The Tillman Movement in South Carolina

By Francis Butler Simkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE EMERGENCE OF TILLMAN

How Ben Tillman became possessed of a grievance of sufficient weight to send him into public life as a reformer is best told in his own words describing his adventures in farming on his lands:

I had cleared money up to 1881, and bought land and mules right along. In that year, I ran thirty plows, bought guano, rations, etc., as usual, and the devil tempted me to buy a steam engine and other machinery, amounting to two thousand dollars, all on credit. My motto was, "It takes money to make money, and nothing risk nothing have." To have been entirely free from debt would have made me feel like "a kite without a tail," so I struck out boldly into deep water. Ben Jonson says:

"All men are mortal
And do have visions."

I had mine and they were rose-hued. Uninterrupted success had made me a fool. I was like the "little wanton boys who swim on bladders"; but I did not know how much of a "bladder" cotton was on land impoverished of vegetable matter in the dry summer.

These investments were followed by a "dreadful drought" and fearful losses which, before he was aware, thrust him in the "Red Sea." An unwise optimism led him to attempt to retrieve his fortune by additional investments. But the result was the

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