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one member on its board of founders, and he has traveled over a score of states presenting the claims of this great school which he calls not inaptly “the Princeton of the South.”
Under the new currency system, approved by President Wilson, in an act which received his signature December 23, 1913, federal reserve banks were established at various points throughout the United States, to serve as financial reservoirs. The purpose of these governmental banks was to stimulate business and to avert the possibility of panics by distributing judiciously the nation's surplus money in such a way as to make each reginal bank the center of a well-defined zone or region, easy of access to the commercial public. Most of the important cities of the country were competitors for recognition in the awarding of these capital prizes. But Atlanta was one of the fortunate twelve and was designated as the center of a region including such rival towns as Birmingham and New Orleans. It was due largely to the potential influence of U. S. Sen. Hoke Smith that Atlanta was successful in securing one of these banks. Mr. Smith left his seat in Washington for the purpose of appearing before the reserve bank committee when it met in Atlanta in 1914. This committee, appointed by the President to consider the claims of the various cities, was constituted as follows: Hon. Wm. G. McAdoo, secretary of the treasury; Hon. David F. Houston, secretary of agriculture; and Hon. John Skelton Williams, comptroller of the currency. It was not until the eleventh hour that Mr. Smith was called into the fight, but his timely rush to the rescue, his powerful array of facts and figures, his national prestige and persuasive eloquence all combined at the last moment to swing one of the regional banks to Atlanta; and thus out of an apparent failure came victory. The result was announced on April 2, 1914. Much credit is also due Messrs. Joseph A. McCord, John K. Ottley, Robert F. Maddox, Joseph K, Orr, Wilmer L. Moore, and J. Epps Brown, who constituted a local committee of business men unremittingly active in its campaign work. Mr. McCord became governor of the new regional bank which his co-operation was an important factor in securing.
This great financial reservoir was designated as the Federal Reserve Bank, number six, at Atlanta, Georgia. The capitalization of the member banks located in the territory was determined on June 23, 1915, at which time the total capital of the national banks in this district was $52,124,840. The total surplus of these same member banks was $28,060,406, making a total of $80,186,246.* From this showing the capital of the reserve bank at Atlanta was easily ascertained, as each member bank was required to subscribe a definite amount to its capital, this subscription amounting to 6 per cent of its own capital and surplus, which made the capital of this bank $4,811,176. The territory covered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta includes all of the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia, the whole eastern half of Tennessee, the lower half of Mississippi, and all the southeastern part of Louisiana. The new bank was chartered on May 18, 1914, and was formally opened for business on November 16, 1914. On September 10th, of this year,
* These facts and figures were furnished by Hon. Joseph A. McCord, Governor of the Regional Reserve Bank, of Atlanta, Georgia.
a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta was established at New Orleans, to which adjacent territory was given.
Senator Smith, besides helping to secure for Georgia one of these regional banks, was also instrumental in placing upon the statute books a law which will mean ultimately the expenditure of millions, to be used in demonstrating the possibilities of the average American farm, under modern scientific conditions. From the operations of this law, known as the Smith-Lever act, approved by President Wilson May 8, 1914, Georgia and all the agricultural states, will reap large benefits, on an increasing scale of appropriations. The law requires that an amount equal to what is received from the Federal Government shall be appropriated by each state receiving this donation, the purpose of which as fully explained in the act is to provide for co-operative agricultural extension work between the agricultural colleges in the several states, receiving the benefit of an act of Congress, approved July 2, 1862.” * In other words, under the operations of this law, the Federal Government doubles what the state appropriates. The Georgia Legislature, at its session in 1914, passed a resolution assenting to the SmithLever act.t
Governor Slaton was authorized by an act passed at the session of 1914 to issue bonds of the state to the amount of $3,079,000, to cover the state's bonded indebtedness maturing in 1915. Detailed reference to this act has already been made in a former chapter. Governor Slaton went to New York where, in conference with the leading financiers of the nation, he arranged all the preliminaries requisite for refunding this amount. When the time came for a sale of the bond issue, authorized by law, the country was facing an acute situation, due to the European war; but Georgia was offered a loan equal to the full amount of her maturing debt, at the rate of 41/2 per cent, though other states could scarcely borrow at exorbitant rates. On offering her bonds for sale they were overbid five times and commanded a price on a par with those of the State of New York. Several wealthy syndicates sent special agents to Atlanta to secure a part of the issue of bonds, but the best bid was offered by Mr. Asa G. Candler, of Atlanta, to whom the entire bond issue was sold. The ability of a private citizen of Georgia, acting in his own individual capacity, to purchase the entire bond issue of a state, was astounding even to the imagination of the great North, and it served to emphasize in a most impressive way the wonderful recuperative powers of this section. On account of the magnitude of this transaction, the following excerpts from Governor Slaton's message to the General Assembly in 1915, giving the full story in detail, are herewith reproduced. Said he, reviewing conditions produced by the European war: $
“Unexpectedly the tocsin of war was sounded in Europe, and there began the greatest struggle which has ever sacrificed men or exhausted treasure.
