This series about the life of Edward B. (“Ned”) Burling commenced with a post about his connections with Katherine Graham, the owner and publisher of the Washington Post, and then retreated in time to a post about his birth and early years in Iowa, 1870-1890, followed by a post about his four years at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1890-1894.
The Chicago Attorney
After finishing Harvard Law School with such a distinguished record, Ned had high hopes of obtaining a job as a young lawyer and earning good money. But that did not happen, given the law firm practices of the day.
Instead in 1895 he started with a Chicago firm at barely more money than he had made in 1887 at the Eldora grocery store. He continued to engage in the private practice of law in Chicago plus serving as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago through 1917, eventually making more money doing the typical work of most lawyers of the time and engaging in profitable real estate development in the Winnetka area on the North Shore.
He got married in 1902 to Louisa Green Peasley, the daughter of a wealthy and well connected Chicago businessman, and they had two sons, Edward Burling Jr. (1908) and John L. Burling (1912). But Ned was bored with his Chicago life.
In his efforts to leave Chicago, Burling in 1915 sought the Washington, D.C. position of General Counsel of the then new Federal Trade Commission with the support of Louis D. Brandeis, then a practicing Boston attorney, and Cyrus McCormick, the son of the inventor of the grain reaper and the owner of the International Harvester Company. But Ned did not receive the appointment and thus remained in Chicago for the next two years.
During his Chicago years, however, Burling got a taste of politics. In 1896 he was a spectator at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago to hear William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech, and in 1912 Burling was active in the Bull Moose Party that nominated Theodore Roosevelt for President. His allegiance to “the Rough Rider” persisted. In 1921, he told Learned Hand that Ned agreed “with everything that T.R. ever said” on political subjects, and throughout his life Ned often joked that he was that Party’s sole survivor.
In the summer of 1911 Burling and his family spent the summer at the Cornish Colony in Cornish/Plainfield, New Hampshire and later bought a summer home in the Colony where they went every summer. It was a gathering place for artists, musicians, writers, journalists, lawyers and businessmen, including Judge Learned Hand (Ned’s great friend), Ethel Barrymore and President Woodrow Wilson.
Shortly before Burling left Chicago in 1917, he made an investment that proved to be one of the most important events in his life. He started a small surplus trading company that eventually became one of the largest metal-cutting tool manufacturers in the U.S.
The next chapter of this recounting of the life of Burling will cover his two years as a federal government attorney in Washington, D.C.
 Citations to the sources for this post are found in this blogger’s Edward Burnham Burling, The College’s Quiet Benefactor (April 2008)(18-page essay and bibliography; on file in Grinnell College’s Special Collections and Archives).
In or about late May 1941 Katherine’s husband, Phillip (“Phil”) Graham, was finishing clerkships for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Stanley F. Reed (1939-40) and Felix Frankfurter (1940-41) and finding his next position in the midst of the increasing threat of the U.S.’ becoming involved in what became World War Ii. In that search Phil met with Robert Lovett, then Assistant Secretary of War for Air, who suggested Phil see about working for HH, who was President Roosevelt’s principal assistant.
That June Phil met with HH, who was in failing health, at his bedroom/office in the White House. HH immediately asked, “Why the hell aren’t you in the Army?” Phil responded that the Head of Naval Intelligence had advised him to wait a few months before deciding how to become directly involved in the war effort. Eventually HH suggested that Phil talk with Oscar Cox about working for him at the Lend-Lease Administration while spending three days a week with HH.
Phil already had tentative arrangements to work for Cox and did so shortly thereafter. Cox said that working directly for HH probably would not have worked out. According to Cox, “HH was a peculiar cuss, worked very irregularly, and probably would never get a real assistant.”
While at Lend-Lease, apparently in August 1941, Phil (age 26) and Joe Rauh, Jr.,(age 29), the latter of whom later became a prominent civil rights lawyer, sent a memo to President Roosevelt advising immediate and significant increases in U.S. production of bombers for the war. HH immediately responded: “You shouldn’t bother the President with things like this and besides it isn’t true.” Phil and Joe were worried that their Washington careers were over so they went to see Bob Nathan, director of research at the Office of Production Management and learned that U.S. production of bombers was even worse than they had thought.
That same summer, on a Sunday afternoon, Phil and Katherine went for lunch at the Virginia log cabin owned by Burling. Also present was Robert Patterson, the Undersecretary of War, and according to Katherine’s memoir, “the arguments on preparedness were being waged at the top of everyone’s lungs. Of course, I worried that Patterson was unused to this mode of discourse and would think that everyone arguing was insane, and when we got home I told Phil that their manners in front of this august figure had been appalling.” (Emphasis added.) Whose manners was she referencing? The Burlings? Everyone at the gathering except for Mr. Patterson?
Personal Involvement with Mr. Burling
In the Fall of 1959 while attending the Washington Semester at American University I called Mr. Burling to thank him for his generous donation to Grinnell College for its new library that is named in honor of his mother. At his invitation, I joined him at his law firm for an enjoyable conversation over coffee and then after being picked up by his personal chauffeur, at his Cabin on a Sunday afternoon. Little did I know at the time that such a Sunday afternoon had become a famous Washington institution. I do not recall our conversations other than my talking about my studies at Grinnell and AU, but I do remember how Burling, then 89 years old and clad in a wool plaid shirt, vigorously chopped wood on a beautiful fall afternoon. (Now I wish I had been journaling to document these meetings.)
On October 3, 1996, Edward B. Burling died at age 96 in Washington Hospital Center. According to an editorial in his honor in the Post that Graham may have helped write, Burling’s “greatest diversion was a primitive log cabin that he built some 40 years ago on the shore of the Potomac near McLean. During the ‘30s and ‘40’s the cabin served as a meeting place for scores of scholars and diplomats and leaders. ‘They would gather to chop wood, eat well, and settle the problems of the world,’” said one of his law partners.
