December 06, 1904
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
The Nation continues to enjoy noteworthy prosperity. Such prosperity is of course primarily due to the high individual average of our citizenship, taken together with our great natural resources; but an important factor therein is the working of our long-continued governmental policies. The people have emphatically expressed their approval of the principles underlying these policies, and their desire that these principles be kept substantially unchanged, although of course applied in a progressive spirit to meet changing conditions.
The enlargement of scope of the functions of the National Government required by our development as a nation involves, of course, increase of expense; and the period of prosperity through which the country is passing justifies expenditures for permanent improvements far greater than would be wise in hard times. Battle ships and forts, public buildings, and improved waterways are investments which should be made when we have the money; but abundant revenues and a large surplus always invite extravagance, and constant care should be taken to guard against unnecessary increase of the ordinary expenses of government. The cost of doing Government business should be regulated with the same rigid scrutiny as the cost of doing a private business.
In the vast and complicated mechanism of our modern civilized life the dominant note is the note of industrialism; and the relations of capital and labor, and especially of organized capital and organized labor, to each other and to the public at large come second in importance only to the intimate questions of family life. Our peculiar form of government, with its sharp division of authority between the Nation and the several States, has been on the whole far more advantageous to our development than a more strongly centralized government. But it is undoubtedly responsible for much of the difficulty of meeting with adequate legislation the new problems presented by the total change in industrial conditions on this continent during the last half century. In actual practice it has proved exceedingly difficult, and in many cases impossible, to get unanimity of wise action among the various States on these subjects. From the very nature of the case this is especially true of the laws affecting the employment of capital in huge masses.
With regard to labor the problem is no less important, but it is simpler. As long as the States retain the primary control of the police power the circumstances must be altogether extreme which require interference by the Federal authorities, whether in the way of safeguarding the rights of labor or in the way of seeing that wrong is not done by unruly persons who shield themselves behind the name of labor. If there is resistance to the Federal courts, interference with the mails, or interstate commerce, or molestation of Federal property, or if the State authorities in some crisis which they are unable to face call for help, then the Federal Government may interfere; but though such interference may be caused by a condition of things arising out of trouble connected with some question of labor, the interference itself simply takes the form of restoring order without regard to the questions which have caused the breach of order—for to keep order is a primary duty and in a time of disorder and violence all other questions sink into abeyance until order has been restored. In the District of Columbia and in the Territories the Federal law covers the entire field of government; but the labor question is only acute in populous centers of commerce, manufactures, or mining. Nevertheless, both in the enactment and in the enforcement of law the Federal Government within its restricted sphere should set an example to the State governments, especially in a matter so vital as this affecting labor. I believe that under modern industrial conditions it is often necessary, and even where not necessary it is yet often wise, that there should be organization of labor in order better to secure the rights of the individual wage-worker. All encouragement should be given to any such organization so long as it is conducted with a due and decent regard for the rights of others. There are in this country some labor unions which have habitually, and other labor unions which have often, been among the most effective agents in working for good citizenship and for uplifting the condition of those whose welfare should be closest to our hearts. But when any labor union seeks improper ends, or seeks to achieve proper ends by improper means, all good citizens and more especially all honorable public servants must oppose the wrongdoing as resolutely as they would oppose the wrongdoing of any great corporation. Of course any violence, brutality, or corruption, should not for one moment be tolerated. Wage-workers have an entire right to organize and by all peaceful and honorable means to endeavor to persuade their fellows to join with them in organizations. They have a legal right, which, according to circumstances, may or may not be a moral right, to refuse to work in company with men who decline to join their organizations. They have under no circumstances the right to commit violence upon these, whether capitalists or wage-workers, who refuse to support their organizations, or who side with those with whom they are at odds; for mob rule is intolerable in any form.
