Objects of the Alliance

As understood by State President Clover

From the Kansas Farmer.

Such a flood of inquiries is pouring in upon the officers of the alliance, and seeing that you have opened an exclusively alliance department, I deem it best for the advancement of the cause that through your able journal and its widespread influence a synopsis at least of the aims and objects we seek to attain should be given. Hoping that such of the brethren and others who do not fully agree with me will remember that "to err is human, and to forgive divine," and exercise toward me the same human charity to which they would entitle under the same circumstances.

Our first aim is to educate ourselves in all things pertaining to our business as farmers and laborers. All the details of our work must be carefully considered. This must be the foundation rock on which to build the structure called "Agricultural and mechanical success." Then we must consider the world at large, its influence upon our business, and the mutual relation we hold toward other industries. We cannot expect better pay for our products while the consumers of them can only secure a scant supply as matters now stand. And right here is where we meet that "Cordon of power that has been drawn around the farmer and laborer by men owning, using or controlling money or capital," as it was so well described in last week’s Farmer. As the Farmer further says, "We are driven to the wall, we must fight, and brother farmers, we might just as well buckle on the armor. You will never be carried to heaven on the flowery beds of ease."

And further—"How long the war will last depends on how long the soldiers are kept in line." It is this thought that has impelled me to ask that the farmers of Kansas, and especially alliance men, close up the ranks, stand shoulder to shoulder, and clear the decks of all old hindering prejudices, party strifes or sectional animosities. This is the great United States of America, given into our keeping by the Revolutionary fathers with the admonition that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." And remember, my brethren that just in proportion as we regard that admonition will our liberties be secure. I cannot do better that to ask you again to read the editorial in the Kansas Farmer entitled "What are We going to do about It?" Nothing in the holy writ is truer than the Farmer’s declarations that "the farmers are hampered and crippled by combinations," and that these combined "control legislation, state and national," and that "the minds of politicians run in the direction of protecting the men, corporations and conditions that do most hurt to those who toil single-handed."

While I cannot fully agree with the Farmer editor that by constant agitation we can bring the politicians to act in our behalf, I would not neglect on all occasions to lay our cause before them. Yes, I would even wash the sow in the hope that she would not return to her wallowing in the mire. An old minister once told me that he had little faith in a man who is "good" because he is afraid of the devil. I have little faith in the politician who is good because he is afraid of being kicked out of office. And this tempts me to remark, "Put none but farmers on guard." By farmers I mean those whose principles or interests or both incline their minds to run in the direction of protecting the toiler. The fact of a man’s being a farmer is not positive proof that his mind so runs, or that by reason of not being a farmer he should not be in full sympathy with the laborer. He is the basest traitor who betrays with a kiss. I cannot better describe the condition of agriculture and labor than give an extract from a speech made by Hon. John J. Ingalls eleven years ago, at a time when the fetters were being forged that now bind the industrial classes of this country. In the senate of the United States, on the 14th of February, 1878 he said: "We cannot disguise the truth that we are on the verge of an impending revolution. Old issues are dead. The people are arraying themselves on one side or the other of a portentous contest. On one side is capital formidably entrenched in privilege, arrogant from continued triumph, tenacious of old theories, demanding new concessions, enriched by domestic levy and foreign commerce, and struggling to adjust all values to its own standard. On the other side is labor, asking for employment, striving to develop domestic industries, battling with the forces of nature and subduing the wilderness, labor starving in the cities, resolutely determined to overthrow a system under which the rich are growing richer and the poor are growing poorer; a system that gives to a Vanderbilt the possessions of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice and condemns the poor to a poverty which has no refuge from starvation but the grave."

In this then, was the condition as seen by the student of history and the logic of events, what an awful, crushing reality does it prove to be now when the accursed system has done its more perfect work. It is to stay the bloody hand of revolution that is sure to come, as pointed out by the Senator, that I ask you to unite in a common cause, the cause of justice and humanity, the cause of the oppressed and the homeless.