No section suffered more than the South. Her cotton and her naval stores lost their character as mediums of exchange
* Statutes of the Sixty-third Congress, Second Session, Part I, pp. 372-375.
and usual sources of revenue were denied. For a time it seemed that ruin was inevitable and no rainbow of hope appeared above the horizon. During this season it became necessary to refund a large part of the bonded debt of Georgia. It was the first sale of Georgia bonds in any considerable amount for thirty years. No time could have been more unfavorable.
“The legislature of 1914, prior to the declaration of war, and in the exercise of far-sighted statesmanship granted the governor the authority to make a temporary loan in the event the bonds could not be sold advantageously, and it was thought this provision might be utilized.
“And yet, when other states could scarcely borrow at usurious rates, Georgia was offered a loan of the full amount of her maturing debt at the rate of 41/2 per cent, and when she offered for sale her bonds they were overbid five times and commanded a price equal to that of the bonds of the state of New York.
“The governor's office was crowded with investors from the financial centers, but the highest bidder, defeating his nearest competitor by a fraction of a per cent, was a Georgia citizen. Born within the state where he had spent his life, acquainted with her history, knowing the honor of her people, Mr. Asa G. Candler bought the entire issue of bonds, making the only instance where a state, exclusive of the financial centers, found itself independent of outside aid.
“The bonds to be refunded, excepting $134,000, due May 1, 1914, bore 412 per cent. The bonds sold to refund them bear 414 per cent, and these were sold at a premium amounting to $62,500. They brought $1,017.82 each, with the result that the principal of the bonded debt is reduced, the interest rate is lessened, and it is calculated that, by virtue of this refunding, the state of Georgia has saved $373,000.
“Far beyond this, the advertisement to the world of Georgia's responsibility and resources has been of inestimable value to her.
“Under the refunding act, the governor was authorized to borrow a sufficient sum to care for bonds falling due May 1, 1915, so that the entire issue of bonds might be made as of date July 1, and this sum was borrowed at the rate of 2 per cent.”
To the foregoing statement made by the governor it may be added that Mr. Candler rendered a patriotic service helping the South to finance its cotton crop in 1914. He did this by erecting warehouses in which to store the surplus cotton and by making liberal loans to farmers at 6 per cent.
But to return to things political. The death of United States Senator Bacon, as we have already seen, created a vacancy in the nation's House of Peers. Naturally there were many ambitious men in the state who were eager to wear the coveted toga. Friends of these aspirants sought the governor. Some urged Hon. Clark Howell's name. Some urged the appointment of ex-Gov. Joseph M. Brown. Some came in behalf of Hon. John T. Boifeuillet, of Bibb, clerk of the Georgia House of Representatives. · Mr. Boifeuillet had also been for years private secretary to Senator Bacon and clerk of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, for which reasons it was argued by many that he was the best man to fill Senator Bacon's place, at least for the unexpired term. He was not only conversant with national affairs, but familiar with the
policies, wishes and desires of Senator Bacon. Two distinguished citizens of Savannah, Gen. P. W. Meldrim and Judge Samuel B. Adams, were also strong favorites. Quite a delegation of citizens from Valdosta came to urge the appointment of Hon. Wm. S. West, a former president of the state Senate, then serving as vice chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee. Colonel West was a man of large means, with extensive investments in South Georgia. There was also a delegation from Moultrie to urge the appointment of Hon. W. C. Vereen, a wealthy banker, who had been largely instrumental in developing this wideawake metropolis of the wire-grass region. Nor was Governor Slaton himself without ambitious leanings toward a career in national politics, with the title of senator prefixed to his name, and he was well aware of the far-reaching effect which the present crisis was likely to produce upon his own political fortunes.
