The offer was this. The lawyer would sell the Finn a half-section of land at twenty dollars an acre, to be paid for in half-crop payments. He would build a shack and a stable for him at so-and-so much, and equip him besides with all the machinery and the horses he needed at stated prices. The machinery was second-hand; I do not remember the sums involved; but I do remember that the price as stipulated was what it had cost when new. Of horses there had been five--good horses, the Finn admitted; but colts, not broken or trained for the work. The price of these was one thousand dollars. For the whole of this equipment the Finn had been induced to give five notes, lien-notes, with that iniquitous clause, ". . . Or if the party of the first part should consider this note insecure, he shall have full power to declare this and all other notes made by me in his favour due and payable forthwith, and he may take possession of the property and hold it until this note and all other notes made by me are paid, or sell the said property at public or private sale; the proceeds thereof to be applied in reducing the amount unpaid thereon; and the holder thereof, notwithstanding such taking possession or sale, shall thereafter have the right to proceed against me and recover, and I agree to pay, the balance then found to be due thereon."
This, I am aware, is perfectly within the law; it may even work without hardship where "the party of the second part" is fully aware of what he signs, though I doubt it. This Finn was an intelligent man; he could read and write his own language. But, as far as English goes, he was to all intents and purposes illiterate; through none of his fault. He had been turned loose on American soil, equipped for the struggle of life with nothing but an inherent trustfulness; he was paying for his lesson with bankruptcy. My own, comparatively trifling and mild experiences, annoying as they had been, here widened out for the first time into the experience of a whole class of immigrants, and that the most desirable one. In every nation there are sharks, of course; it is only just to say that in later years I found the worst of the sharks among successful immigrants. In every nation there are brutes and fools; we cannot charge their doings to the collective score. But children need looking after; and the immigrant is, as far as the ways of this country are concerned, no better than a child. Here was a bona-fide settler, a prospective citizen of the most promising kind, turned into a sower of discontent. Do you blame him?
Frederick Philip Grove: A Search for America (1927)