Theodore Roosevelt - An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt
by Theodore Roosevelt
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So much for the facts in this particular case. Now for the general subject. When my Administration took office, I found, not only that there had been little real enforcement of the Anti-Trust Law and but little more effective enforcement of the Inter-State Commerce Law, but also that the decisions were so chaotic and the laws themselves so vaguely drawn, or at least interpreted in such widely varying fashions, that the biggest business men tended to treat both laws as dead letters. The series of actions by which we succeeded in making the Inter-State Commerce Law an efficient and most useful instrument in regulating the transportation of the country and exacting justice from the big railways without doing them injustice—while, indeed, on the contrary, securing them against injustice—need not here be related. The Anti-Trust Law it was also necessary to enforce as it had never hitherto been enforced; both because it was on the statute-books and because it was imperative to teach the masters of the biggest corporations in the land that they were not, and would not be permitted to regard themselves as, above the law. Moreover, where the combination has really been guilty of misconduct the law serves a useful purpose, and in such cases as those of the Standard Oil and Tobacco Trusts, if effectively enforced, the law confers a real and great good.

Suits were brought against the most powerful corporations in the land, which we were convinced had clearly and beyond question violated the Anti-Trust Law. These suits were brought with great care, and only where we felt so sure of our facts that we could be fairly certain that there was a likelihood of success. As a matter of fact, in most of the important suits we were successful. It was imperative that these suits should be brought, and very real good was achieved by bringing them, for it was only these suits that made the great masters of corporate capital in America fully realize that they were the servants and not the masters of the people, that they were subject to the law, and that they would not be permitted to be a law unto themselves; and the corporations against which we proceeded had sinned, not merely by being big (which we did not regard as in itself a sin), but by being guilty of unfair practices towards their competitors, and by procuring fair advantages from the railways. But the resulting situation has made it evident that the Anti-Trust Law is not adequate to meet the situation that has grown up because of modern business conditions and the accompanying tremendous increase in the business use of vast quantities of corporate wealth. As I have said, this was already evident to my mind when I was President, and in communications to Congress I repeatedly stated the facts. But when I made these communications there were still plenty of people who did not believe that we would succeed in the suits that had been instituted against the Standard Oil, the Tobacco, and other corporations, and it was impossible to get the public as a whole to realize what the situation was. Sincere zealots who believed that all combinations could be destroyed and the old-time conditions of unregulated competition restored, insincere politicians who knew better but made believe that they thought whatever their constituents wished them to think, crafty reactionaries who wished to see on the statute-books laws which they believed unenforceable, and the almost solid "Wall Street crowd" or representatives of "big business" who at that time opposed with equal violence both wise and necessary and unwise and improper regulation of business-all fought against the adoption of a sane, effective, and far-reaching policy.

It is a vitally necessary thing to have the persons in control of big trusts of the character of the Standard Oil Trust and Tobacco Trust taught that they are under the law, just as it was a necessary thing to have the Sugar Trust taught the same lesson in drastic fashion by Mr. Henry L. Stimson when he was United States District Attorney in the city of New York. But to attempt to meet the whole problem not by administrative governmental action but by a succession of lawsuits is hopeless from the standpoint of working out a permanently satisfactory solution. Moreover, the results sought to be achieved are achieved only in extremely insufficient and fragmentary measure by breaking up all big corporations, whether they have behaved well or ill, into a number of little corporations which it is perfectly certain will be largely, and perhaps altogether, under the same control. Such action is harsh and mischievous if the corporation is guilty of nothing except its size; and where, as in the case of the Standard Oil, and especially the Tobacco, trusts, the corporation has been guilty of immoral and anti-social practices, there is need for far more drastic and thoroughgoing action than any that has been taken, under the recent decree of the Supreme Court. In the case of the Tobacco Trust, for instance, the settlement in the Circuit Court, in which the representatives of the Government seem inclined to concur, practically leaves all of the companies still substantially under the control of the twenty-nine original defendants. Such a result is lamentable from the standpoint of justice. The decision of the Circuit Court, if allowed to stand, means that the Tobacco Trust has merely been obliged to change its clothes, that none of the real offenders have received any real punishment, while, as the New York Times, a pro-trust paper, says, the tobacco concerns, in their new clothes, are in positions of "ease and luxury," and "immune from prosecution under the law."

Surely, miscarriage of justice is not too strong a term to apply to such a result when considered in connection with what the Supreme Court said of this Trust. That great Court in its decision used language which, in spite of its habitual and severe self-restraint in stigmatizing wrong-doing, yet unhesitatingly condemns the Tobacco Trust for moral turpitude, saying that the case shows an "ever present manifestation . . . of conscious wrong-doing" by the Trust, whose history is "replete with the doing of acts which it was the obvious purpose of the statute to forbid, . . . demonstrative of the existence from the beginning of a purpose to acquire dominion and control of the tobacco trade, not by the mere exertion of the ordinary right to contract and to trade, but by methods devised in order to monopolize the trade by driving competitors out of business, which were ruthlessly carried out upon the assumption that to work upon the fears or play upon the cupidity of competitors would make success possible." The letters from and to various officials of the Trust, which were put in evidence, show a literally astounding and horrifying indulgence by the Trust in wicked and depraved business methods—such as the "endeavor to cause a strike in their [a rival business firm's] factory," or the "shutting off the market" of an independent tobacco firm by "taking the necessary steps to give them a warm reception," or forcing importers into a price agreement by causing and continuing "a demoralization of the business for such length of time as may be deemed desirable" (I quote from the letters). A Trust guilty of such conduct should be absolutely disbanded, and the only way to prevent the repetition of such conduct is by strict Government supervision, and not merely by lawsuits.

