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Bryan's Great Speech

Bryan's Great Speech image
Parent Issue
Day
22
Month
September
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Williara Jennings Bryan's great speech before the Chicago Trust Conference was not only the clearest exposition of the character of these "men - made men," but the most vigorous in the action proposed against the monopolistic combinations. It was remarkable for its vivid word pictures and the power of conviction which it carried with it. It was not wholly free from campaign material, but it should be remembered that the conference was by no means simply a body of inquirers. Nevertheless, it was a masterful effort, and clearly and forcibly set forth the great evils of the trusts and the necessity of ringing the nose ix uie trust "hog." He urged the benefits of competition, and showed in the most convincing manner the evils of trust monopoly. It was always dangerous, he said, for a few individuáis to possess the enormous powers of :he great combinations of money of the present day. And he declared that the tendency of trusts must be toward stifling competition rather than promoting it. He admitted that a trust may lessen the cost of production and distribution. but what assurance has society, said he, "when it does so that it will get any of the benefits from that reduction of cost in reduction of price?" The ïrst thing to be expected of a trust, ie said, was the cutting down of exsenses, and second, raising the price of its product. It reduces expenses by throwing many men out of employment and réducing the price ot raw material in the production of which the majority of the people areengaged. Factories which have been built in large part by subscribed money come under the control of these combinations and are closed, the men being thrown out of employment. Thus, if the people employed in one factory are not satisfied with the wages Daid, the factory is closed, and the employés starve while the work goes to other factories of the combine without loss to the manufacturers. The great majority of the people are purchasers of the finished producís of these trusts, while the trusts may reduce prices to get rid of competitors. Having rid themselves of competition, what is then to be the result ? One has but to know the selfishness of human nature to understand what it will do when it has the unrestricted power. Monopoly in private hands is indefensibie from any standpoint, and intoler able. One trust magnate, said the speaker, may be more benevolent than another, but there is no good in a private monopoly, and it is not safe for society to permit any man or set of men to monopolize any article of merchandise or any branch of business. Then, passing to the question of control, Mr. Bryan formulated a scheme for remedying the generally admitted evils of trust organizations. Because of the dual form of our government there should be federal legislation for suppressing trust evils, coupled with the right on the part of a state to créate any corporation which may be deemed conducive to the welfare of the peo pie, and likewise the power to prohibit or destroy any corporation which is destructive of their best interests. These powers to restrict and control trusts, coupled with a provisión for publicity, so that the public will know just what the corporations are doing and what they are making, the speaker believed, would bring them under proper responsibility to the power which created them. The people, he declared, have the absolute right to do these things, because the corporations are created by the public for the public good, and should never be permitted to do what is injurious and hurtful to the public. While his remedy might prove inadequate, Mr. Bryan had the advantage of the other speakers in that he not only pointed out the evils of trust organizations, but proposed a specific remedy therefor.