State Ledger clipping

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Gleed, Robert, 1836-1916; Gayles, George Washington, 1844-1924; Lowndes County (Miss.); Oktibbeha County (Miss.); Central Earnest Workers Association (Columbus, Miss.)

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Feb. 9th, 1884.


JACKSON, MISS - Dear Sir: In reply to yours of the 8th inst., relative to the workings of the Lecture System under the auspices of the Central Earnest Association of Columbus, Miss., I would say that I have, for the past five years, given it my personal attention, and have investigated the condition of the colored laborers in this State and have endeavored to ascertain why it is that they do not prosper, and have found their great need to be the want of practical information upon the duties of every day life, and that under their former training they had little or no idea of the value of economizing their time or labor. We then went to work, four years ago, to make a test of the Lecture System, which we had inaugurated, which was to meet the people, even women and children together, and address them upon the practical duties of every day life, and to urge them to value their time, equally as much, if not more, than gold, for it was their all to subsist upon, and they should therefore use it to the best advantage; that it was the duty of every man to work six days in the week; that no poor man could afford to lose one day in each week and make an honest living, and to impress upon their minds many other valuable lessons too numerous to mention at this time, such as honesty, stock and grain raising, the protection of each others stock, leasing of land for a term of years (five or more) with a view to building up the country and to try to become self sustaining.

The result has been almost wonderful, in the localities where we have labored.

We selected two neighborhoods to test the system - one the Mason and Lindsay bottoms, in Lowndes county; the other, Black Jack, in Oktibbeha county - in these places theft has almost disappeared; almost double the amount of work is being done, and Saturdays are becoming as any other day in the week, for work instead of resting, as it is called, or going to town simply because it is Saturday.

This is, in part, what we have accomplished. What we propose to do with the $3,000 asked for, is to extend this system throughout the entire State, and the time that is now worse than thrown away will be utilized for the good of the laborer and the advancement of the interests of the State, by appointing lecturers whose duties it shall be to address the adult citizens of State where they can do the greatest amount of good upon the duties above mentioned. We find, upon investigation, on the testimony of the laborers themselves, that they do no more than half the work which freemen should do. Under this system we can, and if enabled, will bring the laborer to do a full amount of work within the next few years.

The colored agriculturists in the State of Mississippi number about 174,715. If they lose one day in each week, making 52 days in each year, at one dollar per day it amounts to $9,085,180. All this and much more we will be able to save to the laborer, which will add to the prosperity of the State. Should we get the necessary means to carry out our plan, we propose making Mississippi self sustaining in bread, meat and stock within the next eight or ten years, and save to the State $15,000,000 or $20,000,000 that is now paid out annually for what we can raise; and, if we are aided, and we hope we will be, we will ere long bring it about by the assistance of Him who rules all things.

I will add that, on the suggestion of Judges J. A. Orr, J. M. Arnold, Rev. William Mumford and others, I travelled not only through this State, but over several other States, and am pleased to say that everywhere I have received the endorsement of the leading citizens.

This I have done in the cities of Memphis and Chicago, and from the Circuit and Chancery Judges, Lawyers, Ministers and Farmers in all parts of this State.

I herewith enclose a letter from Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar and the endorsement of Representatives J. S. Montgomery, of Oktibbeha county.

Our aim is simply to regulate labor and to encourage agriculture so that the tenants and laborers may become self sustaining, prosperous and happy, in the State of Mississippi, and this we believe can be done under the proposed system of lectures, if properly sustained.

I have the honor to be
Very Truly Yours,





State Ledger, “State Ledger clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed September 26, 2023,

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