The Anti-Trust Law cannot meet the whole situation, nor can any modification of the principle of the Anti-Trust Law avail to meet the whole situation. The fact is that many of the men who have called themselves Progressives, and who certainly believe that they are Progressives, represent in reality in this matter not progress at all but a kind of sincere rural toryism. These men believe that it is possible by strengthening the Anti-Trust Law to restore business to the competitive conditions of the middle of the last century. Any such effort is foredoomed to end in failure, and, if successful, would be mischievous to the last degree. Business cannot be successfully conducted in accordance with the practices and theories of sixty years ago unless we abolish steam, electricity, big cities, and, in short, not only all modern business and modern industrial conditions, but all the modern conditions of our civilization. The effort to restore competition as it was sixty years ago, and to trust for justice solely to this proposed restoration of competition, is just as foolish as if we should go back to the flintlocks of Washington's Continentals as a substitute for modern weapons of precision. The effort to prohibit all combinations, good or bad, is bound to fail, and ought to fail; when made, it merely means that some of the worst combinations are not checked and that honest business is checked. Our purpose should be, not to strangle business as an incident of strangling combinations, but to regulate big corporations in thoroughgoing and effective fashion, so as to help legitimate business as an incident to thoroughly and completely safeguarding the interests of the people as a whole. Against all such increase of Government regulation the argument is raised that it would amount to a form of Socialism. This argument is familiar; it is precisely the same as that which was raised against the creation of the Inter-State Commerce Commission, and of all the different utilities commissions in the different States, as I myself saw, thirty years ago, when I was a legislator at Albany, and these questions came up in connection with our State Government. Nor can action be effectively taken by any one State. Congress alone has power under the Constitution effectively and thoroughly and at all points to deal with inter-State commerce, and where Congress, as it should do, provides laws that will give the Nation full jurisdiction over the whole field, then that jurisdiction becomes, of necessity, exclusive—although until Congress does act affirmatively and thoroughly it is idle to expect that the States will or ought to rest content with non-action on the part of both Federal and State authorities. This statement, by the way, applies also to the question of "usurpation" by any one branch of our Government of the rights of another branch. It is contended that in these recent decisions the Supreme Court legislated; so it did; and it had to; because Congress had signally failed to do its duty by legislating. For the Supreme Court to nullify an act of the Legislature as unconstitutional except on the clearest grounds is usurpation; to interpret such an act in an obviously wrong sense is usurpation; but where the legislative body persistently leaves open a field which it is absolutely imperative, from the public standpoint, to fill, then no possible blame attaches to the official or officials who step in because they have to, and who then do the needed work in the interest of the people. The blame in such cases lies with the body which has been derelict, and not with the body which reluctantly makes good the dereliction.

A quarter of a century ago, Senator Cushman K. Davis, a statesman who amply deserved the title of statesman, a man of the highest courage, of the sternest adherence to the principles laid down by an exacting sense of duty, an unflinching believer in democracy, who was as little to be cowed by a mob as by a plutocrat, and moreover a man who possessed the priceless gift of imagination, a gift as important to a statesman as to a historian, in an address delivered at the annual commencement of the University of Michigan on July 1, 1886, spoke as follows of corporations:

"Feudalism, with its domains, its untaxed lords, their retainers, its exemptions and privileges, made war upon the aspiring spirit of humanity, and fell with all its grandeurs. Its spirit walks the earth and haunts the institutions of to-day, in the great corporations, with the control of the National highways, their occupation of great domains, their power to tax, their cynical contempt for the law, their sorcery to debase most gifted men to the capacity of splendid slaves, their pollution of the ermine of the judge and the robe of the Senator, their aggregation in one man of wealth so enormous as to make Croesus seem a pauper, their picked, paid, and skilled retainers who are summoned by the message of electricity and appear upon the wings of steam. If we look into the origin of feudalism and of the modern corporations—those Dromios of history—we find that the former originated in a strict paternalism, which is scouted by modern economists, and that the latter has grown from an unrestrained freedom of action, aggression, and development, which they commend as the very ideal of political wisdom. Laissez-faire, says the professor, when it often means bind and gag that the strongest may work his will. It is a plea for the survival of the fittest—for the strongest male to take possession of the herd by a process of extermination. If we examine this battle cry of political polemics, we find that it is based upon the conception of the divine right of property, and the preoccupation by older or more favored or more alert or richer men or nations, of territory, of the forces of nature, of machinery, of all the functions of what we call civilization. Some of these men, who are really great, follow these conceptions to their conclusions with dauntless intrepidity."

