Land Control As Mind Control
Old Policies Still Plague Us
Can a Southern farmer’s alleged racist values be transformed into “progressive” thinking (by Washington’s standards) through changes in what he plants?
Can the development of new strains of crops, which can flourish despite extremes in temperature, re-educate that same farmer away from being an extremist (by Washington’s standards) in his thinking?
The answers are “yes” and this story shows how the federal government’s policies concerning supposed Southern racism at the end of the Civil War directly relate to major contemporary infringements on property rights that are constantly in the headlines today. The legislative mechanism set in motion to end racism in the 1860s has never stopped. It is still expanding and today we can see the consequences in several ways: in the ever-expanding government attacks on urban and rural property rights through illegal, unconstitutional direct confiscation and forced control of land use. And in the colossal subsidies to agriculture that have pushed up prices and pushed out most small farmers and created a gigantic, nationalized, monopolistic “agribusiness.”
Let us begin our story at the beginning.
Crop Research as War Research
The year is 1862. The North battles desperately against the seceded South, which is the world’s largest cotton producer. The Confederacy shuts off this vital commodity to the North, since it is critical for uniforms, blankets, tents, bandages, and other supplies. The South also shuts off rice and sugar cane, for food, to the Union armies. Without these basic commodities Washington’s war effort is severely hampered.
Congress creates a new federal agency, the Department of Agriculture, to solve these life-and-death issues. In voting for this new agency, Senator Joseph Wright of Indiana stated its purpose clearly: “The cotton crop of the South cannot reach Northern spindles. Agriculture must furnish a substitute by the production of upland cotton in the Ohio Valley. The sugar and molasses of the South have ceased to come forward to the North and agriculture must remedy the difficulty by the rapid production of the Chinese and African cane.”1
Mr. I. Newton, the first Commissioner of the Agriculture Department, echoed this sentiment as soon as this agency became a reality. “The culture of cotton has lately attracted much attention to the free states, especially in Illinois, owing to the rebellion and the consequent scarcity of the staple. Last summer, as a matter of experiment, 300 to 1,000 pounds of cotton were raised per acre, by many farmers in Illinois. This department will take early and active measures to induce farmers in Kentucky, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas—all of which states will undoubtedly produce cotton—to turn their attention to the culture of this important staple.”2
By 1864 the Commissioner reported that cotton, in Illinois, showed a 40 percent increase and “Sorghum and Imphee [sugar cane substitutes] and the dissemination of the seeds of these plants by the Agriculture Department has been worth millions of dollars to the country, especially to the middle and western states.”3
Also: “Flax fiber can, by mechanical, chemical or other means, be converted into flax cotton of a substitute quality for use as a substitute for cotton in the mills of our country. The vast amount invested in the mills (nearly $100 million) and the absolute necessity of production . . . (create) the strongest claim upon the attention of the people and the government.”4
Gradually a national policy emerged to break the North’s dependence on cotton: “During the continuance of the War of the Rebellion, a great augmentation of the wool demand has attended the fitting out of more than a million of armed men, whose clothing is almost exclusively of wool. And when the war is over, men who have been accustomed to flannels and woolen garments in the field will, from choice, if not from necessity, continue their use in the workshop and on the farm.” And “King Cotton has been dethroned, and his sudden toppling from his place of pride will not only destroy his political prestige, dim materially the luster of his commercial fame and detract from his industrial importance, but other textile products will be patronized, experimented upon and their use rendered fashionable.”5
All this represented the opening phase of federal control of agricultural output by commanding farmers what to plant.
Educational research was another surprising area that the Department of Agriculture would investigate: “Every farmer should aim to be instructed . . . because knowledge is power and it is the highest wisdom of political economy to invest largely in schools. . . . the farmer should have taste to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful in nature and art.”6 Could “appreciating art and beauty” be a metaphorical policy statement about converting racist farmer’s minds?
