January 18, 1905
As the year 1904 has passed and a new year has come we should look back to the old year and see the mistakes we made. The low price of cotton has come on the people so unexpectedly and who is to blame for all this change? The merchants and the farmers are all to blame. The merchant encourage the credit business to make a larger per cent on his goods. The farmer bought anything on credit thinking he would get ten or fifteen cents for his cotton.
I have been told that the Farmers Alliance has organized and got the poor farmers to hold back their cotton for twelve or fifteen cents. This is a bad mistake. With a crop of over 12,000,000 bales we cannot expect over six cents for our cotton. I told you two or three years ago all this was coming.
The cash trade has about played out in Marion. We have about 12 stores here which have sprung up since the railroad came and it is the same way all over the country. Most everyone who got a few hundred dollars ahead has gone into business. About 15 years ago I got almost as much cash trade as this whole town gets today. My price would bring them because I paid cash for all my goods and my customers got the benefit of this difference. I still pay cash for my goods but I have lost the bulk of my trade. Those about here who read my peaces laugh at me but I tell them that I still pay 100 cents on the dollar, this is our duty however as we deserve no credit for paying our debt.
In conclusion let me give you some advice. In the first place buy as little as you can. Raise everything at home that you can and let cotton be your surplus. When you see everything raising cotton try something else and if you will live at home you will need but little money.
We still have blind tigers here and some that are not blind but if the times proves to be like they have set in I don’t think the tigers will get their share.
Yours Very Truly,
J. H. Roark
Right Uncle Jasper. Your advice is good and sound and if the people would only take it they would be more prosperous. However in one or two points of your excellent argument we differ with you. First, we think it highly advisable for the farmers to hold on to their cotton for a better price than six cents, if they will reduce their acreage this year and, as you wisely say, raise more of something else and let the cotton crop be the surplus.” But it will be the height of folly to hold cotton unless the acreage is reduced as a whopper crop this year together with the cotton which will be held will only serve to force the price still lower.
Another point where we differ with you is this — wherever a blind tiger can live in a community then you can be sure that he is getting his share of the “blood money” for a man may be so poor that his debts will bend him to carry them; his children may be crying for food; his wife may be without a decent dress and he may not have a coat to protect him from the cold nevertheless, if there is a “blind tiger” where he can get to it and if he wants whiskey he will spend his last dollar to get it. There is one way and only one to get rid of the “tiger” and that is for the good citizens to gather en masse, and drive him from his den.
We are always glad to get your communications, Uncle Jasper, for they are sound and logical and we feel sure that the many readers of THE GAZETTE are equally as glad as are we.