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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 3, 1909)
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Proe fAe Sugar Scandal
New York American: But tho stern, imme
diate duty rests now upon congress to investi
gateand expose to' find tho guilty men higher
up and to make an examplo of thoso men to
history. But beyond expoBuro and beyond dis
missals and beyond punishment, thero rests up
on the next congress the larger duty so to re
organize and reform tho treasury department
of tho government that such abuses can never
tfgain develop and prosper in our country!
New York Press: Nobody in his senses could
believe that Theodore Roosevelt would deliber
ately encourage or condone corruption in the
public service of which he was the head. Yet
the revelations in tho sugar trust robbery of
the treasury have gone far enough to show that
Mr. Roosevelt's administration was taTred with
tho blackest pitch. That he blinded his eyes
to conditions which he could not have failed to
see had ho looked at them is patent, for they
were laid before him by one of his subordinates.
But a temperamental defect of Mr. Roosevelt
dragged his administration into one of the foul
est scandals that have disgraced government.
This temperamental defect consists in Mr.
Roosevelt's inability to stand anything but praise
of himself and of anything for which he is ac
countable. No man could differ from Mr. Roose
velt's views without offending him. . No man
could tell Mr. Roosevelt that anything was
wrong about what he had done, or what one
of his creatures had done, without being held
by Mr. Roosevelt to be his personal' enomy.
Agree with President Roosevelt and you were his
loyal friend. Applaud what he was doing with
his administration and you were a patriot. But
question any part of it, or any man who had
won his confidence in the manner wo have de
scribed, and you were guilty of tho basest
Milwaukee News: The sugar trust swindles
are a challenge to American democracy. If they
"guilty men punished it will1 be tantamount to a
confesBlon.that the law is powerless in face of
a criminal plutocracy 'and that in its true sense
government of the people, by the people and for
the people has ceased to be.
Cleveland Leader: Nothing less is possible
now than a thorough probing, public exposure
and punishment so far as it can be "brought
about. None of the presidents of the past
twenty years is suspected of having had an ink
ling of what was going on, but it is believed
that men who stood high in both democratic
and republican administrations will be held up
for public scorn before the investigation has
ended. ' And that congress will order a thorough
Investigation can not bo doubted. The
-public demands the facts and is entitled to them.
Philadelphia Ledger: It is because the sys
tematic practice of frauds upon the revenue
has been more than suspected for so long that
the recent exposures are at once accepted as
evidence of universal crookedness. No such
summary conclusion Is justified from even the
worst interpretation of tho facts in possession
. of the public. But clearly the one way to com
bat such a general condemnation is by an un
compromising exposure of all the facts that can
be reached by a searching official investigation.
This is the tax of the administration at Wash
ington, not for' political effect of any kind, but
for truth and justice and the public honor.
Utica, N. Y., Press: The public demands a
.thorough and searching inquiry and investiga
tion and will be satisfied with nothing short
of it. The administration does well to take
notice of this situation, and it will be expected
not only to issue orders for prosecutions but
' to prosecute vigorously.
"THE NATION'S BIGGEST THIEF"
In an editorial entitled "The Nation's Biggest
. Thief," the Chicago Inter-Ocean says:
There is talk of a congressional investigation
of the New York customs house and its relations
with the American Sugar Refining company,
popularly known as the sugar trust.
There is need. It has been proved in open
court and confessed by the restitution of $2,
000,000 that the sugar trust has systematically
and for years defrauded the revenue. The ex
act extent of the frauds is unknown. It was
stated in court that tho government could claim,
In unpaid duties and penalties, as much as $65,
000,000. Counsel for the defense are said. pri
vately to have admitted that the liability might
be $9,000,000 or $10,000,000. Men who have
gone into the case most fully estimate the thefts
at from $25,000,000 to $30 000,000.
Hero is a sample of the way it was done: In
1902 tho trust paid duty on 1,500,000 legs
pounds of sugar than it paid the sellers forand
the freight on. In 1903 the difference was
2,000,000 pounds, In 1904 it was 2,250,000
pounds, in 1905 it was 2,000,000 pounds, in
1906 It was 2,250,01)0 pounds, and in 1907 it
was 2,250,000 pounds.
The total" of these weights of smuggled sugar
for that is what it waB smuggled right under
the eyes of customs officials and with their
necessary knowledge is 12,250,000 pounds. The
average duty was 1.74 cents per pound. The
product of these figures is $983,150. These
cases were proved and the trust compelled to
Without going back of the "free sugar" period
of the early '90's under the McKinley tariff act
though the sugar trust was stealing before that
we have fifteen years in which there has been
a sugar duty to evade. And as early as 1894 the
attention of Collector J. T. Kllbreth was called
to the trust's great and manifest frauds on the
This came about through an attempt of the
trust to rob the carriers as well as the govern
ment. It- claimed to have received in twelve
cargoes about 4,000,000 pounds less than the
invoices showed, pointing to the customs house
weights as proof. The vessel owners didn't be
lieve thero had been such shrinkage and pre
pared to fight for their freight money. They
called Collector Kilbreth's attention to the fact
of the smuggling and the government's loss
of about $68,000 on these twelve cargoes.
