Letter from James F. Taylor to Thomas W. Bickett, 27 May 1918
Kinston Cotton Mills
May 27, 1918.
Gov. T. W. Bickett,
Dear Gov. Bickett:-
At your request, we will hold a meeting of employers of labor and officers of the law, together with other citizens, who may be interested in the labor problem and the enforcement of the vagrant laws in this County, on Wednesday, the 29th inst., and no doubt appoint delegates to the meeting you have called in Raleigh for June 4th.
We are seriously handicapped for labor in this section. All of our manufacturing industries, as well as agriculture, are suffering. We understand that some sections are suggesting a special session of the legislature to take some steps to strengthen the vagrant laws, or to enact some other measure with a view to helping the situation. Whether this is practical, we do not know, but we realize that the assembling of the legislature is a matter not easy to accomplish. We are inclined to think that a healthy public sentient behind the officers of the law, could at least improve conditions in most communities. We believe it could in this, and we hope to begin to crystalize public sentiment at our meeting on the 29th.
We believe that officers entrusted with the enforcement of the law in different localities put somewhat different constructions on the present vagrant laws, and believe the Attorney General should give careful study to this law, and if possible, attend the meeting to be held in Raleigh on June 4th. If in the meantime, or at that time, he could see his way clear to get our a pretty clear interpretation of the law for the Sheriffs of the various Counties of the State and the Mayors of the incorporated cities and towns, Judges of Recorders’ Courts, etc., we believe that a more uniform application of the law could be obtained throughout the State.
In this community we have been troubled with illicit distilling, which has resulted in much idleness on the part of farm labor in some localities. We are very glad to say that two stills and their operators were captured near here yesterday, and we believe there is yet work for the officers to do.
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