When Senator Davis spoke, few men of great power had the sympathy and the vision necessary to perceive the menace contained in the growth of corporations; and the men who did see the evil were struggling blindly to get rid of it, not by frankly meeting the new situation with new methods, but by insisting upon the entirely futile effort to abolish what modern conditions had rendered absolutely inevitable. Senator Davis was under no such illusion. He realized keenly that it was absolutely impossible to go back to an outworn social status, and that we must abandon definitely the laissez-faire theory of political economy, and fearlessly champion a system of increased Governmental control, paying no heed to the cries of the worthy people who denounce this as Socialistic. He saw that, in order to meet the inevitable increase in the power of corporations produced by modern industrial conditions, it would be necessary to increase in like fashion the activity of the sovereign power which alone could control such corporations. As has been aptly said, the only way to meet a billion-dollar corporation is by invoking the protection of a hundred-billion-dollar government; in other words, of the National Government, for no State Government is strong enough both to do justice to corporations and to exact justice from them. Said Senator Davis in this admirable address, which should be reprinted and distributed broadcast:

"The liberty of the individual has been annihilated by the logical process constructed to maintain it. We have come to a political deification of Mammon. Laissez-faire is not utterly blameworthy. It begat modern democracy, and made the modern republic possible. There can be no doubt of that. But there it reached its limit of political benefaction, and began to incline toward the point where extremes meet. . . . To every assertion that the people in their collective capacity of a government ought to exert their indefeasible right of self-defense, it is said you touch the sacred rights of property."

The Senator then goes on to say that we now have to deal with an oligarchy of wealth, and that the Government must develop power sufficient enough to enable it to do the task.

Few will dispute the fact that the present situation is not satisfactory, and cannot be put on a permanently satisfactory basis unless we put an end to the period of groping and declare for a fixed policy, a policy which shall clearly define and punish wrong-doing, which shall put a stop to the iniquities done in the name of business, but which shall do strict equity to business. We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when any one engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal; and the first, and most elementary, kind of square deal is to give him in advance full information as to just what he can, and what he cannot, legally and properly do. It is absurd, and much worse than absurd, to treat the deliberate lawbreaker as on an exact par with the man eager to obey the law, whose only desire is to find out from some competent Governmental authority what the law is, and then to live up to it. Moreover, it is absurd to treat the size of a corporation as in itself a crime. As Judge Hook says in his opinion in the Standard Oil Case: "Magnitude of business does not alone constitute a monopoly . . . the genius and industry of man when kept to ethical standards still have full play, and what he achieves is his . . . success and magnitude of business, the rewards of fair and honorable endeavor [are not forbidden] . . . [the public welfare is threatened only when success is attained] by wrongful or unlawful methods." Size may, and in my opinion does, make a corporation fraught with potential menace to the community; and may, and in my opinion should, therefore make it incumbent upon the community to exercise through its administrative (not merely through its judicial) officers a strict supervision over that corporation in order to see that it does not go wrong; but the size in itself does not signify wrong-doing, and should not be held to signify wrong-doing.

Not only should any huge corporation which has gained its position by unfair methods, and by interference with the rights of others, by demoralizing and corrupt practices, in short, by sheer baseness and wrong-doing, be broken up, but it should be made the business of some administrative governmental body, by constant supervision, to see that it does not come together again, save under such strict control as shall insure the community against all repetition of the bad conduct—and it should never be permitted thus to assemble its parts as long as these parts are under the control of the original offenders, for actual experience has shown that these men are, from the standpoint of the people at large, unfit to be trusted with the power implied in the management of a large corporation. But nothing of importance is gained by breaking up a huge inter-State and international industrial organization which has not offended otherwise than by its size, into a number of small concerns without any attempt to regulate the way in which those concerns as a whole shall do business. Nothing is gained by depriving the American Nation of good weapons wherewith to fight in the great field of international industrial competition. Those who would seek to restore the days of unlimited and uncontrolled competition, and who believe that a panacea for our industrial and economic ills is to be found in the mere breaking up of all big corporations, simply because they are big, are attempting not only the impossible, but what, if possible, would be undesirable. They are acting as we should act if we tried to dam the Mississippi, to stop its flow outright. The effort would be certain to result in failure and disaster; we would have attempted the impossible, and so would have achieved nothing, or worse than nothing. But by building levees along the Mississippi, not seeking to dam the stream, but to control it, we are able to achieve our object and to confer inestimable good in the course of so doing.

