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About The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902 | View Entire Issue (May 16, 1901)
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The Conservative * 11
their attention turned to dangers ahead.
With their coal supply diminishing in
quantity and increasing in the cost of
production , their trade menaced by
rivalry of vigorous nations like the
United States and Germany , and their
taxes increasing , it is not strange they
should begin to take note of other con
ditions in an effort to forecast where the
next blow will fall.
One of the forecasts of coming trouble
is based upon the diminishing supply of
timber in the world. An experienced
forester has informed the British public
there is no doubt whatever of an
approaching timber famine. In review
ing his statement the Westminister
Gazette says : "If it was not for the
foreign supplies we receive , a timber
famine would have overtaken this
country long ago , because our home
grown supply has not been able to meet
a tithe of the demand for long enough ,
and that only of inferior kinds of tim
ber. If the foreign supply of fir alone ,
was to fall off sensibly now , the whole
building trade of the country would
come to a partial standstill , and our
wagon companies would be next to idle.
The great consumers of what used to be
called ship-timber are now railway-
carriage and wagon builders , who alone
absorb most of the best hard woods to
an extent exceeding anything known
when ships were built of timber. "
The modern world is indeed rapidly
consuming timber. The lumberman is
no longer the sole destroyer. An enor
mous quantity of wood is now used
every year in the production of charcoal
and of pulp for making paper , and the
demand for wood for such purposes
increases rapidly. Evidently the com
monwealth that permits its forests to be
wasted by careless lumbering or swept
away by fires is sadly neglectful of its
wealth. We are now so prosperous and
have so much wood in sight wo can
hardly perceive ahead any danger of a
coming timber famine ; it is therefore
worth our while to pay attention to the
warning that comeff from Great Britain.
California can no more reasonably boast
of having forests to burn than money to
burn. San Francisco Call.
FREE SEED AGAIN.
Mr. Morton , recalling his unavailing
battle for its abolition , now speaks with
bitter sarcasm of "the aged idiocy of
the promiscuous and gratuitous distribu
tion of1 seeds by the deartment of agri
culture f and the representatives and
senators of the American congress. "
Unfortunately the congressional skin is
thick and the barbs of the ex-secretary
will not penetrate far enough to be felt.
The congressional free seed has become
That Government Seed Shop.
Judging by a number of packages of
agricultural department seeds that have
been sent to this office , the wrong and
outrage of the free distribution has
been made ten times worse this year
than ever before. The pretense of a
purpose to introduce new varieties has
long been abandoned ; but this year
there is no pretense at issuing even
valuable varieties , and , in fact , the
names of the varieties do not appear !
Just think of that ! The packets are
marked , "Celery , a Selected Variety ; "
"Cucumber , a Selected Variety ; "
"Watermelon , a Selected Variety , " and
so on and so forth , ad nauseam. We
should think the contractors could easily
supply the stuff , under these circum
stances , for half the contract price of
$78,000 even supposing that the seeds
are fresh. It would seem that somebody
in the department must be either grossly
incompetent or grossly dishonest. The
thing has risen to the poportions of a
national disgrace. What is Mr. Wilson
thinking about ? Country Gentleman.
Mr. Morton Offers a Few Caustic Remarks
Concerning Certain Seeds of Dissension.
There is at present a pretty , little rum
pus on in the agricultural department
over alleged frauds in the distribution
of seeds to the guileless farmer. The
seedsmen who did not get the contract
for supplying the department are making
all sorts of allegations against the firm
which secured the plum , and have
phrased their charges in such specific
terms that it is certain an investigation
of some sort will be set afoot.
Out of this muddle comes one ray of
light , a letter from J. Sterling Morton ,
former secretary of agriculture. Morton
is a man of vast good sense , and while
secretary of Agriculture he spent his
time berating the congressmen for main
taining this senseless system of seed
distribution , and in giving away cabinet
secrets to Washington correspondents.
In regard to this seed matter he has
written to one of the rival seed concerns
which did not get the contract , as
"My Dear Sir : I reply to yours of the
4th , and am pleased to learn that the
Wholesale Seed Merchants' League is
beginning to understand the possible
disasters which are to come because of
the gratuitous distribution of seeds at
government expense by the agricultural
department and members of congress. It
is safe to say that under the old method ,
prior to my administration of the de
partment , the West and all newly-
opened agricultural districts of the Unit
ed States were supplied with every
variety of weed seed , because the de
partment took the sweepings of all the
seed shops in the United States at so
much per pound , gross. This refuse
stuff was sent into Washington , and
senators and representatives permitted
to pick out women to dip with teaspoons ,
these seeds into little packets , which
were made by hand , and then they were
sent to the different congressional dis
tricts for planting. Thus we got the
Russian thistle and a lot of other pest
iferous plants all through the northwest.
But it is not the result of the method
that I object to so much ( although they
are bad enough ) but the paternalism
which prompts the distribution of these
seeds. The principle is all wrong.
Very truly yours ,
J. STERLING MORTON.
Nebraska City , April 8 , 1901.
A more caustic criticism of one of the
silly governmental methods in Washing
ton was never before contained in so
small a space. This seed distribution
gold brick scheme has been worked for
years , not because it was worth while ,
but because no congressmanwith farmer
constituents , has ever had the hardihood
to oppose it.
It began in a small way years ago ,
when the agricultural department was
trying to find excuses for its continuance
as such. Some head of that institution
thought it would be an excellent plan to
secure an appropriation for the distribu
tion of seeds of foreign plants and vege
tables that might be worth while experi
menting with in this country. Within
a year , however , the plan had degenera
ted into a rank case of paternalism.
The seeds of rare and useful plants
and vegetables were no longer sought as
before , but instead , tons of common or
garden seed were being distributed to the
farmer. Congressmen found it an ex
cellent method of paying their political
debts. Every farmer in the district
could be remembered with a package of
seed , and the packing department be
came the Botany Bay to which office-
seekers were sent when every other plan
for placing them had failed.
The seed distribution department thus
became a bureau for paying political
debts. No attention was paid to this
branch of the department work , and ,
as has been truthfully said by ex-Secre
tory Morton , more unique kinds of
seeds were distributed than were heard
of before. The farmer who sent on for
lettuce seed got packets bearing that
name , but when he planted them he was
rewarded with a crop of hollyhocks or
Pumpkin seeds produced pomegran
ates and many an anxious agriculturist
has gaped open mouthed at the growth
of jimson weeds from pedigreed seed
sent out by the department.
Perhaps it would be a good thing if
the charges of the rival seed concerns
should prove true. It would have a
tendency to bring the practice into dis
repute and might lead to its final aban
donment. This would be a good thing
for both farmers and congressmen if
they could only be brought to believe it.
The Morning Telegraph , April 28 ,
Several columns of THE CONSERVATIVE
will be devoted to the discussion of
problems in "Municipal Government , "
in the issue of May 80. "King Rule and
Domination" will be discussed by
Francis Marion Lowes.
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