His obituary in the Post also mentioned that his introduction to politics came when he sat on a rafter at the 1896 Chicago convention of the Democratic Party and heard William Jennings Bryan deliver his famous “Cross of Gold” speech. Later Burling supported Teddy Roosevelt’s presidential candidacy in 1912 for the Progressive Party (a/k/a the Bull Moose Party), and subsequently Burling often described himself as the sole survivor of that Party. A few months after the end of World War I, Burling co-founded what became the prominent Covington & Burling (“C&B”) law firm (n/k/a Covington). He strongly opposed FDR’s New Deal and often joked that the law firm’s success was due to those measures. He was a lifelong Republican yet was a strong supporter of Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election against Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee.
The very unusual Post editorial about Burling that was simply entitled “Edward B. Burling” said he was the city’s “grand old man of the law [who from] the days when he was graduated from Harvard Law School in 1894, with one of the best records ever made there, he had been an outstanding legal scholar. And with the law as the base of his operations, he also exerted a substantial influence in the fields of business, government and community relations.”
The editorial also stated that at the C&B law firm the “scholarly and retiring Mr. Burling, who made a specialty of cultivating and training brilliant young lawyers, was chiefly responsible for keeping the firm’s performance at a high level of professional excellence.”
The Burling cabin captured further comment in the editorial. “For many years his cabin on the Potomac . . . was a center of cerebral ferment on Sunday afternoons. Following a morning tramp through the woods and a hearty meal he loved to join in lively debate with judges, lawyers, government officials and others in the quiet surroundings of ‘The Cabin.’ These sessions will long be remembered by a vast number of his associates and friends in high places.” The conclusion of the editorial stated, “His great achievement was not merely longevity, but a sustained flow of energy and ideas and a passionate interest in the problems of humanity. His monument is already built in the minds of his associates and in the annals of this world observation post.”
Inspired by my brief encounter with Mr. Burling, his generosity to our alma mater Grinnell College and my interest in history, I later conducted research about him and wrote his biographical sketch in The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law (p. 85) and a short article about him for The Grinnell Magazine and a longer essay that is on file with the College’s Archives. These matters will be explored in subsequent posts.
 Obituary, Edward F. [sic] Burling, dies at 96; Founder of District Law Firm, Wash. Post, p. B4 (Oct. 4, 1966); Editorial, Edward B. Burling, Wash. Post (Oct. 5, 1966).
Edward Burnham Burling, Grinnell’s Quiet Benefactor, Grinnell Magazine, Summer 2009, at 21; Edward Burnham Burling, The College’s Quiet Benefactor (April 2008)( 18-page essay and bibliography; on file in Grinnell College’s Special Collections and Archives). The last of these has citations to the sources.
On a beautiful, sunny, crisp Thanksgiving Day this year my wife, two of her sisters and I were in Nebraska City, 40 miles south of Omaha on the western bank of the Missouri River near the southeastern corner of the State of Nebraska.
The main reason for going there was to have a delicious and enjoyable holiday meal at the handsome Lied Lodge & Conference Center as shown in the above photographs courtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation; the center photo shows at the end of the central atrium the tapestry that says “Plant trees!” in many different languages. Here are the details of the Thanksgiving Day buffet menu:
Appetizers: shrimp, crab claws, oysters, mussels, fruits, cheeses and various salads.
Entries: slow-roasted turkey, prime rib, glazed butternut squash, apple sage stuffing, whipped potatoes, baked yams, vegetable medley, baby carrots and rolls.
Desserts: pumpkin, pecan and fruit pies; cupcakes; and other classic items.
The Lodge & Center is owned and operated by the Arbor Day Foundation, which seeks to “inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.” In so doing, the Foundation celebrates the life and vision of one of the town’s most famous citizens, J. Sterling Morton.
The day in Nebraska City also unexpectedly became a fascinating lesson in late 19th and early 20th century U.S. history.
In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of that year created the two territories with those names and opened them for settlement. Enticed by the prospect of owning land in this new Territory, Morton at age 22 came to Nebraska City, really a village of less than 2,000 and the Territory’s first city, with his wife, Caroline (“Carrie”) Ann Joy French Morton, an accomplished artist, musician and gardener. Mr. Morton, who was a graduate of Union College, started the Territory’s first newspaper, the Nebraska City News, and served as its Editor.
He also immediately bought land in the town, presumably under the Preemption Act of 1841 permitting “squatters” who were living on federal government-owned land to purchase up to 160 acres at a very low price (not less than $1.25 per acre), before the land was to be offered for sale to the general public.
As a nature lover with a passion for horticulture, Morton was appalled by the lack of trees in Nebraska, but soon planted various kinds of trees on his own property. In order to attract people to the Territory (and then State in 1867), Mr. Morton endeavored to encourage others in the area to plant trees. He did that first as Editor of the local newspaper and then as President of the Territory’s Agricultural Board. In 1872, he proposed that the state declare April 10 as Arbor Day, and his proposal was accepted. On that day in 1872, it is said that Nebraskans planted one million trees. In 1885, Nebraska declared his birthday, April 22, as Arbor Day and made it a legal holiday.
He voiced his love of trees when he said, “There is no aristocracy in trees. They are not haughty. They will thrive near the humblest cabin on our fertile prairies, just as well and become just as refreshing to the eye and as fruitful as they will in the shadow of a king’s palace.”
