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largely because they are educated to respect labor and call it honorable.' Wilkins Micawber was never a student of the agricultural college.
“The influence of a student on the neighborhood where he settles is almost always regarded as helpful and inspiring. The unconscious teaching by better methods and scientific appliances is not wasted in the final outcome. The introduction of improved stock, better grains and fruits, methods of fighting insect foes, and modes of tillage are helps in any community, though the influence may be silent and unobtrusive. In many places agriculture has been improved, almost revolutionized, by the presence and example of 1 or 2 students.
“In social relations and associations, such as the grange, the farmers' club, and the farmers' institute, they come more prominently before the public, and their influence is more pronounced and always good.
“It is not claimed that every student has so strong a personality as to impress himself upon his community, but the instances where the educated brain and skillful hand have commanded the respect and secured the imitation of his followers are sufficiently numerous to require notice. The unconscious demand of a community that a college student shall be better and rise higher than his fellows is significant. The final outcome of these tendencies is that a community is benefited by the residence of a college student, resulting in better farming and better stock and fruits.
“Permit a few words on the influence of students of this college on agricultural education and development of American agriculture in our own and in foreign lands. It was a college student that first opened the eyes of the Japanese to American methods and machinery in farming. It was the same student who was designated by the Department of Agriculture to go as a kind of agricultural missionary to teach Australians the American methods and practice of agriculture, and who afterwards organized and equipped the agricultural college of Queensland; it was a student from New South Wales, sent by that colony to take the full course of instruction here, who has returned to his native land to fill the position of lecturer on agriculture in Hawkesbury agricultural college; and finally, it is a student under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture who is exploring the possibilities of agriculture in Alaska.
“When we turn our eyes to the agricultural colleges and experiment stations in this country, we find that in more than one-half of our States and Territories students of this college have held positions in the faculty or experiment stations. The first agricultural college in the Union has thus laid its molding touch on a large proportion of the institutions of our country whose aim is to promote industrial science and practice."
Three thousand persons sent out to teach and practice the practical problems in scientific agriculture is a pretty large contingent of the army of progress to go from one institution. The impatience of those who demanded instant transformation through the influence of industrial education must stand rebuked by such a statement of later development.
Prof. I. P. Roberts, of the college of agriculture of Cornell University, reports that over 1,000 students have attended that institution, most of them within the last 10 years, and that more than nine-tenths of these students are now interested in agriculture as teachers, lecturers, or farmers, and that at least three-fourthy of the whole number are now engaged in farming. He says:
“Scattered all over this State, and to a limited extent in other States, we find these students to be centers of activity, I might almost say a new agriculture. With but very few exceptions they have been financially successful, but we do not lay so much stress on this as we do on the fact that wherever they find lodgment one farm at least is conducted better than it ever was before, and that this farm serves as a stimulus to the farmers situated near it.
“I can say unreservedly that among the intelligent classes agriculture is intelligently and financially advancing. I regret to say on the other hand that there is quite a per cent of the farmers in our State who will have nothing to do with new methods, never attend a farmers' meeting, and see almost no agricultural literature. These farmers, we notice, are getting poorer and many of them are becoming greatly dissatisfied. Some sell out and go to town; others are sold out, and pick up a living as best they can in the city or in the country at day's wages.”
Here are nearly 2,000 more agricultural missionaries from a comparatively new institution, in the heart of a great State mainly devoted to commercial, manufacturing, and transportation interests. The conservatism of ignorance is here illustrated in that portion of the rural population who still resist the influences that lead to progress in all lines so manifest in the Empire State.
From Prof. Thomas F. Hunt, dean of the college of agriculture of the State University, Columbus, Ohio, we have a summary of the occupations of the alumni and ex-students since 1892, with name and place and present position, from which it appears that 300 of 376 have been traced, and that 137 are now farmers and gardeners and dairymen, 41 are creamery operators and cheese makers, 18 are employees of agricultural colleges and experiment stations, 14 are farm superintendents and employees, 4 are editors of agricultural and horticultural papers, 25 are young women, 15 are students in other colleges, and only 46 in all other occupations.
During the past 2 years 11 graduates have been appointed to positions they are now filling. Professor Hunt reports the average salary, so far as he has learned, as $832 per annum, and the average time they have been out of college as 22 months.
“The positions include superintending farms, experiment-station work, and teaching. One graduate has resigned a position of $600 per year, where he could have remained at a considerable advance in compensation, in order to engage in farming; and another, who had been receiving $1,000 per year, refused to be considered for a $1,200 position because he had definitely decided to engage in farming."
Ín the same period a much larger number of persons who have taken less than the 4-year course have had employment either in creameries, cheese factories, or on farms. He says the students of the dairy school are in dairies, creameries, or cheese factories. So there is active demand for educated service in all grades of farm operations.