The wage-workers are peculiarly entitled to the protection and the encouragement of the law. From the very nature of their occupation railroad men, for instance, are liable to be maimed in doing the legitimate work of their profession, unless the railroad companies are required by law to make ample provision for their safety. The Administration has been zealous in enforcing the existing law for this purpose. That law should be amended and strengthened. Wherever the National Government has power there should be a stringent employer’s liability law, which should apply to the Government itself where the Government is an employer of labor.
In my Message to the Fifty-seventh Congress, at its second session, I urged the passage of an employer’s liability law for the District of Columbia. I now renew that recommendation, and further recommend that the Congress appoint a commission to make a comprehensive study of employer’s liability with the view of extending the provisions of a great and constitutional law to all employments within the scope of Federal power.
The Government has recognized heroism upon the water, and bestows medals of honor upon those persons who by extreme and heroic daring have endangered their lives in saving, or endeavoring to save, lives from the perils of the sea in the waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, or upon an American vessel. This recognition should be extended to cover cases of conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in the saving of life in private employments under the jurisdiction of the United States, and particularly in the land commerce of the Nation.
The ever-increasing casualty list upon our railroads is a matter of grave public concern, and urgently calls for action by the Congress. In the matter of speed and comfort of railway travel our railroads give at least as good service as those of any other nation, and there is no reason why this service should not also be as safe as human ingenuity can make it. Many of our leading roads have been foremost in the adoption of the most approved safeguards for the protection of travelers and employees, yet the list of clearly avoidable accidents continues unduly large. The passage of a law requiring the adoption of a block-signal system has been proposed to the Congress. I earnestly concur in that recommendation, and would also point out to the Congress the urgent need of legislation in the interest of the public safety limiting the hours of labor for railroad employees in train service upon railroads engaged in interstate commerce, and providing that only trained and experienced persons be employed in positions of responsibility connected with the operation of trains. Of course nothing can ever prevent accidents caused by human weakness or misconduct; and there should be drastic punishment for any railroad employee, whether officer or man, who by issuance of wrong orders or by disobedience of orders causes disaster. The law of 1901, requiring interstate railroads to make monthly reports of all accidents to passengers and employees on duty, should also be amended so as to empower the Government to make a personal investigation, through proper officers, of all accidents involving loss of life which seem to require investigation, with a requirement that the results of such investigation be made public.
The safety-appliance law, as amended by the act of March 2, 1903, has proved beneficial to railway employees, and in order that its provisions may be properly carried out, the force of inspectors provided for by appropriation should be largely increased. This service is analogous to the Steamboat-Inspection Service, and deals with even more important interests. It has passed the experimental stage and demonstrated its utility, and should receive generous recognition by the Congress.
There is no objection to employees of the Government forming or belonging to unions; but the Government can neither discriminate for nor discriminate against nonunion men who are in its employment, or who seek to be employed under it. Moreover, it is a very grave impropriety for Government employees to band themselves together for the purpose of extorting improperly high salaries from the Government. Especially is this true of those within the classified service. The letter carriers, both municipal and rural, are as a whole an excellent body of public servants. They should be amply paid. But their payment must be obtained by arguing their claims fairly and honorably before the Congress, and not by banding together for the defeat of those Congressmen who refuse to give promises which they can not in conscience give. The Administration has already taken steps to prevent and punish abuses of this nature; but it will be wise for the Congress to supplement this action by legislation.
Much can be done by the Government in labor matters merely by giving publicity to certain conditions. The Bureau of Labor has done excellent work of this kind in many different directions. I shall shortly lay before you in a special message the full report of the investigation of the Bureau of Labor into the Colorado mining strike, as this was a strike in which certain very evil forces, which are more or less at work everywhere under the conditions of modern industrialism, became startlingly prominent. It is greatly to be wished that the Department of Commerce and Labor, through the Labor Bureau, should compile and arrange for the Congress a list of the labor laws of the various States, and should be given the means to investigate and report to the Congress upon the labor conditions in the manufacturing and mining regions throughout the country, both as to wages, as to hours of labor, as to the labor of women and children, and as to the effect in the various labor centers of immigration from abroad. In this investigation especial attention should be paid to the conditions of child labor and child-labor legislation in the several States. Such an investigation must necessarily take into account many of the problems with which this question of child labor is onnected. These problems can be actually met, in most cases, only by the States themselves; but the lack of proper legislation in one State in such a matter as child labor often renders it excessively difficult to establish protective restriction upon the work in another State having the same industries, so that the worst tends to drag down the better. For this reason, it would be well for the Nation at least to endeavor to secure comprehensive information as to the conditions of labor of children in the different States. Such investigation and publication by the National Government would tend toward the securing of approximately uniform legislation of the proper character among the several States.