Morton also was engaged in public service as a member of the Nebraska Territorial House of Representatives (1855-1858); Acting Governor of the Territory (1858-1859); and Secretary of the Nebraska Territory (1858-1861). In 1860 Morton won an election to Congress, but lost a challenge to his election in the Republican-controlled House. He also ran four unsuccessful campaigns for governor after Nebraska became a state in 1867.
In 1893 President Grover Cleveland, with widespread acclaim, appointed Morton as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. In his four years in that position he expanded and improved the Department’s programs while turning back to the Treasury over 20% of its appropriated funds.
Before our Thanksgiving dinner at the Lodge, my wife and I went out on its north-facing balcony to see the beautiful valley full of trees and a test plot of hybrid hazelnut bushes. We were surprised to see on the opposite hill a strikingly handsome pillared white house peaking out through the trees as shown in the top photographs (the middle one is courtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation.) We then discovered that this was the 52-room mansion of Mr. Morton that is a reasonable facsimile of the White House in Washington, D.C. as shown in the third photograph.
The mansion is now called the Arbor Lodge in the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum, which we drove by after dinner. Unfortunately the Lodge was not open for visitors that day to see its Victorian and Edwardian furnishings, Tiffany skylight and collection of artifacts of early Nebraska history.
Sterling and Joy Morton had four sons: Joy (1855-1934), Paul (1857-1911), Mark (1858-1951), who was involved in various family businesses, including the Morton Salt company; and Carl (1865-1901), who was a businessman with another family business, the Argo Starch Co., and with the Glucose Sugar Co. Mrs. Morton died in 1881; J. Sterling Morton, in 1902.
Sterling and Joy Morton’s first son, Joy Morton, was born in Nebraska City in 1855. At age 15 he began to manage the family farm and estate and to work in a local bank. Later he worked for railroads in Nebraska and Illinois before joining a Chicago salt distribution company in 1880. By 1899 he had acquired majority control of the firm and renamed it “Joy Morton & Company,” and in 1910 he incorporated it as the subsequently famous Morton Salt Company. He was its president until 1930 when he became its chairman of the board, a position he held until his death in 1934. His brother Mark also was involved in the salt company.
While driving around the town of Nebraska City this Thanksgiving Day I was amused to see these large signs for Morton-family businesses brightly painted on the brick wall of a downtown building: “Morton Salt” and “Morton–Gregson Co.“ The latter was a hog packing plant that was organized in 1901 and after financial problems was sold in 1917 to Wilson & Company.
Carrying on his parents’ interest in trees and gardening, Joy Morton in 1922 established The Morton Arboretum on 178 acres of land adjacent to his estate in Lisle, Illinois, roughly 26 miles west of Chicago, to display woody plants that grow in temperate zones around the world, to educate the public about them and to conduct research on their management and preservation.
After his father’s death in 1902, Joy Morton redesigned and enlarged the family mansion in Nebraska City into its current size and used it as his family’s summer home until after 1922 when he donated the mansion (now the Arbor Lodge) and surrounding property to the State of Nebraska to be its first state park.
Paul, like his father, was a Bourbon (and then a Gold) Democrat, but that Party’s nomination of Bryan in 1896, he said later, “left him out.” As a result he voted for McKinley that year and in 1900 worked openly for the election of McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Indeed, Morton said he “had always been a staunch supporter of Roosevelt.”
The close connection between Paul Morton and Roosevelt is shown after the Republican convention had nominated Roosevelt as its vice presidential candidate in June 1900. Roosevelt visited Chicago as a guest of Morton in order for both of them to board the latter’s private Santa Fe railroad car to go to Oklahoma with two Republican National Committeemen and three fellow Rough Riders for a reunion of the Rough Riders Regiment as Morton and Roosevelt had done the prior year for another such reunion in Las Vegas. When and how the two of them first became acquainted are intriguing questions I was unable to answer.
In September 1900, as discussed in a prior post, he and two other railroad executives accompanied candidate Roosevelt on his campaign train from Quincy, Illinois to Chicago. The other railroad executives on the train were my maternal great-great-uncle, William Carlos Brown, then General Manager of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad; and Theodore P. Shonts, then the President of the Illinois & Iowa Railroad.
I have not been able to discover the substance of the conversations the four of them had on the train, but perhaps they discussed the issue of federal regulation of business, especially railroads. The three railroaders presumably were present at the end of the train ride in Chicago on Labor Day to hear candidate Roosevelt’s “The Labor Question” speech, in which he said he had been “thrown into intimate contact with railroad men [and] . . . gradually came to the conclusion that [they] . . . were about the finest citizens there were anywhere around.” Teddy must have included these three railroad executives in that illustrious group.
Four years later, Roosevelt, now the President after the 1901 assassination of McKinley, appointed Paul Morton to be Secretary of the Navy. An article about the appointment said that the President and Morton had a “strong friendship,” that Morton and his father had voted for McKinley and Roosevelt in 1900 and that Paul “some weeks ago decided to accept the Republican faith.”
Though he knew next to nothing about naval affairs, the Senate confirmed Morton’s nomination in December 1904.
A problem for Morton emerged early the next year when the Interstate Commerce Commission asked the Justice Department to investigate charges that Morton had acted illegally as an officer of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe when it paid rebates to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, Morton’s prior employer, from 1902 though 1904. Morton subsequently admitted the rebates had been paid even though he had no knowledge of them at the time and even though he had instructed subordinates to not pay any rebates. These charges never resulted in his prosecution, but they did force Morton to resign quietly on June 30, 1905.
In all of this, President Roosevelt supported Morton and had Morton with him on a private railroad car trip early the next month and later that month had Morton for a private over-night visit at Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill home at Oyster Bay, New York.
