WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH US?
Business is conducted on a plan that makes it difficult for the most of us to secure the time in which to increase our information and enjoy the appropriate recreations and pleasures that are necessary in order to properly develop our intelligence and give us a correct mental and physical balance. It is true, however, that most of us are, and all men should be, capable of filling better positions in life than most of them occupy, but we are still forced to remain in the same condition because we allow a false system to continue in practice rather than bestir ourselves and enforce the institution of a proper system which would enable us to follow a natural order of things and stop receiving under pay for working over time throughout the entire journey of life.
One reads in newspapers, books, and other sources of information the various views and conclusions of persons very much like ourselves. Some of those who write prove to be capable judges, some poor. Some people judge honestly, some look through clouded glasses and come to strange conclusions. Sometimes the writers are honestly mistaken in their conclusions, but many of them are actually dishonest in the views that they apparently would have other men embrace.
One cannot adopt any one of these conclusions as his absolute guide ; neither has one the time to read all of them before the necessity arises for him to come to some definite conclusions about present conditions. For that reason I am taking up these studies and inviting all who will to join me. We shall observe at first hand some of the things about which we read. In that way we shall read with our own eyes and by using our own brains be able to understand the daily occurrences that go to make up our lives ; understand why there is so much difference in the conditions of people born so nearly alike ; judge more truly of actual methods and conditions and reach sane conclusions on which to base our further actions.
A few of us are able to travel a little, some extensively, but the most of us are forced to remain at home. Some men do very little work, but the most of us are forced by present conditions to work all of the time. A few men live by their wits at the expense of mankind as a whole. Some have no wits but are supported by others who have, or by inherited wealth, but the majority of us earn more than we receive and work to support others as well as a system that keeps the most of us overworking and living amid poor conditions. Why is that so ? All who will join in making these studies will eventually understand. We shall find evidences of the whole system in every community. We shall recognize them whether our studies extend into distant regions or are confined to our own neighborhood.
If men would candidly consider conditions as they are and as they would be if we were given a square deal, the result would be a united effort to secure a system that would provide the greatest common benefit.
We have three principal thoughts upon which to center our considerations:
First: The actual facts on which the present conditions are based.
Second: The true principles that should have been followed in the formation of our social and industrial systems.
Third: The principles that should now govern in devising and instituting systems that will most successfully promote these remedies that would bring.
The true economic basis is different now from what it would have been if people had, from the beginning, followed a system of social order based on natural conditions. We have been following erroneous practices for generations, and they have finally become a part of our established system. It would not be practical to change immediately to what ought to have been done originally. To do that would bring about such confusion as to defeat the very aims of reform, because there are too many rebels to truth and justice to permit of our going straight to the goal. We would have distress if that were undertaken, such distress that many, perhaps most people, would turn back and defeat reform and become its actual enemies. But there is no reason that can be successfully upheld against our knowing the truth, and after once knowing and understanding it, we should strive to adjust our affairs to what is the true economic basis of our present relations, and seek to reform the present system as rapidly as it can be done without creating social confusion.
I repeat, “social confusion.” There is something strange about us as peoples of the earth. I might say unaccountable. History proves that the people of all nations take pride in their national existence. That is well. It shows that the patriotism of every true lover of his country is the basis on which national existence depends. If a foreign country discriminates against us or offers an insult to our flag or to American citizenship, it brings forth a united response in the form of a demand for justice—simple justice. These demands are sometimes of trifling significance when compared with the injustice and discrimination practised in our own country between our own citizens, the special interests and the plain people, but we back up a demand on a foreign people with the power of our nation. We go to the extent of raising great armies, sacrificing our lives and the treasures of our land, as well as enduring great hardships and confusions of war, in order to sustain what we believe to be our national dignity. That is not strange. Neither is it unaccountable. But lest we confuse the purpose of national existence, the strange and unaccountable thing is that we tolerate the social conditions resulting from the domination of special interests, and become enraged as a nation about external facts that sometimes are of far less importance.
