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- 1915 March 26 (Creation)
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H. L. Loucks writes about the troubled state of politics in South Dakota. He mentions that he would be a part of the Republican Party if they would nominate progressive candidates. Loucks discusses the recent movement for farmers to organize. He mentions that Richard O. Richards has decided to remain in the Republican Party. Loucks believes that not all ballots cast for him were counted in the 1914 election.
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Hon. R. F. Pettigrew
My dear friend,
I was very glad to receive yours of the 13th. And to see that you was gradually coming homeward. Things political never were in such a pickled condition in this or any other state as they are in S. Dak. At the present time. Perhaps I had better say that the ingredients in the hash would need a chemical analyses to determine the contents.
The elections last Fall decided nothing and settled nothing, but the State Legislature has added new troubles. The Progressive Republican party having become the most reactionary in our history.
I could remain in and hope for the Republican Party if they nominaied LaFollette, Clapp, or any other real Progressive, but I would as soon expect them to nominate Debs, or C. W. Russell. I think that we should go forward and organize an Independent sentiment on general principles, leaving the question of Presidential candidates entirely for the future, on the theory that we had better wait and see whom the old parties nominate for President, and the controlling influences back of them.
Of course you and I know with reasonable certainty what the result will be. I think that Russell is right so far as carrying the Nation is concerned, but I think we could lay the foundation to carry several states. And you will no doubt be surprised to learn, after my experience last year, that I really think that South Dakota is one of them.
We had no means of reaching the general public weekly. The great mass of progressives, not hearing from, or of us, and there being no local candidates to stir them up, it was easy for the active candidates of the other parties to switch them on the “no show” theory.
I think that the present state administration has made a very vul- vulnerable record. There is really a strong independent spirit abroad.
Another thing for which I have looked for years is now upon us.
For years it has been the hardest kind of work to get the farmers to organize, or stay organized; but this winter there has been what you might call a spontaneous desire for an organization of some kind. Farmers clubs in many districts. Seven, six and five; yes and four years ago it cost an average of about $100 to organize a Grange, and not one fourth survived a year Now as an illustration; two years ago, just about this time I was invited to my old home county for a meeting to try to organize a Grange in a part of the county, where we never could organize a Farmers Alliance. Spent two days with them and after hard work organized with 13 Charter members. A year ago helped one of those members organize two or three more. Now he is not a speaker, and I considered that county, on account of its mixed population, one of the hardest, (as well as one of the small) counties in the state to organize, but they have 15 Granges.
This farmer has been able this winter to organize from 25 to 30 in that and naboring counties. And they seem to be active.
In the northwestern part of the state there has been quite a strong movement for one of Equity the Societies. In this county two weeks ago one of the strong clubs organized with the other Equity society.
Within the last two weeks I have had requests for help to organize from Harding, Butte and Hamlin counties. I have for the first time been invited out to talk to three farmers clubs in this county, and have had one meeting, rather expect to go to the other two next week.
Then Mannix of The Commercial News has started a movement for Farmers and Merchants clubs which seems to be meeting with much success. I just give you these as an evidence of the unfest amongst the farmers at this time of good prices etc. The fact is that the price of farm products does not keep pace with the increased cost of production, and the average farmer is in distress. Agricultural products are on the taboggan slide right now, and with few exceptions have been for several months.
North Dakota is seething with the Grain Exchange problem, and that will be the state issue there next year. I have prepared a series of articles leading up to the same proposition. The Argus-Leader started the discussion editorially, and used a few of my articles, but beaten has backed down and will not publish any more for me. However several others Papers in the state are using them, and several in other states also
However I am just marking time in this.; but it hurts me to be unable to do any more. Holter is getting some good stuff in the Argus – Leader now, and J. G. Jones has a fine one in yesterdays issue.
I do not hear anything direct from Richards, but from his printed matter I judge that he has decided to make his fight inside the Republican party in hopes of reforming it. If so I do not see how I can help him very much, for I would have no heart in it. It is labor lost.
I am afraid that you will find that in the initial campaign that we will not have his help. I think that he will have to come with us in general election.
As for the Progressive Party organization, I do not see how we can work under their organization either. There is nothing to it.
Senn is a good fellow, but looks for the band-waggon. And I am sure that he will find an excuse to support Norbeck, swallowing everything.
Alli Reed will probably do the same. I have no confidence in those Progressive Party leaders who supported Johnson or Burke, but the vote shows that except Governor and Lt. Gov. that I lead. I beat Van in the first, and Packard in the second. I am sure that there were many votes cast for me and not counted. For instance in Yankton county were Van. wrote me that I would receive a good vote there was not one returned for me, and in Spink county where Packard lives only four.
Irving Jones and Wright wil of course go as Richards does. Van Meter seems to be in earnest, but he is too light for State Chairman.
I think for the present we had better say nothing let them alone.
This is a very long letter, put it aside for Sunday. Sincerely