HISTORY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN FORTUNES

CHAPTER VII

THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE IN THE PRESENT GENERATION



With the demise of William H. Vanderbilt the Vanderbilt fortune ceased being a one-man factor.  Although apportioned among the eight children, the two who inherited by far the greater part of it — Cornelius and William K. Vanderbilt — were its rulers paramount.  To them descended the sway of the extensive railroad systems appropriated by their grandfather and father, with all of the allied and collateral properties.  Both of these heirs had been put through a punctilious course of training in the management of railroad affairs ;  all of the subtle arts and intricacies of finance, and the grand tactical and strategic strokes of railroad manipulation, had been drilled into them with extraordinary care.

Their first move upon coming into their inheritance was to surround themselves with the magnificence of imposing residences, as befitted their state and estate.  A signatory stroke of the pen was the only exertion required of them ;  thereupon architects and a host of artisans yielded service and built palaces for them, for the one at Fifth avenue and Fifty-second street, for the other at Fifth avenue and Fifty-seventh street.

Biltmore, Ashevill, NC Millions were spent with prodigal lavishness.  On his Fifth avenue mansion alone, Cornelius expended $5,000,000.  To get the space for three beds of blossoms and a few square yards of turf, a brownstone house adjoining his mansion was torn down, and the garden created at an expense of $400,000.  George, a brother of Cornelius and of William K. Vanderbilt, and a man of retiring disposition, spent $6,000,000 in building a palatial home in the heart of the North Carolina mountains.  For three years three hundred stonemasons were kept busy ;  and he gradually added land to his surrounding estate until it embraced one hundred and eighty square miles.  His game preserves were enlarged until they covered 20,000 acres.  So, within thirty years from the time their grandfather, Commodore Vanderbilt, was extorting his original millions by blackmailing, did they live like princes, and in greater luxury and power than perhaps any of the titular princes of ancient or modern days.  But the splendor of these abodes was intended merely for partial use.  At their command spacious, majestic palaces arose at Newport, whither in the torrid season some of the Vanderbilts transferred their august seat of power and pleasure.

Hardly had they settled themselves down in the vested security of their great fortunes when an ominous situation presented itself to shake the entire propertied class into a violent state of uneasiness.  Hitherto the main antagonistic movement perturbing the magnates was that of the obstreperous and still powerful middle class.  Dazed and enraged at the certain prospect of their complete subjugation and eventual annihilation, these small capitalists had clamored for laws restricting the power of the great capitalists.  Some of their demands were constantly being enacted into law, without, however, the expected results.


THE GREAT LABOR MOVEMENT OF 1886.


Now, to the intense alarm of all sections of the capitalist class, a very different quality of movement reared itself upward from the deeps of the social formation.1

This time it was the laboring masses preparing for the most vigorous and comprehensive attack that they had ever made upon capitalism’s intrenchments.  Long exploited, oppressed and betrayed, starved or clubbed into intervals of apathy or submission, they were again in motion, moving forward with a set deliberation and determination which disconcerted the capitalist class.  No mere local conflict of class interests was it on this occasion, but a general cohesive revolt of the workers against some of the conditions and laws under which they had to labor.

In 1884 the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada had issued a manifesto calling upon all trades to unite in the demand for an eight-hour workday.  The date for a general strike was finally fixed for May 1, 1886.  The year 1886, therefore, was one of general agitation throughout the United States.  With rapidity and enthusiasm the movement spread.  Presently it took on a radical character.  Realizing it to be at basis the first national awakening of the proletariat, progressive men and women of every shade of opinion hastened forward to support it and direct it into one of opposition, not merely to a few of the evils of wage slavery, but to what they considered the fundamental cause itself — the capitalist system.

The propertied classes were not deceived.  They knew that while this labor movement nominally confined itself to one for a shorter workday, yet its impetus was such that it contained the fullest potentialities for developing into a mighty uprising against the very system by which they were enabled to enrich themselves and enslave the masses.

The moment this fact was discerned, both great and small capitalists instinctively suspended hostilities.  They tacitly agreed to hold their bitter warfare for supremacy in abeyance, and unite in the face of their common danger.  The triangular conflict between the large and small capitalists and the trades unions now resolved into a duel between the propertied classes of all descriptions on the one hand, and, on the other, the workingmen’s organizations.  The Farmers’ Alliance, essentially a middle-class movement of the employing farmers in the South and West, was counted upon as aligned with the propertied classes.  On the part of the capitalists there was no unity of organization in the sense of selected leaders or cotnmittees.  It was not necessary.  A stronger bond than that of formal organization drove them into acting in conscious unison — namely, the immediate peril involved to their property interests.  Apprehension soon gave way to grim decision.  This formidable labor movement had to be broken and dispersed at any cost.

But how was the work of destruction to be done ?  This was the predicament.  Vested wealth could succeed in bribing a labor leader here and there ;  but the movement had bounded far beyond the elemental stage, and had become a glowing agitation which no traitor or set of traitors could have stopped.

One effective way of discrediting and suppressing it there was ;  the ancient one of virtually outlawing it, and throwing against it the whole brute force of Government.  The task of putting it down was preŽminently one for the police, army and judiciary.  They had been used to stifle many another protest of the workers ;  why not this ?  As the great labor movement rolled on, enlisting the ardent attachment of the masses, denouncing the injustices, corruption and robberies of the existing industrial system, the propertied classes more acutely understood that they must hasten to stamp it out by whatever means.  The municipal and State governments and the National Government, completely representing their interests and ideas, and dominated by them, stood ready to use force.  But there had to be some kind of pretext.  The hosts of labor were acting peacefully and with remarkable self control and discipline.


THE PROPERTIED CLASSES STRIKE BACK.


The propitious occasion soon came.  It was in Chicago that the blow was struck which succeeded in discrediting the cause of the workers, stayed the progress of their movement, and covered it with a prejudice and an odium lasting for years.  There, in that maddening bedlam, called a city, the acknowledged inferno of industrialism, the agitation was tensest.  With its brutalities, cruelties, corruptions and industrial carnage, its hideous contrasts of dissolute riches and woe-begone poverty, its arrogant wealth lashing the working population lower and lower into squalor, pauperism and misery, Chicago was overripe for any movement seeking to elevate conditions.

