"Growers of Tobacco", The Morning Post, 18 January 1900
J. Bryan Grimes, a prominent farmer from Grimesland, in Pitt County, served around the turn of the twentieth century as president of the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association. He took a leadership role in calling a meeting held in Raleigh in January, 1900, to organize farmers in fighting the "Tobacco Trust."
GROWERS OF TOBACCO
North Carolina Farmers Combine to Swat the
AN ENTHUSIASTIC MEETING
The Tobacco Growers Association.
FIGHT A DEVIL WITH
Col. J. Bryan Grimes Elected President and a Permanent
OrganizationEffected--The Association Will Buy Its Own Tobacco and Fix Its
OwnPrices--Many plans suggested and Many Rejected--Warm Discussions
DuringWhich the Speakers Made a Target of the American Tobacco
Over one hundred of North Carolina's leading tobacco
growers, representingthe entire tobacco-raising industry of the State, met
last night, inMetropolitan Hall and effected a permanent organization for
theirprotection against the evils worked by the Tobacco
The plan of Mr. J. F. Jordan, of Greensboro, which has
been given severaltimes in these columns, was adopted, and the farmers of
North Carolina havetaken the first step toward independence and
The meeting -was largely attended, and very
enthusiastic. The detailsfollow
In accordance with the call issued by President .J.
Bryan Grimes aboutsixty of the delegates met yesterday morning in the hall
of the House ofRepresentatives.
It was entirely an informal
meeting and all who were not bona fidedelegates to the convention were
asked to retire.
When the delegates assembled, President
Grimes arose and announced the factthat the meeting was only preliminary
to the night meeting, as only abouthalf of the delegates had arrived. The
preliminary meeting, he stated,could arrange some details that would
greatly expedite the transaction ofthe regular meeting.
Grimes stated further that the city authorities had kindly tendered theuse
of Metropolitan Hall to the delegates, and he desired the sense of
themeeting as to whether the offer should be accepted. After some
discussionit was decided to hold the regular meeting in Metropolitan Hall
at 7o'clock p. m.
A recess was taken at 1 o'clock for dinner,
and at 4 o'clock thepreliminary session was resumed. Outsiders were also
excluded from theafternoon session. The main business was the appointment
of severalcommittees and a general discussion of matters pertaining to the
object ofthe convention.
Meeting in Metropolitan
At 7 o'clock President Grimes called the meeting to
order, stating that ithad been thought best to reduce the object of the
meeting to writing. Hethen read the address. It was couched in concise
and forcible language. Itdetailed the action of the trust in forcing the
farmers to sell at ruinousprices, and the necessity for determined action
to protect the farmer. Theaddress stated that co-operation of capital was
to be encouraged, but whenthat co-operation began to throttle the producer
it was time for theproducer to call a halt.
The references of
the president to the dangerous powers of the trusts andnecessity for
action were greeted with applause.
At the conclusion of the
address the president announced that Messrs. W. M.Sharp and T. V. Parker
would act as secretaries, and ordered a roll call ofdelegates. The
following delegates responded to their names:
Caswell--T. L. Lee, W. G. Smith, John
Cumberland--J. A. Jainey.
Chatam--J. D. Yates,
Thomas Horton, C. L. Williams, A. Stone, B.
Stokes--Dr. Elias Fulp, C. A.
Nash--J. B. Philips, R. A. Hunt, G. W. Ward, W. H.
Faulkner, J. M.Baird.
Wayne--G. W. Best, D. A. Sasses, J. W.
Halifax--D. S. Moss.
Greene--J. E.W. Sugg,
B. F. Moore, W. H. Darden.
Warren--G. W. Reams, J. B. Davis, S.
Wake--B. Hobgood, C. H. Lee, G. M. Bell, W. B.
Upchurch, S. H. Scarboro.
Pitt--R. R. Cotten, J. J.
Laughinghouse, U. M. Smith, A. J. Moye.
Person G. G. Moore, J.
E. Horns, N. T. Wagstaff, Dr. Merritt.
Guilford--W. H. Case,
W. L. Linsy, C. T. Weatherly, N. G. Groome, J.
Robeson--T. F. Toon, H. F.
Wilson--H. F. Freeman, R. S. Wells, A. Green, W.
Barnes, F. W. Barnes, J.T. Groves, E. J. Turner.
Granville--G. L. Allen, T. B. Daniel, B. L. Hester, J. F.
Cole, L. Knott.
Rockingham--J. P. Wilson, J. Ladd, R. F.
Fitzgerald, J. M. Thorps, J. V.Price.
Warren--G. W. Reams, S.