When we come to deal with great corporations the need for the Government to act directly is far greater than in the case of labor, because great corporations can become such only by engaging in interstate commerce, and interstate commerce is peculiarly the field of the General Government. It is an absurdity to expect to eliminate the abuses in great corporations by State action. It is difficult to be patient with an argument that such matters should be left to the States because more than one State pursues the policy of creating on easy terms corporations which are never operated within that State at all, but in other States whose laws they ignore. The National Government alone can deal adequately with these great corporations. To try to deal with them in an intemperate, destructive, or demagogic spirit would, in all probability, mean that nothing whatever would be accomplished, and, with absolute certainty, that if anything were accomplished it would be of a harmful nature. The American people need to continue to show the very qualities that they have shown—that is, moderation, good sense,the earnest desire to avoid doing any damage, and yet the quiet determination to proceed, step by step, without halt and without hurry, in eliminating or at least in minimizing whatever of mischief or evil there is to interstate commerce in the conduct of great corporations. They are acting in no spirit of hostility to wealth, either individual or corporate. They are not against the rich man any more than against the poor man. On the contrary, they are friendly alike toward rich man and toward poor man, provided only that each acts in a spirit of justice and decency toward his fellows. Great corporations are necessary, and only men of great and singular mental power can manage such corporations successfully, and such men must have great rewards. But these corporations should be managed with due regard to the interest of the public as a whole. Where this can be done under thepresent laws it must be done. Where these laws come short others should be enacted to supplement them.
Yet we must never forget the determining factor in every kind of work, of head or hand, must be the man’s own good sense, courage, and kindliness. More important than any legislation is the gradual growth of a feeling of responsibility and forbearance among capitalists, and wage-workers alike; a feeling of respect on the part of each man for the rights of others; a feeling of broad community of interest, not erely of capitalists among themselves, and of wage-workers among themselves, but of capitalists and wage-workers in their relations to ach other, and of both in their relations to their fellows who with them make up the body politic. There are many captains of industry, many labor leaders, who realize this. A recent speech by the president of one of our great railroad systems to the employees of that system contains sound common sense. It rims in part as follows:
“It is my belief we can better serve each other, better understand the man as well as his business, when meeting face to face, exchanging views, and realizing from personal contact we serve but one interest, that of our mutual prosperity.
“Serious misunderstandings can not occur where personal good will exists and opportunity for personal explanation is present.
“In my early business life I had experience with men of affairs of a character to make me desire to avoid creating a like feeling of resentment to myself and the interests in my charge, should fortune ever place me in authority, and I am solicitous of a measure of confidence on the part of the public and our employees that I shall hope may be warranted by the fairness and good fellowship I intend shall prevail in our relationship.
“But do not feel I am disposed to grant unreasonable requests, spend the money of our company unnecessarily or without value received, nor expect the days of mistakes are disappearing, or that cause forcomplaint will not continually occur; simply to correct such abuses as may be discovered, to better conditions as fast as reasonably may be expected, constantly striving, with varying success, for that improvement we all desire, to convince you there is a force at work in the right direction, all the time making progress—is the disposition with which I have come among you, asking your good will and encouragement.
“The day has gone by when a corporation can be handled successfully in defiance of the public will, even though that will be unreasonable and wrong. A public may be led, but not driven, and I prefer to go with it and shape or modify, in a measure, its opinion, rather than be swept from my bearings, with loss to myself and the interests in my charge.
