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Whitney's gin was able to clean nearly 200 pounds a day, and the great saving in labor cost thus effected at once placed the occupation of cotton planting on a profitable basis, in addition to giving all the world much cheaper clothes. Even to-day Whitney's gin is essentially the same machine it was when it left his hand more than 100 years ago.
Practically all advances in machinery used in growing cereals have been made by Americans. The great Thomas Jefferson planned a number of improvements to the plow which others carried into effect. William Manning, of New Jersey, was granted a patent for a mowing machine in 1830. The reaper was invented by both Obed Hussey, of Maryland, and Cyrus McCormick, of Virginia, the former taking out his patent in 1833 and the latter in 1834. In 1837 John Deere, of Moline, 111., invented the steel plow, the first one he turned out being made of an old saw. This improvement greatly aided in settling the prairie country of the West, for the pioneer was thus supplied with a plow which slipped through the fine, sticky soil of that country as no other plow would.
Scarcely less important, from a money-saving standpoint, than the invention of these machines, were the corn-planter and the twohorse cultivator, which came into use about the same time. By means of these effective implements the farmer's ability to raise big crops was greatly increased, as the machines enabled him to use horses in performing every part of the work of growing corn, except the one operation of husking.
Still other Americans have invented the sheaf-binder, which includes a mechanism that can perform the feat of tying a knot automatically; the steam thrasher, which does the work of over 100 men with flails; and machines which reduce from 11 hours to 1£ hours the time necessary for a man to cut and cure a ton of hay.
The American inventors of agricultural implements have done more to make the United States a rich and powerful nation than all the statesmen and all the soldiers since our national life began. If it were not for them, and those who invented the steam engine, steamboat, locomotive, and electric engines, the buffalo and the red man would still possess the vast country between the Mississippi and the Rockies; Chicago would be a sleepy little lake-shore city; St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Kansas City, and Omaha would be frontier settlements; New York would be smaller than Marseilles. For it was machinery that made it possible for us to become so quickly the greatest country in the world. After the crops came the railroads, with the railroads came the population, and with the population came industry and commerce.
THE GROWTH OF AGRICULTURAL INSTRUCTION.
Several hundred years before Columbus discovered America there were in many parts of Europe great religious institutions known as monasteries, which had in their possession many acres of land. In those institutions manual labor was first recognized as a necessary part of an educational system, and the monks were required to cultivate the land around the monasteries in which they lived. In their work and methods the monks furnished models for the peasants of Europe and introduced among them better seed and plants.
Before the first settlement was made in America certain principles of plant growth were published in England, and were recommended to be taught in the schools of that day. But it was not until near the close of the eighteenth century that the attention of practical men began to be directed to the discoveries of science, and hopes began to arise that man would learn something valuable about the vast possibilities of the soil.
Necessity was driving the nations of Europe to study the possibilities of the land because the food supply was often short and famine made frequent appearances. But America was new and possessed such a vast area of fertile land that little attention was paid to the conservation of the fertility of the soil. It took the early colonists several generations to learn that there was any limit to its productiveness. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other large planters called attention repeatedly to the necessity of studying the soil. Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that an acre well fertilized will produce considerably more than an acre unfertilized. In 1785 the first American agricultural society was established in Philadelphia, and Washington and Franklin were members of it. In the same year a similar society was organized in South Carolina, which proposed to establish an experimental farm. These societies led to others in other States, and agricultural fairs were started.
However, with all this agitation by the leading men of America there was a fine scorn for "book farming." By the close of the eighteenth century, however, signs appeared here and there of exhausted lands along the seaboard, where land was becoming harder and harder to get.
Columbia College, of New York, followed the example of certain European schools and in 1782 made provision for teaching agriculture. In 1823 the first practical school of agriculture was established in Maine. Nine years later Connecticut moved in the same direction. In 1857 Michigan, a new State, took the lead in soil study and provided in her constitution for creating agricultural schools; two years later Maryland and Pennsylvania turned in that direction; and in 1862 the Morrill Land-Grant Act came into effect, which granted the proceeds of public lands to the several States and Territories to provide for the teaching of agriculture. In this same year the Federal Government established a Department of Agriculture, and in 1889 its head became a Cabinet officer as Secretary of Agriculture.
