Saturday, October 11, 2014

1892 - Farmers Unite!: J. A. Everitt, Seedsman, Indianapolis and The American Society of Equity

Here's where J. A. Everitt gets interesting if you are political.  

He was by nature a communicator, someone who could, and liked to, share his opinions through publishing.  There was an important issue that  involved him deeply; the farmers were being jerked around by price manipulation.  He founded  The American Society of Equity in 1902 to organize farmers into a cohesive bargaining group.

His book, The third power : farmers to the front   explains why farmers needed to join together.


(You might want to take a quick detour to visit to the
PBS Timeline of American Farming to get a feel for the big picture.)  

There were many farm publications, most concerned with the science of farming.  Everitt was interested in explaining marketing.  (I can't find an issue of it though!  grrr....)

In the full page ad for the American Society of Equity (at the bottom of this post) he states that Up-to-Date Farming is the semi-monthly journal which represents the ASE.  Yet in 1910 an account is written that says:

"Up-to-Date Farming is an agricultural semi-monthly that was started by J. A. Everitt in 1898 and was published by him till January, 1909, when it passed into control of an incorporated company, of which he is the chief owner. It claims 125,000 circulation." 

It goes on to report in the next paragraph that
"The Equity Farm Journal is the official organ of the American Society of Equity, and is devoted more to agricultural buying and selling than to the science of cultivating the soil. It was started in Chicago as an independent publication in November, 1907, but was acquired by the society and moved to this point in January, 1908, the headquarters of the society being here. Its circulation is about 60,000 and is rapidly increasing."
Quoted above Greater Indianapolis: 

The History, the Industries, the Institutions, 
and the People of a City of Homes  Jacob Piatt Dunn

There was a takeover of the ASE,  pushing out Everitt.  And it was nasty.  

May 7, 1908 - The Jackson Herald from Jackson, Missouri

The case of the State of Illinois against Theo. G. Nelson, John Gentner and Chas. W. Bowne for committing criminal libel against J. A. Everitt by publications in their paper, Equity Farm Journal, came to trial in the First Criminal Branch of the Municipal court of Cook County, (Chicago), Thursday, April 9th, and was concluded on April 18th with a verdict of guilty by the jury against all the defendants. 

Mr. Everitt, as the members of the  A. S. of E. and readers of this paper know was charged with many misdemeanors including "mismanagement of the society while he was its president and head". These things were charged or insinuated against him before, and at, the October, 1907 convention, but he was prevented from facing his accusers at the convention, except the alleged opportunity on Friday night when all of the work of the convention had been done and the truth could not have been used to prevent the conspirators from carrying out their designs. 

But it is not necessary to review the acts of the convention or subsequent ones leading up to the arrest of the three people who now stand convicted of one of the most contemptible crimes in the calendar. Mr. Everitt was not allowed his day in the convention, but he has had his day in court and after the most searching investigation of nearly every act of his life for thirty years, stands an exonerated and vindicated man. He has borne with meekness the insults and black accusations heaped upon him by his enemies who thought to profit by tearing his business down and besmirching his name and fame, but always confident that right must prevail. 
There doubtless were songs of thanksgiving among the angels in heaven when the jury returned the verdict that showed Justice and Equity still abide on the earth, and these songs were of peace on earth and good will to men. but we do not write this in the spirit of vindictiveness. The crimes were committed, the prosecution was necessary, the verdict of "guilty" was inevitable, if justice was done.

 Mr. Everitt regrets all the past as he would much rather that nothing had occurred to arrest the development of the society. Even the guilty people should be thankful that the end has come as they have known for some time that the pendulum had swung to the limit of its arc and must return and would rend asunder the fabric of malice, wrong, injustice, and vilification that they had woven. We believe every honest man, every true and loyal member of the society and every former subscriber to Up-to-date Farming will rejoice over the fact, as proven by the verdict, that their confidence in Mr. Everitt, the founder of the society, was not misplaced and had not been abused. Right will prevail and wrong must perish. 

We now believe any who were placed in a position of doubt will doubt and hesitate no more, but that they will, without delay, renew their allegiance to this paper which was their guide and counselor in the past. By doing this its old time strength will be retained and it will speedily put our chosen people the farmers on a firmer and sounder basis than ever before. 

Notwithstanding the doubt that has existed as to whether farmers can organize and whether they will stick together,  we believe that before many months they will be stronger in organization than ever before. If any still hold back they confess that they are incapable of independent thought and action, but will be swayed by designing people bent on wrecking our beloved society and who, for selfish ends and for greed of plunder, struck the blows that have been so destructive and which shook the organization to the very foundation and which were intended to work Mr. Everitt's personal ruin, destroy his business and detract from his fame and character. 


This book reads well if you want to know what was going on with the factions jockeying to represent farmers.

Seeking to reclaim a history that has remained largely ignored by historians, this dramatic and stirring account examines each of the definitive American cooperative movements for social change--farmer, union, consumer, and communalist--that have been all but erased from collective memory. With an expansive sweep and breathtaking detail, this scholarly yet eminently readable chronicle follows the American worker from the colonial workshop to the modern mass-assembly line, from the family farm to the corporate hierarchy, ultimately painting a vivid panorama of those who built the United States.