“Violent prejudice exists towards corporate activity and capital today, much of it founded in reason, more in apprehension, and a large measure is due to the personal traits of arbitrary, unreasonable, incompetent, and offensive men in positions of authority. The accomplishment of results by indirection, the endeavor to thwart the intention, if not the expressed letter of the law (the will of the people), a disregard of the rights of others, a disposition to withhold what is due, to force by main strength or inactivity a result not justified, depending upon the weakness of the claimant and his indisposition to become involved in litigation, has created a sentiment harmful in the extreme and a disposition to consider anything fair that gives gain to the individual at the expense of the company.
“If corporations are to continue to do the world’s work, as they are best fitted to, these qualities in their representatives that have resulted in the present prejudice against them must be relegated to the background. The corporations must come out into the open and see and be seen. They must take the public into their confidence and ask for what they want, and no more, and be prepared to explain satisfactorily what advantage will accrue to the public if they are given their desires; for they are permitted to exist not that they may make money solely, but that they may effectively serve those from whom they derive their power.
“Publicity, and not secrecy, will win hereafter, and laws be construed by their intent and not by their letter, otherwise public utilities will be owned and operated by the public which created them, even though the service be less efficient and the result less satisfactory from a financial standpoint.”
The Bureau of Corporations has made careful preliminary investigation of many important corporations. It will make a special report on the beef industry.
The policy of the Bureau is to accomplish the purposes of its creation by co-operation, not antagonism; by making constructive legislation, not destructive prosecution, the immediate object of its inquiries; by conservative investigation of law and fact, and by refusal to issue incomplete and hence necessarily inaccurate reports. Its policy being thus one of open inquiry into, and not attack upon, business, the Bureau has been able to gain not only the confidence, but, better still, the cooperation of men engaged in legitimate business.
The Bureau offers to the Congress the means of getting at the cost of production of our various great staples of commerce.
Of necessity the careful investigation of special corporations will afford the Commissioner knowledge of certain business facts, the publication of which might be an improper infringement of private rights. The method of making public the results of these investigations affords, under the law, a means for the protection of private rights. The Congress will have all facts except such as would give to another corporation information which would injure the legitimate business of a competitor and destroy the incentive for individual superiority and thrift.
The Bureau has also made exhaustive examinations into the legal condition under which corporate business is carried on in the various States; into all judicial decisions on the subject; and into the various systems of corporate taxation in use. I call special attention to the report of the chief of the Bureau; and I earnestly ask that the Congress carefully consider the report and recommendations of the Commissioner on this subject.
The business of insurance vitally affects the great mass of the people of the United States and is national and not local in its application. It involves a multitude of transactions among the people of the different States and between American companies and foreign governments. I urge that the Congress carefully consider whether the power of the Bureau of Corporations can not constitutionally be extended to cover interstate transactions in insurance.
Above all else, we must strive to keep the highways of commerce open to all on equal terms; and to do this it is necessary to put a complete stop to all rebates. Whether the shipper or the railroad is to blame makes no difference; the rebate must be stopped, the abuses of the private car and private terminal-track and side-track systems must be stopped, and the legislation of the Fifty-eighth Congress which declares it to be unlawful for any person or corporation to offer, grant, give, solicit, accept, or receive any rebate, concession, or discrimination in respect of the transportation of any property in interstate or foreign commerce whereby such property shall by any device whatever be transported at a less rate than that named in the tariffs published by the carrier must be enforced. For some time after the enactment of the Act to Regulate Commerce it remained a mooted question whether that act conferred upon the Interstate Commerce Commission the power, after it had found a challenged rate to be unreasonable, to declare what thereafter should, prima facie, be the reasonable maximum rate for the transportation in dispute. The Supreme Court finally resolved that question in the negative, so that as the law now stands the Commission simply possess the bare power to denounce a particular rate as unreasonable. While I am of the opinion that at present it would be undesirable, if it were not impracticable, finally to clothe the Commission with general authority to fix railroad rates, I do believe that, as a fair security to shippers, the Commission should be vested with the power, where a given rate has been challenged and after full hearing found to be unreasonable, to decide, subject to judicial review, what shall be a reasonable rate to take its place; the ruling of the Commission to take effect immediately, and to obtain unless and until it is reversed by the court of review. The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce; and such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy on the other. In my judgment the most important legislative act now needed as regards the regulation of corporations is this act to confer on the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to revise rates and regulations, the revised rate to at once go into effect, and stay in effect unless and until the court of review reverses it. Steamship companies engaged in interstate commerce and protected in our coast wise trade should be held to a strict observance of the interstate commerce act.