This Nation should definitely adopt the policy of attacking, not the mere fact of combination, but the evils and wrong-doing which so frequently accompany combination. The fact that a combination is very big is ample reason for exercising a close and jealous supervision over it, because its size renders it potent for mischief; but it should not be punished unless it actually does the mischief; it should merely be so supervised and controlled as to guarantee us, the people, against its doing mischief. We should not strive for a policy of unregulated competition and of the destruction of all big corporations, that is, of all the most efficient business industries in the land. Nor should we persevere in the hopeless experiment of trying to regulate these industries by means only of lawsuits, each lasting several years, and of uncertain result. We should enter upon a course of supervision, control, and regulation of these great corporations—a regulation which we should not fear, if necessary, to bring to the point of control of monopoly prices, just as in exceptional cases railway rates are now regulated. Either the Bureau of Corporations should be authorized, or some other governmental body similar to the Inter-State Commerce Commission should be created, to exercise this supervision, this authoritative control. When once immoral business practices have been eliminated by such control, competition will thereby be again revived as a healthy factor, although not as formerly an all-sufficient factor, in keeping the general business situation sound. Wherever immoral business practices still obtain—as they obtained in the cases of the Standard Oil Trust and Tobacco Trust—the Anti-Trust Law can be invoked; and wherever such a prosecution is successful, and the courts declare a corporation to possess a monopolistic character, then that corporation should be completely dissolved, and the parts ought never to be again assembled save on whatever terms and under whatever conditions may be imposed by the governmental body in which is vested the regulatory power. Methods can readily be devised by which corporations sincerely desiring to act fairly and honestly can on their own initiative come under this thoroughgoing administrative control by the Government and thereby be free from the working of the Anti-Trust Law. But the law will remain to be invoked against wrongdoers; and under such conditions it could be invoked far more vigorously and successfully than at present.

It is not necessary in an article like this to attempt to work out such a plan in detail. It can assuredly be worked out. Moreover, in my opinion, substantially some such plan must be worked out or business chaos will continue. Wrongdoing such as was perpetrated by the Standard Oil Trust, and especially by the Tobacco Trust, should not only be punished, but if possible punished in the persons of the chief authors and beneficiaries of the wrong, far more severely than at present. But punishment should not be the only, or indeed the main, end in view. Our aim should be a policy of construction and not one of destruction. Our aim should not be to punish the men who have made a big corporation successful merely because they have made it big and successful, but to exercise such thoroughgoing supervision and control over them as to insure their business skill being exercised in the interest of the public and not against the public interest. Ultimately, I believe that this control should undoubtedly indirectly or directly extend to dealing with all questions connected with their treatment of their employees, including the wages, the hours of labor, and the like. Not only is the proper treatment of a corporation, from the standpoint of the managers, shareholders, and employees, compatible with securing from that corporation the best standard of public service, but when the effort is wisely made it results in benefit both to the corporation and to the public. The success of Wisconsin in dealing with the corporations within her borders, so as both to do them justice and to exact justice in return from them toward the public, has been signal; and this Nation should adopt a progressive policy in substance akin to the progressive policy not merely formulated in theory but reduced to actual practice with such striking success in Wisconsin.

To sum up, then. It is practically impossible, and, if possible, it would be mischievous and undesirable, to try to break up all combinations merely because they are large and successful, and to put the business of the country back into the middle of the eighteenth century conditions of intense and unregulated competition between small and weak business concerns. Such an effort represents not progressiveness but an unintelligent though doubtless entirely well-meaning toryism. Moreover, the effort to administer a law merely by lawsuits and court decisions is bound to end in signal failure, and meanwhile to be attended with delays and uncertainties, and to put a premium upon legal sharp practice. Such an effort does not adequately punish the guilty, and yet works great harm to the innocent. Moreover, it entirely fails to give the publicity which is one of the best by-products of the system of control by administrative officials; publicity, which is not only good in itself, but furnishes the data for whatever further action may be necessary. We need to formulate immediately and definitely a policy which, in dealing with big corporations that behave themselves and which contain no menace save what is necessarily potential in any corporation which is of great size and very well managed, shall aim not at their destruction but at their regulation and supervision, so that the Government shall control them in such fashion as amply to safeguard the interests of the whole public, including producers, consumers, and wage-workers. This control should, if necessary, be pushed in extreme cases to the point of exercising control over monopoly prices, as rates on railways are now controlled; although this is not a power that should be used when it is possible to avoid it. The law should be clear, unambiguous, certain, so that honest men may not find that unwittingly they have violated it. In short, our aim should be, not to destroy, but effectively and in thoroughgoing fashion to regulate and control, in the public interest, the great instrumentalities of modern business, which it is destructive of the general welfare of the community to destroy, and which nevertheless it is vitally necessary to that general welfare to regulate and control. Competition will remain as a very important factor when once we have destroyed the unfair business methods, the criminal interference with the rights of others, which alone enabled certain swollen combinations to crush out their competitors—and, incidentally, the "conservatives" will do well to remember that these unfair and iniquitous methods by great masters of corporate capital have done more to cause popular discontent with the propertied classes than all the orations of all the Socialist orators in the country put together.

