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Odell Hardware Company
Hardware Jobbers
and Manufacturers Agents
Greensboro, N. C.

May 19, 1917.

Gov. T. W. Bickett,
Raleigh, N. C.

My dear Governor:

I have read with much interest the call of the President for the registration of the land forces of the nation, and I am writing to ask if there can not be devised some plan whereby other forces than the young men from 21 to 30 years can be utilized also. There are practically half as many men lying about pool-rooms and drug-stores in the cities and villages of N. C. as will be drafted into service. They are consuming food-stuffs but producing nothing, nor will they produce anything unless the Government takes hold of them and puts them to work.

So I have been wondering if there was any way whereby you could bring to bear, within the State, a force that would commandeer these people and put them under the supervision of somebody to work them and make them produce something. The farms are short on labor, because a good many of the negroes have gone North. Those who have not gone North have come into the towns and are lying around doing nothing. But they have a very worthy example in the numbers of white men who are loafing around doing nothing at all and thus furnishing a pattern to the negro.

There are millions of these people who absolutely have no visible means of support. Can’t something be done whereby these men could be put to work? I wish you would put your mind on it and see if you can’t think of some plan by which it could be done. If a commission could be formed in every county with power to delegate authority to subordinates, to collect up these men in different localities where they congregate and put them under army discipline to make them raise crops, I believe it would be a good thing. The men conscripted for this work need not be between 21 and 30 necessarily. You might start at 17 years of age and run up to 50, and if they haven’t any visible means of support and cannot show that they are producing something, let the Government take hold of them and see that they produce something.

I submit this to you simply for your consideration. It is the time now at which it could be put into operation. It is too late for planting early crops, but the summer and fall crops could be gotten in in time to produce good crops between this and Fall, and I certainly hope you will be able to devise some plan to make this tremendous resource effective in behalf of the nation. I am losing some of my best and most effective men here in my store, and I don’t see that the crop of loafers is decreasing one single man.

With kindest regards and best wishes,

Yours most sincerely,

C. H. Ireland