The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 13, 1901, Page 7, Image 7

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The president's message has "beori
discussed at some length on the edi
torial pages. Below will be found do
much of the message as relates to im
perialism and the trust question:
The tremendous and highly complex
industrial development which went on
with ever accelerated rapidity during
the latter half of the nineteenth cen
tury brings us face to face at the be
ginning of the twentieth with very
serious social problems. The old laws
and the old customs which had almost
the binding force of law were once
quite 'sufficient to regulate the accu
mulation and distribution of wealth.
Since the industrial changes which
have so enormously increased the pro
ductive power of mankind they are 1:0
longer sufficient.
The growth of cities has gone on
beyond comparison faster than the
growth of the country, and the up
building of the great industrial centers
has meant a startling increase not
merely in the aggregate of wealth, but
in the number of very large individ
ual and especially of very large cor
porate fortunes. The creation of these
great corporate fortunes has not been
due to the tariff nor to any other gov
ernmental action, but to natural caus
es in the business world, operating in
other countries as they operate In ouv
' The process has aroused much an
tagonism, a great part of which js
wholly without warrant. It is not true
that as the rich have grown richer
the poor have grown poorer. On the
contrary, never before has the average
man, the wage-worker, the farmer, the
. small trader, been so well off as in thl3
country and at the present time. There
have been abuses connected with the
accumulation, of wealth, yet It remains
true, that a fortune accumulated iti
legitimate business can be accumu
lated by the person specially ben
efited only on condition of conferring
immense incidental benefits upon oth
ers. Successful enterprise of the typo
which benefits all mankind can only
exist if the conditions are suoh as to
offer great prizes as the rewards of
The captains of industry who have
driven the railway systems across this
continent, who have built up our com
merce, who have developed our manu
factures, have on tho whole done great
good to our people. Without them the
material development of which we are
so justly proud could never have taken
place. Moreover, we should recognize
the immense importance to this ma
terial development of leaving as un
hampered as is compatible with iche
public good the strong and forceful
men upon whom the success of busi
ness operations inevitably rests. The
slightest study of business conditions
will satisfy any one capable of form
ing a judgment that the personal equa
tion is the most important factor in a
business operation; that the business
ability of the man at the head of any
business concern, big or little, is usual
ly tho factor which fixes the gulf be
tween striking success and hopeless
An additional reason for caution in
dealing with corporations Is to be
found in the international commercial
conditions of today. The same busi
ness conditions which have produced
-the great aggregations of corporate
and individual wealth have made them
very potent factors in international
commercial competition. Business
concerns which have the largest means
at their disposal and are managed by
the ablest men are naturally those
which take the lead in the strife for
commercial supremacy among the na
tions of the world. America has only
just begun to assume that commanding
position in the international business
world which Tve believe tvIH more. and
more be hers. It is of the utmost im
portance that this position bo not
jeopardized, especially at a timo when
the overflowing abundance of our own
natural resources and the skill, busi
ness energy and mechanical aptitude
of our people make foreign markets
essential. Under such conditions it
would be most unwise to cramp or to
fetter the youthful strength or our na
tion. Moreover, it cannot too often be
pointed out that to strike with ignor
ant violence at tho interests of one set
of men almost inevitably endangers
the interests of all. The fundamental
rule in our national life, the rule which
underlies all others, is that on the
whole and" in the long run we shall
go up or down together. Thero are
exceptions, and in times of prosperity
some will prosper far more and in
times of adversity some will suffer far
more than others; but, speaking gen
erally, a period of good times meann
that all share more or less in them,
and in a period of hard times all feel
tho stress to a greater ,01 less degree
It surely ought not to b'e necessary to
enter into any proof of this statement.
Tho memory of the lean years which
began in 1893 is still vivid, and we can
contrast them with the conditions in
this very year which is now closing.
Disaster to great business enterprises
can never have its effects limited to
the men at the top. It spreads through
out, and while it is bad for everybody
it is woi'st for those farthest down.