J. Pritchard, J. B. Davis, N. M. Jones, J. A.Daughton.
Durham--W. S. Terry, W. T. Mangum, J. T. Rogers, J. W. Lynn,
Orange--M. M. Moore, W. L. McDoon, A. L. Holden,
J. M. Monk.
Forsyth--B. C. Marshall.
Kennedy, E. B. Rouse.
Randolph--D. R. Parker, W. L.
Vance--S. G. Satterwhite, J. W. Duke, I. M, Green, W.
B. Daniel, A.Frazier, K. W. Edwards, G. B. Hariss.
K. Spencer, Clyde Harris, Joseph Creedmore, G. W. Ford, C. W.Roberts, Y.
The following delegates were present from Virginia: T.
S. Wilson, Halifaxcounty; John R. Hutchins, Pittsylvania
At this juncture President Grimes arose and in a few
well chosen wordsthanked the State press on behalf of the convention for
the zeal shown byit in aiding the work before the convention, and
requested therepresentatives of the press present to act as assistant
On motion, Mr. J. B. Philips, chairman of the
committee on organization,read the report of that committee. The report
was to the effect that, owingto the ruinous effect on prices brought about
by the trusts, it had beenthought essential for the farmers of North
Carolina to organize for mutualprotection. The organization shall be
called the Tobacco Growers'Association of North Carolina.
Whereas, The trust organized to control the
leaf-tobacco output of NorthCarolina has reduced the price of leaf tobacco
to the bare cost ofproduction: We, the tobacco growers of North Carolina,
assembled at Raleighon the 17th day of January, 1900, and organized under
the name of TheNorth Carolina Tobacco Growers' Association: The object of
saidorganization being to increase the price of leaf tobacco by
legitimatecompetition in trade, do
Resolve 1st, That all
tobacco growers in North Carolina shall be eligibleto membership in this
Resolved 2d, That the officers of this
organization shall be a president, avice-president, secretary, treasurer
and an executive committee of onemember from each Judicial District in
addition to the president, who shallbe ex-officio member of said
Resolved 3d. That the president of this association
shall preside at allmeetings of said association, and also at the meetings
of the executivecommittee. It shall be the duty of the vice-president to
perform all theduties of president in his absence. The treasurer shall
receive all moneybelonging to the said association and pay out the same
under such rules andregulations as shall be prescribed by the executive
committee. Thesecretary shall keep the minutes of the meetings of said
association and ofthe executive committee, and perform such other duties
as shall beprescribed by the executive committee. The executive committee
shall meetimmediately upon their election and shall establish rules for
the guidanceof this body not inconsistent with the plan of
Resolved 4th, That each county in the State be
requested to organize countyorganizations and report the same to the State
organization herebyestablished. The officers of said county organization
shall be a president,vice-president, secretary and treasurer and an
executive committee of fivemembers, and such other and further officers as
shall appear to them to benecessary to the successful conduct of said
J. B. PHILIPS,
The report was adopted and the chair announced the
election of officers inorder. Col. J. Bryan Grimes was elected president
unanimously amid greatapplause. Colonel Grimes responded to the honor in a
brief address ofthanks.
Mr. J. B. Phillips was unanimously
elected vice-president and brieflyresponded.
Mr. T. V. Parker
and Mr. W. M. Sharp were placed in nomination forsecretary. The roll of
counties was called and Mr. Parker declared elected.The election was then
Mr. W. B. Upchurch of Raleigh was unanimously
elected treasurer of theassociation.
The report of the
committee on program was called for and was read by thesecretary. This
report embodied the detail for the regular meetings and itwas
The report of the committee on plans was then called
for. The committeerecommended that the plans of Messrs. J. F. Jordan, E.
B. Phillips, T. W.Ragsdale or any other feasible plan be read before the
convention, turnedin to the secretary, referred to a committee of seven to
be appointed bythe president, which committee, in turn, would consider and
report to theconvention. Mr. J. F. Jordan, of Guilford county, was called
for by theconvention and took the rostrum.
Mr. Jordan, after a
few explanatory words, outlined his plan for combattingsuccessfully the
Tobacco Trust. He congratulated the convention upon thelarge gathering of
representative tobacco men present and for thedetermined stand the farmers
were taking to protect their interests andsave the State from the trusts.
Mr. Jordan said he believed thisorganization was the beginning of the end
of the trusts; for not only wouldthe American Tobacco Company be broken,
but in ten years every trust thatwas strangling the people of North
Carolina. He produced and read lettersreceived by him in his capacity as a
warehouseman prior to the formation ofthe trust in which he had been
ordered to pay thirty and thirty-five centsa pound for tobacco, land then
quoted prices paid now, which weresorrowfully less. He contrasted strongly
the conditions of the NorthCarolina farmers prior to and since the
trust--word pictures which drewforth murmurs of discontent.