Several Western colleges are having a direct and very beneficent influence on the agricultural life of that region by their short course in agriculture, in which young and ambitious farm laborers come from the farms and spend the winter in study, usually taking a place for the summer with farmers desiring just such help and returning the next winter to complete their course. Professor Henry, director of the Wisconsin Experiment Station, writes of them as follows:
"It may be of interest to you to know that each year we have with us in our agricultural college a very considerable number of young men who, starting in life with nothing, have worked on farms and intend to continue in that line until they have acquired something with which to help themselves. These young men come to us after having been hired on farms for a longer or shorter period. After studying with us in the short course the first winter we are usually able to secure a place for them on some farm, and the following winter they return to complete the course. Then we help them to another place, if needed, or they return to work with the same farmer as before. We keep in touch with them, and the brightest ones are recommended for herdsmen, dairymen in private dairies, stockmen, farm managers, etc. Last year our short-course term closed the 1st of March, and in 3 weeks from that date we had placed 101 young men on farms in all capacities, and as far as Staten Island on the East, California on the West, and Texas on the South. We have had as many as 8 letters in a single day from persons who wished our students as helpers. Young men who get from $18 to $22 before coming to us get from $20 to $25 as farm hands, and from $25 to $35 and $40 as herdsmen, managers, etc. Mr. George Vanderbilt's herdsman, who has 18 men under him, is one of our former students—a city boy who was bound to be a farmer. A poor boy from Canada, who after working several years on dairy farms came to us as a student, is now the headman in charge of the cattle of Mr. C. I. Hood, at Lowell, Mass. In our class this winter is a young Polander whose parents, brothers, and sisters all live in Chicago. Eight years ago this young man made up his mind to leave the city and learn farming. For 7 years he worked as a hired man on farms in Illinois and Wisconsin and sent a large part of his earnings to his parents. He completes his work with us this winter, and will soon begin to lay up money while working as a hired man, and when he has accumulated a little will buy a piece of wild woodland in northern Wisconsin.
“I could tell you of scores and hundreds of cases like these, where young men have started with nothing and have worked their way through our school and will become landowners and substantial citizens in the future. Some of our students, of course, turn out poorly. Occasionally one is all right in his books and class, but is lazy or wishes to earn money on his reputation as a student. The majority appreciate their training and regard it as simply increasing their powers of usefulness. A number of farmers have chosen our students because they were more cleanly and respectable generally. Farmers in the West usually have their help eat at the same table as themselves, and the better class of these are more or less particular as to the cleanliness and general decency of their hired help.”
At the request of Dr. Northrup, president of the University of Minnesota, Prof. William M. Liggett, director of the experiment station, communicates the following statement:
“Since the opening of the school of agriculture, in the winter of 1888–89, there have been entered upon the rolls of the school about 3,200 students in the regular course, besides those who have taken the special courses in dairying, etc. of these 3,200 students, 265 have graduated in the school of agriculture, and 12 of these graduates
have finished the course in the college of agriculture. More than 85 per cent of the graduates have returned to the farm; about 10 per cent are in kinds of work closely allied to agriculture, and less than 5 per cent are in professions and other callings unrelated to farming. Our policy has been to concentrate efforts to practical lines of teaching and to so arrange terms of study as to enable farm boys and girls to take the course with the least possible breaking up of their relations to the farm and farm work."
Prof. C. S. Curtiss, of the Iowa College, reports the placing of their students in increasing numbers in responsible positions, especially on stock farms, where their services are more and more appreciated, and greater willingness to pay higher prices for trained and intelligent service is manifested.
Prof. Eugene Davenport, dean of the college of agriculture of the University of Illinois, in investigating this subject, finds that most of the graduates who did not become farmers, but engaged in teaching or other occupation temporarily to procure ready money, became landowners if graduates of long standing, and, if of more recent years, they intend to own land as soon as they can afford it. He adds concerning the Illinois University, of which not many years ago complaints were made that its students were not becoming farmers:
“As to our students at the University of Illinois, our agricultural students, they are all land men and will go upon the land, every one of them, excepting now and then one who is picked out for an instructor somewhere, and the call is heard for them. So you mav say that the students of our university, the students of agriculture, represent that many prospective farmers; they all go upon the land.”
The colleges of agriculture and experiment stations of the mountain district and of the Pacific coast are manned by some of the best material furnished by the older institutions. They are doing much good work under circumstances, soils, and climates of peculiar character, which furnish remarkable opportunities for original thinking and specialized practice.
They are making their mark upon the agriculture of that great continental domain, testing hitherto unknown plants for their use, developing new methods of culture, and giving to the markets new commercial products. They are solving irrigation problems, and paving the way for higher profit in cultivation without destroying the fertility of the soil. In California, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, everywhere, this college and station work is progressive and productive, giving life and energy to a new agriculture. Especially in California a great practical work in fitting young men for intelligent, methodical, and scientific service is in progress.
