Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What We Ask of the State Legislature, From Editorial in The Progressive Farmer, 1903

“What We Ask of the Legislature” from the editorial page of The Progressive Farmer, Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, January 6, 1903

Economy but not parsimony. Steer clear both of stinginess and extravagance.

As few laws as possible. We have too many. In a multitude of statutes there is confusion.

Justice to rich and poor, individuals and corporations, alike. Do not cringe to wealth, as corrupt men do, in hope of gain; do not revile it, as demagogues do, in hope of popularity.

Justice to the negro, from whom, for the safety of the State, we have taken power. It requires neither courage nor manliness to jump on the man who is down. In the language of our Governor: “It is true that a superior race cannot submit to the rule of a weaker race without injury; it is also true in the long years of God that the strong cannot oppress the weak without destruction.”

A forward movement in education. It is not enough merely to hold the ground that we have gained. The State must continue its aid to the weaker districts. The rural school library appropriation should be extended. The salary of the State Superintendent should be increased. The study for the elements of agriculture should be provided for. Let us stop fostering the idea that education is needed only in commercial or professional life; let us direct attention to the El Dorado of undreamed-of possibilities in scientific agriculture.

A saving of child-life. The children of today will make the North Carolina of to-morrow, and the State must protect them to save herself. She must protect the children of the factories—whether from greedy capitalists or cruel parents it matters not. Nor must the wayward children be neglected. A reformatory should be established for them. The reformatory saves three-fourths of the young offenders to good citizenship; the jail, at about the same cost, trains three-fourths of them for further crime.

Temperance legislation. That asked by the Anti-Saloon League is reasonable and just. The law should assume that the people do not want whiskey unless they ask for it, not that whiskey is wanted everywhere except where it has been expressly prohibited.

An appropriate should be made for an agricultural building at the A. and M. College. Eighty-two per cent of our State’s population is agricultural. But though this 82 per cent has voted appropriates and paid taxes for the thorough equipment of the textile and mechanical departments of the College, the agricultural department is still in cramped quarters, wretchedly equipped. With the number of agricultural students doubled within two years, it becomes the imperative duty of the Legislature to heed this demand of the farmers of the State.

A better divorce law is needed; the one now in force discredits the State.

The insane must be cared for; there is no worthier charity.

A new Code would save confusion, worry, and lawyers’ fees.

The birds should be protected; they are being killed off too rapidly, and crop pests are increasing.

There should be no bond issue if it can be avoided, but it would be better to issue bonds than cripple our educational or charitable work.

Finally, “be just and fear not,” for “there is but one way only to serve the people well, and that is to do the right thing, trusting them as they may ever be trusted, to improve the things which count for the betterment of the State.”

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