In pursuing the set plan to make the city of Washington an example to other American municipalities several points should be kept in mind by the legislators. In the first place, the people of this country should clearly understand that no amount of industrial prosperity, and above all no leadership in international industrial competition, can in any way atone for the sapping of the vitality of those who are usually spoken of as the working classes. The farmers, the mechanics, the skilled and unskilled laborers, the small shop keepers, make up the bulk of the population of any country; and upon their well-being, generation after generation, the well-being of the country and the race depends. Rapid development in wealth and industrial leadership is a good thing, but only if it goes hand in hand with improvement, and not deterioration, physical and moral. The over-crowding of cities and the draining of country districts are unhealthy and even dangerous symptoms in our modern life. We should not permit overcrowding in cities. In certain European cities it is provided by law that the population of towns shall not be allowed to exceed a very limited density for a given area, so that the increase in density must be continually pushed back into a broad zone around the center of the town, this zone having great avenues or parks within it. The death-rate statistics show a terrible increase in mortality, and especially in infant mortality, in overcrowded tenements. The poorest families in tenement houses live in one room, and it appears that in these one-room tenements the average death rate for a number of given cities at home and abroad is about twice what it is in a two-room tenement, four times what it is in a three-room tenement, and eight times what it is in a tenement consisting of four rooms or over. These figures vary somewhat for different cities, but they approximate in each city those given above; and in all cases the increase of mortality, and especially of infant mortality, with the decrease in the number of rooms used by the family and with the consequent overcrowding is startling. The slum exacts a heavy total of death from those who dwell therein; and this is the case not merely in the great crowded slums of high buildings in New York and Chicago, but in the alley slums of Washington. In Washington people can not afford to ignore the harm that this causes. No Christian and civilized community can afford to show a happy-go-lucky lack of concern for the youth of to-day; for, if so, the community will have to pay a terrible penalty of financial burden and social degradation in the to-morrow. There should be severe child-labor and factory-inspection laws. It is very desirable that married women should not work in factories. The prime duty of the man is to work, to be the breadwinner; the prime duty of the woman is to be the mother, the housewife. All questions of tariff and finance sink into utter insignificance when compared with the tremendous, the vital importance of trying to shape conditions so that these two duties of the man and of the woman can be fulfilled under reasonably favorable circumstances. If a race does not have plenty of children, or if the children do not grow up, or if when they grow up they are unhealthy in body and stunted or vicious in mind, then that race is decadent, and no heaping up of wealth, no splendor of momentary material prosperity, can avail in any degree as offsets. The Congress has the same power of legislation for the District of Columbia which the State legislatures have for the various States. The problems incident to our highly complex modern industrial civilization, with its manifold and perplexing tendencies both for good and for evil, are far less sharply accentuated in the city of Washington than in most other cities. For this very reason it is easier to deal with the various phases of these problems in Washington, and the District of Columbia government should be a model for the other municipal governments of the Nation, in all such matters as supervision of the housing of the poor, the creation of small parks in the districts inhabited by the poor, in laws affecting labor, in laws providing for the taking care of the children, in truant laws, and in providing schools.
