Abstract

In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt formed the Country Life Commission to address contemporary concerns over the state of rural America. One of the issues that commissioners planned to address provoked an internal impasse: the relationship of immigration to agriculture. Charles S. Barrett, president of the Farmers Educational and Co-operative Union, insisted upon removing a section of the commission's report that raised the possibility of settling immigrants in rural areas. His organization was actively pursuing political partnership with the American Federation of Labor. Barrett forced fellow commissioners to confront the existence of a rift between small farmers and organized labor on the one hand, and large agricultural and business interests on the other. The commission's encounter with immigration is emblematic of its general hesitancy to address issues arising from economic divisions.

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NOTES

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Chapel Hill
:
University of North Carolina Press
,
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:
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,
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(
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,
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,
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:
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(
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:
University Press of Kentucky
,
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,
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,
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,
47
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5.
US Senate
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60th Cong., 2nd sess.,
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,
30
,
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:
University Press of Kentucky
,
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,
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).
6. Hal S. Barron,
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(
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:
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,
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),
27
30
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,
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4
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;
California State Commission of Horticulture
,
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155
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12
:
93
(
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):
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“Social Problems,”
611
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(
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:
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,
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),
93
.
7. Butterfield,
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,
5
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Country-Life Movement
,
16
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34
(
Dec.
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in
Proceedings of the Fifty-Fourth Annual Meeting
,
Western New York Horticultural Society
(
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:
Democrat and Chronicle Press
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Principles of Rural Economics
(
Boston
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The Country Church: The Decline of Its Influence and the Remedy
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New York
:
Macmillan Co.
,
1913
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3
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Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
(
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,
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World's Work
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(
Aug.
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):
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Christianity and the Social Crisis
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25
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Popular Science Monthly
72
(
Jan.
1908
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Presidential Addresses and State Papers, January 16, 1907, to October 25, 1907
(
New York
:
Review of Reviews Co.
,
1910
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1,382
.
8. Lajos Steiner to Norval Kemp, Nov. 9, Oct. 16, 1908; Charles W. Larmon to Kemp, Dec. 2, 1908, Box 22; Kemp to T. N. Carver, Nov. 20, 1908, Box 23, LHBP. The Society for Italian Immigrants apparently anticipated that the Country Life Commission would address immigration, as it took “great interest” in the commission's efforts. “Jottings,”
Charities and the Commons
(
Oct.
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1908
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111
12
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The Country Town: A Study of Rural Evolution
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American Agriculturist
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:
26
(
1907
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“The Movement of Population From Country to City,”
in
Cyclopedia of American Agriculture: A Popular Survey of Agricultural Conditions, Practices and Ideals in the United States and Canada
,
4
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New York
:
Macmillan Co.
,
1907–1909
),
4
:
118
;
“Turning the Tide of Immigration to the Farm,”
Wallaces' Farmer
35
:
12
(
1910
):
527
.
9. Hibbard,
“Farm Tenancy,”
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“Population and Immigration—Discussion,”
American Economic Review
(
Apr.
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):
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“Foreigners Learn Nothing of Opportunities in Agriculture,”
New York Times
,
Oct.
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,
1910
,
10
;
US Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Division of Information
,
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(
Washington, DC
:
GPO
,
1912
),
61
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“What is the Matter with the Japanese,”
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:
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(
1909
):
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(
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.
10. Henry Wallace, revised by L. H. Bailey,
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Box 23,
LHBP
.
11. Anonymous note, Box 23, LHBP; Senate,
“Report of the Country Life Commission,”
43
.
12. The AFL's political position on immigration during the Progressive Era is addressed by A. T. Lane,
Solidarity or Survival?: American Labor and European Immigrants, 1830–1924
(
Westport, Conn.
:
Greenwood Press
,
1987
); Gwendolyn Mink,
Old Labor and New Immigrants in American Political Development: Union, Party, and State, 1875–1920
(
Ithaca
:
Cornell University Press
,
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The Pan-American Federation of Labor
(
Durham
:
Duke University Press
,
1964
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Seventy Years of Life and Labor: An Autobiography
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2
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New York
:
E. P. Dutton & Company
,
1925
),
2
:
153
.