Indeed, Roosevelt in his 1913 Autobiography refers to this period when he said that with the help of “a first-class railway man, Paul Morton …. I was able to stop the practice of [railroad rebates]. Mr. Morton volunteered to aid the Government in abolishing rebates” by testifying before the ICC that the Santa Fe had granted rebates because all railroads did so. In so doing, he had “shown courage and sense of obligation to the public . . . in order that we might successfully put an end to the practice . . . because of the courage and patriotism he had shown. . . . [Some people] “wished me to prosecute him, although such prosecution would have been a piece of unpardonable ingratitude and treachery on the part of the public toward him. . . . I stood by him; and later he served me as Secretary of the Navy, and a capital Secretary he made too.”
In any event, Morton immediately after leaving the Navy became the President of the Equitable Life Assurance Society in New York City, and in 1909, he was appointed as the vice chairman of a commission to reorganize the Navy. Paul Morton died in 1911.
After leaving Nebraska City and doing research for this post, I discovered that this town, current population of nearly 7,300, also is home to the Mayhew Cabin, the only site in the state of the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, and the Missouri River Lewis and Clark Center, which focuses on the natural history achievements of that 1804-1806 expedition. The town sounds worth another visit to see these sights as well as the interior of the Arbor Lodge.
 As a non-Nebraskan, I earnestly solicit comments and corrections. I also give thanks to Amy Stouffer, Marketing Director of the Arbor Day Foundation, for her assistance.
 This section is based upon Anderson, Julius Sterling Morton, Forest History Today at 31 (Fall 2000); Wikipedia, Julius Sterling Morton; Will Be in the Cabinet: J. Sterling Morton for Secretary of Agriculture, N. Y. Times (Feb. 18, 1893); Morton A Man of Strength, N. Y. Times (Feb. 19, 1893); John R. Thomas and Congressman Harter Praise Mr. Morton, N.Y. Times (Feb. 19, 1893); The Cabinet Selections, N.Y. Times (Feb. 20, 1893); Editorial, Julius Sterling Morton, N.Y. Times (Feb. 20, 1893); Praise for the New Cabinet, N.Y. Times (Feb. 23, 1893); Editorial, Mr. Cleveland’s Cabinet, N.Y. Times (Feb. 23, 1893); Mr. Cleveland’s Cabinet, N.Y. Times (Feb. 26, 1893); Julius Sterling Morton of Nebraska, N.Y. Times (Mar. 5, 1893); Gold Democrats Banquet, N.Y. Times (Jan. 9, 1897); Elections in Other States, N.Y. Times (Oct. 31, 1897); Palmer Democrats Speak, N.Y. Times (May 13, 1900); Abram S. Hewitt on Bryan, N.Y. Times (July 1, 1900); Bryan’s Impeded Veracity, N.Y. Times (Oct. 8, 1900); Anti-Imperialists’ July 4 Manifesto, N.Y. Times (July 4, 1901); J. Sterling Morton Dead, N.Y. Times (April 28, 1902). I have not yet read James C. Olson, J. Sterling Morton—Pioneer Statesman and Founder of Arbor Day (1942).
 The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 allowed the future white male settlers of the territories determine through popular sovereignty whether each would allow slavery within its borders. The principal supporter of the Act was Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois who saw the Act as a compromise to gain Southern support in order to promote the eventual construction of a transcontinental railroad from Chicago The opponents of the Act saw it as a betrayal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had banned slavery in Kansas. In opposition to the Act, the Republican Party was created to stop the expansion of slavery. In the famous 1858 debates between Senator Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, the latter argued that Douglas was part of a conspiracy to nationalize slavery and that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was the first step in that direction. OI course, two years later (1860), Lincoln was the Republicans’ successful presidential candidate. In the meantime, after passage of the Act, pro- and anti-slavery adherents flooded into Kansas to vote slavery up or down, leading to a low-intensity civil war that became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” In 1860 the Kansas territorial legislature passed, over a governor’s veto, a bill banning slavery and in 1861 Kansas entered the Union as a State. In Nebraska the territorial legislature in 1861 passed, over a governor’s veto, a similar bill prohibiting slavery although Nebraska limited the vote to “free white males,” a provision that delayed Nebraska’s becoming a state until 1867 after the elimination of this provision.
 Grover Cleveland and Morton were prominent conservative or Bourbon Democrats, opposing imperialism and U.S. overseas expansion and supporting the gold standard for U.S. currency. Public support for this philosophy was damaged by the Panic of 1893 when Cleveland refused to expand the money supply with silver. This lead to the Party’s granting its 1896 presidential nomination to Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan after his “Cross of Gold” speech urging silver as an additional backing for the currency. In response, some of the Bourbon Democrats formed their own unsuccessful political party (National Democratic Party) to advance their policies; but their presidential and vice presidential candidates were badly defeated in the 1896 election. These conservative Democrats often were referred to as the “Gold Democrats” for their support of the gold standard. In 1900 Democrat Morton endorsed Republican William McKinley because Morton detested Bryan’s bimetallism and admired Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican vice presidential candidate; Morton deemed these reasons more important than his strong disagreement with McKinley’s trade protectionism.
 Now 1,700 acres, the Arboretum’s current mission “is to collect and study trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world, to maintain living collections on display across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study, enjoy and learn how to grow them in ways that enhance the environment.” The town of Lisle, by the way, now calls itself “The Arboretum Village.”