Jordan touched on the religious cloak used by some members of the trustto
hide their meanness; giving to the Southern educational institutions
asmall portion of the money they had stolen and extorted from the
Southerntobacco farmers. He referred to the famous utterance of William J.
Bryan:"You cannot press upon the brow of labor a crown of thorns"; and
asked ifthe North Carolina farmers were going to put their heads into the
crown ofthorns held out by the trust. The reference to Colonel Bryan was
receivedwith vociferous applause.
Continuing, the speaker said:
"You must either give your tobacco away tothe American Tobacco Company or
else quit raising tobacco. Every one ofyou who have bought a plug of
tobacco or a bag of tobacco in Raleigh haspaid ten percent more for it
than you did ten years ago, and yet youpractically gave away the tobacco
that's in that plug or that bag."
Mr. Jordan then began to
outline the remedy for the evil worked against thetobacco interests by the
trusts. He stated that he had recently attended ameeting of capitalists in
New York city, and that he could secure all themoney necessary to carry
out the plan. The plan embodies the formation of astock company with
twenty-five directors, thirteen of which should befarmers and
representatives of the tobacco-growing interests of EastTennessee, North
Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The shares were tobe placed at $10
each, to be taken by the farmers, who would elect theirown officers, price
their own tobacco, and, if the trust wanted the weed,make it pay those
Mr. Jordan then scathingly denounced the methods of the
trust and statedseveral instances where the trust had bribed their
competitors to desistfrom fighting the trust. In conclusion he said that
he had fought the trustsince its inception in 1889, and would continue
fighting it, and no offer,no matter of what magnitude, could buy him over.
Mr. Jordan's remarks wereconcise and to the point and were greeted with
Mr. Waller of Alamance was next called to
the rostrum and submitted a plan.It differed from Mr. Jordan's plan only
slightly. Mr. Waller said hethought the plan suggested was of too great
magnitude; he thought that theassociation should only embrace the bright
crop of North Carolina, SouthCarolina and Virginia, and mot [not]attempt to handle the whole crop. He stated
that there was less competitionon that grade--bright tobacco--and the
farmers should demonstrate the factthat they could control that grade and
the trust would soon come over.
The speaker was frequently
interrupted, and one delegate stated that he didnot want to leave anything
for the trust to get hold of. Mr. Waller statedthat he had always heard
that the best plan was to fight the devil withfire, but he was afraid the
devil understood the power of his own weaponbetter than he
Captain Philips' Plan.
Capt. J. B. Philips then
read and submitted a plan to the convention.
recommended: First, that the people stop buying goods made by atrust: that
the farmers of North Carolina should combine and refuse to buyfrom
retailers who traded with a trust for anything, and should ask thefarmers
of every other State to join the movement. This movement, theauthor of
the plan thought, would eventually break the chains which boundthe
Dr. H. F. Freeman of Wilson endorsed Captain Philip's
plan. In a stirringspeech he denounced the trust, stating that all the
plans so far advancedwere too tender; the tobacco trust had started in to
crush the farmer, andhe was in favor of crushing the trust. He would be
willing, he said, tosell every leaf of tobacco he raised for the next five
years at three centsif the farmers of Wilson county would refuse to sell a
single pound to theAmerican Tobacco Company . He favored county
organization and aplain challenge to the American Tobacco Company that it
could not buy apound of the weed in North Carolina . His remarks
were greeted withvigorous applause.
A resolution from the
Franklin county delegation was read. The resolutionurged the help of
farmers for co-operative factories.
Another resolution was read
asking the association to pass a resolutionthanking Mr. Kitchin for his
bill to reduce the tax on tobacco. No actionwas taken on this
A plan proposed by Mr. T. V. Parker was next read.
The plan advocated thebuying and storing of farmers' tobacco, prices to be
fixed by theassociation, and money to be advanced to the farmers for
tobacco thusstored. The plan embodied the salient points of Mr. Jordan's
Mr. R. A. Pitt Cooley of Nash was recognized by the chair
and made astirring address in favor of Mr. Jordan's and Mr. Parker's plan.
He urgedthe necessity of immediate action and discussion of these plans,
andrecommended that when a plan was adopted an interstate committee should
beappointed to induce the co-operation of Virginia, South Carolina and
At this juncture the president named the
following committee of seven toconsider the various plans offered and
report to the convention: R. H.Ricks, G. W. Ford, W. J. Groome, W. B.