The capitalist may be shorn of his
luxuries, but the wage-worker may be
deprived of even bare necessities.
Tho mechanism of modern business
Is so delicate that extreme care must
be taken not to interfere with it in a
spirit of rashness or ignorance. Many
of those who have made it their voca
tion to denounce the great industrial
combinations which are popularly, al
though with technical inacuracy,
known as "trusts," appeal especially
to hatred and fear. These are precise
ly the two emotions, particularly when
combined with ignorance, which unfit
men for the exercise of cool and steady
judgment. In facing new Industrial
conditions the whole history of the
world shows that legislation will gen
erally be both unwise and ineffective
unless undertaken after calm inquiry
and with sober self-restraint. Much of
the legislation directed at the trusts
would have been exceedingly mis
chievous had it not also been entirely
Ineffective. In accordance with a well
known sociological law the ignorant or
reckkss agitator has been the really
effective friend of the evils which he
has tf en nominally opposing. In deal
ing with business interests for the 50 v
ernment to undertake by crude and ill
considered legislation to do wtnt may
turn cu1 to be bad would bo to incur
the risk of such far-reaching national
disaster that it would be preferable to
undertake nothing at all. The men
who demand the impossible or the un
desirable serve as the allies .of the
forces with which they are nominally
at war, for they hamper those who
would endeavor to find out in ra
tional fashion what the wrongs really
are and to what extent and in what
manner it is practicable to apply rem
edies. All this is true. And yet it is also
true that there are real and grave evils,
one of the chief being overcapitaliza
tion because of Its many baleful conse
quences, and a resolute and practical
effort must be made to correct these
There is a widespread conviction in
the minds of the American people that
the great corporations known as trusts
are in certain of their features and
tendencies hurtful to the general wel
fare. This springs from no spirit of
envy or uncharitableness nor lack of
pride in tho great industrial achieve
ments that have placed this country at
the head of the nations struggling for
commercial supremacy. It does not
rest upon a lack of intelligent appre
ciation of tho necessity of meeting
changing conditions of trade with now
methods nor upon ignorance of tho
fact that combination of capital in the
effort to accomplish great things is
necessary when tho world's progress
demands that great things bo done, .t
is based upon sincere conviction that
combination and concentration should
bo not prohibited, but supervised and
within reasonable limits controlled,
and in my judgment this conviction Is
It is no limitation upon property
rights or freedom of contract to re
quire that when men receive from
government tho privilege of doing bus
iness under corporate form which frees
them from Individual responsibility
and enables them to call into their
enterprises the capital of the public
they shall do so upon absolutely truth
ful representations as to tho value of
the property In which the capital Is to
be invested. Corporations engaged In
Interstate commerce should bo reg
ulated If they are found to exercise a
license working to the public injury.
It should bo as much the aim of those
who seek for social betterment to rid
the business world of crimes of cun
ning as to rid tho entire body politic
of crimes of violence. Great corpora
tions exist only because they are
created and safeguarded by our in
stitutions, and it is therefore our right
and our duty to see that they work in
harmony with these institutions.
Tho first essential In determining
how to deal with tho great Industrial
combinations is knowledge of the facts
publicity. In the interest of the
public the government should have the
right to inspect and examine the
workings of the great corporations en
gaged in interstate business. Publicity
is the only suro remedy which we can
now invoke. "What further remedies
are needed In the way of govern
mental regulation or taxation can only
bo determined after publicity has been
obtained by process of law and In the
course of administration. Tho first
requisite is knowledge, full and com
pleteknowledge which may be made
public to the world.
Artificial bodies, such as corpora
tions and joint stock or other asso
ciations depending upon any statutory
law for their existence or privileges,
should be subject to proper govern
mental supervision, and full and ac
curate information as to their opera
tions should be made public regularly
at reasonable intervals.