In the first months of 1886, strike followed strike throughout the United States for an eight-hour day.  At McCormick’s reaper works in Chicago 2 a prolonged strike of many months began in February.  Determined not only to refuse shorter hours, but to force his twelve hundred wage workers to desert labor unions, McCormick drove them from his factory, hired armed mercenaries, called Pinkerton detectives, and substituted in the place of the union workers those despised irresponsibles called “ scabs ” — signifying laborers willing to help defeat the battles of organized labor, and, if the unions won, share in the benefits without incurring any of the responsibilities, risks or struggles.  On May 1, 1886, forty thousand men and women in Chicago went on strike for an eight-hour day.  Thus far, the aim of inciting violence on the part of the strikers had completely failed everywhere.

The Knights of Labor were conducting their strikes with a coolness, method and sober sense of order, giving no opportunity for the exercise of force.  On May 2, a great demonstration of the McCormick workers was held near that company’s factories to protest against the employment of armed Pinkertons.  The Pinkerton detective bureau was a private establishment, founded during the Civil War ;  in the ensuing contests between labor and capital it was alleged to have made a profitable business of supplying spies and armed men to capitalists under the pretense of safeguarding property.  These armed bands really constituted private armies ;  recruited often from the most debased and worthless part of the population, as well as from the needy and shifty, they were, it was charged, composed largely of men who would perjure themselves, fabricate evidence, provoke trouble, and slaughter without scruple for pay.  Some, as was well established, were ex-convicts, others thugs, and still others were driven to the ignoble employment by necessity.3  During the course of the meeting in the afternoon the factory bell rung, and the “ scabs ” were seen leaving.  Some boys in the audience began throwing stones and there was hooting.  Fully aware of the combustible accounts wanted by their offices, the reporters immediately telephoned exaggerated, inflammatory stories of a riot being under way ;  the police on the spot likewise notified headquarters.4  Police in large numbers soon arrived ;  the boys kept throwing stones ;  and suddenly, without warning, the police drew their revolvers and indiscriminately opened a general fire upon the men, women and children in the crowd, killing four and wounding many.  Terror stricken and in horror the crowd fled.

There was a group of radical spirits in Chicago, popularly branded as anarchists, but in reality men of advanced ideas who, while differing from one another in economic views, agreed in denouncing the existing system as the prolific cause of bitter wrongs and rooted injustices.  Sincere, self-sacrificing, intellectual, outspoken, absolutely devoted to their convictions, burning with compassion and noble ideals for suffering humanity, they had stepped forward and had greatly assisted in arousing the militant spirit in the working class in Chicago.  At all of the meetings they had spoken with an ardor and ability that put them in the front ranks of the proletarian leaders ;  and in two newspapers published by them, the “Alarm,” in English, and the “Arbeiter Zeitung,” in German, they unceasingly advocated the interests of the working class.  These men were Albert R. Parsons, a printer, editor of the “Alarm;” August Spies, an upholsterer by trade, and editor of the “Arbeiter Zeitung; ” Adolph Fischer, a printer ;  Louis Lingg, a carpenter ;  Samuel Fielden, the son of a British factory owner ;  George Engel, a painter ;  Oscar Neebe, a well-to-do business man, and Michael Schwab, a bookbinder.  All of them were more or less deep students of economics and sociology ;  they had become convinced that the fundamental cause of the prevalent inequalities of opportunity and of the widespread misery was the capitalist system itself.  Hence they opposed it uncompromisingly.5

The newspapers ;  voicing the interests and demands of the intrenched classes, denounced these radicals with a sinister emphasis as destructionists.  But it was not ignorance which led them to do this ;  it was intended as a deliberate poisoning and inflaming of public opinion.  Themselves bribing, corrupting, intimidating, violating laws and slaying for profit everywhere, the propertied classes ever assumed, as has so often been pointed out, the pose of being the staunch conservers of law and order.  To fasten upon the advanced leaders of the labor movement the stigma of being sowers of disorder, and then judicially get rid of them, and crush the spirit and movement of the aroused proletariat — this was the plan determined upon.  Labor leaders who confined their programme to the industrial arena were not feared so much ;  but Parsons, Spies and their comrades were not only pointing out to the masses truths extremely unpalatable to the capitalists, but were urging, although in a crude way, a definite political movement to overthrow capitalism.  With the finest perception, fully alert to their danger, the propertied classes were intent upon exterminating this portentous movement by striking down its leaders and terrifying their followers.


THE HAYMARKET TRAGEDY.


Fired with indignation at the slaughter at the McCormick meeting, Spies and others of his group issued a call for a meeting on the night of May 4, at the Haymarket, to protest against the police assaults.  Spies opened the meeting, and was followed by Fielden.  Observers agreed that the meeting was proceeding in perfect quiet, so quietly that the Mayor of Chicago, who was present to suppress it if necessary, went home — when suddenly one hundred and eighty policemen, with arms in readiness, appeared and peremptorily ordered the meeting to disperse.  It seems that without pausing for a reply they immediately charged, and began clubbing and mauling the few hundred persons present.  At this juncture a small bomb, thrown by someone, exploded in the ranks of the police, felling sixty and killing one.  The police instantly began firing into the crowd.

No one has ever been able to find out definitely who threw the bomb.  Suspicions were not lacking that it was done by a mercenary of corporate wealth.  At Pittsburg, in 1877, as we have seen, the Pennsylvania railroad hirelings deliberately destroyed property and incited riot in order to charge the strikers with crime.  In the coal mining regions of Pennsylvania, subsidized detectives had provoked trouble during the strikes, and by means of bogus evidence and packed juries had hung some labor leaders and imprisoned others.

The hurling of the bomb, whether done by a secret emissary, or by a sympathizer with labor, proved the lever which the propertied classes had been feverishly awaiting.  Spies, Fielding and their comrades were at once cast into jail ;  the newspapers invented wild yarns of conspiracies and midnight plots, and raucously demanded the hanging of the leaders.  The trifling formality of waiting until their guilt had been proved was not considered.  The most significant event, however, was the secret meeting of about three hundred leading American capitalists to plan the suppression of “ anarchy.”  Very horrified they professed themselves to be at violent outrages and destruction of property and life.  Their views were given wide circulation and commendation ;  they were the finest types of commercial success and prestige.  They were the owners of railroads that slaughtered thousands of human beings every year, because of the demands of profit ;  of factories which sucked the very life out of their toilers, and which filled the hospitals, slums, brothels and graveyards with an ever-increasing assemblage ;  every man in that conclave, as a beneficiary of the existing system, had drained his fortune from the sweat, sorrow, miseries and death agonies of a multitude of workers.6  These were the men who came forth to form the “ Citizens’ Association,” and within a few hours subscribed $100,000 as a fighting fund.