I have spoken above of Senator Davis's admirable address delivered a quarter of a century ago. Senator Davis's one-time partner, Frank B. Kellogg, the Government counsel who did so much to win success for the Government in its prosecutions of the trusts, has recently delivered before the Palimpsest Club of Omaha an excellent address on the subject; Mr. Prouty, of the Inter-State Commerce Commission, has recently, in his speech before the Congregational Club of Brooklyn, dealt with the subject from the constructive side; and in the proceedings of the American Bar Association for 1904 there is an admirable paper on the need of thoroughgoing Federal control over corporations doing an inter-State business, by Professor Horace L. Wilgus, of the University of Michigan. The National Government exercises control over inter-State commerce railways, and it can in similar fashion, through an appropriate governmental body, exercise control over all industrial organizations engaged in inter-State commerce. This control should be exercised, not by the courts, but by an administrative bureau or board such as the Bureau of Corporations or the Inter-State Commerce Commission; for the courts cannot with advantage permanently perform executive and administrative functions.



In his book "The New Freedom," and in the magazine articles of which it is composed, which appeared just after he had been inaugurated as President, Mr. Woodrow Wilson made an entirely unprovoked attack upon me and upon the Progressive party in connection with what he asserts the policy of that party to be concerning the trusts, and as regards my attitude while President about the trusts.

I am reluctant to say anything whatever about President Wilson at the outset of his Administration unless I can speak of him with praise. I have scrupulously refrained from saying or doing one thing since election that could put the slightest obstacle, even of misinterpretation, in his path. It is to the interest of the country that he should succeed in his office. I cordially wish him success, and I shall cordially support any policy of his that I believe to be in the interests of the people of the United States. But when Mr. Wilson, after being elected President, within the first fortnight after he has been inaugurated into that high office, permits himself to be betrayed into a public misstatement of what I have said, and what I stand for, then he forces me to correct his statements.

Mr. Wilson opens his article by saying that the Progressive "doctrine is that monopoly is inevitable, and that the only course open to the people of the United States is to submit to it." This statement is without one particle of foundation in fact. I challenge him to point out a sentence in the Progressive platform or in any speech of mine which bears him out. I can point him out any number which flatly contradict him. We have never made any such statement as he alleges about monopolies. We have said: "The corporation is an essential part of modern business. The concentration of modern business, in some degree, is both inevitable and necessary for National and international business efficiency." Does Mr. Wilson deny this? Let him answer yes or no, directly. It is easy for a politician detected in a misstatement to take refuge in evasive rhetorical hyperbole. But Mr. Wilson is President of the United States, and as such he is bound to candid utterance on every subject of public interest which he himself has broached. If he disagrees with us, let him be frank and consistent, and recommend to Congress that all corporations be made illegal. Mr. Wilson's whole attack is largely based on a deft but far from ingenuous confounding of what we have said of monopoly, which we propose so far as possible to abolish, and what we have said of big corporations, which we propose to regulate; Mr. Wilson's own vaguely set forth proposals being to attempt the destruction of both in ways that would harm neither. In our platform we use the word "monopoly" but once, and then we speak of it as an abuse of power, coupling it with stock-watering, unfair competition and unfair privileges. Does Mr. Wilson deny this? If he does, then where else will he assert that we speak of monopoly as he says we do? He certainly owes the people of the United States a plain answer to the question. In my speech of acceptance I said: "We favor strengthening the Sherman Law by prohibiting agreements to divide territory or limit output; refusing to sell to customers who buy from business rivals; to sell below cost in certain areas while maintaining higher prices in other places; using the power of transportation to aid or injure special business concerns; and all other unfair trade practices." The platform pledges us to "guard and keep open equally to all, the highways of American commerce." This is the exact negation of monopoly. Unless Mr. Wilson is prepared to show the contrary, surely he is bound in honor to admit frankly that he has been betrayed into a misrepresentation, and to correct it.

Mr. Wilson says that for sixteen years the National Administration has "been virtually under the regulation of the trusts," and that the big business men "have already captured the Government." Such a statement as this might perhaps be pardoned as mere rhetoric in a candidate seeking office—although it is the kind of statement that never under any circumstances have I permitted myself to make, whether on the stump or off the stump, about any opponent, unless I was prepared to back it up with explicit facts. But there is an added seriousness to the charge when it is made deliberately and in cold blood by a man who is at the time President. In this volume I have set forth my relations with the trusts. I challenge Mr. Wilson to controvert anything I have said, or to name any trusts or any big business men who regulated, or in any shape or way controlled, or captured, the Government during my term as President. He must furnish specifications if his words are taken at their face value—and I venture to say in advance that the absurdity of such a charge is patent to all my fellow-citizens, not excepting Mr. Wilson.

Mr. Wilson says that the new party was founded "under the leadership of Mr. Roosevelt, with the conspicuous aid—I mention him with no satirical intention, but merely to set the facts down accurately—of Mr. George W. Perkins, organizer of the Steel Trust." Whether Mr. Wilson's intention was satirical or not is of no concern; but I call his attention to the fact that he has conspicuously and strikingly failed "to set the facts down accurately." Mr. Perkins was not the organizer of the Steel Trust, and when it was organized he had no connection with it or with the Morgan people. This is well known, and it has again and again been testified to before Congressional committees controlled by Mr. Wilson's friends who were endeavoring to find out something against Mr. Perkins. If Mr. Wilson does not know that my statement is correct, he ought to know it, and he is not to be excused for making such a misstatement as he has made when he has not a particle of evidence in support of it. Mr. Perkins was from the beginning in the Harvester Trust but, when Mr. Wilson points out this fact, why does he not add that he was the only man in that trust who supported me, and that the President of the trust ardently supported Mr. Wilson himself? It is disingenuous to endeavor to conceal these facts, and to mislead ordinary citizens about them. Under the administrations of both Mr. Taft and Mr. Wilson, Mr. Perkins has been singled out for special attack, obviously not because he belonged to the Harvester and Steel Trusts, but because he alone among the prominent men of the two corporations, fearlessly supported the only party which afforded any real hope of checking the evil of the trusts.

