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The nonpartisan leader. [volume] (Fargo, N.D.) 1915-1921, October 07, 1918, Image 5

Image and text provided by State Historical Society of North Dakota

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89074443/1918-10-07/ed-1/seq-5/

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Washington Bureau,
Nonpartisan Leader
IN INVESTIGATION into the
real character of the Chamber
of Commerce of the United
States has been started. The
senate committee on agricul
ture is the tribunal before
which the testimony is being
taken. It is possible that the
senate itself may decide, by
resolution later on, to remove some of the camou
flage from the imposing front of the chamber, and
let the country know the amazing facts.
Here are some of the points of the testimony
drawn unwillingly from thei first two representa
tives of the chamber who were summoned:
1. A letter asking for contributions of $1,000
each was sent out, in 1915, over the signature of
Walker Allen, now New York agent of the Cham
ber of Commerce of the United States. In this
letter Allen urged that the principal capitalists in
America should join in putting upon its financial
feet a body which would safeguard the common
interests of business.
2. That letter went to a picked list of 100 men,
and among those who responded with $1,000 pay
ments into the chamber's fund were several of the
big meat packers, the corpora
tions in which they were di
rectors and business magnates
who incidentally held stock in
the packing companies. The
so-called packing: group fur
nished a large proportion of
the money which launched the
chamber as a power in th?
country.'
NO EVIDENCE
AGAINST COMMISSION
3. Rush C. Butler, a Chicago
corporation lawyer, was chair
man of the federal trade com
mittee of the chamber at that
time. He had bqen one of the
legal counsel of the Cudahy
Packing company from 191.0 to
1915. He was counsel for the
Michigan Paper Manufactur
ers' association. His firm was
counsel for the National Feed
Manufacturers' association.
He had formerly been active in
promoting the creation of the
United States commerce court,
and took part in many confer
ences looking toward making
the federal trade commission
an agency for the promotion of
large business interests.
4. .Butler wrote the "re
port," made public recently by
the Chamber of Commerce of
the United States, denouncing
the federal trade commission
for its attitude toward the
meat, packers, the paper manufacturers and other
big business groups. He admits that he has no
evidence, and the chamber has no evidence, suf
ficient to justify a denial that the charges made
I by. the federal trad? commission against the pack
ers* are true.
"i-
5. The International Paper company gave $1,000
to tile fund of the chamber of commerce, although
Butler denies that hie knew of that connection when
hie took the side of the paper manufacturers in his
report. The only business interests thus far de
tended against the federal trade commission by
the chamber have been those which contributed to
the support of the chamber.
I 6. Butler, and the officers of the chamber, are
not merely hostile to the federal trade commission
they demiaind that the commission cease to inter
fere with' the big business interests by drastic
methods of inquiry and discipline, or that congress
vgw shall abolish the commission's powers.
PROGRESSIVE
"SENATORS
EXPOSE COMMERCE MEN
MM
Pill 7. Butler justifies the packers in spending mil
lions of dollars in pretended advertising in all the
newspifp&trdf the United States because the fedk
Special Interest Body, Which Attacked Federal Trade Commission and Which
Is Investigating the League, Gets Bad Drubbing Before Agricultural Committee
eral trade commission gave to the press a state
ment that it had charged two of the big packers
with furnishing bad meat and unfit chickens to
soldiers at one of the army camps.
Senators Kenyon of Iowa, Norris of Nebraska
and Gore of Oklahoma did most of the questioning
of Allen and Butler. Allen explained that he
wanted the big business magnates to realize, when
he'sent out his begging letter, that the chamber
was "their pie." Kenyon asked, what he meant
by "pie."
Allen smilingly aigsured him that he meant that
the chamber was to look after the general, patri
otic, common interests of the business community.
It was not tp safeguard any particular individual
or any one interest.
Then Kenyon went over the list of 100 million
aires and big concerns who were honored by the
request to "come through," and disclosed the cu
rious coincidence of their relation to the packers.
There was the National City bank, the Eastman
Kodak concern, the American International cor
poration and a long list of others—each one con
nected with the packers through stock ownership
one way or another. The chamber seemed to be
a packers' family affair, so far as the sinews of
war were concerned. Kenyon thought that was a
fortunate thing for tKe packers—they gave money
THE WHITE HOUSE AT NIGHT
ft