Education as War Research
Where did the Agriculture Department find the biologists, chemists, and scientists needed to find cotton and sugar substitutes? This was an era when most Americans only had grade school educations.
In response to this as well as for scientists for weapons research, Congress enacted a gigantic national-scale college level education program. The Morrill Act granted 30,000 acres of federal land to each state in the Union for each Congressman, for training in “agricultural and mechanic arts.”
Several legislators saw the dangerous, anti-democratic precedent that the Morrill Act was setting and argued against its passage. Senator George Pugh of Ohio: “It is as much a violation of our duty to invade the province of our state governments under the head of donations as it would to invade it by force and violence.”7
Senator James Mason of Virginia added: “Sir, to my conception, it is one of the most extraordinary engines of mischief, under the guise of gratuities and donations, that I could conceive would originate in the Senate. It is using the public lands as a means of controlling the policy of the state legislatures. . . . it is doing it in the worst and most insidious forms—by bribery, and bribery of the worst kind; for it is an unconstitutional robbing of the treasury for the purpose of bribing the states.”8
When originally enacted, the Agriculture Department and the Morrill Act seemed to be two separate entities. But they would be connected: “The agriculture and mechanic colleges are destined to be powerful co-adjutors in the legitimate work of this department [Agriculture]. . . . elevating the vocation of the farmer and giving him scientific as well as practical instruction in his pursuits.”9
Land Control as Mind Control
It was 1865. The Civil War was over. There seemed to be no more need for new crop research. Yet, while Reconstruction had begun, the war wounds had not healed. The rebels, although defeated, still believed in “The Cause” and that “The South will rise again!”
This caused great concern in Washington, which now focused on how to re-educate the rebels so that they would never again secede.
Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts: “Such is the mood in the South now, that education will enter into every measure of Reconstruction.”10
General Lorenzo Thomas testified before a Congressional Committee concerning the postwar attitude of the former rebels. Senator Robert Baldwin asked him: “Do you have any reason to believe that the rebels still entertain hopes of another outbreak?”
Thomas: [They plan to] “do all in their power to involve the United States in a foreign war, so that if a favorable opportunity should offer itself, they might turn against the United States. . . . their desire is to re-establish the Southern Confederacy.”11
Representative Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota said: “The great bulk of the people of the South are rude, illiterate, semi-civilized . . . and . . . republican government, resting on intelligent judgement of the people, [is] an impossibility.”12
This meant education controlled by Washington. It meant federal money for new schools, creating new “progressive” textbooks and nationalizing existing Southern school systems. Congressional Reconstruction policy forced new constitutions on all the former rebel states, including the provision for tax-supported free schools, to be supervised forever by the federal government.
Senator Charles Sumner again: “Shall the Southern states still be controlled by the men and the policy that have already brought ruin and disgrace, poverty and starvation upon them; or shall they adopt the policy of the enlightened states of the North . . . and secure universal education and free schools with their inevitable accompaniments of enterprise, equality, wealth, temperance, morality, religion, public, private, and domestic happiness.”13
Simultaneously Washington formulated another re-education plan for the South. Congress saw in the word “cotton” the living metaphor for why the war began and why the spirit of rebellion would not be extinguished. Cotton endlessly reminded Southerners of the philosophies that drove them to secede: slave labor, states’ rights, restrictions of government power, and free trade. These views had been repudiated as the postwar United States became a centralized, protectionist world leader. Thus, cotton would have to be diffused among new crops and its geographic position transformed to end Southern “reactionary” perspectives.
This statement indirectly says that cotton caused the rebellion: “In the reorganization of the Southern states, it is believed that the great mistake of the past, the concentration of labor mainly upon a single branch of a single grand division of productive industry, (cotton) will be avoided. This mistake has cost that section one-half the wealth it might have attained and may have led to the sacrifice in war of the remainder. . . . diversification must be applied to reorganized Southern agriculture. . . . cotton will never again overshadow and dwarf other interests essential to permanent success in agriculture.”14
During the war a Confiscation Act allowed the military to take the property of “traitors.” Cotton plantations were expropriated since cotton was held responsible for the rebellion.
