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The independent. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1902-1907, July 27, 1905, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88086144/1905-07-27/ed-1/seq-3/

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july 27, 1905 ; Gfe'Nobraoko
said, "Lawson is an anarchist.'- Of course Mr. Eawson does not think
go and no doubt he was greatly shocked when he learned what Dunne
had said. " ' - '
Nevertheless all who heard Mr. Lawson at Ottawa or Fairbury,
or who read his speeches in the newspapers, must have been im
pressed by his contemptious attitude toward the law and the power
of the people to secure reforms through the law. Mr. Lawson
frankly informed his auditors that they were unacquainted with the
Successful methods by which courts, legislatures and city councils
are and can always be corrupted. His description of Roosevelt's
impotence to control the rich lawbreakers, when he said that the
president was as powerless as a bull in a balloon, was a character
istic Lawsonism. If the most powerful ruler the world has known
is as powerless as a bull in a, balloon the natural inference is that
,law and legislation are useless. This is sheerest anarchy. It is
something with which populism was never associated in its day of
most radical protest.
The populist was always an optimist. "He had, it is true, a
keener "sense of the wrongs that were being heaped upon the people
than had the members of the older parties; he condemned in un
measured terms the inequalities and injustices produced by a priv
ileged plutocracy; he demanded that the barterers be driven from the
temple and that the thieves be expelled from the seats of the mighty,
but he was never an anarchist. He saw with clear vision the ills
that festered and corrupted the body politic, but in his heart there
was always hope, for he believed that God reigned and that the
right would triumph. While he understood better than most of his
countrymen that .there was such an evil as frenzied finance ho
never dreamed that it could be destroyed by a gambler's cast of
the dice.
Populists declared that corporations should be subjected, to
- such governmental regulation and control as would adequately pro
tect the public, that special privileges should be withdrawn from trusts
and monopolies, that the government should own and control the rail
roads, that the cities should own their public utilities and that the
government should enact a general law uniformly regulating the
power and duties of all incorporated companies doing an interstate
business. They favored an eight-hour work day, posjtal savings
banks, a franchise tax and government ownership of the general tele
graph and telephone systems. They demanded these reforms be
cause they realized that the laws of the land could not be enforced
so long as they wrere controlled by "the system" which Lawson is
now fighting. They believed that legislation could be made effective,
that politics could be purified, that inequalities could be removed,
and they pointed out the means by which these reforms could be
obtained. , . , '
Such was the foundation of populism, and in these things popu-
lists believe today. Their doctrines have found favor outside the
party ranks and are making slow but sure progress. This is no time
for despair even though it be preached by a converted financier.
Populist hope is saner and safer today than Lawson despair.
Fifteen years have passed since the Sherman anti-trust law
,went into effect. In all that time only one man has paid the penalty
provided by the criminal clause. Was he a trust magnate? Did he
conspire to fix prices and to destroy competition?
If such a man had been convicted under the anti-trust law and
had served a year in the penitentiary, the people would have reason
to feel encouraged in their contest with the privileged and protected
thieves by whom they are being robbed. Put the only man who
ever served a penitentiary sentence under this act was Eugene V.
Debs, a labor leader, who found all the enginery of the law working
smoothly and swiftly to punish him.
According to the decision of the court Eugene V. Debs con
spired in restraint of trade. This conspiracy consisted in a com
binalon which interfered with interstate commerce, but was in no
sense such a combination as primarily the anti-trust law had been .
designed to prevent. Granting that the " law was correctly inter
preted by the court, it is pertinent to ask why it should be so difficult
to convict and punish the member of a corporation who consciously
and maliciously conspires in restraint of trade when it was so easy
in 1894 to convict and punish a labor leader who did not dream
that he was violating the law? The explanation, of course, is not
far to seek. Power, money and federal officialdom, dressing ranks,
charged down upon the unhappy labor leader with determined fero
city and soon had him impaled on their steel. But power, money
Independent page s
and federal officialdom combine with' equal determination to save
the Mortons, Rockefellers and Havemeyers, at whom the law was
' especially aimed.
It is to this criminal clause of the Sherman act that the people
must pin their faith. It can be enforced in spite of technicalities
and other legal obstructions, if Judson, the eminent St Louis legal
authority is to be believed. Civil proceedings have no terrors for
the trust offender and simply wear out the peoph1. But the crimi
nal prosecution against the corporation culprit has never been given
a fair test. As a matter of fact, the potency of the criminal clause
in the Sherman act is only beginning to be realized. Mr. Judson
has pointed out how effective it can be made. In his brilliant analy
sis, which was epitomized in The Independent last week, he shows
that the trust lawbreaker can be brought to justice by means of this
criminal clause unless the supreme court's decisions with reference
to this law have been wholly fallacious.
The enforcement of such a law, however, should begin before
an indictment is rendered. The people must keep careful watch of
the processes by which indictments are secured. A grand jury is
often persuaded to return an indictment on evidence insufficient to
convict. Those ministers of the law who arc interested 'in protecting
the corporation culprit will furnish only enough evidence for an in
dictment, while striving to ignore or conceal such evidence as will
make conviction certain. If the people are to guard all avenues by
which the trust magnate may hope to escape punishment they must
elect honest prosecuting attorneys in the states and a chief executive
of the United States who will choose federal prosecutors who are
honest and fearless. A president who fails to select such prosecutors
and who fails to insist upon the enforcement of the criminal as
well as the civil penalties of the anti-trust law does not deserve to
represent the people in that high office, nor can he expect long to
retain their confidence and esteem. No act of his administration"
has injured President Roosevelt more than his blocking of the Mor
ton prosecution. If the guilty packers are to be punished it must
be in direct antagonism to those sophistries with which the presi
dent deluded himself when he sought to shield his friend. What
an example this, our president, author of the beef trust investigation,
lias set for the ministers of the law whose duty it is to prosecute the
indicted packers !
The people will sincerely hope that there were no flaws in the
process by which the indictments were secured and that the criminal
clause of the anti-trust act may have a full and fair test at last.
New York's "Smart Set" has just been blackmailed to the ex
tent of several hundred thousand dollars. Evidently there is a still
smarter set. .. . ;'
Most people these hot July days will think that Lieutenant
Peary on his way to the North pole is more to be envied than a
millionaire. ' .
The indications are that the Panama canal will bo completed
about the time aerial navigation supplants navigation by water.
Even though the peace plenipotentiaries do not secure peace they
will be able to report an "enjoyable affair."
It is right to question the acts of public officials, but we should
be cautious about questioning motives. -
He who is quick to anger burns up many friends and opportu
nities in the fire of his wrath.
' Terrible Teddy should take down his trusty rifle and go after
the wildcat bankers. '
Elihu Root sacrificed money for honor and Roosevelt considers
it a great sacrifice. , -
"The long talk" is becoming as popular with' th'e president as
"the big stick."
Lawson's remedy is the best advertised patent remedy of tEo

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