 This section is based upon Wikipedia, Paul Morton; University of Virginia Miller Center, Paul Morton (1904-1905) Secretary of the Navy; The Governor’s [Roosevelt’s] Western Trip, N. Y. Times (June 26, 1900); Governor [Roosevelt] Goes West, N. Y. Times (June 30, 1900); Roosevelt in Chicago, N. Y. Times (July 1, 1900); Roosevelt Going West, N. Y. Times (July 2, 1900); Roosevelt Leaves Chicago, N. Y. Times (Sept. 2, 1901); Changes in Cabinet Officially Announced, N. Y. Times (June 25, 1904); Morton Enlisted in Navy, N.Y. Times (June 26, 1904); Mr. Morton’s Case, N. Y. Times (June 23, 1905); Morton’s Rebate Testimony, N. Y. Times (June 23, 1905); Bryan on Roosevelt, N. Y. Times (June 25, 1905) ; President at Home Again, N. Y. Times (July 7, 1905); Knapp Praises Morton, N.Y. Times (July 9, 1905); Taft To Run the Canal, N.Y. Times (July 23, 1905); Theodore Roosevelt, Autobiography (1913).
As discussed in a prior post, the Hepburn Act, which became law on June 29, 1906, empowered the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), upon complaint, to replace a railroad’s increased freight rates if the ICC determined found them to be “unreasonable” with what the ICC decided were “just and reasonable” rates.
This statute presented a new problem for the railroads. How could they justify any such increase in freight rates to the public at large, including major shippers, and thereby deter any complaint and, if challenged, justify the new rates to the ICC?
This post examines the reactions to the new Act in the last half of 1906 and President Roosevelt’s Annual Message to the Congress on December 3, 1906. Subsequent posts will look at developments on the issue of freight rates in 1907 and 1908.
Public Reactions to the Hepburn Act
On August 16th, Melville E. Ingalls, the Chairman of the Big Four Railway and a Cincinnati bank president, said at a public meeting of bankers that “the greatest menace to American business and banking interests is found in the various trade laws, particularly the Hepburn and the Sherman [Antitrust] acts.”
Later that same month William Jennings Bryan, the unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1896 and 1900, in a speech to a crowd of 10,000 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden impliedly argued that the Hepburn Act did not go far enough. Bryan said, “I have reached the conclusion that there will be no permanent relief on the railroad question from discrimination between individuals and between places, and from extortionate rates, until the railroads are the property of the Government and operated by the Government in the interests of the people.”
Bryan’s suggestion was rejected the next day in a New York Times editorial saying that the newspaper was “entirely confident that the Interstate Commerce [A]ct, the [Sherman] Anti-Trust [A]ct , . . ., the Elkins Anti-Rebate [A]ct, and the Hepburn [Act] . . . , the enforcement of which measures has been wonderfully facilitated by recent decisions of the Supreme Court, . . . supply adequate remedies . . . [to] protect the people from [railroads’] . . . insolence and their rapacity, and put a stop to unfair [rate] discrimination. . . . Mr. Bryan’s new doctrine of public ownership for the railroads . . . is [a] revolution . . ., and incalculable disaster would attend [such a revolution].” Moreover, the editorial stated the newspaper did “not believe that either the Democratic Party, or any great part of the membership of either party, is ready to accompany [Bryan] upon this perilous adventure in radicalism and centralization.”
Similar negative reactions to the Bryan proposal were expressed by leaders of the Democratic Party and most other newspapers. The New York Evening Post, however, said it thought the public ownership idea “will probably attract more voters, . . . than it will affright.”
Another indirect attack on the Hepburn Act from a different perspective was made on November 10, 1906, by James J. Hill, the President of the Great Northern Railway. In what the New York Times called “an indignant outburst” against public agitation against America’s railroads. Hill complained that the railroads were considered “outlaws” and that they had “not been getting justice in this country.” In the 1904 election “the two great political parties [were] preaching the doctrine of the operation of the railroads by the Government . . . . Is that the way to get men to put more money in the country’s railroads?” Hill pleaded for “a halt to this treatment of the railroad.”
Hill also admitted that the entire country was “suffering from want of transportation facilities to move its business without unreasonable delay. The prevailing idea with the public is that the railways are short of cars, while the fact is that the shortage is in tracks and terminals to provide a greater opportunity for the movement of the cars.” He continued, “The traffic of the country is congested beyond imagination. The commerce of the country is paralyzed, which, continued, means slow death.”
To remedy this situation, Hill asserted, “will cost at least [a total of $ 4 billion to $ 5 billion or $1 billion] per year for five years. Why, there is not money enough [or] . . . rails enough in all the world to do this. [It also is impossible to get the labor to do this work.]”
Soon after Mr. Hill’s speech, two separate investigations of railroads in which Mr. Hill had major interests were announced:
On November 20th the ICC said it was opening an investigation into the impact on railroad freight rates by Hill’s control of the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific and the Burlington railways.
On November 28th, the Minnesota Attorney General said he was considering bringing charges against the Great Northern for alleged duplicate issues of capital stock and, therefore, “watering” of stock in connection with its building new branch lines for a subsidiary.
President Roosevelt’s Annual Message to Congress (December 3, 1906)
On December 3, 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt delivered to the Congress his written Annual Message. It echoed Hill’s sense of railroads being unjustly attacked and impliedly criticized Bryan’s public-ownership proposal. Roosevelt said “the men who seek to excite a violent class hatred against all men of wealth. They seek to turn wise and proper movements for the better control of corporations and for doing away with the abuses connected with wealth into a campaign of hysterical excitement and falsehood in which the aim is to inflame to madness the brutal passions of man kind.” Such men are “sinister demagogues and foolish visionaries.”
The President, however, commended the Congress on taking “long strides in the direction of securing proper supervision and control by the National Government over corporations engaged in interstate business.” In particular, he said, the “passage of the [Hepburn] railway rate bill [was] . . .an important advance.” In the upcoming congressional session, “it may be best to wait until the laws have been in operation for a number of months before endeavoring to increase their scope, because only operation will show with exactness their merits and their shortcomings and thus give opportunity to define what further remedial legislation is needed.”
