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the tremendous industrial development which has taken place during the last century, a development which is occurring in all civilized countries, notably in our own. There have been many factors responsible for bringing about these changed conditions. Of these, steam and electricity are the chief. The extraordinary changes in the methods of transportation of merchandise and of transmission of news have rendered not only possible, but inevitable, the immense increase in the rate of growth of our great industrial centres—that is, of our great cities. I want you to bring home to yourselves that fact. When Cincinnati was founded, news could be transmitted and merchandise carried exactly as had been the case in the days of the Roman Empire. You had here on your river the flatboat, you had on the ocean the sailing-ship, you had the pack-train, you had the wagon, and every one of the four was known when Babylon fell. The change in the last hundred years has been greater by far than the changes in all the preceding three thousand. Those are the facts. Because of them have resulted the specialization of industries, and the unexampled opportunities offered for the employment of huge amounts of capital, and therefore for the rise in the business world of those master minds through whom alone it is possible for such vast amounts of capital to be employed with profit. It matters very little whether we like these new conditions or whether we dislike them; whether we like the creation of these new opportunities or not. Many admirable qualities which were developed in the older, simpler, less progressive life, have tended to atrophy under our rather feverish, high-pressure, complex life of to-day. But our likes and dislikes have nothing to do with the matter. The new conditions are here. You can't bring back the old days of the canal-boat and stage-coach if you wish. The steamboat and the railroad are here. The new forces have produced both good and evil. We cannot get rid
of them-even if it were not undesirable to get rid of them; and our instant duty is to try to accommodate our social, economic, and legislative life to them, and to frame a system of law and conduct under which we shall get out of them the utmost possible benefit and the least possible amount of harm. It is foolish to pride ourselves upon our progress and prosperity, upon our commanding position in the international industrial world, and at the same time have nothing but denunciation for the men to whose commanding position we in part owe this very progress and prosperity, this commanding position.
Whenever great social or industrial changes take place, no matter how much good there may be to them, there is sure to be some evil, and it usually takes mankind a number of years and a good deal of experimenting before they find the right ways in which, so far as possible, to control the new evil, without at the same time nullifying the new good. I am stating facts so obvious that if each one of you will think them over, you will think them trite, but if you read or listen to some of the arguments advanced, you will come to the conclusion that there is need of learning these trite truths. In these circumstances the effort to bring the new tendencies to a standstill is always futile and generally mischievous; but it is possible somewhat to develop them aright. Law can to a degree guide, protect, and control industrial development, but it can never cause it, or play more than a subordinate part in its healthy development-unfortunately it is easy enough by bad laws to bring it to an almost complete stop.
In dealing with the big corporations which we call trusts, we must resolutely purpose to proceed by evolution and not revolution. We wish to face the facts, declining to have our vision blinded either by the folly of those who say there are no evils, or by the more dangerous folly of those who either see, or make believe that
they see, nothing but evil in all the existing system, and who if given their way would destroy the evil by the simple process of bringing ruin and disaster to the entire country. The evils attendant upon over-capitalization alone are, in my judgment, sufficient to warrant a far closer supervision and control than now exist over the great corporations. Wherever a substantial monopoly can be shown to exist, we should certainly try our utmost to devise an expedient by which it can be controlled. Doubtless some of the evils existing in or because of the great corporations, cannot be cured by any legislation which has yet been proposed, and doubtless others, which have really been incident to the sudden development in the formation of corporations of all kinds, will in the end cure themselves. But there will remain a certain number which can be cured if we decide that by the power of the Government they are to be cured. The surest way to prevent the possibility of curing any of them is to approach the subject in a spirit of violent rancor, complicated with total ignorance of business interests, and fundamental incapacity or unwillingness to understand the limitations upon all law-making bodies. No problem, and least of all so difficult a problem as this, can be solved if the qualities brought to its solution are panic, fear, envy, hatred, and ignorance. There can exist in a free republic no man more wicked, no man more dangerous to the people, than he who would arouse these feelings in the hope that they would redound to his own political advantage. Corporations that are handled honestly and fairly, so far from being an evil, are a natural business evolution and make for the general prosperity of our land. We do not wish to destroy corporations, but we do wish to make them subserve the public good. All individuals, rich or poor, private or corporate, must be subject to the law of the land; and the Government will hold them to a rigid obedi
ence thereof. The biggest corporation, like the humblest private citizen, must be held to strict compliance with the will of the people as expressed in the fundamental law. The rich man who does not see that this is in his interest is, indeed, short-sighted. When we make him obey the law we insure for him the absolute protection of the law.
The savings banks show what can be done in the way of genuinely beneficent work by large corporations when intelligently administered and supervised. They now hold over twenty-six hundred millions of the people's money and pay annually about one hundred millions of interest or profit to their depositors. There is no talk of danger from these corporations; yet they possess great power, holding over three times the amount of our present national debt; more than all the currency, gold, silver, greenbacks, etc., in circulation in the United States. The chief reason for there being no talk of danger from them is that they are, on the whole, faithfully administered for the benefit of all, under wise laws which require frequent and full publication of their condition, and which prescribe certain needful regulations with which they have to comply, while at the same time giving full scope for the business enterprise of their managers within these limits.
Now, of course, savings banks are as highly specialized a class of corporations as railroads, and we cannot force too far the analogy with other corporations; but there are certain conditions which I think we can lay down as indispensable to the proper treatment of all corporations which from their size have become important factors in the social development of the community.
Before speaking, however, of what can be done by way of remedy, let me say a word or two as to certain proposed remedies which, in my judgment, would be ineffective or mischievous. The first thing to remember is that if we are to accomplish any good at all it must be by resolutely
keeping in mind the intention to do away with any evils in the conduct of big corporations, while steadfastly refusing to assent to indiscriminate assault upon all forms of corporate capital as such. The line of demarcation we draw must always be on conduct, not upon wealth; our objection to any given corporation must be, not that it is big, but that it behaves badly. Perfectly simple again, my friends, but not always heeded by some of those who would strive to teach us how to act toward big corporations. Treat the head of the corporation as you would treat all other men. If he does well stand by him. You will occasionally find the head of a big corporation who objects to that treatment; very good, apply it all the more carefully. Remember, after all, that he who objects because he is the head of a big corporation to being treated like any one else is only guilty of the same sin as the man who wishes him treated worse than any one else because he is the head of a big corporation. Demagogic denunciation of wealth is never wholesome and generally dangerous; and not a few of the proposed methods of curbing the trusts are dangerous chiefly because all insincere advocacy of the impossible is dangerous. It is an unhealthy thing for a community when the appeal is made to follow a course which those who make the appeal either do know or ought to know cannot be followed; and which if followed would result in disaster to everybody. Loose talk about destroying monopoly out of hand, without a hint as to how the monopoly should even be defined, offers a case in point.
Nor can we afford to tolerate any proposal which will strike at the so-called trusts only by striking at the general well-being. We are now enjoying a period of great prosperity. The prosperity is generally diffused through all sections and through all classes. Doubtless there are some individuals who do not get enough of it, and there are others who get too much. That is simply another way of