Single Tax Conference
[Reprinted from The Standard, 26 February,
The conference was held in Cincinnati, Ohio]
"The delegates of various industrial and reform political
organizations have assembled from thirty-one states and territories on
this anniversary of the birth of "The Father of his Country"
to view the situation of public affairs and advise proper action."
THE STANDARD VOL. 1 - NO.8 FEBRUARY 26, 1887 THE CINCINNATI
CONFERENCE. ABOUT THREE HUNDRED DELEGATES IN ATTENDANCE.
A Two Day's Session-The Officers Chosen- A Platform Adopted
Recommending Numerous Reforms in the Laws.
CINCINNATI, Feb. 23.-The committee of thirteen organizers of the
National industrial conference, after a session yesterday morning at
the Burnet house, issued tickets of admission to the floor of Music
hall to the chairmen of delegations. The states represented by the
tickets issued on these credentials were as follows: Alabama 1,
Arkansas 8, Colorado 1, Dakota 3, Illinois 65, Iowa 35, Indian
territory 1, Kansas 30, Massachusetts 4, Michigan 30, Mississippi 4,
Missouri 47, Nebraska 10, New Hampshire 1, New Jersey 1, New York 13.
North Carolina 1, Ohio 73, Pennsylvania 20, Tennessee 2, Texas 10,
West Virginia 10, Wisconsin 12, Rhode Island 2, Indiana 77. Total,
At 2 o'clock Chairman B. S. Heath of the national committee called
the conference to order. There were about 350 persons in a hall having
a capacity of 5,000. A score of persons looked down from the gallery,
but before the close of the session this number had swelled to 200.
The roll call showed that there were present about 300 delegates. The
largest delegations were from the tier of Northern states nearest
Cincinnati-Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and
There were ten ladies in the delegation, among whom were Miss Marion
Todd of Battle Creek, Mich.; Mrs. Heath of Chicago and Mrs. Severance
Richard Trevellick was elected temporary chairman, and on taking the
chair he introduced Rev. M. C. Lockwood of the First Baptist church of
Cincinnati, who, after a brief prayer, welcomed the delegates on
behalf of the committee of arrangements. The rest of the afternoon's
session was taken up in the selection of committees on credentials,
organization, rules and order of business and platform.
When the convention reassembled at 7 o'clock there were not more than
two hundred delegates in the hall, and about an equal number of
spectators were in the gallery. A letter was read from Gen. J . B.
Weaver, Iowa, the greenback leader, declaring that the platform should
be brief and unmistakable, and relate chiefly to land, labor and
transportation. Mr. H. H. Haaf of Henry county, Illinois, took the
floor, and said he came as a delegate from a conference of
prohibitionists, and proposed a temperance plank for the platform.
Mr. L. B. Weller, chairman of the committee on permanent
organization, reported the following permanent officers:
A. J . Streator of Illinois.
R. V. Trevellick, Michigan; J . J . Woodard, Alabama; C. Cunningham,
Arkansas; R. R. Buchanan, Colorado; A. J. Martin, Connecticut; E. J .
Curtis, Idaho. M. J . Kane, Iowa; N. M. Lorin, Indian Territory; J .
H. Allen, Indiana; P. P. Elder, Kansas; S. Seay, Kentucky; Wm. Murray,
Massachusetts; M. B. Ely, Mississippi; D. N. Thompson, Missouri; J. T.
Chamberlin, Nebraska; W. G. Brown, New Hampshire; O. Preston, New
York; John R. Winston, North Carolina; John Seitz, Ohio; E. W. Pike,
Oregon; J . P. Lane, Pennsylvania; J . R. Miles, Tennessee; Holmes W.
Merton, Rhode Island; R. J . Sledge, Texas; James N. Laidley, West
Virginia; Dr. Juliet Severance, Wisconsin; Geo. V. Smith, Wyoming
Territory; Lee Crandall, District of Columbia; J . O. Dean, Dakota
M. D. Shaw, Missouri.
D. P. Bliss, Massachusetts.
Geo. D. Lennon, New York.
Mr. Power of Indiana, asked permission to read a memorial from two
thousand Union soldiers of his state asking the convention to pass a
resolution favoring the pensioning of every honorably discharged Union
soldier of the late war. Referred.
After addresses by Mrs. Marion Todd of Michigan and several other
delegates the convention adjourned a t 10:45 o'clock.
This morning the time of the conference was taken up by general
speech making, the committee on platform not having its report ready.
Mr. Samuel Crocker of Kansas explained the Oklahoma movement, and
presented a resolution censuring the national administration for its
course in relation to this question, and asking congress for the
immediate passage of the Oklahoma bill now before it. George L. Jones
of Wisconsin spoke in favor of a graduated income tax. Speeches were
also made by Dr. Juliet Severance of Wisconsin, ex-Congressman B. S.
Taylor of Pennsylvania, Moses Smyth of Indiana, who opposed the
Oklahoma resolution, and thought that the convention had been called
for broader purposes; and Jesse Harper of Illinois, who dwelt upon the
wrongs caused by the stock watering of railroad and telegraph
In the afternoon the platform was adopted, as follows:
The delegates of various industrial and reform political
organizations have assembled from thirty-one states and territories
on this anniversary of the birth of "The Father of his Country"
to view the situation of public affairs and advise proper action. A
general discontent prevails on the part of the wealth producers.
