Trusts And The Senate by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: EssayIf you are willing to assume your responsibilities as an American citizen you should study seriously the question of the trusts.Already trust organizatio …

Story type: Essay

If you are willing to assume your responsibilities as an American citizen you should study seriously the question of the trusts.

Already trust organization has assumed very real and very threatening proportions.

Every family in the United States knows of the existence of the Meat Trust, which cuts down the food supply of the people to add to its bank account.

Every merchant feels keenly the existence of half a dozen trusts on which he is absolutely dependent, and from which there is no escape.

We all have seen the Coal Trust keeping ready armed men to shoot working citizens whenever it should give the order. This Coal Trust, in a calm, matter-of-fact way, boasted that it would, if necessary, “call out the United States Government troops” to shoot the miners. Here is one trust already talking as though it controlled the army and all the other forces of Government. The trusts believe themselves already in control, and their national power is very great.

The crisis of trust development has not been reached. The present power of concentrated, organized money is very great, but it is nothing to the power which money will exert in the future.

This future development of the trust force should be discussed and studied calmly, rationally and dispassionately by all Americans.

There is no use in denouncing or in hating the trusts. It is true that they are entirely selfish; it is NOT true that they represent evil, pure and simple.

The trust is a necessary development in humanity’s journey toward organization, concentration and the simplifying of industry.

The first locomotive ever built was a trust. It performed the work of a thousand four-horse teams, deprived four thousand horses and a thousand drivers of a livelihood.

The railroad trust is simply an extension of the concentration of labor, the simplifying of industrial operation, represented in the building of the first locomotive.


They will destroy the mean competition which for centuries has made liars, swindlers and slavedrivers of men.

They will practically eliminate the great number of large private fortunes, and thus compel men to devote their energies to pursuits nobler than the accumulation of money.

At first a few enormous fortunes will dominate the nation–the beginning of these great fortunes you may see already.

Then will come the owning of the trusts–that is to say, of all the great national industries–by the nation itself.

The people of the land will own and operate their own necessities. These necessities, instead of making a few men enormously rich at the expense of many, will contribute to the comfort of many without injustice to the few. —-

The development of trusts must run its course, like every other great feature of human history.

Its beginning–in corrupt legislation, watered stocks, human selfishness–was inevitable.

Its ending–in national ownership, competition eliminated, and industrial life vastly improved–is also inevitable.

But thousands of struggles, thousands of economical battles, thousands of ruined men, will mark this evolution of human industry from the control of individual selfishness to the service of the nation.

The duty of the people is to study and, as far as possible, to foresee and regulate this enormous and inevitable development of the trusts.

The trusts cannot be destroyed, and they should not be destroyed.

But they can be regulated, and with proper vigilance they can be kept from commanding and controlling absolutely this nation, which sees the birth of their great development. —-

We believe that the most pressing public duty at present is the reorganization of the Senate of the United States on the basis of popular election.

It has been said truthfully: “You cannot indict an entire people,” and, fortunately for us, it may truthfully be said, “You cannot PURCHASE an entire people.”

The trusts of the United States base their hopes of continued and growing power upon the United States Senate.

The trusts own absolutely many United States Senators. Of those Senators whom the trusts do not own, many are deeply interested in the trusts, which is the same thing as though the trusts did own them.

Under the present system, the public elects State Legislatures, and these Legislatures choose the United States Senators.

If a trust can buy the Legislature–which, as we all know, it usually can–the trust can control the Senatorial representatives of the State.

The State of New York in the National Congress at Washington is represented by thirty-four Congressmen and two Senators. The thirty-four Congressmen are elected by the people and two Senators are chosen by the trusts. And with these two Senators the trusts can absolutely veto every bill passed by the thirty-four Representatives elected by the people.

Does anybody believe that Mr. Depew and Mr. Platt could possibly have been elected to the United States Senate by the PEOPLE of the State of New York?

Does anybody question the outrageousness of a system which forces upon the people as representatives two Senators whom they would not have chosen and whom they actually believe to be inimical to their interests?

This condition prevails practically throughout the Union.

The upper house of our National Legislature is the real ruling power in the United States.

It controls all of the President’s appointments.

According to the Constitution, he is compelled to appoint “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

The trusts buy the Legislatures, they own the Senators, and therefore the Constitution of the United States now reads practically as follows:

“The President appoints national officers by and with the advice and consent of the trusts.”

As an American voter, you have no more important duty than to work for the election of Senators by the people.

You should not tolerate the selection of Judges of the Supreme Court, United States Ambassadors, Federal Judges throughout the country, and all the great executive forces subject to the approval of the trusts that notoriously make, break and destroy laws.

A small trust can buy the Legislature of the State of New York.

But the biggest trust can scarcely buy New York’s six million inhabitants. And, thanks to our secret voting system, we are protected even against ourselves and our own selfishness.

If a trust buys the ordinary voter it cannot be sure that it gets what it buys.

But if a trust buys the legislators it can count votes and secure delivery of the goods purchased.

Use your influence to curb the power of the trusts by taking away from venal legislators that power to sell to trust managers the Senate of the United States.

This subject you should discuss with your neighbors. You should urge it upon all of those voters with whom you come in contact.

You should influence legislators in your State to vote for a Constitutional amendment causing popular election of Senators–and no legislator will resent your suggestion if he be an honest man.

Everybody knows that the United States Senate to-day does not represent the people. There are exceptions among the Senators, but they are in the minority. Every year the Senate is less and less representative of the nation, more and more representative of organized capital. Good Americans, irrespective of party, will strive to work for this change in the national machinery. Take away from the trusts now the power to tamper with national laws through the Senate.

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