During his single term as Minnesota’s seventh governor, Cushman K. Davis confronted a menace that threatened to ruin the state’s farm economy. A five-year-long grasshopper plague began in 1873, and Davis’s offer of aid to farmers whose crops had been devoured by invading locusts represented an early form of state-sponsored disaster relief.*
“The state, governed by three different men during the grasshopper plague years, also failed to provide adequate relief to affected farmers. Under governors Horace Austin and Cushman K. Davis, the state provided small sums of direct, state-funded relief, but the governors focused their efforts on encouraging charitable giving to the cause. Unlike his predecessors, Governor John S. Pillsbury did not call for any direct, state-funded relief for farmers. Elected in 1876, Pillsbury believed that poverty was a fact of life on the frontier and that providing relief would make farmers dependent on the state. Instead, Pillsbury focused on efforts to eradicate the grasshoppers. This included a controversial bounty measure that required every able-bodied man in affected counties to destroy grasshopper eggs for one day a week, for five straight weeks.
In the summer of 1877, the grasshoppers left just as quickly as they had arrived. An April snowstorm damaged many of their eggs, which encouraged farmers to redouble their efforts to destroy the grasshoppers. The surviving grasshopper eggs hatched, but by August, the grasshoppers had flown away. Many attributed the end of the grasshopper plague to divine intervention, since Governor Pillsbury had proclaimed April 26 a day of prayer, after receiving many requests to do so.”
I’m first thunderstruck by two facts jumping off the page at me: that Cushman spearheaded state charity, and that a day of prayer is recorded as an action point. Will You guide me to ponder these notions? Will You give some insights as to how to intercede?
To the first point, it seems quite unusual for a Republican of this era to use state-funded relief. Cushman appears to be a man of principals, but not so rigid that he fails his constituents during such dire times of need. Will You bless him, and his commitment to the survival of his fellow man? Will You keep balance in this constant teeter-totter of public versus private charity within the souls of our leaders? If taxes were gifts, we would give them for Christmas. If charity is coerced, the heart disengages, and it no longer is charity but, perhaps, extortion. Have mercy on our “mercy”!
It’s curious to me that politicians sometimes endorse prayer as an action point. Many leaders currently would see the endorsement of prayer as a failure to adequately separate “Church and State”. (Help me probe this a little longer!) Yet we condition our minds and spirits through repetitive thoughts daily; we listen to songs over and over, view movies again and again, and repeat instructions internally to project us past sales objections. (I know these are quite random, but perhaps they are also a form of prayer?)
I’m grateful to You, the masterful inventor of every grasshopper, for Your beautiful destruction of our security. Will You forgive our barriers to seeing the heart and mind conditioning, aka “prayer” as a legitimate response to the plagues of our lives? Will You make us flexibly rigid in our principals enough to love our neighbor?
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!