Representative Justin Morrill of Vermont: “[The Confiscation Act] proceeds from the assumption that the insurrection is incited by a faction in the slave states, holders of the vast proportion of the property and slaves in these states, that this property and these slaves constitute the incentive and form the material base of the rebellion; and that therefore it becomes the right and the duty of the nation, from the height of its extreme authority, to award the penalty of condemnation of estates and forfeiture of control of persons to those who conspire against the government and make war on its authority.”15
The Commissioner of the Agriculture Department allegorically stated the need to diffuse Southern crops to transform Southern minds: “[In] the great Chinese Empire, hundreds of thousands have perished miserably because of the failure, in certain sections, of the rice crop, on which alone they depend for subsistence. This enforces most emphatically the wisdom of diversity of agricultural products.”16
The master plan for enforced geographic crop redistribution came from a new section of the Agriculture Department. It was euphemistically called the Division of Ornithology and Mammology. Its stated objective was to “enable our farmers to select the crops best suited to their localities . . . agriculture and biology must be studied from the geographic standpoint. . . . our aim is to explain the distribution of animals and plants by means of knowledge of the conditions which govern this distribution.”17 Was racism one condition which governed this distribution?
To fulfill this grand plan, the Morrill experiment stations and the Agriculture Department once again fused their operations but now on a permanent basis: “National legislation has been proposed [The Hatch Act] to extend the work of experimental agriculture, establishing it in every state . . . believing that the Department of Agriculture can become a vitalizing center, for a more general cooperative effort for the promotion of agricultural science . . . I have endeavored . . . to organize a branch of this department to take charge of the returns from these colleges and (experiment) stations and to collate and distribute the information obtained for the benefit of all interested parties.”18
Cotton, Abandoned Land, and Refugees
Congress developed five simultaneous policies to erase “cotton” from the Southern mind.
1. Cotton would be raised by non-Southerners in the South.
2. Southerners would be forced to plant new “mentally noninflammatory” crops.
3. The South would be repopulated with Northerners to defuse racism and rebellion.
4. The South would be repopulated with European immigrants.
5. “Racists” would be deported to Northern states to live with “progressive” ideals.
To administer this all-encompassing national program, an appendage to the War Department was created: The Freedmen’s Bureau. Supposedly it had the great humanitarian objective of helping the emancipated slaves develop the skills to survive in a competitive marketplace.
But this new agency’s full title gives a truer picture of its role in the ongoing saga of cotton, land, and racism: “The Bureau of Freedmen, Abandoned Lands and Refugees.” This shows the extent of its jurisdiction; over four million ex-slaves and over tens of millions of whites (the “refugees” supposedly displaced by the war). The “Abandoned Lands” referred to the millions of acres of private property illegally confiscated as abandoned when the Union army forcibly captured it or evicted or killed the owners. Thousands of Southerners were accused of being traitors and convicted without a jury trial, then jailed or executed and their property seized.
The Freedmen’s Bureau became a reality in the final stages of the war and its widespread powers were completely unconstitutional during peace time.
Senator James Doolittle of Wisconsin, in voting for it, said: “This whole bill is a kind of war measure, a war necessity. If peace existed in these states, no one pretends that we could exercise any such powers (confiscation) either over the people of these states or over the property within these states. It is of necessity, temporary in character.”19
Yet the Freedmen’s Bureau existed for many years beyond the end of the war. In fact, as we shall see, its demise is uncertain because it was partially funded without Congressional approval or taxpayer knowledge.