The large corporations, commonly
called trusts, though organized in one
state, always do business in many
states, often doing very little business
in the state where they are incorpor
ated. There is utter lack of uniformity
in the state laws about them, and as no
state has any exclusive interest in or
power over their acts it has in practice
proved impossible to get adequate reg
ulation through state action. There
fore in the interest of the whole people
the nation should, without interfering
with the power of the states in the
matter itself, also assume power of
supervision and regulation over all
corporations doing an interstate busi
ness. This is especially true where
the corporation derives a portion of Its
wealth from the existence of some
monopolistic element or tendency In
Its business. There would be no hard
ship, in such supervision. Banks are
subject to It, and in their case it is
now accepted as a. simpler-matter of
course. Indeed It Is probable that su
pervision of corporations by the na
tional government need not go so far
as is now the case with the supervision
exercised over them by so conserva
tive a state as Massachusetts in order
to produce excellent results.
When the constitution was adopted,
at the end of the eighteenth century,
no human wisdom could foretell the
sweeping changes, alike in industrial'
and political conditions, which wero
to take place by tho beginning of tho
twentieth century. At that time it
was accepted as a matter of course that
tho soveral states wero the proper au
thorities to rogulato so far as was
then necessary tho comparatively in
significant and strictly localized cor
porate bodies of tho day. Tho condi
tions are now wholly different, and
wholly different action is called for. I
bellovc that a law can be framed which
will enable the national government to
exercise control along tho lines above
indicated, profiting by tho experience
gained through tho passage and ad
ministration of the interstate com
merce act. If, however, the judgment
of the congress is that it lacks the
constitutional power to pass such an
act, then a constitutional amendment
should bo submitted to confer tho
There should bo created a cabinst
officer, to bo known as secretary of
commerce and Industries, as provided
in the bill introduced at tho last ses
sion of tho congress. It should bo hl3
province to deal with commerce in Its
broadest sense, Including, among many
other things, whatever concerns labor,
and all matters affecting the great
business corporations and our mer
chant marine.
Tho course proposed Is one phase of
what should be a comprehensive and
far-reaching scheme of constructive
statesmanship for the purpose of
broadening our markets, securing our
business interests on a safe basis and
making firm our new position in tho
international industrial world, while
scrupulously safeguarding the rlght3
of wage-vorker and capitalist, of in
vestor and private citizen, so as to se
cure equity as between man and man
in this republic.
In tho Philippines our problem is
larger. They are very rich tropical
islands, inhabited by many varying
tribes, representing widely different
stages of progress toward civilization.
Our earnest effort is to help Jicsg peo
ple upward along the stony and diffi
cult path that leads to self-government.
Wo hope to make our admin
istration oi the island hcnoiable to
our nation ry making it of tbe highest
benefit to tl o Filipinos themselves, and
as an earnest of what we intend to d J
we pcJrt t what we have done Al
ready a greater measure of material
.prosperity and of governmental hon
esty n0 efficiency has been attained
in the Fbiliprines than ever b'j'ore in
their Lif tcry
It is no light task for a nation to
achieve the temperamental qualities
without which the Institutions of free
government are but empty mockery.
Our people a:e now successfully gov
erning themselves because for more
than a thousand years they have JKsen
slowly fitting themselves, sometimes
ctuwciously, sometimes unconsciously,
toward this end. What has taken us
thirty generations to achieve wo can
not expect to sec another race accom
plish out of hand, especially when
large portions of that race start very
far behind the point which our an
cestors had reached even thirty gen
erations ago. In dealing wit'i the
Philippine people we must show both
patience and strength, forbearance tnd
steadfast resolution. Our aim is high.
We do not desire to do for the island
ers merely what has elsewhere been
done for tropic peoples by even the
best foreign governments. We hope to
do for them what has never before
been done for any people of the tropics
to make them fit for self-government
after the fashion of the really
free nations.
History may safely be challengol to
show a single instance in which a
masterful race as ours, having been
forced by the exigencies of war to take
possession of an alien land, has be its Inhabitants with the disla-