In addition, Roosevelt said the Hepburn Act “has rather amusingly falsified the predictions, both of those who asserted that it would ruin the railroads and of those who asserted that it did not go far enough and would accomplish nothing. During the last five months the railroads have shown increased earnings and some of them unusual dividends; while during the same period the mere taking effect of the law has produced an unprecedented, a hitherto unheard-of, number of voluntary reductions in freights and fares by the railroads.”
Nevertheless, Roosevelt continued, there will “ultimately be need of enlarging the powers of the [ICC]. . . to give it a larger and more efficient control over the railroads.” Such enhanced control will “prevent the evils of excessive overcapitalization, and will compel the disclosure by each big corporation of its stockholders and of its properties and business, whether owned directly or through subsidiary or affiliated corporations. This will tend to put a stop to the securing of inordinate profits by favored individuals at the expense whether of the general public, the stockholders, or the wage-workers.”
Indeed, said Roosevelt, adoption of such measures is the “best way to avert the very undesirable move for the governmental ownership of railways.
Roosevelt also expressed disagreement with the Supreme Court’s March 1904 interpretation of the Sherman Antitrust Act in the Northern Securities case as barring all combinations of businesses. He said, “It is unfortunate that [the Sherman Act] should forbid all combinations, instead of sharply discriminating between those combinations which do good and those combinations which do evil.” Therefore, he urged Congress to give serious consideration to amending the Sherman Act to do just that.
On other issues affecting the railroads, Roosevelt called for the “passing [of] the bill limiting the number of hours of employment of railroad employees. The measure is a very moderate one, and I can conceive of no serious objection to it.” Another measure he supported was improving the recent “employers liability law” so that it placed “the entire ‘risk of a trade’ upon the employer.”
President Roosevelt’s Annual Message did not end the public (and private) debate about federal regulation of railroads, and especially their freight rates. It merely was a prelude to continued debate in 1907 and 1908 as we will see in future posts.
Trade Laws Denounced, N.Y. Times (Aug. 17, 1906).
 This discussion of Bryan’s speech and the reactions it provoked is based upon the following: Bryan’s Stand: End the Trusts, N.Y. Times (Aug. 31, 1906); 10,000 Swelter as Bryan Speaks, N.Y. Times (Aug. 31, 1906); Overflow Meeting Had a Small Crowd, N.Y. Times (Aug. 31, 1906); Editorial, Mr. Bryan’s New Party, N.Y. Times (Aug. 31, 1906); Leaders Oppose Bryan’s Public Ownership Plan, N.Y. Times (Sept. 1, 1906); Newspapers Views, N.Y. Times (Sept. 1, 1906); From the New York Evening Post, N.Y. Times (Sept. 1, 1906).
Hill, as previously discussed, was the co-creator of the Northern Securities Company and a co-defendant in the U.S. successful antitrust case against the creation and operation of that company.
Justice for Railways, Demanded by J. J. Hill, N. Y. Times (Nov. 11, 1906).
Hill’s Three Roads To Be Investigated, N.Y. Times (Nov. 21, 1906).
May Attack Hill Stocks, N.Y. Times (Nov. 28, 1906).
 A New York Times editorial said this call for changing the Sherman Act Roosevelt’s “wisest counsel” in the Message. (Editorial, President’s “Coherent Plan,” N.Y. Times (Dec. 5, 1906).) As it turned out, there was no need for such an amendment when nearly five years later the Supreme Court ruled that the original Sherman Act only banned “unreasonable” combinations and restraints of trade.
A prior post reviewed the U.S. presidential election of 1900, in which Republicans William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt were the winning candidates for President and Vice President. Now we focus on Roosevelt’s involvement in that election.
Attending the Republican Party’s National Convention
The involvement began at the Republican Party’s national convention in Philadelphia in June. Although Roosevelt repeatedly had opposed suggestions that he be the Party’s vice presidential nominee, he did attend the convention as a New York delegate-at-large. Once there, he made dramatic arrivals in the city and on the convention floor.
Roosevelt commanded the attention of the entire convention when he seconded the nomination of McKinley. In the words of his biographer, Edmund Morris, Roosevelt “moved confidently through his prepared text, speaking at a torrential speed unusual even for him, his body trembling with the force of his gestures.” He said that the Republican Party in the prior election “did not promise the impossible . . . and kept our word. . . . [the U.S.] has reached a pitch of prosperity never before attained . . . . So it has been in foreign affairs [as well].” He concluded his seconding speech with these words:
“We stand on the threshold of a new century big with the fate of mighty nations. . . . The young giant of the West stands on a continent and clasps the crest of an ocean on either hand. Our nation, glorious in youth and strength, looks into the future with eager eyes and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. . . . We challenge the proud privilege of doing the work that Providence allots us, and we face the coming years high of heart and resolute of faith that to our people is given the right to win such honor and renown as has never yet been vouchsafed to the nations of mankind.”
On the convention’s vote on his own vice presidential nomination, Roosevelt cast the only negative vote, but immediately afterwards told party officials that he would be a loyal member of the team. He said, “I am as strong as a bull moose, and you can use me to the limit taking heed of but one thing and that is my throat.”
Roosevelt confirmed his acceptance of the nomination in a lengthy letter of September 15th (two and a half months after the convention) that repeated some of the points of his seconding speech at the convention and that attacked the issues promoted by William Jennings Bryan.