Senator Thomas Hendricks of Indiana showed the dangers that this new agency posed: “I don’t believe that the Congress of the United States has the power to take charge of a portion of the community . . . such a power would swallow up a very large extent a very important portion of the powers enjoyed by the states. (Mr. Hendricks read section two of the Freedmen’s Bureau bill:) `The Commissioner shall have authority . . . to create departments of freedmen.’ A new division of the country! . . . the states are to be cut up and to be placed under the charge of commissioners . . . here is a government within a government . . . independent of the states and almost independent of the ordinary machinery of the federal government, there shall be a government established for the control of the inhabitants of a particular class . . . the colored people that may become free, to be under the supervision, to a large extent, of these superintendents. And yet they are to be free!”20
The Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau was Oliver Otis Howard, a Union army general. Here he describes his agency’s enormous power: “The law establishing the bureau committed it to `the control of all subjects relating to the refugees and freedmen from rebel states’ . . . this almost unlimited authority gave me great scope and liberty of action . . . legislative, judicial, and executive powers were combined in my commission . . . (I controlled) all abandoned land solely for the purpose of assigning, leasing or selling them to refugees and freedmen . . . of the nearly 800,000 acres of farming land and about 5,000 pieces of town property transferred to the bureau by (the) military . . . enough was leased to produce a revenue of nearly $400,000.”21
General Howard is talking about this one year only. Another report showed that annual revenues generated were over $2 million. By today’s standards that is more like $2 billion.
This power also extended, unconstitutionally, into the North. The brutality of martial law and the confiscation of property reached into the Union in peace time. Senator Hendricks: “I believe (The Freedmen’s Bureau) has extended its jurisdiction over the states not within the provision of the law. I believe Kentucky [a Union state] has been brought within the scope of its government, when the law did not contemplate it and did not allow it. I believe the District of Columbia has been a province within its government and control and I think the law did not contemplate or allow that . . . this irresponsible sub-government . . . (is) upon the people of the entire United States by a body of men protected by the military power of the government.” (Mr. Hendricks discussed the eighth amendment of the Freedmen’s Bureau bill; court martial tribunals for citizens, in peace time, in all states of the Union:) “Now that peace is restored, now that there is no war, now that men are no longer under military rule, I want to know how such a (military) court can be organized; how is it that a citizen can be arrested without indictment and brought before officers of this bureau without a trial, tried without the forms which the Constitution requires.”22
Replanting as Re-Education
Reforming the Southern mind meant replacing cotton with new crops. John Stokes, Commissioner of the Agriculture Department said: “The distribution, under the special appropriation of $50,000, to be expended in seeds for the Southern states, was promptly and fully made in accordance with the views and intentions of Congress, through specific agents, sent through the Southern states, postmasters, prominent citizens and the officers and agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau . . . these states can produce every article grown in the higher latitudes . . . [and] cotton, sugar, hemp, rice.”23
Under a false and ironic sentiment of charity, Congress passed a resolution “For the Relief of the Destitute of the Southern and Southwestern states.” This actually reflected the forcing of new crops into those states: “This resolution proposes to empower the Secretary of War to issue supplies of food (and also seeds) to prevent starvation and extreme want among all the classes of the people of the Southern and Southwestern states, where a failure of the crops or other causes have occasioned widespread destitution; the issues are to be made through the Freedmen’s Bureau.”24 This is misleading since cotton and tobacco, not food, were the main crops of the South. This is verified by Representative Fernando Wood of New York, in his comments about this resolution: “In a recent visit I made to the Southern states . . . during which I made it my duty to observe the Southern people in a very large portion of the Atlantic Southern states, I saw no such destitution as has been described. I saw no class of people . . . who would make application to Congress for alms or would acknowledge themselves as paupers and dependents upon the General Government for aid or support.”25
Repopulation as Re-Education
A vast Northern population was transplanted into the South to farm cotton and “non-racist” crops. This required farreaching brute force. It meant breaking up the huge cotton plantations into fragments for small-scale individual family farming.