The trust compromised with the carriers. It
agreed to claim no more than 1 per cent shrink
urr.. ThatJa. about double the average, but the
carriers submitted. The xruot-.ootiid tia up--cargoes
in bond and thus delay settlement of
freight bills. But the trust continued to. shrink
sugar cargoes from 5 to 10 per cent in paying
Collector Kilbreth did nothing so far as
known. H. O. Havemeyer was said to have
given $500,000 to the democratic campaign
fund. A cabinet officer was quoted as saying
that the. democratic party could not ignore its
"honorable obligation" to let the sugar trust
It may be here remarked that the name of the
party in power has made no difference in the
ability of the sugar trust to smuggle and steal,
.with the evident connivance of the New York
customs officials and of some of their superiors
in Washington. Since the duty was restored to
sugar by the Wilson act the trust has stolen
continuously up to the recent disclosures. No
one can say that it is not defrauding the revenue
now under Collector Loeb as In the past.
Various methods of short-weighting the gov
ernment on sugar landed have been pursued.
The most efficient seems to have been that of
fixing the scales so that the trust's checker, sit
ting at one end, could makeHhem show lower
weights than the actual to the customs weigher
at the other. And at the same time the trust
was openly paying the carriers and planters on
the true weights while paying the government
on the false. But it costs a weigher his job
to see these things. Sometimes weighers re
ported them to their superiors. Cases are known
of weighers who were removed within a day
after they had tried to stop the sugar trust's
smuggling and theft.
But the most amazing part of this infamous
tale is that the thefts of the sugar trust were
called to the attention of the heads of the gov
ernment nearly three years ago. called to the
attention of Mr. Roosevelt himself and of Mr.
Roosevelt's attorney general, Mr. Bonaparte, at
the very time when Mr. Roosevelt was declaim
ing daily against "malefactors," and Mr. Bona
parte was issuing daily proclamations about what
he was going to -do to "corrupt corporations."
This came about through the conspiracy of
sugar trust officials to get control of a big new
refinery that was building in Philadelphia, pro
moted by one Adolph Segal. The conspiracy
succeeded and Segal was ruined. With him went
down the Resl Estate Trust company of Phila
delphia, and the president .of that bank killed
himself. George H. Earle, Jr., receiver of the
bank, ferestod out the conspiracy and made
VOLTJMETS, NUMBER 47
things so hot for the sugar trust that it settled
civil suits against it out of court by the payment
of about $900,000.
In the course of his investigations Mr. Earle
came upon evidence that the truBt officials were
"defrauding tho revenue as well as wrecking pos
sible competitors. He took this evidence to
Washington. He -could not get either Mr. Roose
velt, or Mr. Bonaparte to listen to him. Mr.
Bonaparte insisted on assuming that all Mr!
Earlo wanted waB to have the American SugaT
Beflning company prosecuted, under the anti
trust act, and held that under the decision in
the Knight case a successful prosecution would
be impossible. He -simply ignored the evidence
of fraud upon tho revenue.
And about the same time Mr. Roosevelt made
Congressman Herbert Parsons, son of John E.
Parsons, a principal figure in the sugar trust and
since indicted on the charge of complicity in
Its frauds, his personal representative in tho
New York republican organization. The New
York Sun and other responsible newspapers
openly charge that the main functions of Her
bert Parsons are to uso the power- of the party
organization, of -which the customs house is a
part, to protect tho Sugar trust.
Abundant documentary evidence of the frauds
and thefts of the sugar trust is or was in
the archives of the customs house. But tho
position is taken there that these documents
and their damnatory figures can not be shown
to, anybody without the permission of tho
sugar trust! That was Collector Stranahan's
position In 1904 taken in writing, and that is
apparently Collector Loeb's position today.
In view of these facts in view of tho fact
that men who have stolen $25,000,000 or $30,
000,000 from the national treasury are still at
large, and have been aided to get under tho
cover of the statute of limitations by an Attor
ney General of the United; States it is plain
that a prompt and drastic congressional investi
gation is demanded.
A PLAIN DUTY
Cleveland Plain Dealer: The administration,
through.. the,. department of iustice.,has a clear
duty ta perform. Yesterday's meeting of tho
cabinet showed conclusively that thero is no,
intention of shirking 'the responsibility. Thero
has been too much temporizing In the past. It
Is time now to strike and to strike hard. Un
less the situation changes materially within tho
next three weeks nothing conld justify a refusal
on the part of congress to Undertake an exhaus
tive investigation into the past history of tho
sugar trust and particularly into any corrupt
relations it may ha.ve had with representatives
of the government
When a South Carolina official" embezzled a
few thousand dollars the liquor papers declared
that the dispensary system was a failure; will
they declare private ownership of railroads a
failure because a railroad official at Cincinnati
has embezzled somewhere from $600,000 to
I called the boy to my knee one day,
And I said, "You're just past four;
xWill you laugh in that same light hearted way
When you've turned, Bay, thirty-four?"
Then I thought of a past I'd fain erase
More clouded skies than blue
And I anxiously peered in his -upturned face,
For it seemed to say:
I touched my lips to his tiny own
And I said to the boy, "Heigh, ho!
Those lips are as sweet as the hay, new mown
Will you keep them, always so?"
Then back from those years came a rakish song
With a ribald jest or two
And I gazed at the child who knew no wrong,
And I thought he asked:
I looked in his eyes, big, brown and clear,
- And I cried, "Oh, boy of mine!
Will you keep them true in the afteryearV
Will youleave no heart to pine?"
Then out of the past came another's eyes
Sad eyes of tear dimmed blue
Did he know they were not his mother's eyes?
For he answered me:
. Carl Werner in Scribner's Magazine.
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