13. Philip Taft argues that “little evidence exists to support the claim that labor's attitude [toward immigrants] was founded on narrowly racist grounds. Without seeking to justify discrimination, it might be asserted that hostility to foreigners in the past … is based primarily upon the possible effect these applicants would have upon employment and wages; racist or xenophobic elements usually play only a subordinate role.” Philip Taft,
“Labor History and the Labor Movement Today,”
Labor History
7
(Winter
1966
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Races and Immigrants in America
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New York
:
Macmillan Co.
,
1907
),
151
52
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History of Labour in the United States
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4
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1918
; repr.,
New York
:
Macmillan Co.
,
1958
),
1
:
10
.
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“Immigration—Up to Congress,”
American Federationist
18
(
Jan.
1911
):
18
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“Schemes to ‘Distribute’ Immigrants,”
American Federationist
18
(
July
1911
):
524
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“A Judicious Mixture: Negroes and Immigrants in the West Virginia Mines, 1880–1917,”
West Virginia History
34
(
Jan.
1973
):
148
50
; Paul B. Worthman,
“Black Workers and Labor Unions in Birmingham, Alabama, 1897–1904,”
Labor History
10
(Summer
1969
):
403
404
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“Protect the Workman,”
Outlook
93
:
2
(
1909
):
68
.
15. Similarities between agriculture in the South and California are raised by Paul S. Taylor,
“Plantation Agriculture in the United States: Seventeenth to Twentieth Centuries,”
Land Economics
30
(
May
1954
):
141
52
. Ellsworth,
“Theodore Roosevelt's Country Life Commission,”
163
.
16. Alfred Holt Stone,
“The Italian Cotton Grower: The Negro's Problem,”
South Atlantic Quarterly
(
Jan.–Oct.
1905
):
46
;
“Need of Labor is the Universal Cry,”
New York Times
,
Oct.
7
,
1906
,
16
; David Robinson,
“Chance for Immigrants,”
New York Times
,
Dec.
9
,
1906
,
6
; Rowland T. Berthoff,
“Southern Attitudes toward Immigration, 1865–1914,”
Journal of Southern History
17
(
Aug.
1951
):
328
31
; Robert L. Brandfon,
Cotton Kingdom of the New South: A History of the Yazoo Mississippi Delta from Reconstruction to the Twentieth Century
(
Cambridge
:
Harvard University Press
,
1967
),
144
55
; James C. Cobb,
The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity
(
New York
:
Oxford University Press
,
1992
),
109
10
;
US Immigration Commission
,
Reports of the Immigration Commission
,
41
Vols. (
Washington, DC
:
GPO
,
1911
),
24
:
319
,
322
. On Sunnyside Plantation, see, Jeannie M. Whayne, ed.,
Shadows over Sunnyside: An Arkansas Plantation in Transition, 1830–1945
(
Fayetteville
:
University of Arkansas Press
,
1993
).
17. Richard A. Walker,
The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California
(
New York
:
New Press
,
2004
),
61
. On the concentrated nature of land ownership in California, see, Paul W. Gates,
Land and Law in California: Essays on Land Policies
(
Ames
:
Iowa State University Press
,
1991
). Richard Steven Street,
Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769–1913
(
Stanford
:
Stanford University Press
,
2004
),
588
91
. On Californians' opposition to Asian immigration, see, for example, Alexander Saxton,
The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California
(
Berkeley
:
University of California Press
,
1971
); Roger Daniels,
The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion
(
Berkeley
:
University of California Press
,
1962
); Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer,
The Anti-Chinese Movement in California
(
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
1939
).
“The California View of the Japanese,”
New York Times
,
Jan.
31
,
1909
, SM5; Country Life Commission hearing at Fresno, California, Nov. 27, 1908, Box 24,
LHBP
.
18. Senate,
“Report of the Country Life Commission,”
30
;
US Immigration Commission
,
Reports of the Immigration Commission
,
41
:
350
.