Representative George Julian of Indiana: (There is an) “Incompatibility of this system of land monopoly with the wellbeing and safety of Republican institutions and (we) should doom it to immediate annihilation. . . . who can doubt that if the 200 or 300,000 honorably discharged soldiers now in the North were settled on the forfeited estates in Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia and wherever our armies occupy . . . form a reserve corps to our army . . . such a population . . . would stand as a breakwater against (which) any returning tide of rebellion might dash itself in vain.”26
This required indicting Southerners as traitors and confiscating their property. John Henderson of Missouri grasped the consequences: “I have no objection to confiscating the property of the rebel . . . let it be done when guilt has been established under the forms of judicial investigation . . . if we depart from (the Constitution’s) just restraints, no man can tell the excesses of the future . . . in the plenitude of power today, we may deny mercy to others; tomorrow we ourselves may cling in vain to the horns of the altar . . . the inventor of the guillotine, we are told, was so forced to test the merits of his own invention.”27
The Freedmen’s Bureau became the central agency for this mass nationalizing of Southern and Northern property. By the 1890s “nearly 2 million of farms of 80 acres each in the United States had been given away by the government.”28
Census data demonstrates the efficiency of confiscation and the breaking up of large plantations. In the South Atlantic states in 1860 there were 301,940 farms. By 1900 this had been transformed into 962,295 farms. In 1860 there were 370,373 farms in the South Central states. By 1900 this had become 1,658,166 farms.29
Presented another way, the census data showed how confiscation was responsible for drastically reducing the size of property holdings. In 1860 the average number of acres per farm was 352.8, in the South Atlantic states. This had been reduced to 108.4 by 1900. In the South Central states, in 1860, that figure was 321.3. By 1900 it had dropped to 155.4.30
President Andrew Johnson pointed out the consequences when the military is given the power to confiscate property without civil restraint: “The power thus given to the Commanding Officer over all the people . . . is that of an absolute monarch. He alone is permitted to determine what rights of persons or property . . . it places at his disposal all the lands and goods in his district and he may distribute them without let or hindrance to whom he pleases. Being bound by no state law, and there being no other law to regulate the subject, he may make a criminal code of his own, and he can make it as bloody as any recorded in history. . . . Everything is a crime which he chooses to call so and persons are condemned who he pronounces to be guilty . . . he may arrest his victims wherever he finds them, without warrant, accusation or proof of probable cause. . . . Congress [has authorized] military jurisdiction over all parts of the United States containing refugees and freedmen [with] . . . no limitation in point of time, but will form a permanent legislation of the country.”31
Confiscation as Bill of Attainder
Permanent confiscation of a traitor’s property is unconstitutional. It is a Bill of Attainder, a medieval legal weapon that destroys both property and civil rights. It was an inherent part of the Confiscation Act. Senator Edgar Cowan of Pennsylvania illuminated the process: “Shall we go back to the doctrine of forfeiture which marks the Middle Ages?. . . . The number engaged in the rebellion [is] equal to one-half of the whole population of the Confederate states; say 4 millions . . . if so, to strip all this vast number of people of all their property . . . will reduce them at once to absolute poverty. . . . if there was anything calculated (to make them) forever hostile to us, it would be the enactment of such a law . . . [The Constitution provides that] `The Congress has power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attained.’ Here is an attempt to deprive a large class of persons of all their property without any arrest, without any presentment by a grand jury, without a trial by a petit jury, without indeed any trial at all in any court . . . Bills of Attainder forfeited [traitors'] estates and corrupted the inheritable blood of the children and heirs (by compelling them) to bear the disgrace attendant upon such flagitious crimes . . . one of the strongest incentives to prosecute treason has been the chance of sharing in the plunder of the victims.”32
Immigration as Re-Education