Roosevelt’s letter also addressed the “serious problem” presented by “the great business combinations . . . [or] trusts.” This real problem was “immensely aggravated” by “honest but wrong-headed attacks on our whole industrial system in the effort to remove some of . . . [its] evils. . . . No good whatever is subserved by indiscriminate denunciation of corporations generally, and of all forms of industrial combination in particular.” Instead, the “real abuses” need to be attacked first by finding out and publicizing the facts regarding “capitalization, profits and all else of importance.” Those facts would “enable us to tell whether or not certain proposed remedies would be beneficial.”
As indicated in a prior post, Roosevelt conducted a real “whistle-stop” campaign from the rear of a railroad train in 1900. He covered 21,000 miles, giving 673 speeches in 24 states to an estimated three million people. These speeches defended the gold standard and McKinley’s foreign policy. He attacked Bryan for wanting to “paralyze our whole industrial life” and for appealing to “every foul and evil passion of mankind.”
Roosevelt on his campaign train from Quincy, Illinois to Chicago in September was accompanied by three railroad executives: my maternal great-great-uncle, William Carlos Brown, then General Manager of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad; Theodore P. Shonts, then the President of the Illinois & Iowa Railroad (“I&I RR”); and Paul Morton, then the President of the Santa Fe Railroad (“the Santa Fe”).
I have not been able to discover the substance of the conversations the four of them had on the train, but they presumably discussed the issue of federal regulation of business, especially railroads. The three railroaders presumably also were present in Chicago on Labor Day when candidate Roosevelt gave a remarkable speech, even to 21st century ears, on “The Labor Question.”
The general theme of the speech was the importance of “the spirit of brotherhood in American citizenship” that is fostered by association with others not in our “own little set.” Roosevelt emphasized this from his own life in working with “mighty men of their hands” in the Northwest cattle country, with farmers and with “skilled mechanics of a high order.” He added that he had been “thrown into intimate contact with railroad men [and] . . . gradually came to the conclusion that [they] . . . were about the finest citizens there were anywhere around.” Presumably the three railroad executives with him on that trip were included in that group.
Therefore, Roosevelt argued, we “must beware of any attempt to make hatred in any form the basis of action.” He continued, “our chief troubles come from mutual misunderstanding, from failing to appreciate one another’s point of view [and] the great need is fellow feeling, sympathy, brotherhood.”
At the end of the speech, Roosevelt sketched his approach to the issues of the day. He said, “Before us loom industrial problems large in their importance and in their complexity. The last half-century has been one of extraordinary social and industrial development. . . . It is not yet possible to say what shall be the exact limit of influence allowed the State, or what limit shall be set to that right of individual initiative. . . .” Therefore, undertaking efforts to change the State’s involvement in these areas should be with caution and humility. “We can do a great deal when we undertake soberly, to do the possible. When we undertake the impossible, we too often fail to do anything at all.”
On September 7th in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Roosevelt castigated Bryan’s “Free Silver” proposal as “the one and only way to insure wide-spread industrial and social ruin.”
Roosevelt also touched on the problems of industrial combinations or trusts that had been raised by Bryan. Roosevelt conceded that “trusts have produced great and serious evils. There is every reason why we should try to abate these evils and to make men of wealth, whether they act individually or collectively, bear their full share of the country’s burdens and keep as scrupulously within the bounds of equity and morality as their neighbors.” However, he added, “wild and frantic denunciation does not do them the least harm and simply postpones the day when we can make them amenable to proper laws.” Repeating his letter of acceptance of the vice presidential nomination, Roosevelt said the first thing was to learn “exactly what each corporation does and earns,” thereby enabling the formulation of “measures for attacking the . . .[ evils] with good prospects of success.”
Roosevelt’s last major speech before the November 6th election was on October 26th at New York City’s old Madison Square Garden.
According to the New York Times, when he arrived at the Garden, “the buzzing sound of many voices became a roar of cheers and the 14,000 people . . . yelled with all their might as they waved small and large American flags. . . . For ten minutes the uproar was deafening. . . . Just as the enthusiasm had reached a climax Gov. Roosevelt spied his wife in [the audience] and bowed and smiled. For the first time his teeth were in plain sight. This little act aroused the people to renewed cheering, drowning the loudest noise which could be produced by two bands of fifty men playing ‘A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.’”
Eventually Roosevelt spoke. He lambasted Bryan’s “Free Silver” proposal and his seeking “to sow seeds of malice and envy” in the manner of Robespierre. “No greater evil, oh, my fellow countrymen, can be done this nation of ours than to teach any group of Americans that their attitude should be one of sullen hatred and distrust of their fellows.” Such “bitter class hatreds . . . leads ultimately to class strife, . . . to the loss of liberty . . . [whose] most dangerous enemy [is] anarchy, license, mob violence in any form.”
He concluded by appealing to his fellow countrymen “to keep the conditions under which we have grown so prosperous” and to maintain “the honor of a mighty nation.”
After winning the 1900 election, President McKinley and Vice President Roosevelt were inaugurated on March 4, 1901. In his short inaugural address, Roosevelt said, “For weal or for woe, for good or for evil, . . . [playing “a leading part in shaping the destinies of mankind”] is true of our own mighty nation. Great privileges and great powers are ours, and heavy are the responsibilities that go with these privileges and these powers. . . . We belong to a young nation, already of giant strength, yet whose political strength is but a forecast of power that is yet to come. We stand supreme in a continent, in a hemisphere.”
Id. at 768. In 1912 after the Republican Party re-nominated William Howard Taft as its presidential candidate, over Roosevelt’s opposition, Roosevelt organized the Progressive Party (nicknamed the Bull Moose Party) and ran as its presidential candidate. With these two parties splitting the conservative vote, the Democratic presidential candidate, Woodrow Wilson, won the election.