JUDICIAL MURDER OF LABOR’S LEADERS.


The details of the trial will not be gone into here.  The trial itself is now everywhere recognized as having been a tragic farce.  The jury, it is clear, was purposely drawn from the employing class, or their dependents ;  of a thousand talesmen summoned, only five or six belonged to the working class.  The malignant class nature of the trial was revealed by the questions asked of the talesmen ;  nearly all declared that they had a prejudice against Socialists, Anarchists and Communists.  Soon the blindest could see that the conviction of the group was determined upon in advance, and that it was but the visible evidence of a huge conspiracy to terrorize the whole working class.

The theory upon which the group was prosecuted was that they were actively engaged in a conspiracy against the existing authorities, and that they advocated violence and bloodshed.  No jurist would now presume to contend that the slightest evidence was adduced to prove this.  But all were rushed to conviction :  Spies, Parsons, Fischer, and Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887, after fruitless appeals to the higher courts ;  Lingg committed suicide in prison, and Fielden, Neebe and Schwab were sentenced to long terms in prison.  The four executed leaders met their death with the heroic calmness of martyrdom.  “ Let the voice of the people be heard ! ” were Parsons’ last words.  Fielden, Neebe and Schwab might have rotted away in prison, were it not that one of the noblest-minded and most maligned men of his time, in the person of John P. Altgeld, was Governor of Illinois in 1893.  Governor Altgeld pardoned them on these grounds, which he undoubtedly proved in an exhaustive review : (I) The jury was a packed one selected to convict ;  (2) the jurors were prejudiced ;  (3) no guilt was proved ;  (4) the State’s attorney had admitted no case against Neebe, yet he had been imprisoned ;  (5) the trial judge (Gary) was either so prejudiced or subservient to class influence that he did not or could not give a fair trial.  Even many of those who denounced Altgeld for his action, now admit that his grounds were justified.


THE LABOR UPRISING IN NEW YORK.


In the meanwhile, between the time of the Haymarket episode and the hanging and imprisonment of the Chicago group, the labor movement in New York City had assumed so strong a political form that the ruling class was seized with consternation.  The Knights of Labor, then at the summit of organization and solidarity, were ripe for independent political action ;  the effects of the years of active propaganda carried on in their ranks by the Socialists and Single-Tax advocates now began to show fruit.  At the critical time, when the labor unions were wavering in the decision as to whether they ought to strike out politically or not, the ruling class supplied the necessary vital impulsion.  While in Chicago the courts were being used to condemn the labor leaders to death or prison, in the East they were used to paralyze the weapons of offense and defence by which the unions were able to carry on their industrial warfare.

The conviction, in New York City, of certain members of a union for declaring a boycott, proved the one compelling force needed to mass all of the unions and radical societies and individuals into a mighty movement resulting in an independent labor party.  To meet this exigency an effort was made by the politicians to buy off Henry George, the distinguished Single-Tax advocate, who was recognized as the leader of the labor party.  But this flanking attempt at bribing an incorruptible man failed ;  the labor unions proceeded to nominate George for Mayor, and a campaign was begun of an ardor, vigor and enthusiasm such as had not been known since the Workingmen’s party movement in 1829.

The election was for local officers of the foremost city in the United States — a point of vantage worth contending for, since the moral effect of such a victory of the working class would be incalculable, even if short-lived.  To the ruling classes the triumph of the labor unions, while restricted to one city, would unmistakably denote the glimmerings of the beginning of the end of their regime.  Such rebellious movements are highly contagious ;  from the confines of one municipality they sweep on to other sections, stimulating action and inspiring emulation.  The New York labor campaign of 1886 was an intrinsic part and result of the general labor movement throughout the United States.  And it was the most significant manifestation of the onward march of the workers ;  elsewhere the labor unions had not gone beyond the stage of agitation and industrial warfare ;  but in New York, with the most acute perception of the real road it must traverse, the labor movement had plunged boldly into political action.  It realized that it must get hold of the governmental powers.  Its antagonists, the capitalists, had long had a rigid grip on them, and had used them almost wholly as they willed.

But the capitalist class was even more doggedly determined upon retaining and intensifying those powers.  Government was an essential requisite to its plans and development.  The small capitalists bitterly fought the great ;  but both agreed that Government with its legislators, laws, precedents, and the habits of thought it created, must be capitalistic.  Both saw in the uprising of labor a prospective overturning of conditions.

From this identity of interest a singular concrete alliance resulted.  The great capitalists, whom the middle class had denounced as pirates, now became the decorous and orthodox “ saviors of society,” with the small capitalists trailing behind their leadership, and shouting their praises as the upholders of law and the conservators of order.  In Chicago the same men who had bribed legislators and common councils to give them public franchises, and who had hugely swindled and stolen under guise of law, had been the principals in calling for the execution and imprisonment of the group of labor leaders, and this they had decreed in the name of law.  In New York City a pretext for dealing similarly with the labor leaders was entirely lacking, but another method was found effective in the subjugation and dispersion of the movement.


CAPITALIST TRIUMPH BY FRAUD.


This was the familiar one of corruption and fraud.  It was a method in the exercise of which the capitalists as a class had proved themselves adepts ;  they now summoned to their aid all of the ignoble and subterranean devices of criminal politics.

In the New York City election of 1886 three parties contested, the Labor party, Tammany Hall and the Republican party.  Steeped in decades of the most loathsome corruption, Tammany Hall was chosen as the medium by which the Labor party was to be defrauded and effaced.  Pretending to be the “ champion of the people’s rights,” and boasting that it stood for democracy against aristocracy, Tammany Hall had long deceived the mass of the people to plunder them.  It was a powerful, splendidly-organized body of mercenaries and selfseekers which, by trading on the principles of democracy, had been able to count on the partisan votes of a predominating element of the wage-working class.  In reality, however, it was absolutely directed by a leader or “ boss,” who, with his confederates, made a regular traffic of selling legislation to the capitalists, on the one hand, and who, on the other, enriched themselves by a colossal system of blackmail.  They sold immunity to pickpockets, confidence men and burglars, compelled the saloonkeepers to pay for protection, and even extorted from the wretched women of the street and brothels.  This was the organization that the ruling class, with its fine assumptions of respectability, now depended upon to do its work of breaking up the political labor revolt.