Mr. Wilson states that the Progressives have "a programme perfectly agreeable to monopolies."

The plain and unmistakable inference to be drawn from this and other similar statements in his article, and the inference which he obviously desired to have drawn, is that the big corporations approved the Progressive plan and supported the Progressive candidate. If President Wilson does not know perfectly well that this is not the case, he is the only intelligent person in the United States who is thus ignorant. Everybody knows that the overwhelming majority of the heads of the big corporations supported him or Mr. Taft. It is equally well known that of the corporations he mentions, the Steel and the Harvester Trusts, there was but one man who took any part in the Progressive campaign, and that almost all the others, some thirty in number, were against us, and some of them, including the President of the Harvester Trust, openly and enthusiastically for Mr. Wilson himself. If he reads the newspapers at all, he must know that practically every man representing the great financial interests of the country, and without exception every newspaper controlled by Wall Street or State Street, actively supported either him or Mr. Taft, and showed perfect willingness to accept either if only they could prevent the Progressive party from coming into power and from putting its platform into effect.

Mr. Wilson says of the trust plank in that platform that it "did not anywhere condemn monopoly except in words." Exactly of what else could a platform consist? Does Mr. Wilson expect us to use algebraic signs? This criticism is much as if he said the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence contained nothing but words. The Progressive platform did contain words, and the words were admirably designed to express thought and meaning and purpose. Mr. Wilson says that I long ago "classified trusts for us as good and bad," and said that I was "afraid only of the bad ones." Mr. Wilson would do well to quote exactly what my language was, and where it was used, for I am at a loss to know what statement of mine it is to which he refers. But if he means that I say that corporations can do well, and that corporations can also do ill, he is stating my position correctly. I hold that a corporation does ill if it seeks profit in restricting production and then by extorting high prices from the community by reason of the scarcity of the product; through adulterating, lyingly advertising, or over-driving the help; or replacing men workers with children; or by rebates; or in any illegal or improper manner driving competitors out of its way; or seeking to achieve monopoly by illegal or unethical treatment of its competitors, or in any shape or way offending against the moral law either in connection with the public or with its employees or with its rivals. Any corporation which seeks its profit in such fashion is acting badly. It is, in fact, a conspiracy against the public welfare which the Government should use all its powers to suppress. If, on the other hand, a corporation seeks profit solely by increasing its products through eliminating waste, improving its processes, utilizing its by-products, installing better machines, raising wages in the effort to secure more efficient help, introducing the principle of cooperation and mutual benefit, dealing fairly with labor unions, setting its face against the underpayment of women and the employment of children; in a word, treating the public fairly and its rivals fairly: then such a corporation is behaving well. It is an instrumentality of civilization operating to promote abundance by cheapening the cost of living so as to improve conditions everywhere throughout the whole community. Does Mr. Wilson controvert either of these statements? If so, let him answer directly. It is a matter of capital importance to the country that his position in this respect be stated directly, not by indirect suggestion.

Much of Mr. Wilson's article, although apparently aimed at the Progressive party, is both so rhetorical and so vague as to need no answer. He does, however, specifically assert (among other things equally without warrant in fact) that the Progressive party says that it is "futile to undertake to prevent monopoly," and only ventures to ask the trusts to be "kind" and "pitiful"! It is a little difficult to answer a misrepresentation of the facts so radical—not to say preposterous—with the respect that one desires to use in speaking of or to the President of the United States. I challenge President Wilson to point to one sentence of our platform or of my speeches which affords the faintest justification for these assertions. Having made this statement in the course of an unprovoked attack on me, he cannot refuse to show that it is true. I deem it necessary to emphasize here (but with perfect respect) that I am asking for a plain statement of fact, not for a display of rhetoric. I ask him, as is my right under the circumstances, to quote the exact language which justifies him in attributing these views to us. If he cannot do this, then a frank acknowledgment on his part is due to himself and to the people. I quote from the Progressive platform: "Behind the ostensible Government sits enthroned an invisible Government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. . . . This country belongs to the people. Its resources, its business, its laws, its institutions, should be utilized, maintained, or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest." This assertion is explicit. We say directly that "the people" are absolutely to control in any way they see fit, the "business" of the country. I again challenge Mr. Wilson to quote any words of the platform that justify the statements he has made to the contrary. If he cannot do it—and of course he cannot do it, and he must know that he cannot do it—surely he will not hesitate to say so frankly.