In the vital matter of taking care of children, much advantage could be gained by a careful study of what has been accomplished in such States as Illinois and Colorado by the juvenile courts. The work of the juvenile court is really a work of character building. It is now generally recognized that young boys and young girls who go wrong should not be treated as criminals, not even necessarily as needing reformation, but rather as needing to have their characters formed, and for this end to have them tested and developed by a system of probation. Much admirable work has been done in many of our Commonwealths by earnest men and women who have made a special study of the needs of those classes of children which furnish the greatest number of juvenile offenders, and therefore the greatest number of adult offenders; and by their aid, and by profiting by the experiences of the different States and cities in these matters, it would be easy to provide a good code for the District of Columbia.
Several considerations suggest the need for a systematic investigation into and improvement of housing conditions in Washington. The hidden residential alleys are breeding grounds of vice and disease, and should be opened into minor streets. For a number of years influential citizens have joined with the District Commissioners in the vain endeavor to secure laws permitting the condemnation of insanitary dwellings. The local death rates, especially from preventable diseases, are so unduly high as to suggest that the exceptional wholesomeness of Washington’s better sections is offset by bad conditions in her poorer neighborhoods. A special “Commission on Housing and Health Conditions in the National Capital” would not only bring about the reformation of existing evils, but would also formulate an appropriate building code to protect the city from mammoth brick tenements and other evils which threaten to develop here as they have in other cities. That the Nation’s Capital should be made a model for other municipalities is an ideal which appeals to all patriotic citizens everywhere, and such a special Commission might map out and organize the city’s future development in lines of civic social service, just as Major L’Enfant and the recent Park Commission planned the arrangement of her streets and parks.
It is mortifying to remember that Washington has no compulsory school attendance law and that careful inquiries indicate the habitual absence from school of some twenty per cent of all children between the ages of eight and fourteen. It must be evident to all who consider the problems of neglected child life or the benefits of compulsory education in other cities that one of the most urgent needs of the National Capital is a law requiring the school attendance of all children, this law to be enforced by attendance agents directed by the board of education.
Public play grounds are necessary means for the development of wholesome citizenship in modern cities. It is important that the work inaugurated here through voluntary efforts should be taken up and extended through Congressional appropriation of funds sufficient to equip and maintain numerous convenient small play grounds upon land which can be secured without purchase or rental. It is also desirable that small vacant places be purchased and reserved as small-park play grounds in densely settled sections of the city which now have no public open spaces and are destined soon to be built up solidly. All these needs should be met immediately. To meet them would entail expenses; but a corresponding saving could be made by stopping the building of streets and levelling of ground for purposes largely speculative in outlying parts of the city.
There are certain offenders, whose criminality takes the shape of brutality and cruelty towards the weak, who need a special type of punishment. The wife-beater, for example, is inadequately punished by imprisonment; for imprisonment may often mean nothing to him, while it may cause hunger and want to the wife and children who have been the victims of his brutality. Probably some form of corporal punishment would be the most adequate way of meeting this kind of crime.
The Department of Agriculture has grown into an educational institution with a faculty of two thousand specialists making research into all the sciences of production. The Congress appropriates, directly and indirectly, six millions of dollars annually to carry on this work. It reaches every State and Territory in the Union and the islands of the sea lately come under our flag. Co-operation is had with the State experiment stations, and with many other institutions and individuals. The world is carefully searched for new varieties of grains, fruits, grasses, vegetables, trees, and shrubs, suitable to various localities in our country; and marked benefit to our producers has resulted.
The activities of our age in lines of research have reached the tillers of the soil and inspired them with ambition to know more of the principles that govern the forces of nature with which they have to deal. Nearly half of the people of this country devote their energies to growing things from the soil. Until a recent date little has been done to prepare these millions for their life work. In most lines of human activity college-trained men are the leaders. The farmer had no opportunity for special training until the Congress made provision for it forty years ago. During these years progress has been made and teachers have been prepared. Over five thousand students are in attendance at our State agricultural colleges. The Federal Government expends ten millions of dollars annually toward this education and for research in Washington and in the several States and Territories. The Department of Agriculture has given facilities for post-graduate work to five hundred young men during the last seven years, preparing them for advance lines of work in the Department and in the State institutions.