The candidate of Tammany Hall was the ultra-respectable Abram S. Hewitt, a millionaire capitalist.  The Republican party nominated a verbose, pushful, self-glorifying young man, who, by a combination of fortuitous circumstances, later attained the position of President of the United States.  This was Theodore Roosevelt, the scion of a moderately rich New York family, and a remarkable character whose pugnacious disposition, indifference to political conventionalities, capacity for exhortation, and bold political shrewdness were mistaken for greatness of personality.  The phenomenal success to which he subsequently rose was characteristic of the prevailing turgidity and confusion of the popular mind.  Both Hewitt and Roosevelt were, of course, acceptable to the capitalist class.  As, however, New York was normally a city of Democratic politics, and as Hewitt stood the greater chance of winning, the support of those opposed to the labor movement was concentrated upon him.

place to live Intrenched respectability, for the most part, came forth to join sanctimony with Tammany scoundrelism.  It was an edifying union, yet did not comprise all of the forces linked in that historic coalition.  The Church, as an institution, cast into it the whole weight of its influence and power.  Soaked with the materialist spirit while dogmatically preaching the spiritual, dominated and pervaded by capitalist influences, the Church, of all creeds and denominations, lost no time in subtly aligning itself in its expected place.  And woe to the minister or priest who defied the attitude of his church !  Father McGlynn, for example, was excommunicated by the Pope, ostensibly for heretical utterances, but in actuality for espousing the cause of the labor movement.

Despite every legitimate argument coupled with venomous ridicule and coercive and corrupt influence that wealth, press and church could bring to bear, the labor unions stood solidly together.  On election day groups of Tammany repeaters, composed of dissolutes, profligates, thugs and criminals, systematically, under directions from above, filled the ballot boxes with fraudulent votes.  The same rich class that declaimed with such superior indignation against rule by the “ mob ” had poured in funds which were distributed by the politicians for these frauds.  But the vote of the labor forces was so overwhelming, that even piles of fraudulent votes could not suffice to overcome it.  One final resource was left.  This was to count out Henry George by grossly tampering with the election returns and misrepresenting them.  And this is precisely what was done, if the testimony of numerous eye-witnesses is to be believed.  The Labor party, it is quite clear, was deliberately cheated out of an election won in the teeth of the severest and most corrupt opposition.  This result it had to accept ;  the entire elaborate machinery of elections was in the full control of the Labor party’s opponents ;  and had it instituted a contest in the courts, the Labor party would have found its efforts completely fruitless in the face of an adverse judiciary.


THE LABOR PARTY EVAPORATES.


By the end of the year 1887 the political phase of the labor movement had shrunk to insignificant proportions, and soon thereafter collapsed.  The capitalist interests had followed up their onslaught in hanging and imprisoning some of the foremost leaders, and in corruption and fraud at the polls, by the repetition of other tactics that they had long so successfully used.

Acting through the old political parties they further insured the disintegration of the Labor party by bribing a sufficient number of its influential men.  This bribery took the form of giving them sinecurist offices under either Democratic or Republican local, State or National administrations.  Many of the most conspicuous organizers of the labor movement were thus won over, by the proffer of well-paying political posts, to betray the cause in the furtherance of which they had shown such energy.  Deprived of some of its leaders, deserted by others, the labor political movement sank into a state of disorganization, and finally reverted to its old servile position of dividing its vote between the two capitalist parties.

From now on, for many years, the labor movement existed purely as an industrial one, disclaiming all connection with politics.  Voting into power either of the old political parties, it then humbly begged a few crumbs of legislation from them, only to have a few sops thrown to it, or to receive contemptuous kicks and humiliations, and, if it grew too importunate or aggressive, insults backed with the strong might of judicial, police and military power.

When it was jubilantly seen by the coalesced propertied classes that the much-dreaded labor movement had been thrust aside and shorn, they resumed their interrupted conflict.

The small capitalist evinced a fierce energy in seeking to hinder in every possible way the development of the great.  It was in these years that a multitude of middle-class laws were enacted both by Congress and by the State legislatures ;  the representatives of that class from the North and East joined with those of the Farmers’ Alliance from the West and South.  Laws were passed declaring combinations conspiracies in restraint of trade and prohibiting the granting of secret discriminative rates by the railroads.  In 1889 no fewer than eighteen States passed anti-trust laws ;  five more followed the next year.  Every one of these laws was apparently of the most explicit character, and carried with it drastic penal provisions.  “ Now,” exulted the small capitalists in high spirits of elation, “ we have the upper hand.  We have laws enough to throttle the monopolists and preserve our righteous system of competition.  They don’t dare violate them, with the prospects of long terms in prison staring them in the face.”


THE SMALL CAPITALISTS’ LOSING FIGHT.


The great capitalists both dared and did.  If specific statutes were against them, the impelling forces of economic development and the power of might were wholly on their side.  The competitive system was already doomed ;  the middle class was too blind to realize that what seemed to be victory was the rattle of the slow death struggle.  At first, the great capitalists made no attempt to have these laws altered or repealed.  They adopted a slyer and more circuitous mode of warfare.  They simply evaded them.  As fast as one trust was dissolved by court decision, it nominally complied, as did, for instance, the Standard Oil Trust and the Sugar Trust, and then furtively caused itself to be reborn into a new combination so cunningly sheltered within the technicalities of the law that it was fairly safe from judicial overthrow.

But the great capitalists were too wise to stake their existence upon the thin refuge of technicalities.  With their huge funds they now systematically struck out to control the machinery of the two main political parties ;  they used the ponderous weight of their influence to secure the appointment of men favorable to them as Attorneys General of the United States, and of the States, and they carried on a definite plan of bringing about the appointment or election of judges upon whose decisions they could depend.  The laws passed by the middle class remained ornamental encumbrances on the statute books ;  the great capitalists, although harassed continually by futile attacks, triumphantly swept forward, gradually in their consecutive progress strangling the middle class beyond resurrection.

Such was the integral impotence of the warfare of the small against the great capitalists that, during this convulsive period, the existing magnates increased their wealth and power on every hand, and their ranks were increased by the accession of new members.  From the chaos of middle-class industrial institutions, one trust after another sprang full-armed, until presently there was a whole array of them.  The trust system had proved itself immensely superior in every respect to the competitive, and by its own superiority it was bound to supplant the other.