Mr. Wilson must know that every monopoly in the United States opposes the Progressive party. If he challenges this statement, I challenge him in return (as is clearly my right) to name the monopoly that did support the Progressive party, whether it was the Sugar Trust, the Steel Trust, the Harvester Trust, the Standard Oil Trust, the Tobacco Trust, or any other. Every sane man in the country knows well that there is not one word of justification that can truthfully be adduced for Mr. Wilson's statement that the Progressive programme was agreeable to the monopolies. Ours was the only programme to which they objected, and they supported either Mr. Wilson or Mr. Taft against me, indifferent as to which of them might be elected so long as I was defeated. Mr. Wilson says that I got my "idea with regard to the regulation of monopoly from the gentlemen who form the United States Steel Corporation." Does Mr. Wilson pretend that Mr. Van Hise and Mr. Croly got their ideas from the Steel Corporation? Is Mr. Wilson unaware of the elementary fact that most modern economists believe that unlimited, unregulated competition is the source of evils which all men now concede must be remedied if this civilization of ours is to survive? Is he ignorant of the fact that the Socialist party has long been against unlimited competition? This statement of Mr. Wilson cannot be characterized properly with any degree of regard for the office Mr. Wilson holds. Why, the ideas that I have championed as to controlling and regulating both competition and combination in the interest of the people, so that the people shall be masters over both, have been in the air in this country for a quarter of a century. I was merely the first prominent candidate for President who took them up. They are the progressive ideas, and progressive business men must in the end come to them, for I firmly believe that in the end all wise and honest business men, big and little, will support our programme. Mr. Wilson in opposing them is the mere apostle of reaction. He says that I got my "ideas from the gentlemen who form the Steel Corporation." I did not. But I will point out to him something in return. It was he himself, and Mr. Taft, who got the votes and the money of these same gentlemen, and of those in the Harvester Trust.

Mr. Wilson has promised to break up all trusts. He can do so only by proceeding at law. If he proceeds at law, he can hope for success only by taking what I have done as a precedent. In fact, what I did as President is the base of every action now taken or that can be now taken looking toward the control of corporations, or the suppression of monopolies. The decisions rendered in various cases brought by my direction constitute the authority on which Mr. Wilson must base any action that he may bring to curb monopolistic control. Will Mr. Wilson deny this, or question it in any way? With what grace can he describe my Administration as satisfactory to the trusts when he knows that he cannot redeem a single promise that he has made to war upon the trusts unless he avails himself of weapons of which the Federal Government had been deprived before I became President, and which were restored to it during my Administration and through proceedings which I directed? Without my action Mr. Wilson could not now undertake or carry on a single suit against a monopoly, and, moreover, if it had not been for my action and for the judicial decision in consequence obtained, Congress would be helpless to pass a single law against monopoly.

Let Mr. Wilson mark that the men who organized and directed the Northern Securities Company were also the controlling forces in the very Steel Corporation which Mr. Wilson makes believe to think was supporting me. I challenge Mr. Wilson to deny this, and yet he well knew that it was my successful suit against the Northern Securities Company which first efficiently established the power of the people over the trusts.

After reading Mr. Wilson's book, I am still entirely in the dark as to what he means by the "New Freedom." Mr. Wilson is an accomplished and scholarly man, a master of rhetoric, and the sentences in the book are well-phrased statements, usually inculcating a morality which is sound although vague and ill defined. There are certain proposals (already long set forth and practiced by me and by others who have recently formed the Progressive party) made by Mr. Wilson with which I cordially agree. There are, however, certain things he has said, even as regards matters of abstract morality, with which I emphatically disagree. For example, in arguing for proper business publicity, as to which I cordially agree with Mr. Wilson, he commits himself to the following statement:

"You know there is temptation in loneliness and secrecy. Haven't you experienced it? I have. We are never so proper in our conduct as when everybody can look and see exactly what we are doing. If you are off in some distant part of the world and suppose that nobody who lives within a mile of your home is anywhere around, there are times when you adjourn your ordinary standards. You say to yourself, 'Well, I'll have a fling this time; nobody will know anything about it.' If you were on the Desert of Sahara, you would feel that you might permit yourself—well, say, some slight latitude of conduct; but if you saw one of your immediate neighbors coming the other way on a camel, you would behave yourself until he got out of sight. The most dangerous thing in the world is to get off where nobody knows you. I advise you to stay around among the neighbors, and then you may keep out of jail. That is the only way some of us can keep out of jail."

I emphatically disagree with what seems to be the morality inculcated in this statement, which is that a man is expected to do and is to be pardoned for doing all kinds of immoral things if he does them alone and does not expect to be found out. Surely it is not necessary, in insisting upon proper publicity, to preach a morality of so basely material a character.

There is much more that Mr. Wilson says as to which I do not understand him clearly, and where I condemn what I do understand. In economic matters the course he advocates as part of the "New Freedom" simply means the old, old "freedom" of leaving the individual strong man at liberty, unchecked by common action, to prey on the weak and the helpless. The "New Freedom" in the abstract seems to be the freedom of the big to devour the little. In the concrete I may add that Mr. Wilson's misrepresentations of what I have said seem to indicate that he regards the new freedom as freedom from all obligation to obey the Ninth Commandment.