We, the farmers and laborers, the great conservative class, standing as we do between the monarchy of wealth on the one hand, and the anarchy of poverty on the other, will be recreant to our trust if we longer refuse to rise up and demand equal and exact justice for all. Should not the hand of revolution be stayed, it is you and your sons, my brother farmers, who have to fight the battle for human liberty again. It is you who will be called upon "to do, and dare, and die." Capital will [hide] itself away on its fast-sailing yacht to a place of safety, taking its yellow gold, while you will meet the shock as best you may. Then when you, your sons and brothers have been offered up to appease the demands of outraged justice, and the hand of destruction has been stayed, "capital" will come back and offer advice. It will tell you as it did at the close of the war of rebellion through its mouthpiece that "in order to keep faith with the people (?) you must resume specie payment, and in order to do that you must contract the currency." Then it will tell you to burn up the money which carried on the war and issue bonds bearing a high rate of interest payable in gold, and it will buy them at 50 cents on the dollar, and in a short time you can "resume specie payment." I recall these things to refresh your memories as to how this "impending crisis" was brought about, and as a hint as to what some of your demands would be which you make to some of the political gentry "whose minds run more to the protection of monopolies and corporations that the interests of those who toil single-handedly."

In defense of the idea I have advanced in regard to this infamous governmental policy, I wish to quote further from the same speech of Hon. J. J. Ingalls. Said he: "If by any process all business were compelled to be transacted on a coin basis and actual specie payments should be enforced, the whole civilized world would be bankrupt before sunset. There is not coin enough in existence to meet in specie one-thousandth part of the obligations of mankind. Specie payment as an actual fact will never be resumed neither in gold nor silver in January 1879, nor at any other date here or elsewhere. The pretense that they will be is either dishonest or delusive."

Now my brothers, as the Kansas Farmer says—"The year 1889 will witness the most stupendous uprising of farmers ever known in history." Where shall Kansas be found? is the question I ask you. Will she take a back seat or be a "looker-on in Venice?" She never yet was found lagging in the rear. Our younger sisters, the Dakotas, have got the start for us. They have won the fight for labor in the constitution of their states, and brothers Soucks and Chase will have "alliance" in the constitution or know the reason why. The Tennessee brethren have raked the moss off the backs of enough of their legislators so that the alliance gets what it wants in the way of state legislation. Now what can we do for Kansas? Feeling the great responsibility of the work and the immensity of the task before us and the unprecedented growth of the order, I have, after consulting the other state officers of the order, asked unanimous consent of the sub-alliances to call the annual state meeting four months sooner than the appointed time. This has been done in order to have the advice, the help and voice of the thousands who have become members since the state organization on December 22, 1888.

Brethren and sisters, so to thinking. Read the papers published in your interests. Give your support to such as think for you as well as talk for you. Send your very best men to the state meeting in August at Newton. Let us make Kansas in this, as in all else, the brightest gem in Liberty’s diadem.

To those outside the order, I would say come and go with us; we will do you good. The alliance is a leader, not a follower. Its principles are truth and justice. It demands a performance for every promise. Its foundation stone is the heaven-born declaration that "The laborer is worthy of his hire," and its resolve is, that "By the Eternal he shall have it."

As the Arkansas Farmer says, "Partisan prejudice is still strong, but we expect by a renewal of our alliance faith and spirit from day to day that we can soon be enabled to say without a struggle or any remorse, when the sleek-tongued politician would beguile us, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’" We are fighting for our homes, for our children, for our neighbors. Why should we not rescue these from the blighting curse of greed? To the grange, wheel, unions and all of her labor organizations we should say—We bid you God-speed, and that while our "Swords are a thousand, let our hearts be one."

I am getting many invitations to attend alliance picnics on the national independence day. I cannot attend all. But, my brethren and sisters, I wish you great joy on the coming Fourth. It seems to me like it should be a renewal of that other grand old Fourth when immortals gave liberty into the keeping of the common people. Will you not promise me that on that glorious day in 1889 you will read that Declaration with a full realization of all is means, and the farewell address of the father of our beloved country and not his warning and apply it to our own day and age, and then with hearts uplifted to the Great Ruler who heareth the cry of the oppressed, will you not take upon yourselves the solemn vow that while yet the blood of the revolutionary fathers is fresh upon the lintels of Liberty’s temple, while yet the hand of the destroyer is stayed, you will rescue whatever remains of the liberties vouchsafed us by the fathers, that no longer will we be called "degenerate sons of noble sires," that as the rightful heirs to that glorious inheritance we will demand a seat in the temple of liberty and that it be made neither a house of merchandise nor a den of thieves? Let us not defeat the objects of our creation. The Great Giver intended we should be happy. To that end he gave us this beautiful country, these sunny skies. Will we longer allow the unholy hand of greed to come between the sweat of the laborer’s brow and the bread he earns?

With high hopes for the future.

B. H. Clover
President, Farmer’s Alliance and Cooperative Union of Kansas.
Cambridge, Cowley Co., Kansas.

Source: American Nonconformist (Winfield, Kansas), July 4, 1889.