Where William H. Vanderbilt had thought himself compelled to temporize with the middle class agitation by making a show of dividing the stock ownership of the New York Central Railroad, his sons Cornelius and William ignored or defied it.  Utterly disdainful of the bitter feeling, especially in the West, against the consolidation of railroads in the hands of the powerful few, they tranquilly went ahead to gather more railroads in their ownership.  The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (popularly dubbed the “ Big Four ”) acquired by them in 1890 was one of these.  It would be tiresome, however, to enter into a narrative of the complex, tortuous methods by which they possessed themselves of these railroads.  By the beginning of the year 1893 the Vanderbilt system embraced at least 12,000 miles of railways, with a capitalized value of several hundred million dollars, and a total gross earning power of more than $60,000,000 a year.  “ All of the best railroad territory,” says John Moody in his sketch entitled “ The Romance of the Railways,” “ outside of New England, Pennsylvania and New Jersey was penetrated by the Vanderbilt lines, and no other railroad system in the country, with the single notable exception of the Pennsylvania Railroad, covered anything like the same amount of rich and settled territory, or reached so many towns and cities of importance.  New York, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Omaha — these were a few of the great marts which were embraced in the Vanderbilt preserves.”  So impregnably rich and powerful were the Vanderbilts, so profitable their railroads, and their command of resources, financial institutions and legislation so great, that the panic of 1893 instead of impairing their fortunes gave them extraordinary opportunities for getting hold of the properties of weaker railroads.

It was now, acting jointly with other puissant interests, that they saw their chance to get control of a large part of the fabulously rich coal mines of Pennsylvania.  These coal mines had originally been owned by separate companies or operators, each independent of the other.  But by about the year 1867 the railroads penetrating the coal regions had conceived the plan of owning the mines themselves.  Why continue to act as middlemen in transporting the coal ?  Why not vest in themselves the ownership of these vast areas of coal lands, and secure all the profits instead of those from merely handling the coal ?

The plan ingratiated itself as a capital one ;  it could be easily carried out with little expenditure.  All that was necessary for the railroad to do was to burden down the operators with exorbitant charges, and hamper and beleaguer them in a variety of compressing ways.7  As was proved in subsequent lawsuits, the railroads frequently declined to carry coal for this or that mine, on the pretext that they had no cars available.  Every means was used to crush the independent operators and depreciate the selling value of their property.  It was a campaign of ruination ;  in law it stood as criminal conspiracy ; but the railroads persisted in it without any further molestation than prolix civil suits, and they finally forced a number of the well-nigh bankrupted independent operators to sell out to them for comparatively trifling sums.8

By these methods such railroads as the Philadelphia and Reading, the Delaware, Lackawana and Western, the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Lehigh Valley and others gradually succeeded, in the course of years, in extending an ownership over the coal mines.  The more powerful independent operators struck back early at them by getting a constitutional provision passed in Pennsylvania, in 1873, prohibiting railroads from owning and operating coal mines.  The railroads evaded this law with facility by an illegal system of leasing, and by organizing nominally separate and independent companies the stock of which, in reality, was owned by them.

To the men who did the actual labor of working in the mines — the coal miners — this change of ownership was not regarded with alarm.  Indeed, they at first cherished the pathetic hope that it might benefit their condition, which had been desperate and intolerable enough under the old company system.  The small coal-owning capitalists, who had emitted such wailings at their own oppression by the railroads, had long relentlessly exploited their tens of thousands of workers.  One abuse had been piled upon another.  The miners were paid by the ton ;  the companies had fraudulently increased the size of the ton, so that the miners had to perform much more labor while wages remained stationary or were reduced.

But one of the most serious grievances was that against what were called “ company or truck stores.”  Ingenious contrivances for getting back the miserable wages paid out, these were company-owned merchandise stores in which the miners were compelled to buy their supplies.  In many collieries the mine worker was not paid in money but was given an order on the company store, where he was forced to purchase inferior goods at exorbitant prices.

To blast in the mines powder was necessary ;  the miner had to buy it at his own expense, and was charged $2.75 a keg, although its selling value was not more than $1.10 or 90 cents.  In every direction the mine worker was defrauded and plundered.  “ Often,” says John Mitchell, long the leader of the miners, and a compromiser whose career proves that he cannot be charged with any deepseated antagonism to capitalist interests, “ a man together with his children would work for months without receiving a dollar of money, and not infrequently he would find at the end of the month nothing in his envelope but a statement that his indebtedness to the company had increased so many dollars.”9  Mitchell adds that the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed anti-truck store laws, ” but the operators who have always cried out loudest against illegal action by miners openly and unhesitatingly violated the act and subsequently evaded it by various devices.”10  The wretched houses the miners occupied “ also,” says Mitchell, “ served as a means of extortion, and, in other instances, as a weapon to be used against the miners.”  In case they complained or struck, the miners were evicted under the most cruel circumstances.  Many other media of extortion were common.  In the entire year the miners averaged only one hundred and ninety working days of ten hours each, and, of course, were paid for working time only.  According to Spahr 350,000 miners drudged for an average wage of $350 a year.11


SEIZING RAILROADS AND COAL MINES.


This system of abject slavery was in full force when the railroads ousted many of the small operators, and largely by pressure of power took possession of the mines.  In vain did the miners’ unions implore the railroad magnates for redress of some kind.  The magnates abruptly refused, and went on extending and intrenching their authority.  The Vanderbilts manipulated themselves into being important factors in the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, and in the Delaware, Lackawana and Western Railroad, which had deviously obtained title to some of the richest coal deposits in Wyoming County, and they also became prominent in the directing of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

The most important coal-owning railroad, however, which they and other magnates coveted was the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.  At least one-half of the anthracite coal supply of Pennsylvania was owned or controlled by this railroad.  The ownership of the Reading Railroad, with its subordinate lines, was the pivotal requisite towards getting a complete monopoly of the anthracite coal deposits.  William H. Vanderbilt had acquired an interest in it years before, but the actual controlling ownership at this time was held by a group of Philadelphia capitalists of the second rank with their three hundred thousand shares.

Unfortunately for this group, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was afflicted with a president, one Arthur A. McLeod, who was not only too recklessly ambitious, but who was temerarious enough to cross the path of the really powerful magnates.  With immense confidence in his plans and in his ability to carry them out, he set out to monopolize the anthracite coal supply and to make the Reading Railroad a great trunk line.  To perfect this monopoly he leased some coal-carrying railroads and made “ a gentlemen’s agreement ” with others ;  and in line with his policy of raising the importance of the road, he borrowed large sums of money for the construction of new terminals and approaches and for equipment.

