BLACKLIST AND RUIN
As I said in the first chapter, this is not a record of business life in Russia. Had I been a crook, or I had my business methods not been clean, I could understand what I shall now relate, and would accept it as my desert.
It does not matter that the Money Trust is back of great companies; it does not matter that these crimes of business ruin a nation are committed by rich men; a crime is a crime no matter if committed by rich or poor.
But notice how quick and prompt justice is if the perpetrators of crime are poor men; the whole machinery of justice of the government was used to convict the McNamaras and send them to jail for their destructive work. Yet business may be destroyed, thousands of stockholders ruined, men made to suffer agony, and nothing is done. No relief can be accorded them, for the reason, I fear, that Bryan mentioned: "The people in power know their creators."
Untermeyer says, "that in a panic they often destroy solvent banks that would have been saved under a proper system."
It was no argument with Lincoln that the slaves were treated well by their masters; they were yet slaves. It was no argument with the world that only a few of the millions in Russia went to Siberia and suffered. There may be no one else in the United States who will suffer the injustice that I have suffered, but that is no argument for the continuance of such an evil power.
The people who steal chickens are tried by a jury; they can see the judge; they can have an attorney and introduce evidence. But when the Money Trust judges you guilty, puts you on the black list, you cannot see your accuser in person or be represented by counsel.
Had I been able to appear before the representatives of this power, had I been able to say, "Gentlemen, I beg your forgiveness for whatever I have done to displease you--------
"Think of my record of construction work; think of the one million and a half days of work I gave the tie-cutters alone in shaping the ties on the new roads I built; think of nearly one hundred new cities I have created; think of the fact that my orders for locomotives in 1896, which were the only new orders given to the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and the new locomotives built by the Manchester Locomotive Works, were the only orders given in that panic year."
Now, could I have appeared before this Money Tribunal that makes or breaks by their orders American men and institutions ("In times of panic it is often destroyed solvent banks," says Samuel Untermeyer), I might by recalling my work to their minds have prevented this sentence being passed upon me and my companions, and had they allowed me to be present, I might have thought it such an honor that I would have accepted their verdict and never have written this book, which I hope will help to change conditions and perhaps help elect Governor Wilson, who does not have to remember his creator, thanks to William Jennings Bryan.
Now, for my first knowledge of the sentence imposed upon me and mine: I had returned from Europe, and filled with remorse at the criticisms of my country in London and Paris papers, understanding full well the justice of it, I made up my mind to relate in a book the growing evils in the United States, in and out of Wall Street. So I wrote the book, "Confidence or National Suicide." It was well received and is now in its seventh edition.
A few weeks after it was published, I went to the American Exchange National Bank to renew a loan. I was always glad of any excuse to see Mr. Dumont. He was about the highest type of man in this country, as all who knew him will agree with me. He was just a big, grand, kindly man; one who made the day better for having met him. I sat down and told him my mission. When he took my hand in his and said, "Stilwell, I am the only man in all of New York who would loan you a cent," I said, "Well, Mr. Clark, I do not expect to ask any one else, but why?" He answered, "You have always been honest and straightforward in all your dealings; you have done business with me for fifteen years, but you are on the black list. No one is expected to dare loan you a cent, but I will and always will. The system knows that I do not agree with such methods, They are not proper, and I will not obey their dictates, and will grant you the renewal."
Think of my feelings! After years of constructive work for my nation, as great a work as accomplished by Cecil Rhodes for his nation,---his reward, honor and respect; mine blacklist and ruin!
That night, what feelings of humiliation! The black list! The black list! I tried to let my thoughts revert to the thousands and thousands of homes that dotted the hillsides and plains of the West through my constructive work, and thus get consolation.
"Why?" I asked. "The loan is not due, and you complimented me regarding our balance here."
"Yes, I know that," he answered, "but you must take up the loan."
Again I asked, "Why?"
"I will tell you in confidence," he answered. "You and your companies are to be ruined. Two of my directors are inside of the Standard Oil crowd and have found this out and told me, and you must take up the loan at once."