Since Congress was in session, at the time of Senator Bacon's death, with certain grave international problems pressing for solution, it was imperative for the governor to make an appointment at once. Speculation was rife. But Governor Slaton soon put a quietus upon the political weather prophets by naming Hon. William S. West, of Valdosta, to succeed Mr. Bacon as senator until the next popular election. Colonel West repaired immediately to Washington, where he gave himself without reserve to his new official duties. As to his future movements on the chess-board, he was slow to reach a decision but eventually announced that he would not be a candidate in the approaching election. Some anticipated this action as a foregone conclusion, but an intimation of his approaching death may possibly have been the real cause of his elimination from the contest. Following the adjournment of Congress by only a few weeks, Colonel West died suddenly at his home in Valdosta, having won the toga only to wear it to his burial.
Meanwhile two distinguished Georgians had entered the lists. These were Hon. Thomas W. Hardwick, then serving as a congressman from the Tenth Georgia District, and Hon. Thomas S. Felder, then filling the office of attorney-general. Both were well-equipped public men. Mr. Hardwick had served the state in Congress uninterruptedly for twelve years. Mr. Felder before becoming attorney-general had made a record in the General Assembly, as a resourceful and ready debater. But it so happened that both Mr. Hardwick and Mr. Felder were identified in state politics with the Smith faction. Neither was willing to withdraw in the other's favor, and there was quite a lot of speculation as to the political significance of this apparent clash of ambitions. It was charged in certain quarters that the clash between Felder and Hardwick was more apparent than real; that, in the end, the two candidates would unite forces, at least in naming a candidate. To others it looked like a fatal breech in the walls of an erstwhile solid opposition. Senator West, declining to enter the contest, all eyes were focused upon Governor Slaton. Would he make the race ? Some of the governor's friends urged him to remain at the helm of affairs in Georgia, since he was absolutely sure of re-election to the governorship; other pressed upon him the claims of the toga. He finally made an end of matters by announcing himself squarely in the race for United States senator to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Bacon. It was not without hesitation
perhaps not without misgivings—that he decided upon this course, for, in order to conduct a vigorous campaign upon the stump it was necessary for him at once to resign the office of governor. On the other hand, to surrender the executive office was to put in jeopardy certain policies to which his administration was committed. Either horn of the dilemma presented its embarrassments, but Governor Slaton felt constrained by a sense of obligation to the state to remain in office, at least until the General Assembly should have completed its labors. This course handicapped him politically and exposed him to much unjust criticism, but it seemed to be the wisest course to adopt. Hon. G. R. Hutchins, who had successfully managed the Underwood campaign in 1912, and Hon. John R. Cooper, a well-known lawyer of Macon, distinguished as an advocate in criminal cases, also became candidates for the short term. Attorney-General Felder burned his bridges behind him. On entering the senatorial race, he resigned his office as the state's legal adviser, and in his place Governor Slaton appointed Hon. Warren Grice, of Pulaski, an able young lawyer whose qualifications were admittedly of a high order. Mr. Hardwick retained his seat in Congress until after the Macon convention, at which time Hon. Carl Vinson, of Baldwin, succeeded him as congressman from the Tenth District. When the list was completed there were five candidates in the field: Slaton, Hardwick, Felder, Hutchins and Cooper, and the outlook for an exciting campaign gave a thrill of pleasure to all lovers of the game.
Meanwhile, with expectant interest, the public awaited an expression of attitude from ex-Gov. Joseph M. Brown. The situation, within the past few weeks, had become somewhat tangled with complications. Governor Slaton, it seems, had announced for the short term senatorship without conferring upon the subject with Governor Brown, his ally in recent political campaigns, and rumors of a breach between these two former fast friends began to thicken. Moreover, Governor Slaton's failure to compliment his predecessor in office with an appointment to the United States Senate appeared to give some color of authority to this conjecture. For weeks the noncommittal ex-governor maintained a sphinx-like silence and declined to make a statement. Letters from all parts of the state urging him to seek the toga came in great packets with each day's mail, and interviews with personal friends were by no means infrequent. The eyes of the whole state were riveted upon the little town of Marietta. Finally the ex-governor broke his long spell of silence. He put himself squarely in the race, but instead of announcing for the short term to succeed Mr. Bacon, he announced for the long term, to succeed his ancient rival, Sen. Hoke Smith,
This announcement unloosed the dogs of war. At an earlier stage of the campaign Governor Smith, so it is said, in order to heal the wounds engendered by former campaigns and to obtain the support of a solid democracy in the state, for its effect in re-enforcing him as a senator, would have welcomed as a colleague either Clark Howell or Joseph M. Brown, his former rivals for the governorship, and would have discouraged all opposition to either for the short term, had his own race been left unopposed for the long term. But all prospects for a continuance of truce between the two hostile camps were now at an end. Governor Brown's letter was a signal for the resumption of hostilities. It meant