Now, all of these plans interfered seriously with the aims and ambition of magnates far greater than he.  These magnates quickly saw the stupendous possibilities of a monopoly of the coal supply — the hundreds of millions of dollars of profits it held out — and decided that it was precisely what they themselves should control and nobody else.  Second, in his aim to have his own railroad connections with the rich manufacturing and heavily-populated New England districts, McLeod had arranged with various small railroads a complete line from the coal fields of Pennsylvania into the heart of New England.  In doing this he overreached his mark.  He was soon taught the folly of presuming to run counter to the interests of the big magnates.


AND THE WAY IN WHICH IT WAS DONE.


The two powers controlling the large railroads traversing most of the New England States were the Vanderbilts and J. Pierpont Morgan.  The one owned the New York Central, the other dominated thc New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.  The Pennsylvania Railroad likewise had no intention of allowing such a powerful competitor in its own province.  These magnates viewed with intense amazement the effrontery of what they regarded as an upstart interloper.  Although they had been constantly fighting one another for supremacy, these three interests now made common cause.

They adroitly prepared to crush McLeod and bankrupt the railroad of which he was the head.  By this process they would accomplish three highly important objects ;  one the wresting of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad into their own divisible ownership ;  second, the securing of their personal hold on the connecting railroads that McLeod had leased ;  and, finally, the obtaining of undisputed sovereignty over a great part of the anthracite coal mines.  The warfare now began without those fanciful ceremonials, heralds or proclamations considered so necessary by Governments as a prelude to slaughter.  These formalities are dispensed with by business combatants.

First, the Morgan-Vanderbilt interests caused the publication of terrifying reports that grave legislation hostile to the coal combination was imminent.  The price of Reading stock on the Stock Exchange immediately declined.  Then, following up their advantage, this dual alliance inspired even more ruinous reports.  The credit of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was represented as being in a very bad state.  As the railroad had borrowed immense sums of money both to finance its coal combination and to build extensive terminals and other equipment, large payments to creditors were due from time to time.  To pay these creditors the railroad had to borrow more ;  but when the credit of the railroad was assailed, it found that its sources of borrowing were suddenly shut off.  The group of Philadelphia capitalists had already borrowed large sums of money, giving Reading shares as collateral.  When the market price of the stock kept going down they were called upon to pay back their loans.  Declining or unable to do so, their fifty thousand shares of pledged stock were sold.  This sale still more depressed the price of Reading stock.

In this group of Philadelphia capitalists were men who were reckoned as very astute business lights — George M. Pullman, Thomas Dolan, one of the street railway syndicate whose briberies of legislatures and common councils, and whose manipulation of street railways in Philadelphia and other cities were so notorious a scandal ;  John Wanamaker, combining piety and sharp business ; — these were three of them.  But they were no match for the much more powerful and wily Vanderbilt-Morgan forces.  They were compelled under resistless pressure to throw over their Reading stock at a great loss to themselves.  Most of it was promptly bought up by J.P. Morgan and Company and the Vanderbilts, who then leisurely arranged a division of the spoils between themselves.

This transaction (strict interpreters of the law would have styled it a conspiracy) opened a facile way for a number of extremely important changes.  The Vanderbilts and the Morgan interests apportioned between them much of the ownership of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad with its vast ownership of coal deposits and its coal carrying traffic.12  The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad grasped the New York and New England Railroad from the Reading’s broken hold, and there were further far-reaching changes militating to increase the railroad, and other, possessions of both parties.13  It was but another of the many instances of the supreme capitalists driving out the smaller fry and seizing the property which they had previously seized by fraud.14

The Vanderbilts’ ownership of a large part of the shares of railroads, which, in turn, own and control the coal mines, may be summed up as follows :  Through the Lake Shore Railroad, which they have owned almost absolutely, they own, or until recently did own, $30,000,000 of shares in the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad with its stupendous anthracite coal deposits, and they owned, for a long time, large amounts of stock in the Lehigh Valley Railroad with its unmined coal deposits of 400,000,000 tons.  In 1908 they disposed of their Lehigh Valley Railroad ownings, receiving an equivalent in either money or some other form of property.  The ownership of the Delaware, Lackawana and Western Railroad with its equally large unmined coal deposits is divided between the Vanderbilt family and the Standard Oil interests.  The Vanderbilts, according to the latest official reports, also own heavy interests in the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, the New York, Ontario and Western Railroad, $12,500,000 of stock in the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and large amounts of stock in other coal mining and coal carrying railroads.15

Here, then, is another important step in the acquisition of a large part of the country’s resources by the Vanderbilts.  A recapitulation will not be out of place.  His first millions obtained by blackmailing, Commodore Vanderbilt then uses those millions to buy a railroad.  By further fraudulent methods, based upon bribery of lawmaking bodies, he obtains more railroads and more wealth.  His son, following his methods, adds other railroads to the inventory, and converts tens of millions of fraudulently-acquired millions into interest-bearing Government, State, city and other bonds.  The third generation (in point of order from the founder) continues the methods of the father and grandfather, gets hold of still more railroads, and emerges as one of the powers owning the great coal deposits of Pennsylvania.


THE DICTATION OF THE COAL FIELDS.


The Vanderbilt and the Morgan interests at once increased the price of anthracite coal, adding to it $1.25 to $1.35 a ton.  In 1900 they appeared in the open with a new and gigantic plan of consolidation by which they were able to control almost absolutely the production and prices.  That the Vanderbilt family and the Morgan interests were the main parties to this combination was well established.16  Already high, a still heavier increase of price at once was put on the 40,000,000 tons of anthracite then produced, and the price was successively raised until consumers were taxed seven times the cost of production and transportation.

The population was completely at the mercy of a few magnates ;  each year, as the winter drew on, the Coal Trust increased its price.  In the needs and suffering of millions of people it found a ready means of laying on fresher and heavier tribute.  By the mandate of the Coal Trust, housekeepers were taxed $70,000,000 in extra impositions a year, in addition to the $40,000,000 annually extorted by the exorbitant prices of previous years.  At a stroke the magnates were able to confiscate by successive grabs the labor of the people of the United States at will.  Neither was there any redress ;  for those same magnates controlled all of the ramifications of Government.