To disperse dangerous Southern “reactionaries,” some of their confiscated land was to be resettled by European immigrants. This began with new legislation, The Immigration Act of 1864. Senator John Sherman of Ohio introduced it this way: “The bill provides for the appointment . . . of an officer to be styled the Commissioner of Immigration, [who will] collect . . . information in regard to . . . the wants of agriculture . . . and to disseminate such information throughout Europe . . . [He] is to make contacts with different railroad and transportation companies for transportation tickets to be furnished to the immigrants to enable them to proceed in the cheapest and most expeditious manner to the place of their destination, or where this is undetermined by the immigrant, to the place where his labor will be most profitable.”33
Justin Morrill saw a darker side to this bill: “We import everything else, now we have come to the importation of men. [There is] an apprehension in the public mind that this was another species of slavery.”34
Senator Reverdy Johnson of Maryland showed how the immigrant was locked into staying on a specific property for a definite period: “The Immigration Act . . . says to the man in Europe who wishes to come to the United States but has not the means of coming of his own, [that Washington will advance him the fare] to be paid back within 12 months; and shall be a lien at all times upon any real estate which he may acquire, so as to constitute it in the nature of a mortgage.”35
Barnas Sears, the General Agent for the Peabody Education Fund, observed this Southern immigration: “The tide of immigration into (Texas) is constantly swelling. While I was there, every steamer that arrived was crowded with immigrants . . . they came from almost every part of Europe . . . the Germans are the most numerous . . . large communities of them are settling in the Western portions of the state.”36
By the 1870s immigration reached tidal wave proportions. “Net immigration of the last 8 years: 2,792,383.”37
“The era of substantial progress for the South may indeed be said to have commenced with the termination of the war, which obliterated the system of compulsory labor and the monopoly of production of great landed proprietors . . . the division of lands into small tracts . . . (will) attract the immigration which is the invigorating life of states.”38
Justin Morrill also pointed out that enforced immigration would further distort the power balance between the federal and state governments. The Bureau of Immigration, Morrill said, would “encourage migration from the populations of Europe, by the authority of the general government, the distribution of which is contemplated by this bill to be made in all sections of the country . . . without the slightest reference to consulting the states upon the subject.”39
Relocation as Re-Education
Another way to transform the Southern racist mind away from the siren song of cotton, was to relocate them in the North. General John Eaton of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and later Commissioner of the Bureau of Education, noted: “Cairo (Illinois) . . . served as a portal through which thousands of poor whites and negroes were sent into the loyal states as fast as opportunities offered for providing them with homes and employment. Many of these became permanent, residents . . . [Those who refused to work] were kept under military surveillance and guided authoritatively toward some definite means of self-support . . . the educational influences of the change was noticeable and most important . . . Returning South, after perhaps a year’s absence, to the neighborhood of their former homes . . . [the] transformation through living in the midst of the industries of the North was really very great. They had made the discovery that the possession of a vast property and the ownership of slaves . . . was not essential either to self-respect or social standing.”40
Senator Charles Buckalew of Pennsylvania presented the other side. The Freedmen’s Bureau, he said, “contemplates the distribution of this population [refugees and former slaves] throughout the whole country and in our Northern states . . . [They] may object to such an exertion of power or rather a perversion of power by this government . . . I think the proposition, upon the mere statement of it, is so monstrous, and in its effects, so pernicious, that it ought to receive no favor or indulgence from this body.”41
The Freedmen’s Bureau had the first peace time federal education mandate. Overtly, it was to educate the ex-slaves so they could survive in a free society. Covertly, this education was to transform socalled racist whites. “A growing conviction prevails favorable to the introduction by the United States government of a general system of education for the states . . . Ignorance in the Southern states is one of the most serious obstacles in the way of a thorough reconstruction.”42
Congress forced a federalized education into the South through new state constitutions which compelled tax-supported schools supervised from Washington. But initially Congress authorized no funds for this, either to the states or the Freedmen’s Bureau, fearing taxpayers would balk at this great new centralization of power.