Within a stone's throw of the president's home is the magnificent office building of the
United States Chamber of Commerce, which,.iii the words of one of its leaders, is the "pie"
factory for the big interests. It recently threw one of these pies at the federal trade com
mission to bulldoze the president. Another has been hurled at the Nonpartisan league.
Read on this page the Story of the senate exposure of the pie men.
to the United States Chamber of Commerce at a
time when congress was discussing an inquiry into
the packers' methods behold', when the govern
ment publishes a report on the packers ""which
arouses the whole nation, the Chamber of Com
merce* of the United States arises and violently
denounces the arm of the government which has
disclosed the packers' crimes.
Butler told the committed that he had criticized
the federal trade commission ih two other cases
before the packers' affair came up. The first was
the protest he made when the* commission attempt
ed to. settle the quarrel between the print paper
manufacturers and the consumers of print paper.
The second was the instance in which the brass bed
manufacturers tried to form a combination to shut
out further competition. In that case the commis
sion tried to have the department of justice prose
cute them for restraint of trade, when they had
gone to the commission with an appeal for help
in their scheme. He seemed to consider that the
federal trade commission had "tipped off" the prose
cuting authorities wjien it ought to have advised
the brass bed manufacturers on how to get around
the anti-trust law.
_He wanted to know what right the commission had
to publish its conclusions and charges without pub
lishing the evidence on which the charges were
•based. Norris reminded him that it was the presi
dent who had seen fit to publish these conclusions
and charges ahead of the volumes of evidence.
Butler hastily denied that he meant to reflect upon
any act of the president, as he-was "for him."
LAWYER FAILS
TO FIND COVER
Then he had a brilliant idea. He read a press
statement issued by the federal trade commission
last May, announcing that it had charged Wilson
&- Co. and Morris & Co. with selling bad meat and
chickens to Camp Travis, Texas. Butler denied,
in indignant tones, that any bad meat had been
furnished. He admitted that he had no proof of
his own claim. Still, he objected to the commis
sion'^ publishing the accusation before it had
proved the packers' guilt.
"Do you know to what extent the packers have
been advertising in the newspapers throughout the
country?" inquired Norris. -"Do you know that
they have for some time been paying for large
amounts of advertising space in almost every news
paper in the United States, and don't you think it
possible that this intensive advertising campaign
—in which, by the way, the
packers do not seem to adver
tise any of their products—
might tend to influence the
press?"
"That would imply a de
graded press," answered the
chamber spokesman, shortly.
"Then, how do you explain
the expenditure of so much
money in advertising in the
newspapers?" Norris insisted.
Butler then told the sad
story- of the bad meat charge
and said that "if the federal
trade commission had conduct
ed its business in the manner
Qf a court it would have been
unnecessary for tfye packers to
spend that money on adver
tising."
Norris agreed, but asked
whether Butler would, have
escaped jail for contempt if he
had gone before the supreme
court and denounced it as he
had denounced the federal
trade commission. Butler de
cided that he didn't want the
commission to act like a couijt.
"Then why," Norris persist-^"
ed, "did the packers not dis
cuss that bad meat charge in
their advertising, if they were
trying to get the public to.
again have faith in them?"
"I commend their judgment,"
said Butler, "in not. perpetuate
ing that kind of publicity. I
think that the action of the commission in this inr
stance does them so much wrong that the expendi
ture of $25,000,000 in, a single year, in any way
they saw fit, would not be sufficient to repair the,
damage.",,.,.. ..'
Norris was still curiofis to know why the packers
did not advertise their side of the story of those
bad meat charges. Butler groped in his brain for
an answer and finally got it.
"I have been ver^ much impressed with one of
the Swift advertisements," he said. It shows the
face of a handsome, dependable man, and it states
that this is the manager of one of their branch
houses.' Now, that kjtad qf advertising impresses
me deeply, and I believe it impresses the public
with faith in the packing, industry."
The committee smiled.
Presently E. C. Lassater of Texas, a big cattle
raiser, was on the stand. He testified that the
packers' wholesale distribution of advertising
money among the newspapers was begun a year
before the federal trade commission made it*
charge that bad meat had been sold by the pack
ers to the soldiers
Chairman Gore said that the committee would
other Witnesses.
3
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