What, however, of the workers in the mines ?  While the combination was high-handedly forcing the consumer to pay enormous prices, how was it acting toward them ?  The question is almost superfluous.  The railroads made little concealment of their hostility to the trades unions, and refused to grant reforms or concessions.  Consequently a strike was declared in 1900 by which the mine workers obtained a ten per cent increase in wages and the promise of semi-monthly wages in cash.  But they had not resumed work before they discovered the hollowness of these concessions.  Two years of futile application for better conditions passed, and then, in 1902, 150,000 men and boys went on strike.  This strike lasted one hundred and sixty-three days.  The magnates were generally regarded as arrogant and defiant ;  they contended that they had nothing to arbitrate ;17 and only yielded to an arbitration board when President Roosevelt threatened them with the full punitive force of Government action.

By the decision of this board the miners secured an increase of wages (which was assessed on the consumer in the form of higher prices) and several minor concessions.  Yet at best, their lot is excessively hard.  Writing a few years later, Dr. Peter Roberts, who, if anything, is not partial to the working class, stated that the wages of the contract miners were (in 1907) about $600 a year, while adults in other classes of mine workers, who formed more than sixty per cent. of the labor forces, did not receive an annual wage of $450.  Yet Roberts quotes the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics as saying that “ a family of five persons requires $754 a year to live on.”  The average number in the family of a mine worker is five or six.  “ This small income,” Roberts observes, “ drives many of our people to live in cheap and rickety houses, where the sense of shame and decency is blunted in early youth, and where men cannot find such home comforts as will counteract the attractions of the saloon.”  Hundreds of company houses, according to Roberts, are unfit for habitation, and “ in the houses of mine employees, of all nationalities, is an appalling infant mortality.”18


THE BITUMINOUS COAL MINES ALSO.


The sway of the Vanderbilts, however, extends not only over the anthracite, but over a great extent of the bituminous coal fields in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and other States.  By their control of the New York Central Railroad, they own various ostensibly independent bituminous coal mining companies.  The Clearfield Corporation, the Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Co., and the West Branch Coal Company are some of these.  By their great holdings in other railroads traversing the soft coal regions, the Vanderbilts control about one-half of the bituminous coal supply in the Eastern, and most of the Middle-Western, States.

According to the Interstate Commerce Commission’s report, in 1907, the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad owned in that year about forty-five per cent. of the stock of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and the New York Central owned large amounts of stock in other railroads.  “ The Commission, therefore, reaches the conclusion,” the report reads on after going into the question of ownership in detail, “ that, as a matter of fact, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company, and the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company were practically controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, and that the result was to practically abolish substantial competition between the carriers of coal in the territories under consideration.”  Although the Standard Oil oligarchy now owns considerable stock in the Vanderbilt railroads, it is an undoubted fact that the Vanderbilts share to a great extent the mastery of both hard and soft coal fields.

It is not possible here to present even in condensed form the outline, much less the full narrative, of the labyrinth of tricks, conspiracies and frauds which the railroad magnates have resorted to, and still practice, in the throttling of the small capitalists, and in guaranteeing themselves a monopoly.  A great array of facts are to be found in the reports of the exhaustive investigations made by the United States Industrial Commission in 1901-1902, and by the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1907.

Thousands of times was the law glaringly violated, yet the magnates were at all times safe from prosecution. Periodically the Government would make a pretense of subjecting them to an inquiry, but in no serious sense were they interfered with.  These investigations all have shown that the railroads first crushed out the small operators by a conspiracy of rates, blockades and reprisals, and then by a juggling process of stocks and bonds, bought in the mines with the expenditure of scarcely any actual money.  Having done this they formed a monopoly and raised prices which, in law, was a criminal conspiracy.  The same weapons destructively used against the small coal operators years ago are still being employed against the few independent companies remaining in the coal fields, as was disclosed, in 1908, in the suit of the Government to dissolve the workings of the various railroad companies in the anthracite coal combination.19


THE HUGE PROFITS FROM THE COAL MINES.


No one knows or can ascertain the exact profits of the Vanderbilts and of other railroad owners from their control of both the anthracite, and largely the bituminous, coal mines.  As has been noted, the railroad magnates cloud their trail by operating through subsidiary companies.  That their extortions reach hundreds of millions of dollars every year is a patent enough fact.  Some of the accompaniments of this process of extortion have been referred to ; — the confiscation, on the one hand, of the labor of the whole consuming population by taxing from them more and more of the products of their labor by repeated increases in the price of coal, and, on the other, the confiscation of the labor of the several hundred thousand miners who are compelled to work for the most precarious wages, and in conditions worse, in some respects, than chattel slavery.

But not alone is labor confiscated.  Life is also immolated.  The yearly sacrifice of life in the coal mines of the United States is steadily growing.  The report for 1908 of the United States Geological Survey showed that 3,125 coal miners were killed by accidents in the current year, and that 5,316 were injured.  The number of fatalities was 1,033 more than in 1906.  “ These figures,” the report explains, “ do not represent the full extent of the disasters, as reports were not received from certain States having no mine inspectors.”  Side by side with these appalling figures must be again brought out the fact adverted to already :  that the owners of the coal mines have at all times violently opposed the passage of laws drafted to afford greater safeguard for life in the working of the mines.  Being the owners, at the same time, of the railroads, their opposition in that field to life-saving improvements has been as consistent.

Improvements are expensive ;  human life is contemptibly cheap ;  so long as there is a surplus of labor it is held to be commercial folly to go to the unnecessary expense of protecting an article of merchandise which can be had so cheaply.  Human tragedies do not enter into the making of profit and loss accounts ;  outlays for mechanical appliances do.  Assuredly this is a business age wherein profits must take precedence over every other consideration, which principle has been most elaborately enunciated and established by a long list of exalted court decisions.  Yea, and the very magnates whose power rests on force and fraud are precisely those who insidiously dictate what men shall be appointed to these omniscient courts, before whose edicts all men are expected to bow in speechless reverence.20



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1 It may be asked why an extended description of this movement is interposed here.  Because, inasmuch as it is a part of the plan of this work to present a constant succession of contrasts, this is, perhaps, as appropriate a place as any to give an account of the highly important labor movement of 1886.  Of course, it will be understood that this movement was not the result of any one capitalist fortune or process, but was a general revolt to compel all forms of capitalist control to concede better conditions to the workers.

2 The McCormick fortune was the outgrowth, to a large extent, of a variety of frauds and corruptions.  Later on in this work, the facts are given as to how Cyrus H. McCormick, the founder of the fortune, bribed Congress, in 1854, to give him a time extension of his patent rights.

