The dull, purblind folly of
the very rich men; their greed and arrogance...and the corruption
in business and politics, have tended to produce a very unhealthy
condition of excitement and irritation in the popular mind, which
shows itself in the great increase in the socialistic propaganda.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1906
I think we are in a position,
after the experience of the last 20 years, to state two things:
in the first place, that a corporation may well be too large
to be the most efficient instrument of production and distribution,
and, in the second place, whether it has exceeded the point of
greatest economic efficiency or not, it may be too large to be
tolerated among the people who desire to be free.
Louis Brandeis, 1911
1898 was the beginning of great
industrial organization....Within a period of three years following,
149 such reorganizations were effected with total stock and bond
capitalization of $3,784,000,000....The success of these [re-]organization
led quickly on to a consolidation of combined industries, until
a mere handful of men controlled the industrial production of
No student of the economic changes in recent years can escape
the conclusion that the railroads, telegraphs, shipping, cable,
telephone, traction, express, mining, iron, steel, coal, oil,
gas, electric light, cotton, copper, sugar, tobacco, agricultural
implements and the food products are completely controlled and
mainly owned by these hundred men....With this enormous concentration
of business it is possible to create, artificially, periods of
prosperity and periods of panic. Prices can be lowered or advanced
at the will of the "System."
Robert LaFollette, 1908
If the anti-trust people really
grasped the full meaning of what they said, and if they really
had the power or the courage to do what they propose, they would
be engaged in one of the most destructive agitations that America
has known. They would be breaking up the beginning of collective
organization, thwarting the possibility of cooperation, and insisting
upon submitting industry to the wasteful, the planless scramble
of little profiteers.
Walter Lippman, 1914
The effort to restore competition
as it was sixty years ago, and to trust for justice solely to
this proposed restoration of competition, is just as foolish
as if we should go back to the flintlocks of Washington's continentals
as a substitute for modern weapons of precision....Our purpose
should be, not to strangle business as an incident of strangling
combinations, but to regulate big corporations in a thoroughgoing
and effective fashion, so as to help legitimate business as an
incident to thoroughly and completely safeguarding the interests
of the people as a whole.
Attempt to sweep the country
back into the old era of ruthless competition, which would be
the direct consequence of a vigorous enforcement of the Sherman
[Anti-Trust] law, and there will return the evils of deceit and
fraud in business, violent fluctuations in prices, the deliberate
driving to the wall of weak concerns, and the eventual creation
of monopolies by survivors.
George W. Perkins
The Democratic party insists
that competition can and should be maintained in every branch
of private industry; that competition can be and should be restored
in those branches of industry in which it has been suppressed
by the trusts; and that, if at any future time monopoly should
appear to be desirable in any branch of industry, the monopoly
should be a public one--a monopoly owned by the people and not
by the capitalists.
Louis D. Brandeis
In particular, the party declares
for direct primaries for the nomination of State and National
offices, for nation wide preferential primaries for candidates
for the presidency; for the direct election of United States
Senators by the people; and we urge on the states...the initiative,
referendum, and recall....
The Progressive party, believing that no people can justly claim
to be a true democracy which denies equal political rights on
account of sex, pledges itself to the task of securing equal
suffrage to men and women alike.
We pledge our party to legislation that will compel strict limitation
of all campaign contributions and expenditures, and detailed
publicity of both before as well as after primaries and election....
The Progressive party demands such restriction of the power of
the courts all leave to the people the ultimate authority to
determine fundamental questions of social welfare and public
policy....We believe that the issuance of injunctions in cases
arising out of labor disputes should be prohibited when such
injunctions would not apply when no labor disputes existed....
We pledge ourselves to work...for:
Effective legislation looking to the prevention of industrial
accidents, occupational diseases, overwork, involuntary unemployment,
and other injurious effects incident to modern industry;
The fixing of minimum safety and health standards....
The prohibition of child labor;
Minimum wage standards for working women, to provide a "living
wage" in all industrial occupations;
The general prohibition of night work for women and the establishment
of eight hour day for women and young persons;
One day's rest in seven for all wage workers;
The eight hour day in continuous twenty-four-hour industries;
The abolition of the convict contract-labor system....
Standards of compensation for death by industrial accident and
injury and trade disease which will transfer the burden of lost
earnings from the families of working people to the industry,
and thus to the community....
Establishing...schools for industrial education under public
control and encouraging agricultural education and demonstration
in rural schools;
The establishment of industrial research laboratories to put
the methods and discoveries of science at the service of American
We favor the organization of the workers, men and women, as means
protecting their interests and of promoting their progress....
We believe that the remaining forests, coal and oil lands, water
powers and other natural resources still in State or National
control (exception agricultural lands) are more likely to be
wisely conserved and utilized for the general welfare if held
in the public hands.
Progressive Party Platform,
We have itemized with some
degree of particularity the things that ought to be altered:
A tariff which cuts us off from our proper part in the commerce
of the world, violates the just principles of taxation, and makes
the government a facile instrument in the hands of private interests;
a banking and currency system based upon the necessity of the
government to sell its bonds fifty years ago and perfectly adapted
to concentrating cash and restricting credits; an industrial
system which, take it on all its sides, financial as well as
administrative, holds capital in leading strings, restricts the
liberties and limits the opportunities of labor, and exploits
without renewing or conserving the natural resources of the country....
President Wilson's first inaugural