Upchurch, E. J. Ragsdale, R. A. P.Cooley and A. L. Holden.
motion, Mr. R. H. Hutchins, a representative of Virginia, was called tothe
rostrum and addressed the convention. Mr. Hutchins stated that he was
awareshouseman, but if the farmers of North Carolina thought they could
getalong without the middleman he was ready to plant tobacco, if the
farmerswould take the proper stand to crush the trust. He stated that he
was sentby the farmers of Pittsylvania county to represent them. "If they
havetheir plans ready, said those farmers to me, bring them back with you,
andthey will find that the farmers of old Virginia will stand by
NorthCarolina just as they did in the days of sixty-one." (Cheers and
continuedapplause.) The speaker then touched on all the plans offered, and
statedthat the only feasible and effective one offered was that of Mr.
Jordan. Heendorsed it in its entirety and urged the association to adopt
it. Inclosing, he urged the farmers to stay in the hall all night rather
thanleave without adopting a plan to better their condition. Mr.
Hutchinsclosed his remarks amid great applause.
on plans then retired to an ante-room to deliberate on theplans suggested,
and the chair called for the report of the committee
The committee on resolutions offered a
resolution to the effect that acommittee be appointed by the convention to
memorialize Congress to reducethe tax on manufactured tobacco from 16 to 8
cents. The report was adoptedand the chair ordered to appoint a committee
to draft the resolution andsubmit it to Congress. The following committee
was appointed: R. R. Cotton,F. W. Barnes, Dr. Freeman, W. L. Kennedy, J.
O. Price, C. W. Glidewell andB. E. Marshall.
was introduced, to the effect that the associationshould use its influence
to have warehouse fees reduced. This resolutionwas referred to the
On motion, the Southern Tobacco Journal was adopted
as the organ of theassociation.
Mr. A. J. Moye of Pitt was
called to the chair to relieve the president.
the return of the committee, Mr. W. J. Peele of the Raleighbar was called
upon for a speech. Mr. Peele responded and made a few happyremarks
endorsing the action of the farmers in organizing to fight a commonenemy,
and advised the association to be slow about accepting any plans; tothink
over them well before accepting them. He closed by complimenting
theassociation on its choice of a president.
The committee of seven, of which Mr. Ricks was
chairman, returned a fewminutes before 1 o'clock and made its report as to
a plan by which theassociation could fight the trust and protect its
members. The plansubmitted was as follows:
"We, the undersigned
committee, respectfully recommend to this associationa contract, in
substance, as follows:
We agree to enter into a contract with
J. F. Jordan and his associates tosell to them our tobacco raised during
the next five years at an advance ofnot less than 15 per cent over the
prices paid for the same grade oftobacco during the last five years; the
said price to be fixed by acommission, a majority of which shall represent
the seller. We furtheragree to take stock with Jordan and said associates,
a corporation whichshall be formed for the purpose of manipulating and
disposing of saidtobacco sold to said J. F. Jordan and his associates to
the extent of notless than 15 per cent of the value of our said tobacco.
The details of thisagreement shall be hereafter arranged so as to carry
out the true intentand meaning of this agreement. If we make default in
this agreement in anyparticular, we agree to forfeit to said corporation
the said stock sotaken. And we further recommend for our mutual benefit
that the farmers ofNorth Carolina reduce their crop at least 25 percent
below the past year'sproduction. We invite the co-operation of Virginia,
South Carolina andother sections which grow bright
(Signed) R. H. RICKS,
On motion, action on the report was deferred until
9 o'clock thismorning.
On motion, the chair appointed the
following a committee on countyorganization: Dr. Freeman, E. J. Ragsdale,
T. V. Parker, W. A. Darden, J.E. W. Suggs, W. J. Peele.
committee, after some delay, reported a plan of organization bycounties,
providing that county conventions should be composed of delegatesfrom each
township, one delegate for every ten members, and the countyconventions
should be entitled to five delegates at the State convention.Each county
should have its own organizer, and the assessment should betwenty-five
cents per year per capita.
A motion to reconsider the plan
reported by the committee, on which actionwas deferred by a motion earlier
in the session, was lost, and a motion toadjourn was
It was 2:15 o'clock when the convention adjourned to
meet again thismorning at 9 o'clock.
|Citation:|| "Growers of Tobacco," Morning Post (Raleigh, NC), January 18, 1900, J. Bryan Grimes Papers.|
|Location:|| East Carolina Manuscript Collection, Manuscripts and Rare Books, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858 USA|
|Call Number:||J. Bryan Grimes Papers, #54.14.I Display Collection Guide|