3 The prevailing view of the working class toward the Pinkerton detectives was thus expressed at the time in a chapter on the mine workers by John McBride, one of the trade union leaders :  “They have awakened,” he wrote, “the hatred and detestation of the workingmen of the United States ;  and this hatred is due, not only to the fact that they protect the men who are stealing the bread from the mouths of the families of strikers, but to the fact that as a class they seem rather to invite trouble than to allay it. . . . They are employed to terrorize the workingmen, and to create in the minds of the public the idea that the miners are a dangerous class of citizens that have to be kept down by armed force.  These men had an interest in keeping up and creating troubles which gave employers opportunity to demand protection from the State militia at the expense of the State, and which the State has too readily granted.” — “ The Labor Movement”: 264-265.

4 In a statement published in the Chicago “Daily News,” issue of May 10, 1889, Captain Ebersold, chief of police in 1886, charged that Captain Schaack, who had been the police official most active in proceeding against the labor leaders and causing them to be executed and imprisoned, had deliberately set about concocting “anarchist” conspiracies in order to get the credit for discovering and breaking them up.

5 The utterances of these leaders revealed the reasons why they were so greatly feared by the capitalist class.  Fischer, for instance, said :  “ I perceive that the diligent, never-resting human working bees, who create all wealth and fill the magazines with provisions, fuel and clothing, enjoy only a minor part of this product, while the drones, the idlers, keep the warehouses locked up, and revel in luxury and voluptuousness.”  Engel said :  “ The history of all times teaches us that the oppressing always maintain their tyrannies by force and violence.  Some day the war will break out ;  therefore all workingmen should unite and prepare for the last war, the outcome of which will be the end forever of all war, and bring peace and happiness to mankind.”

6 This seems a very sweeping and extraordinarily prejudicial statement.  It should be remembered, however, that these capitalists, both individually and collectively, had contested the passage of every proposed law, the aim of which was to improve conditions for the workers on the railroads and in mines and factories.  Time after time they succeeded in defeating or ignoring this legislation.  Although the number of workers killed or injured in accidents every year was enormous, and although the number slain by diseases contracted in workshops or dwellings was even greater, the capitalists insisted that the law had no right to interfere with the conduct of their “private business.”

7 See testimony before the committee to investigate the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, and the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, Pennsylvania Legislative Docs. 1876, Vol. v, Doc. No. 2.  This investigation fully revealed how the railroads detained the cars of the “independent” operators, and otherwise used oppressive methods.

8 Spahr quotes an independent operator in 1900 as saying that the railroads charged the independents three times as much for handling hard coal as they charged for handling soft coal from the West—“America’s Working People”: 122-223.

9 “Organized Labor”:359.  Mitchell’s comments were fully supported by the vast mass of testimony taken by the United States Anthracite Coal Commission in 1902.  Mitchell is, at this writing (1909), in the employ of the Civic Federation, an organization financed by capitalists.  Its alleged purpose is to bring about “harmony” between capital and labor.

10 Ibid.

11 “ The Present Distribution of Wealth in the United States ”: 110-111.

12 An investigation, in 1905, showed that the “ Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad owned about 43.3 per cent. of the entire capital stock of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company.”  “Report on Discriminations and Monopolies in Coal and Oil, Interstate Commerce Commission, January 25, 1907”:46.

13 A good account of this expropriating transaction is that of Wolcott Drew, “The Reading Crash in 1903” in “ Moody’s Magazine” (a leading financial periodical), issue of January, 1907.

14 One of the particularly indisputable examples of the glaring fraud by which immense areas of coal fields were originally obtained was that of the disposition of the estate of John Nicholson.
      Dying in December, 1800, Nicholson left an estate embracing land, the extent of which was variously estimated at from three to five million acres.  Some of the Pennsylvania legislative documents place the area at from three to four million acres, while others, notably a report in 1842, by the judiciary committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, state that it was 5,000,000 acres.  Nicholson was a leading figure in the Pennsylvania Land Company which had obtained most of its vast land possessions by fraud.  Some of Nicholson’s landed estate lay in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and other States, but the bulk of it was in Pennsylvania, and included extensive regions containing the very richest coal deposits.
      The State of Pennsylvania held a lien upon Nicholson’s estate for unpaid taxes amounting to $300,000.  Notwithstanding this lien, different individuals and corporations contrived to get hold of practically the whole of the estate in dispute.  How they did it is told in many legislative documents ;  the fraud and theft connected with it were a great scandal in Pennsylvania for forty-five years.  We will quote only one of these documents.  Writing on January 24, 1842, to William Elwell, chairman of the judiciary Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Judge J.B. Anthony, of the Nicholson Court (a court especially established to pass upon questions arising from the disposition of the estate), said :
      “On the 11th of April, 1825, an act passed the Governor to appoint agents to discover and sell the Nicholson lands at auction, for which they were allowed twenty-five per cent.  A Special Board of Property was also formed to compromise and settle with claimants.  From what has come to my knowledge in relation to this Act, I am satisfied that the commonwealth was seriously injured by the manner in which it was carried out by some of the agents.  It was made use of principally for the benefit of land speculators ;  and the very small sums received by the State treasurer for large and valuable tracts sold and compromised, show that the cunning and astute land jobbers could easily overreach the Board of Property at Harrisburg. ... Many instances of gross fraud might be enumerated, but it would serve no useful purpose.”  Judge Anthony further said that “very many of the most influential, astute and intelligent inhabitants” and “gentlemen of high standing” were participants in the frauds.—Pennsylvania House journal, 1842, Vol. ii, Doc. No. 127:700-704.

15 See Special Report No. 1 of the Interstate Commerce Commission on Intercorporate Relationship of Railroads : 39.  Also Carl Snyder’s “American Railways as Investments ”:473.

16 Final Report of the U.S. Industrial Commission, 1902, xix: 462-463.

17 It was on this occasion that George F. Baer, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, in scoring the public sympathy for the strikers, justified the attitude of the railroads in his celebrated utterance in which he spoke “ of the Christian men and women to whom God in His infinite wisdom has entrusted the property interests of the country,” which alleged divine sanction he was never able to prove.

18 “ The Anthracite Coal Communities ”: 346-347.

19 See testimony brought out before Charles H. Guilbert, Examiner appointed by the United States District Court in Philadelphia.  The Government’s petition charged the defendants with entering into a conspiracy contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Sherman act.

20 This is far from being a rhetorical figure of speech.  Witness the dictating of the appointment and nominations of judges by the Standard Oil Company (which now owns immense railroad systems and industrial plants) as revealed by certain authentic correspondence of that trust made public in the Presidential campaign of 1908.