The facts concerning meteorology and its relations to plant and animal life are being systematically inquired into. Temperature and moisture are controlling factors in all agricultural operations. The seasons of the cyclones of the Caribbean Sea and their paths are being forecasted with increasing accuracy. The cold winds that come from the north are anticipated and their times and intensity told to farmers, gardeners, and fruiterers in all southern localities.
We sell two hundred and fifty million dollars’ worth of animals and animal products to foreign countries every year, in addition to supplying our own people more cheaply and abundantly than any other nation is able to provide for its people. Successful manufacturing depends primarily on cheap food, which accounts to a considerable extent for our growth in this direction. The Department of Agriculture, by careful inspection of meats, guards the health of our people and gives clean bills of health to deserving exports; it is prepared to deal promptly with imported diseases of animals, and maintain the excellence of our flocks and herds in this respect. There should be an annual census of the live stock of the Nation.
We sell abroad about six hundred million dollars’ worth of plants and their products every year. Strenuous efforts are being made to import from foreign countries such grains as are suitable to our varying localities. Seven years ago we bought three-fourths of our rice; by helping the rice growers on the Gulf coast to secure seeds from the Orient suited to their conditions, and by giving them adequate protection, they now supply home demand and export to the islands of the Caribbean Sea and to other rice-growing countries. Wheat and other grains have been imported from light-rainfall countries to our lands in the West and Southwest that have not grown crops because of light precipitation, resulting in an extensive addition to our cropping area and our home-making territory that can not be irrigated. Ten million bushels of first-class macaroni wheat were grown from these experimental importations last year. Fruits suitable to our soils and climates are being imported from all the countries of the Old World—the fig from Turkey, the almond from Spain, the date from Algeria, the mango from India. We are helping our fruit growers to get their crops into European markets by studying methods of preservation through refrigeration, packing, and handling, which have been quite successful. We are helping our hop growers by importing varieties that ripen earlier and later than the kinds they have been raising, thereby lengthening the harvesting season. The cotton crop of the country is threatened with root rot, the bollworm, and the boll weevil. Our pathologists will find immune varieties that will resist the root disease, and the bollworm can be dealt with, but the boll weevil is a serious menace to the cotton crop. It is a Central American insect that has become acclimated in Texas and has done great damage. A scientist of the Department of Agriculture has found the weevil at home in Guatemala being kept in check by an ant, which has been brought to our cotton fields for observation. It is hoped that it may serve a good purpose.
The soils of the country are getting attention from the farmer’s standpoint, and interesting results are following. We have duplicates of the soils that grow the wrapper tobacco in Sumatra and the filler tobacco in Cuba. It will be only a question of time when the large amounts paid to these countries will be paid to our own people. The reclamation of alkali lands is progressing, to give object lessons to our people in methods by which worthless lands may be made productive.
The insect friends and enemies of the farmer are getting attention. The enemy of the San Jose scale was found near the Great Wall of China, and is now cleaning up all our orchards. The fig-fertilizing insect imported from Turkey has helped to establish an industry in California that amounts to from fifty to one hundred tons of dried figs annually, and is extending over the Pacific coast. A parasitic fly from South Africa is keeping in subjection the black scale, the worst pest of the orange and lemon industry in California.
Careful preliminary work is being done towards producing our own silk. The mulberry is being distributed in large numbers, eggs are being imported and distributed, improved reels were imported from Europe last year, and two expert reelers were brought to Washington to reel the crop of cocoons and teach the art to our own people.
The crop-reporting system of the Department of Agriculture is being brought closer to accuracy every year. It has two hundred and fifty thousand reporters selected from people in eight vocations in life. It has arrangements with most European countries for interchange of estimates, so that our people may know as nearly as possible with what they must compete.