I then paid part of it and the rest was paid soon after. So now Mr. Clark had told me I was on the black list; now the president of the National Reserve Bank had told me that I and my companies were to be ruined. I suppose both referred to the same order. And this is the Land of the Free! I was sentenced by an unseen tribunal! Does it not make your blood boil? It does mine as I recall it. But remember, as Samuel Untermeyer says, "they often destroy solvent banks in times of panic."
Nothing else advanced the cause of freedom for the slaves so much as the book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and I hope that this straightforward, plain story of my battle will be one blow in the fight to free the slaves of the Money Trust.
My fight is not against wealth, against banks or great business combinations. These are a part of the development of the day; but when wealth strangles competition, ruins men and enterprises, it is time to call a halt. We do not need to count the cost, for in crushing evil nothing is lost, but all is gained.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Suppose that in one of our Western states there had lived and thrived for years a great band of outlaws who had defied the Government and were enabled by the judicious use of money to keep the officials of this Western state from interfering with them. For years they had grown rich. They had looted isolated mining companies, robbed them of all the cash they had on hand, and often destroyed the buildings. They had waylaid travelers, and had received annually large sums from people who did not wish to be molested and were willing to purchase immunity. During twenty years they had thus acquired great wealth. At last the United States Government takes up the case and sends a regiment of the Regulars to destroy this band outlaws. These outlaws now notify the Government that they will disband. The leaders of the organization now move to New York City and this great wealth, which came from looting and destroying and taking from men their all, is now deposited in New York banks and trust companies, and these men are elected to the directorships of these institutions.
Do you suppose the people of the land would stand it? Do you suppose that out-of-town banks would dare to use the New York banks which had these ex-brigands and outlaws as directors? If such a thing occurred, it would mean a run on the bank that had dared use any of these New York banks or trust companies as their correspondents.
But let me give you here the findings of the United States Supreme Court, the unanimous opinion of the greatest, calmest tribunal of our land, quoted from the Chicago Examiner, August 31, 1912:
Now can any reader see any difference between this imaginary band of brigands and this Standard Oil group? The above is the finding of our greatest court, and Samuel Untermeyer in his interview in the New York World of July 2nd says, in his summary of the Monet Trust, that "in a panic it destroyed a number of solvent banks," but Mr. Archbold, the president of the Standard Oil Company, says in the investigation instituted against him in Washington that if the Directors of his Company had not opposed him, he would have contributed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and more to the Roosevelt fund, and compared the treatment they received for not doing this to treatment which would be accorded in darkest Abyssinia. Now this treatment which he refers to was the filling of the bill against the Standard Oil Company which brought the verdict I have just quoted.
Imagine a man so steeped in crime that he thinks the action against his company which brought the above verdict was only treatment which would be accorded in darkest Abyssinia! Do you think Captain Kidd could have any lower conception of right, or would have been versed in more kinds of devilment than these men who are thus indicted? Captain Kidd was a brave man. He took his life in his hands; these men did not.
The Supreme Court says in general in its verdict that this company destroyed the just rights of others, acquired wealth from oppression; that from the time of the starting of the corporation until the filing of the bill, its path was strewn with the wrecks resulting from the crushing out without regard for the law the individual rights of others. Add to this what Untermeyer says, then add to this the conception of Mr. Archbold, and then tell me if you think such men are fit to be directors of great banks and trust companies? Can men like these be entrusted with the use of billions of deposits of the people of our land?
Do you doubt that these Supreme-Court-convicted, self-confessed criminals would have objected in any way to being back of the plan to seize the Orient Railroad? Do you not think that these people who have so enriched themselves by taking from others, did not, for the sake of keeping their hands in the work of destruction they so well understood, start in to rob us of our road, as the easiest prey in the United States, since we were not backed by any of the great financial interest? The president of the National Reserve Bank, owing to what he heard regarding their plans for our destruction insisted upon our not being paid. It was the president of a great national bank in New York, called the "Standard Oil Bank," who told one of our directors that we never would get our money from our Paris bond sale. My financial persecution, the statement of the bank examine in Washington, my knowledge of how the comptrollers walk out of their offices into high positions in New York, enable me to see how such work is easily possible for these jail-immune "respectable scoundrels."