Official Nebraska Government Website Nebraska State Historical Society

Foreign Investors

The 1980s witnessed considerable legislative and political struggle to protect Nebraska farmers
from corporate and foreign investors. In 1889, the verdant farmlands of the state looked like
choice pickings for English bankers. Not all Nebraskans viewed this potential influx of capital
as a good thing. This article in the Arlington Defender sounded the warning.

"'E. W. Thomas of New York intends establishing somewhere in the west the headquarters of
an English syndicate of capitalists for which he is acting as agent. It is the purpose of the
syndicate to buy all the available first class mortgages upon farm property in several of the
western states, including Nebraska.'

"This is an associated press dispatch, and some people are so blind as to rejoice over the
prospect of English capitalists investing in this country. European capitalists are continually
looking around for some place to invest in bonds and mortgages. They know the power of
bonds and mortgages to enslave the people. There is a certain kind of slavery they are in favor
of.

"They dislike the kind of slavery which existed a few years ago in the southern states, for there
is too much bother connected with it and it is not as profitable as the kind that exists in Europe
and is being planted in America. They are in favor of an improved kind of slavery, and this
buying of mortgages all over these western states is the last chapter, save one, in the infamous
plot.

"The last chapter will be read in a few years when the papers in every county will be crowded
with sheriff's sales and the European lords take possession of the soil of Columbia and establish
landlordism and tenantry in 'Free America.' The saddest reflection then will be that men knew
their duty, but were too timid and stupid to do their duty, and instead of using the only weapon
within their reach to beat back the invaders of human liberty they walked up to the polls each
year and cast ballots which helped to bring this very state of things about. 'What fools we
mortals be!'

"A secret circular sent out to English bankers reads as follows: Slavery is to be abolished and
chattel slavery to be destroyed. This we are in favor of, for slavery is but the owning of labor,
and carries with it the care of the laborer; while the European plan, led on by England, is capital
control of labor by controlling wages. This can be done by controlling the money. To do this,
bonds must be used as a banking basis. It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is called, to
circulate as money any length of time, for we cannot control that."

 

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