During the two and a half years that have elapsed since the passage of the reclamation act rapid progress has been made in the surveys and examinations of the opportunities for reclamation in the thirteen States and three Territories of the arid West. Construction has already been begun on the largest and most important of the irrigation works, and plans are being completed for works which will utilize the funds now available. The operations are being carried on by the Reclamation Service, a corps of engineers selected through competitive civil-service examinations. This corps includes experienced consulting and constructing engineers as well as various experts in mechanical and legal matters, and is composed largely of men who have spent most of their lives in practical affairs connected with irrigation. The larger problems have been solved and it now remains to execute with care, economy, and thoroughness the work which has been laid out. All important details are being carefully considered by boards of consulting engineers, selected for their thorough knowledge and practical experience. Each project is taken up on the ground by competent men and viewed from the standpoint of the creation of prosperous homes, and of promptly refunding to the Treasury the cost of construction. The reclamation act has been found to be remarkably complete and effective, and so broad in its provisions that a wide range of undertakings has been possible under it. At the same time, economy is guaranteed by the fact that the funds must ultimately be returned to be used over again.
It is the cardinal principle of the forest-reserve policy of this Administration that the reserves are for use. Whatever interferes with the use of their resources is to be avoided by every possible means. But these resources must be used in such a way as to make them permanent.
The forest policy of the Government is just now a subject of vivid public interest throughout the West and to the people of the United States in general. The forest reserves themselves are of extreme value to the present as well as to the future welfare of all the western public-land States. They powerfully affect the use and disposal of the public lands. They are of special importance because they preserve the water supply and the supply of timber for domestic purposes, and so promote settlement under the reclamation act. Indeed, they are essential to the welfare of every one of the great interests of the West.
Forest reserves are created for two principal purposes. The first is to preserve the water supply. This is their most important use. The principal users of the water thus preserved are irrigation ranchers and settlers, cities and towns to whom their municipal water supplies are of the very first importance, users and furnishers of water power, and the users of water for domestic, manufacturing, mining, and other purposes. All these are directly dependent upon the forest reserves.
The second reason for which forest reserves are created is to preserve the timber supply for various classes of wood users. Among the more important of these are settlers under the reclamation act and other acts, for whom a cheap and accessible supply of timber for domestic uses is absolutely necessary; miners and prospectors, who are in serious danger of losing their timber supply by fire or through export by lumber companies when timber lands adjacent to their mines pass into private ownership; lumbermen, transportation companies, builders, and commercial interests in general.
Although the wisdom of creating forest reserves is nearly everywhere heartily recognized, yet in a few localities there has been misunderstanding and complaint. The following statement is therefore desirable:
The forest reserve policy can be successful only when it has the full support of the people of the West. It can not safely, and should not in any case, be imposed upon them against their will. But neither can we accept the views of those whose only interest in the forest is temporary; who are anxious to reap what they have not sown and then move away, leaving desolation behind them. On the contrary, it is everywhere and always the interest of the permanent settler and the permanent business man, the man with a stake in the country, which must be considered and which must decide.
The making of forest reserves within railroad and wagon-road land-grant limits will hereafter, as for the past three years, be so managed as to prevent the issue, under the act of June 4, 1897, of base for exchange or lieu selection (usually called scrip). In all cases where forest reserves within areas covered by land grants appear to be essential to the prosperity of settlers, miners, or others, the Government lands within such proposed forest reserves will, as in the recent past, be withdrawn from sale or entry pending the completion of such negotiations with the owners of the land grants as will prevent the creation of so-called scrip.
It was formerly the custom to make forest reserves without first getting definite and detailed information as to the character of land and timber within their boundaries. This method of action often resulted in badly chosen boundaries and consequent injustice to settlers and others. Therefore this Administration adopted the present method of first withdrawing the land from disposal, followed by careful examination on the ground and the preparation of detailed maps and descriptions, before any forest reserve is created.