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Chapter 4 - Wayland’s Appeal To Reason

In 1893, J. A. Wayland with a number of others decided to demonstrate to the workers the advantage of co-operation over competition. A group of people bought land in Tennessee and founded the Ruskin Colony. They invited me to join them.

“No,” said I, “your colony will not succeed. You have to have religion to make a colony successful, and labor is not yet a religion with labor.”

I visited the colony a year later. I could see in that short time disrupting elements in the colony. I was glad I had not joined the colony but had stayed out in the thick of the fight. Labor has a lot of fighting to do before it can demonstrate. Two years later Wayland left for Kansas City. He was despondent.

A group of us got together; Wayland, myself, and three men, known as the “Three P’s” -Putnam, a freight agent for the Burlington Railway; Palmer, a clerk in the Post Office; Page, an advertising agent for a department store. We decided that the workers needed education. That they must have a paper devoted to their interests and stating their point of view. We urged Wayland to start such a paper. Palmer suggested the name, “Appeal to Reason.”

“But we have no subscribers,” said Wayland.

“I’ll get them,” said I. “Get out your first edition and I’ll see that it has subscribers enough to pay for it.”

He got out a limited first edition and with it as a sample I went to the Federal Barracks at Omaha and secured a subscription from almost every lad there. Soldiers are the sons of working people and need to know it. I went down to the City Hall and got a lot of subscriptions. In a short time I had gathered several hundred subscriptions and the paper was launched. It did a wonderful service under Wayland. Later Fred G. Warren came to Girard where the paper was published, as editorial writer. If any place in America could be called my home, his home was mine. Whenever, after a long, dangerous fight, I was weary and felt the need of rest, I went to the home of Fred Warren.

Like all other things, “The Appeal to Reason” had its youth of vigor, its later days of profound wisdom, and then it passed away. Disrupting influences, quarrels, divergent points of view, theories, finally caused it to go out of business.

Next page: Chapter 5 - Victory at Arnot