Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/38

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in the very air. Whatever the best civilization has to offer, outside of great cities or large towns, was accessible to the homes they represented. If anywhere on the planet human beings could be happy and prosperous, in beautiful homes, it should have been there.

But the farms were for sale, nevertheless; and, though this was fifteen years and more ago, some of them are for sale still. The column and a half of advertisements was only a sample of a hundred other columns of advertisements of a similar sort published in other New England papers; and the offers to sell still go on. The clipping sent to me, as symptomatic of a great movement, came from the office of a famous protectionist daily, and was sent in order that I might make some appropriate comment upon the situation, or give some advice which should be apt or remedial in relation to it.

This was done at a period, however, when there was no question of taxation or political economy uppermost in the public mind. No suspicion, even, was entertained that legislation of any sort was involved in the problem presented, or that any other than a hortative appeal to boys to stick to the farm, or some suggestion as to better modes of farming, was needed.

It is now twenty years, at least, that farming has been going rapidly downward. Farms bought in the war era have been selling almost everywhere in the East for from one half to one third of their cost. Farms in New England, and some in the Middle States, are frequently sold for less than the buildings cost which are upon them. This is really no exaggeration. Sales of this sort, and where the depreciation in value has wiped out the owner's equity in them, have been for years a matter of notorious knowledge in almost every Eastern community. Within a year, in a healthy and fertile county not sixty miles from New York city, a farm having on it two mortgages—a first mortgage of three thousand dollars and a second mortgage of two thousand—was sold, under foreclosure, for the sum represented by the first mortgage only. The holder of the second one did not think it worth while to be present, or to have a representative present, at the sale, to bid the single dollar which would have saved or made a show of saving his investment.

Very recently the New York State assessors have issued a report containing some results of what they have discovered so far as they have gone, in respect to the assessed valuations of farm lands in the various counties. And this is their story: "In fourteen counties visited they found that farming lands had depreciated in value, while city property had increased in value." State Assessor Wood is of the opinion that "in a few decades there will be few or none but tenant farmers in this State. Year