Agriculture is now taught in every State, Territory, and outlying possession of the United States. It is required by law to be taught in the rural public schools of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Training courses for teaching agriculture are offered in State agricultural schools, State normal schools, and county normal and summer schools. Thus the educational machinery of the country is employed to investigate the great underworld of the soil and to carry to the youth and the adult the knowledge that will lead to a better understanding of its wonderful possibilities.
COOPERATION AMONG FARMERS.
This is an age of organization and cooperation, and a great force is the result of a union of many individual forces. A century ago, when the farmer made the larger number of the things necessary for the use of the family, there was little need for cooperation. With the development of modern machinery, we have reached an age of specialization and the farmer must buy his machinery and tools, his clothing, and even much of his food from the manufacturer or the merchant, who is the salesman for the manufacturer. In order, there fore, for the farmer to control the price of the products of the farm and to reduce as much as possible the cost to him of the manufactured articles, it has become necessary for him to combine with other farmers and to buy and sell in large quantities in order that he may get the benefit of wholesale prices. For many years farmers have been realizing the necessity for such cooperation.
One of the first organizations of the farmers was the Grangers, sometimes called also Patrons of Industry. This organization was brought about by O. H. Kelly, whom President Johnson sent to the South immediately after the Civil War to study agricultural conditions. It became a powerful order and at one time had a membership of nearly a quarter of a million.
Another order of tremendous power was the Farmers' Alliance, organized in Texas in 1876 for the purpose of punishing land and cattle thieves. The Louisiana farmers, about the same time, had an organization known as the Farmers' Union. These two organizations were united in 1887 with the name of Farmers' Alliance and Cooperative Union of America. Another organization known as the Agricultural Wheel, which was effected in Arkansas, united with the Alliance in 1889. These and other State orders met at Ocala, Fla., in 1890 and adopted a platform. It is said that all these various branches of the Farmers' Alliance had a membership of over 5,000,000. During the depression of business from 1893 to 1900 the Farmers' Alliance became involved in politics and split into factions, losing some of the influences that come from united effort. The Farmers' Union of to-day, however, is the successor of the Farmers' Alliance, and it is one of the most powerful organizations in the country.
Through these organizations, the farmers have influenced publicschool legislation; they were helpful in creating a national Department of Agriculture, and in establishing agricultural colleges and experiment stations; they have lowered prices in agricultural machinery and kept up prices on agricultural products; they have improved farming by introducing better methods of planting, tilling, and harvesting; and they are now especially interested in securing credit on the same terms as the manufacturers.
WONDERS OF A SINGLE ACRE.
A new light is shed on our agricultural productiveness by figuring the unconsidered details of plant life that spring from a single acre of ground. A bushel of wheat contains an average of 720,000 kernels; and so, if the yield of an acre is 30 bushels, the total number of grains is well toward 22,000,000. The number of stalks per acre is 35,000. If each stalk is only 3 feet tall—and this is a dwarfish stature, indeed—the total is nearly 200 miles. This does not include the miles of roots and leaves.
A ton of average well-dried timothy hay may contain upward of 1,500,000 separate stalks, and an acre may yield 4 tons. A head of timothy of average length will bear from 400 to 500 flowers. Thus the number of timothy blossoms in a good acre is just about double the number of human beings in the whole world. An acre of apple trees in full bearing may yield 100,000 good apples; an acre of tomatoes, 120,000 tomatoes, of which each one contains 1,200 seeds.
Thus the man who can increase the yield of even a single acre of land by so much as 5 per cent will ultimately bring more living individuals into the world than both he and all his posterity can ever take out of it.
THE LITTLE BROWN SEED IN THE FURROW.
A little brown seed In the furrow
Lay still In Its gloomy bed,
Were whispering overhead.
Of glittering dew and floating air,
And the seed heard all they snid.
O, little brown seed in the furrow,
At Inst you have pierced the mold;
Tour beautiful leaves unfold
And slowly, slowly, in dew and light
You wear a crown of gold.
—Ida W. Benham.
GREEN THINGS GROWING.
Oh, the green things growing, the green things growing,
Oh, the fluttering and the pattering of those green things growing!
How they talk each to each, when none of us are knowing;
In the wonderful white of the weird moonlight
Or the dim dreamy dawn when the cocks are crowing.
I love, I love them so,—the green things growing!
—Dinah Mulock Cbaik.
We are drinking the wine of the ages,
With the sweet of a honey unbought with money.
The flowers afringe on the wayside
To the rough-hewn edge of the old stone ledge