The work is cumulative, greatly accelerated recently, and will make great advance in the future. It is destined to exert a powerful influence in elevating the farm labor of the United States. Much more testimony could be adduced, but in addition to the above statements it is scarcely necessary. What has been given will doubtless prove a revelation to many vitally interested in the welfare of agriculture.
HALF A CENTURY OF FARM WAGES.
1. PRESENT CONDITIONS.
An accurate idea of current wages and prevalent conditions is obtained from careful analysis of local data, State returns, some tentative results of national official investigation, and a comparison of expert observation in every State and Territory of the United States. It has been gained through extensive correspondence with State boards and departments, and college and experiment station professors of agriculture, and the officers of agricultural societies, as well as representative farmers. Since the last publication of results of a complete official investigation, in 1892, the last of a series of nine undertaken during 26 years by the writer as statistician of the Department of Agriculture, there has been a period of agricultural depression which reduced wages moderately, but which diminished the amount of labor employed far more than the rate of wages, and this era of low prices and general discomfort and dissatisfaction has been followed by gradually increasing prosperity, a greater demand for labor, and slowly increasing rates of wages, till
, as a rule, with few exceptions, there is full employment at fair wages for every farm laborer and every other laborer who is willing to work, and positive scarcity is reported in many places.
On the northern Atlantic coast, in the eastern portion of the Ohio Valley, and in the Atlantic Coast States of the South, wages are still slightly lower than in 1892. From Indiana west to the mountains, in the great mountain section, and in the south west, wages are generally higher than in 1892, and fully as high as at any previous time, excepting only the period of inflation following the civil war, when values were measured in a depreciated currency, and therefore deceptive. Really there never has been fuller employment or better compensation of farm labor than at the present time, and the purchasing power of wages is greatly enhanced in comparison with most former dates.
The average rates of wages may be approximated quite closely, as the result of this investigation, as follows: For the labor of the States exclusive of the Southern or cotton-growing district, representing practically the labor of the Caucasian race, $23.67 per month, or $284 per annum. For all the States, $18.75 per month without board, or $225 per annum; $12.75 per month with board, or $153 cash per
Eight years ago the average for white labor was stated at $282 without board. The avarage at that time in certain foreign countries, according to estimates deemed most authoritative, were: Great Britain, $150; France, $125; Holland, $100; Germany, $90; Russia, $60; Italy, $50; India, $30. No other country could make a showing at all comparable with the United States, except Australia and Canada.
More than half a centuary ago Matthew Carey, the economist, estimated the agricultural wages of the manufacturing districts of the Atlantic coast at $9 per month and board. In the agricultural districts of Western settlements it was probable $7 to $8, possibly $8.50 for all white agricultural laborers, and about $12.50 without board. Comparing with present rates it is seen that the compensation of white labor has nearly doubled both for labor with and without board. Compared with the higher grades of skilled labor of the farm at the present time, the difference is still greater, but the average is fairly represented in this statement. This contrast is the result of our progress, the development of prosperous industries which increase the demand for agricultural products for home consumption, with the aid of further demand for food and textile materials by foreign nations.
It may be desirable to give some of the data from which the averages of the present rates of wages have been calculated. Aside from official or other systematic investigations, returns have been received from every State and Territory, which have been carefully consolidated. The most extensive outside investigation which has been considered is that of Mr. B. W. Snow, of Chicago, formerly Assistant Statistician of the Department of Agriculture, a thoroughly competent and successful crop reporter. He does not cover the entire field, but represents the central and
principal districts of large agricultural production. These averages are the actual mean of a large number of returns of wages paid by individual farmers reporting. The results in Ohio and Michigan are quite close to those of the official investigation in those States, and those for the other States may be equally representative of their labor compensation. The following table is presented:
While wages in Ohio are lower than in any of the States west of her territory, the averages for the last ten years are in some degree illustrative of the fluctuations that have occurred in other States, though more pronounced than in some of them. From 1890 to 1892 there was an increase in rate of wages. From 1894 to 1897, representing the period of business depression, there was a fall of $2 in wages per month with board, and of $3 for wages without board, which was a much larger percentage of decline than in some other States. Then followed an advance, slow at first, but promising a return in the spring investigation of this year to the rate of 1890, if not that of 1892. The following table is received from the secretary of the Ohio board of agriculture, Hon. W. W. Miller:
Wages are a little better in Michigan, but they have followed the same course as in Ohio during the last 10 years, with a larger percentage of decline during the panic years. The recovery for 2 years was rapid, and if continued the past year, as indicated by current information, the highest previous average has been regained. The following statement is received from Hon. J. S. Stearns, secretary of state:
Ontario, across the Detroit River from Michigan, and across Lake Erie from Ohio, is a province of the Dominion of Canada and not in the United States, but has the same markets for its surplus, and its labor, even if native, may be influenced somewhat by conditions of these near neighbors in this country. It is at least curious