So the Freedmen’s Bureau funded its schools without Congressional approval or citizen acceptance, setting the legal precedent for current off-budget funding methods: “2,118 schools [are] under the care of the Bureau . . . the expenses of the Bureau were met the first year with the proceeds of rents, sale of crops, school taxes, and tuition and sale of `Confederate States’ property. The amount raised from all these miscellaneous sources was $1,865,645.40.”43
By law, all operations of the Freedmen’s Bureau ended in January 1871, but off-budget funding made it self-supporting. It did not depend on the law to continue its existence. Representative Thompson McNeeley of Illinois was shocked to find this out: “In 1867, $800,000 was appropriated for transportation. And now [in February 1871, a month after its legal termination] the House is asked to appropriate $6,000 for `transportation of officers and agents.’ I thought this bureau was to come to an end some time . . . we have been promised from time to time that it should come to an end, yet in this bill there are appropriations to the extent of $139,000 to keep it up and continue it.”44
As with many of its other unconstitutional operations, the Freedmen’s Bureau confiscated property and nationalized existing schools in the Northern states, too: “There was, at the close of the last school term, in the 13 states lately in rebellion, and including Kentucky, Maryland, and the District of Columbia [all in the Union], 975 regularly organized schools, 1,405 teachers, 90,778 pupils.”45
Soon civil government began to use the same off-budget techniques. This is from the “Minority Opinion” of the Reconstruction Committee, as to why the new Alabama state constitution was unconstitutional: “It is made the duty of the governor by an ordinance, which is not published with the constitution, for the information of the people . . . to organize `immediately 137 companies of volunteer militia . . . all proceeds of the sale of contraband and captured property seized or captured by the militia shall constitute a part of the fund out of which they shall be paid,’ thus inciting the volunteers to harass the people in time of peace by unlawful seizure to provide the means of paying themselves.”46
When the Freedmen’s Bureau federalized Southern schools, a new “progressive” curriculum was also needed. Where would it come from? It came from the Agriculture Department, which controlled the research of the Morrill colleges; not only crop research but all research. This meant that curriculum experiments were directed and distributed by the Agriculture Department; it meant that land control and mind control were now centralized in this one agency, which now had Cabinet-level status.
Direct mind control was now an important part of the Agriculture Department’s mission: “Nature teaching has been introduced into the common schools . . . teacher’s manuals and the textbooks for instruction in this branch are being prepared.”47 (Nature teaching, i.e., “science,” emphasized what was observable; it stressed the here and now over the past. The past reflected things like racism, like the heroism of “The Rebellion.” Progressive ideas were here and now ideas.) “The teaching of young children regarding the natural objects and phenomena about them may be so conducted as to lead them to see that a knowledge of nature may be of practical benefit. Their minds will be early trained to recognize the ultimate relation between the scientific and practical knowledge,” to erase the past.48
Federalizing of curriculum led the Agriculture Department to centralize school districts: “Progress is also being made in the movement for the consolidation of rural schools which has already resulted in improved conditions in schools in Ohio and Massachusetts, Iowa and other states.”49 Such consolidation made it possible to introduce nature study.
This story of land control as mind control relates directly to today. All law works by precedent. All current legislative enactments are based on law created in the distant past. Contemporary law does not spring forth without a grounding in something that already exists.
The present day small-time drug busts that often lead to the total confiscation of a person’s private property—well above the legal limits of the crime—and the massive property takeovers by the IRS for small income tax irregularities, base their legal justification on Reconstruction-era laws and methods. Reconstruction has not yet ended. Now, as then, the politically incorrect must be re-educated or face the consequences—just as in the 1870s.
This article was originally published by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in The Freeman, February 1995.
John Chodes is the Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of New York City. The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), one of the oldest free-market organizations in the United States, was founded in 1946 by Leonard E. Read to study and advance the freedom philosophy. FEE's mission is to offer the most consistent case for the "first principles" of freedom: the sanctity of private property, individual liberty, the rule of law, the free market, and the moral superiority of individual choice and responsibility over coercion.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.