Farmers are suffering from a poverty which has forced must of them
to mortgage their estates, and prices of products are so low as to
offer no relief except through bankruptcy. Laborers are sinking into
greater and greater dependence, strikes are resorted to without
bringing relief, because of the inability of employers in many cases
to pay living wages while more and more are driven into the streets.
Business men find collections almost impossible. Meantime, hundreds
of millions of idle public money which is needed for relief is
locked up in the United States treasury in grim mockery of the
distress. Land monopoly flourishes as never before, and more and
more owners of the soil are daily becoming tenants. Great
transportation corporations still succeed in extorting their profits
upon watered stock through unjust charges.
The United States Senate has become an open scandal, its seats
being purchased by the rich in defiance of the popular will. A
trifling fisheries dispute is seized upon as an excuse for
squandering public money upon unnecessary military preparations,
which are designed to breed a spirit of war , to ape European
despotism and to empty the treasury without paying the public debt.
Under these and other alarming conditions, we appeal to the people
of this whole country to come out of old party organizations whose
indifference to the public welfare is responsible for this distress,
and help us to organize a new political party, not sectional but
national, whose members shall be called commoners; whose object
shall be to repeal all class laws in favor of the rich and to
relieve the distress of our industries by establishing the following
Every human being possesses a natural, inalienable right to
sufficient land for self support, and we desire to secure to every
industrious citizen a home, as the highest result of free
institutions. To this end we demand a graduated land tax on all
large estates, especially those held for speculative or tenant
purposes; the reclamation of all unearned land grants; the immediate
opening of Oklahoma to homestead settlement; the purchase of all
unoccupied Indian lands and the settlement of the various tribes
upon lands in severalty; also laws preventing corporations from
acquiring real estate beyond the requirements of their business and
alien ownership of land. The systems of irrigation in states and
territories where necessary shall be under such public control as
shall secure the free and equitable use of the waters and franchise
to the people.
The means of communication and transportation should be owned and
controlled by the people, as is the United States postal system, and
equitable rates everywhere established.
A national monetary system should be established in the interest of
the producer instead of the speculator and usurer, by which a
circulating medium in necessary quantities and full legal tender
shall be issued directly to the people without the intervention of
banks, or loaned to citizens upon ample security at a low rate of
interest to relieve them from the extortions of usury and enable
them to control the money supply. Postal savings banks should be
established. While we have free coinage of gold, we should have free
coinage of silver. We demand the prompt payment of the national debt
and condemn the further issue of interest-bearing bonds, either by
the national government, or by states, territories, counties or
Arbitration should take the place of strikes and other injurious
methods of settling labor disputes; the letting of convict labor to
contractors be prohibited; the contract be abolished in public
works; the hours of labor in industrial establishments be reduced,
commensurate with the increase of production in labor of labor
saving machinery; employes be protected from bodily injury; equal
pay be given for equal work for both sexes, and labor, agricultural
and co-operative associations be fostered and incorporated by law.
The foundation of a republic is the intelligence of its citizens,
and children who are driven into workshops, mines and factories are
deprived of education, which should be secured to all by proper
legislation. We desire to see labor organization extend throughout
the civilized countries, until it shall be impossible for despots to
array the workingmen of one country in war against their brothers
of another country.
In appreciation of the services of United States soldiers and
sailors, we demand for them justice before charity. The purposely
depreciated money paid them during the war should be made equal in
value to the gold paid the bondholder. The soldier was promised coin
or its equivalent, and paid in depreciated paper. The bondholder
loaned the government depreciated paper and contracted to take it
back, but was paid in gold.
A graduated income tax is the most equitable system of taxation,
placing the burden of government on those who can best afford to
pay, instead of laying it on the farmers and producers and exempting
millionaire bond- holders and corporations.
The capture of the United States senate by millionaires and tools
of corporations, who have no sympathy with free institutions,
threatens the very existence of the republic. We demand a
constitutional amendment making United States senators elective by a
direct vote of the people.
State and national laws should be passed as shall effectually
exclude from America the Mongolian slave and Asiatic competition.
The employment of bodies of armed men by private corporations
should be prohibited.
The right to vote is inherent in citizenship irrespective of sex.
Excessive wealth resulting in luxury and idleness on the one hand,
and excessive toil and poverty on the other, lead to intemperance
The measures of reform here demanded will prove to be the
scientific solution of the temperance question.
The committee on platform proposed as the name of the new party "The
Commoners," This was amended as "The Union party," but
after decided opposition and considerable debate it was again amended
as "The Union labor party."
When the land plank came up for discussion Mr. Williams of Missouri
moved to amend by striking out the section relating to the Indian
lands, but the amendment was lost. Leo Miller of Illinois moved to
amend by adding "that those land values which result from the
growth of the community belong of right to the people and should by
them be appropriated and applied for purposes of general benefit."
The amendment was voted down. Mr. Betz of Cincinnati moved to
reconsider, and the motion was carried. Mr. Miller asked for two
minutes to defend his amendment, and was almost howled down. The
chairman decided that under the rules he must be allowed to speak. Mr.
Miller spoke in favor of taking the "unearned increment by means
of land taxation." The amendment was again lost, the majority
against it being very large.