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“This is America; if the people are true to themselves, no room for force is necessary in this contest.”

I mentioned finding the speech General Theodore Harvey Barrett made to the National Farmers’ Alliance in 1887. I don’t have all of the historical context, but this passage seems eerily prescient and applicable, and I offer it as my last post before Thanksgiving:

Back of all this machinery which penetrates every corner of the continent — nay, every quarter of the globe, sit a few men in numbers, constantly growing less — who directs its operations. They are men of power. In their offices are key-boards, and from the keys wires have been strung into all the habitable zones and under all the oceans. By a touch of the keys they may influence the fortunes for good or evil, of vast numbers of people on more continents than one.

No men, however honest or capable they may be, ought to be entrusted by a free people with such tremendous power.

Nor can a people who, under such circumstances, quietly submit to the abuses which have been heaped upon the people of many sections of the country for the last few years, long remain free. The machinery of a great republic and all the forms of freedom may for a time remain; but unless the people look well to the future, the substance will have gone out to return no more. In this changing civilization… let not the people be deceived, it is liberty that is at stake. The institutions which our fathers made are able to protect the people in this new crisis if they shall be able to resist that corruption, degarding influence which whispers its serpent hiss into the ears of every many whom it desires to control. This is America; if the people are true to themselves, no room for force is necessary in this contest. They can lawfully combat and tramp beneath their feet this last, and if unchecked, soon to become to greatest, most perfect, most dangerous system of centralized power that civilization has yet produced. The father would have no kings — no House of Lords — they said in so many words “There shall be no nobility.” In the hands of the great body of people they left the political power… It is for this generation to complete the work.

– General Theodore H. Barrett, Address delivered before the National Farmers’ Alliance at its Seventh Annual Meeting Held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tuesday, October 4th, 1887.

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3 Responses to ““This is America; if the people are true to themselves, no room for force is necessary in this contest.””


  1. 1 Stan Churchill 27 November 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I stumbled across your blog and found it very interesting. As a young girl, my mother was a housekeeper at the Barrett Ranch. She remembered the general’s Civil War sword hanging above the fireplace. The town of Barrett may have been named after Theodore Barrett, but it is no where near the Barrett Ranch. The actual ranch was located on Barrett Lake, midway between Herman and Donnelly, Minnesota. The main house was very large with a porch going all the way around the outside. There was a cupola on top of the house where the general could watch his farm hands work with the aid of a spy glass.

    Stan Churchill
    Wheaton, MN
    stanchurchill@mchsi.com

    • 2 Richard Barrett 27 November 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Wow — thanks very much for leaving your comment! Your mother’s description matches perfectly with the photos I’ve seen, and yes, in the last year I’ve found out that the town and the ranch were two entirely different places.

      I’d love to hear more. Please keep in touch!


  1. 1 “When we name our children, we should do so as ones who are identifying them as God’s heirs” « Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist Trackback on 15 July 2012 at 8:31 am

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