is cooperation for fire prevention. Much money is also spent by cities for fire protection, including water supply and organized fire departments.


Where people live widely separated from one another, as in rural communities, such regulations are less necessary and organized fire protection is less easy to afford. A farmer's property may be destroyed by fire from a spark from a passing locomotive, or from the camp of a careless hunter in the adjoining woods. There may be state laws to control such cases. But in the main, if his property burns it is due to the carelessness of some one who lives on the premises, and he is dependent upon his own efforts to control the fire. Improved farm water supply with adequate pumping facilities, the telephone by which neighbors may be summoned, and the automobile by which help may quickly be brought, have increased the farmer's safety; but his chief safeguard is the exercise of care by all who live on the farm at every point where a fire might possibly be started.


Fire insurance is a means of reducing the fire loss of individual property owners by a form of cooperation. Insurance companies, operating under state laws, sell insurance to property owners. The latter pay a small premium for the protection afforded. From the funds produced by the premiums and the interest on their investment, the occasional losses of individuals are paid. This does not prevent the destruction of the property, but it distributes the loss among thousands of people, perhaps in all parts of the country.


There are in the United States about 2000 FARMERS' COOPERATIVE FIRE INSURANCE COMPANIES, carrying insurance amounting to more than 5 billion dollars. These companies are associations of farmers who elect their own directors and manage their own insurance business. They provide insurance at a much lower rate than the ordinary commercial insurance companies. A usual provision of the laws under which these cooperative companies operate is that no member may insure his property for its full value. His neighbors will help him bear his loss, but will not bear it all. This has the effect of causing him to exercise greater care to prevent fire on his premises. For this reason insurance does reduce the actual fire loss to some extent. Property may also be insured against loss from storm and flood.

Investigate and report on:

Fire losses in your community in a year.

Causes of fires in your community last year. Number that were preventable.

Precautions against fire in your home and school.

Fire preventive regulations in your community.

Cost of fire prevention in your community.

Improved means of fire prevention in country districts.

How fire insurance works.

Cooperative fire insurance companies in your state.

Storm insurance in your locality.


All states have laws to protect their citizens against the "ill- mannered" who do not respect property rights—thieves, burglars, highwaymen, vandals, sharpers, and others. The enforcement of these laws is left largely in the hands of local community officers. Cities have police departments, with large numbers of patrolmen and detectives whose business it is not only to arrest violators of the law after the violation has taken place, but also by their vigilance to prevent the violation from occurring.


The state laws against the violation of property rights apply to rural communities as well as to cities, and rural communities have officers for their enforcement—the constable in townships, the sheriff and his deputies in counties. Where the population is small and widely scattered, as in a rural township or county, about all the officers can do is to arrest law violators after the commission of the unlawful act, if they can be found. The officers are too few to watch isolated and remote property, and in case of serious disturbance, such as a riot, they are too few to handle the situation effectively. Rural communities and many small industrial or mining communities do not always have the protection they need against lawlessness. In such cases the tendency is sometimes for the people to "take the law in their own hands." In times of labor trouble mining companies and other industrial corporations have sometimes organized their own police. Such practice is dangerous, for the enforcement of law should be in the hands of the state, and not in the hands of an interested party. In early days on the frontier, in mining and lumber camps, "vigilance committees" were common; and even now, in various localities, we hear too frequently of "lynching parties," which are as lawless as the original offenders against the law, and tend to create a disrespect for law.

And yet disrespect for law may also result from failure on the part of the community to enforce the law through regular agencies, from failure of officers to apprehend offenders promptly, or of courts to mete out justice promptly and impartially.

STATE POLICE Canada has been more efficient than the United States in affording protection to remote and rural communities, by means of her national mounted police. "The isolated farmer and his wife slept securely in their sod hovel beyond the frontier, because they knew that a brave and swift corps of vigilant young athletes ... kept sleepless vigil. Life and property were secure ... ." [Footnote: C.R. Henderson, "Rural Police," ANNALS American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1912, p. 228.] In our own country Texas has her "rangers" who protect her borders against raids; but the best example of rural policing in the United States is in Pennsylvania, where there is a well-organized state police, or "constabulary," which has many times proved its efficiency in protecting remote rural communities and homes, in bringing criminals to justice, and in quelling riots in mining centers.


A great deal of property is destroyed or injured by VANDALS. The original Vandals were a tribe of Germanic peoples who invaded southern and western Europe in the Middle Ages, and who were noted for their destructiveness of the beautiful buildings and other evidences of Roman civilization. There seem to be vandals in almost every community, and sometimes they seem to be especially numerous in small communities, perhaps because of the lack of police protection. Sometimes vandalism is wanton,—that is, it results from an apparent love of being destructive. Most often it is purely thoughtless. Few people would knowingly injure the property of another if they would stop to think of their feelings if another should injure THEIR property. It is a case of "bad manners." Moreover, it is not a "square deal" to injure another's property while expecting one's own property to be secure. When vandalism occurs in a community it creates a general feeling of insecurity and destroys the sense of freedom.

PUBLIC PROPERTY is often more likely to suffer from vandalism than private property. Some people will mar the walls of public buildings, or make their floors filthy with expectoration, when they would not think of doing so in private buildings. They will break shrubbery in public parks, or despoil public flower beds, when they would not think of entering private premises for such purpose. There seems to be a feeling that public property belongs to no one, or else that, since it is public, any one is at liberty to do as he pleases with it. This, of course, is foolish. It is as if a stockholder in a business corporation should injure or destroy the corporation property, forgetting that he owned a share in it and suffered a share of the loss.

Investigate and report on:

Organization of police protection in your community.

Organization of a police department in a large city.

The Mounted Police of Canada and their work.

The Texas rangers.

The state police of Pennsylvania.

Vigilance committees in frontier towns of former times.

Why lynching is wrong.

The promptness with which justice is meted out in the courts of your state.

The extent and causes of vandalism in your community.

Is vandalism justifiable on Halloween?

Inspect the courthouse and other public buildings in your community and report as to whether they are disfigured in any way.

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