19. Carver to Kemp, Nov. 25, 1908, Box 23, LHBP; “Population and Immigration—Discussion,” 255. For similar views to Carver's, see, Kinley,
“Movement of Population,”
125
; George F. Warren,
Elements of Agriculture
(
New York
:
Macmillan & Co.
,
1909
),
379
;
Washington State Dairymen's Association
,
Proceedings of the Twenty-First Annual Convention of the Washington State Dairymen's Association
(
Seattle
:
Seattle Herald Print
,
1913
),
70
. Carver had identified a trend that was altering American agriculture: increasing land prices, stagnating rural wages, and rising tenancy. Statistician Isaac A. Hourwich had concluded that for immigrants “the opportunity eventually to secure a homestead in the United States is gone.” Hourwich,
Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States
(
New York
:
G. P. Putnam's Sons
,
1912
),
202
.
20. Carver to Kemp, Nov. 25, 1908; Kemp to Carver, Nov. 20, 1908; Kemp to Carver, Nov. 30, 1908, Box 23, LHBP.
21. Russell Lord,
“Liberty Hyde Bailey,”
Land
4
(Spring
1945
):
154
; T. M. Jeffords to Kemp, Nov. 24, 1908, Box 23,
LHBP
.
22.
American Federation of Labor
,
Report of Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor
(
Washington, DC
:
National Tribune Co.
,
1908
),
190
,
113
,
13
14
;
National Farmers Union
,
Minutes of the National Farmers Educational and Co-operative Union of America
(
Little Rock
:
Central Printing Co.
,
1908
?),
3
.
23.
Statutes at Large
, Vol.
34
, Part 1 (
Washington, DC
:
GPO
,
1907
):
909
10
;
American Federation of Labor
,
Report of Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor
(
Washington, DC
:
Law Reporter Printing Co.
,
1909
),
321
;
Reports of the Immigration Commission
,
41
:
385
86
,
381
;
US Senate
,
“Amendment of Immigration Laws,”
62nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1912, S. Doc. 251, 87.
24. Commons,
Races and Immigrants
,
230
;
National Association of Manufacturers
,
Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Convention of the National Association of Manufacturers of the United States of America
(
New York
:
National Association of Manufacturer's Secretary's Office
,
1907
),
198
;
USDA
,
Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1910
(
Washington, DC
:
GPO
,
1911
),
191
;
“Immigration,”
Railroad Trainman
25
:
2
(
1908
):
157
; Jeremiah W. Jenks,
“The Urgent Immigration Problem,”
World's Work
22
(
May
1911
):
14,373
; Hourwich,
Immigration and Labor
,
7
9
; L. H. Bailey,
The State and the Farmer
(
New York
:
Macmillan Co.
,
1908
),
45
46
.
25. The operations of economies and markets are a social, historical, and political construction. See, Karl Polanyi,
“The Economy as Instituted Process,”
in
Trade and Market in the Early Empires: Economies in History and Theory
, ed. Karl Polanyi, Conrad M. Arensberg, and Harry W. Pearson (
Glencoe, Ill.
:
Free Press
,
1957
). R. H. Tawney suggestively points to the conditional nature of agricultural transformation in sixteenth-century Britain. See, R. H. Tawney,
The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century
(
New York
:
Longmans, Green and Co.
,
1912
). On the decline of the family farm, see,
US Bureau of the Census
,
Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970
,
2
Vols. (
Washington, DC
:
GPO
,
1975
),
1
:
457
; Ernest W. Grove,
Farm Population, Nonfarm Population, and Number of Farms in the United States, 1910–39
, Part 5 of 6 in Income Parity for Agriculture (
Washington, DC
:
USDA
,
1939
),
3
; H. A. Turner,
A Graphic Summary of Farm Tenure
(
Washington, DC
:
USDA
,
1936
),
1
. The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission's campaign against hookworm disease in the South provides a directly relevant expression of faith that science and education could resolve the issue of class. This ambitious public health program was an outgrowth of the Country Life Commission's work. Commission member Walter Hines Page posited that the region's “poor whites” could literally be cured of their social position by treating them for hookworm. See, Walter H. Page,
“The Hookworm and Civilization,”
World's Work
24
:
5
(
1912
):
509
10
.