 The rebuttals of Bryan were in Detroit on September 7th and Evansville, Indiana on October 12th and in a published letter of October 15th.
Shonts grew up in Centerville, Iowa, and after graduating from Illinois’ Monmouth College, worked in Iowa as a bookkeeper, then an attorney and as an executive of a construction company that built stretches of railroad track. This lead to his becoming an executive for the I&IRR. In 1905 then President Roosevelt appointed Shonts to be the Chairman of the Isthmian [Panama] Canal Commission, a position he held until March 1907, when he became President of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, which operated New York City’s rapid transit system.
Morton was born in Michigan and grew up in Nebraska as the son of a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; his older brother was the founder of Morton Salt. In 1904 President Roosevelt appointed Morton as Secretary of the Navy, but in 1905 he was forced to resign after evidence surfaced that the Santa Fe under his presidency had granted illegal rebates. Morton, however, then became the President of the Equitable Life Assurance Society in New York City.
 This account of the Quincy-Chicago trip is based on a January 30, 1907, letter from Brown to Schonts saying “I often think of the trip from Quincy to Chicago, when . . . you and Paul [Morton] and I had the pleasure and the honor of a ride across Illinois with Theodore Roosevelt, then a candidate for Vice-President.” (Image (# 71-0572) provided courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divisions and Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org.) I plead for anyone who has more information about the Quincy-Chicago trip or the discussions the three railroad executives had with Roosevelt to share such information in a comment to this post.
Gov. Roosevelt Speaks, N.Y. Times (Oct. 27, 1900).
Their vice presidential candidates were respectively Republican Theodore Roosevelt  and Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson.
After four years in office, President McKinley’s popularity had risen because of his image as the victorious commander-in-chief of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and because of the nation’s general return to economic prosperity. The Republicans made a spirited defense of America’s interests in foreign markets. They advocated expanding ties with China, a protectorate status for the Philippines, which recently had been acquired as a result of the War, and an antitrust policy that condemned monopolies while approving the “honest cooperation of capital to meet new business conditions” in foreign markets.
Popular campaign slogans for the Republicans were “Four More Years of the Full Dinner Pail” (“A Full Dinner Pail”); “Let well enough alone”; “advance agent of prosperity”; and “William McKinley, a Western man with Eastern ideas; and Theodore Roosevelt, an Eastern man with Western characteristics.”
During the campaign Bryan repeated his 1896 call for free silver even though the recent discoveries of gold in Alaska and South Africa had inflated the world’s money supply and increased world prices. As a result, U.S. farmers were reaping greater profits and were not upset with gold as the monetary standard. The Democrats also emphasized expansionism and protectionism as well as opposition to the emergence of an American empire.
McKinley campaigned from the “Front Porch” of his home in Canton, Ohio where in one day he greeted 16 delegations and 30,000 supporters. Theodore Roosevelt conducted a real “whistle-stop” campaign from the rear of a railroad train. He covered 21,000 miles, giving 673 speeches in 24 states to an estimated three million people.
In the November 6, 1900, election McKinley and Roosevelt won the popular vote: 7,228,864 votes (51.6 percent) to Bryan and Stevenson’s 6,370,932 votes (45.5 percent)—a gain for the Republicans of 114,000 votes over their total in 1896. McKinley and Roosevelt received nearly twice as many electoral votes as Bryan did. Below is a map showing the Republican states in red and the Democrats in blue.
 The 1900 election was in some respects a rerun of the 1896 election when McKinley defeated Bryan. During a deep economic depression, McKinley’s “front porch” campaign advocated “sound money” (the gold standard unless altered by international agreement) and promised that high tariffs would restore prosperity. Bryan, on the other hand, lambasted Eastern moneyed classes for supporting the gold standard at the expense of the average worker. At the Democratic Convention that year he delivered a speech supporting bimetallism or “free silver” and concluding with what became the famous exclamation: “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”
 Before his first term as President (1897-1891), McKinley served in the Union Army in the Civil War (1861-1865), practiced law (1967-1877) and served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1867-1891) and as Governor of Ohio (1992-1896). At the time of the 1900 election he was 57 years old.
 Bryan was a Nebraska lawyer who had served in Congress (1891-1895). In addition to his 1896 and 1900 presidential campaigns, he was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1908 and was the U.S. Secretary of State (1913-1915). In 1925 he obtained additional fame or notoriety as the lawyer for the prosecution of a teacher by the name of Scopes for teaching evolution with Clarence Darrow as the defense counsel. A jury guilty verdict was reversed on appeal.
Roosevelt, who then was the 42-year old Governor of New York, had been a New York State Assemblyman (1882-1884), a cowboy in North Dakota (1884-1867), a U.S. Civil Service Commissioner (1887-1895), New York City Police Commissioner (1895-1897), U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1897-1898) and Colonel in the U.S. Volunteer Calvary Regiment (“the Rough Riders”) (1898). Roosevelt did not seek or want the vice presidential nomination, but leaders of the New York State Republican Party did not like Roosevelt and wanted him out of state politics. As a result they pressured McKinley to accept Roosevelt as his new vice-presidential candidate. The latter’s great popularity among most Republican delegates led McKinley to pick him as his new running mate.
Stevenson was U.S. Vice President (1893-1897) and previously a Congressman (1875-1877 and 1879-1881) and U.S. Assistant Postmaster General (1885-1889). He also was the grandfather of Adlai E. Stevenson II, who was Governor of the State of Illinois (1949-1953) and the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate (1952 and 1956).
 As a result of the War, Spain relinquished sovereignty over Cuba and ceded the Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam to the U.S. for the sum of $20 million.
 A subsequent post will examine some of Roosevelt’s campaign speeches.