But, after all, my views or the principles of the Progressive party are of much less importance now than the purposes of Mr. Wilson. These are wrapped in impenetrable mystery. His speeches and writings serve but to make them more obscure. If these attempts to refute his misrepresentation of my attitude towards the trusts should result in making his own clear, then this discussion will have borne fruits of substantial value to the country. If Mr. Wilson has any plan of his own for dealing with the trusts, it is to suppress all great industrial organizations—presumably on the principle proclaimed by his Secretary of State four years ago, that every corporation which produced more than a certain percentage of a given commodity—I think the amount specified was twenty-five per cent—no matter how valuable its service, should be suppressed. The simple fact is that such a plan is futile. In operation it would do far more damage than it could remedy. The Progressive plan would give the people full control of, and in masterful fashion prevent all wrongdoing by, the trusts, while utilizing for the public welfare every industrial energy and ability that operates to swell abundance, while obeying strictly the moral law and the law of the land. Mr. Wilson's plan would ultimately benefit the trusts and would permanently damage nobody but the people. For example, one of the steel corporations which has been guilty of the worst practices towards its employees is the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bryan's plan would, if successful, merely mean permitting four such companies, absolutely uncontrolled, to monopolize every big industry in the country. To talk of such an accomplishment as being "The New Freedom" is enough to make the term one of contemptuous derision.

President Wilson has made explicit promises, and the Democratic platform has made explicit promises. Mr. Wilson is now in power, with a Democratic Congress in both branches. He and the Democratic platform have promised to destroy the trusts, to reduce the cost of living, and at the same time to increase the well-being of the farmer and of the workingman—which of course must mean to increase the profits of the farmer and the wages of the workingman. He and his party won the election on this promise. We have a right to expect that they will keep it. If Mr. Wilson's promises mean anything except the very emptiest words, he is pledged to accomplish the beneficent purposes he avows by breaking up all the trusts and combinations and corporations so as to restore competition precisely as it was fifty years ago. If he does not mean this, he means nothing. He cannot do anything else under penalty of showing that his promise and his performance do not square with each other.

Mr. Wilson says that "the trusts are our masters now, but I for one do not care to live in a country called free even under kind masters." Good! The Progressives are opposed to having masters, kind or unkind, and they do not believe that a "new freedom" which in practice would mean leaving four Fuel and Iron Companies free to do what they like in every industry would be of much benefit to the country. The Progressives have a clear and definite programme by which the people would be the masters of the trusts instead of the trusts being their masters, as Mr. Wilson says they are. With practical unanimity the trusts supported the opponents of this programme, Mr. Taft and Mr. Wilson, and they evidently dreaded our programme infinitely more than anything that Mr. Wilson threatened. The people have accepted Mr. Wilson's assurances. Now let him make his promises good. He is committed, if his words mean anything, to the promise to break up every trust, every big corporation—perhaps every small corporation—in the United States—not to go through the motions of breaking them up, but really to break them up. He is committed against the policy (of efficient control and mastery of the big corporations both by law and by administrative action in cooperation) proposed by the Progressives. Let him keep faith with the people; let him in good faith try to keep the promises he has thus repeatedly made. I believe that his promise is futile and cannot be kept. I believe that any attempt sincerely to keep it and in good faith to carry it out will end in either nothing at all or in disaster. But my beliefs are of no consequence. Mr. Wilson is President. It is his acts that are of consequence. He is bound in honor to the people of the United States to keep his promise, and to break up, not nominally but in reality, all big business, all trusts, all combinations of every sort, kind, and description, and probably all corporations. What he says is henceforth of little consequence. The important thing is what he does, and how the results of what he does square with the promises and prophecies he made when all he had to do was to speak, not to act.



In "The House of Harper," written by J. Henry Harper, the following passage occurs: "Curtis returned from the convention in company with young Theodore Roosevelt and they discussed the situation thoroughly on their trip to New York and came to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to consistently support Blaine. Roosevelt, however, had a conference afterward with Senator Lodge and eventually fell in line behind Blaine. Curtis came to our office and found that we were unanimously opposed to the support of Blaine, and with a hearty good-will he trained his editorial guns on the 'Plumed Knight' of Mulligan letter fame. His work was as effective and deadly as any fight he ever conducted in the Weekly." This statement has no foundation whatever in fact. I did not return from the convention in company with Mr. Curtis. He went back to New York from the convention, whereas I went to my ranch in North Dakota. No such conversation as that ever took place between me and Mr. Curtis. In my presence, in speaking to a number of men at the time in Chicago, Mr. Curtis said: "You younger men can, if you think right, refuse to support Mr. Blaine, but I am too old a Republican, and have too long been associated with the party, to break with it now." Not only did I never entertain after the convention, but I never during the convention or at any other time, entertained the intention alleged in the quotation in question. I discussed the whole situation with Mr. Lodge before going to the convention, and we had made up our minds that if the nomination of Mr. Blaine was fairly made we would with equal good faith support him.


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