We are stirred by the glitter of brass buttons, uniforms with gold braid, glistening swords, musketry and parade, and all of these are things which might be compared with the toys that are given to children and have no purpose beyond that of the mere satisfaction of a desire for something with which to arouse enthusiasm and amusement. But what about the plain common things, the necessities of daily life, the things that are required in our homes, the necessity for consistent action in our social institutions and the results that come from the expenditure of our energies? We ought to be willing to make great sacrifices in order to secure permanent improvements of the most substantial kind in this respect. But even though we do not, we should at least attempt to put into practice a better system and be willing to endure the temporary confusion that the Money Trust could bring about by forcing a panic in order to retain, if possible, all the most valuable results of our work. As for myself, having studied the relations of these things, I would be willing to endure the confusion, but I recognize from observation that the soldier who will willingly go hungry, risk his life on the battlefield, and leave his family suffering and starving at home, will not endure so much as the temporary flurry that the special interests make every time a substantial reform is undertaken, even though that flurry would give to us the fruits of our energies instead of allowing the interests to continue taking them. But notwithstanding this fact, I am forced to recognize that this attitude of the soldier, and the laborer and people generally, is a condition, and I shall not unduly propose remedies that would bring about even a temporary confusion, although that could be speedily overcome and permanent welfare established by the people if they would positively insist upon the justice in their own rights and interests. I am constrained to go along as slowly as the majority of the people do, but we should not remain ignorant of what ought to be done. Our studies will prove how easily we could accomplish much better results and add to the blessings of life if we were willing to endure for a brief period the financial disturbance of business that the Money Trust can force upon us if we exercise those governmental functions which a dignified people should.
CURRENCY, BANKING, AND THE MONEY TRUST.
There is a man-made god that controls the social and industrial system that governs us. We know him as the “Money Trust.” He is offended if given or called by his true name, and being jealous of his power, he opposed an investigation of its sources. At the present time he has an almost illimitable influence upon our daily actions and is seeking to increase it by framing new currency and banking laws to suit his purposes. For that reason our first study will be of the banks and the Money Trust, in order that we may understand their power and the meaning of money.
A few of us have bank accounts, but the most of us have none. Some of us borrow from the banks, but most of us do not and cannot. But, we are all concerned with the accounts and the loans, because they affect business, and, consequently, the conditions of us all. In fact, they control the general business with which we are materially concerned, regardless of our occupation and whether we are rich or poor.
Bankers are well-informed and enterprising business men, and are generally good citizens who take a great interest in the welfare of the communities in which they live. They are our acquaintances—the same kind of people that we are, and they generally accommodate and aid us whenever it is possible. That entitles them to a consideration equal to what we expect for ourselves, but they should receive no special favors, and neither should we. They should be under the necessity of responding to the com mon welfare, and we should be also. But if we were on an equality with them in doing business, we, as well as they, could go on through the journey of life and all would secure better results than even they do now.
It does not require any unusual capacity to become a banker. Any one who possesses ordinary intelligence and common sense can learn to conduct a banking business as easily as he can learn almost any other particular branch of work.
The actual money with which bankers conduct their business belongs largely to the depositors. It is the money that some of us have deposited. The banks merely loan it out. This money is used in business and speculation. We shall see how it is used to control prices. These prices affect us. We get less for what we sell because the speculators manipulate the markets against us, and what we buy costs us more because the speculators control the prices of commodities. We take the losses and they take the profits both ways.
Anyone who can impress the citizens of a locality with confidence can start a bank. It has often been done without capital. Even strangers can present to business men letters of introduction and, after securing their confidence and aid, start banks. It is true that permission must be obtained from the Comptroller of Currency in order to start a national bank, but until I opened my fight on the Money Trust, even that had been a mere matter of form, and it is very seldom that anyone is refused permission when the application is accompanied by recommendations which are easily obtainable.
When a bank is organized the letter of the law requires that fifty per cent of the capital should be paid in cash, but that is often a mere matter of form, for the stockholders choose their own directors and officers and sometimes accept their own notes instead of cash. Strings of banks have been organized by individuals associating in that way. Of course, in order to do so, they must in some way secure the confidence of at least a part of the people in the places where they organize, and a sufficient amount of cash with which to pay the expenses of organization and buy the required bonds on which to base bank notes, but temporary loans are often secured for that purpose, and they frequently depend upon the deposits to pay these loans. Further, the law makes it legal to make loans equal to one-tenth of the capital to a single person, and if there are enough associates they are enabled, in addition to borrowing the capital, to borrow the deposits as well, even including the greater part of the reserve, if reserve banks be included in the scheme. Such loans may even be made to certain of the organizers who are without capital.
You might ask, “What are the bank examiners doing if banks can be filled with paper originally worthless ? It would require very many more examiners to be given the time to learn the value of bank assets ; in fact, so many more that each would have time to tabulate the assets and make inquiries into the solvency of the makers of the paper held by the banks. They would require time to check up and detect the kiting of notes and accounts going on between those who manipulate that game. Bank examiners ordinarily visit banks only three or four times a year, and often examine banks with even a million dollars assets (consisting of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of notes), list their amounts, subtract payments, count the cash, and examine the books, all in a day.
Almost all banks, however, organize with substantial capital ; that is, what we commonly accept as such. Banks never start with intent to defraud depositors. But there is no law to prevent them from starting without substantial capital, and they often do. The system itself has robbed us, and the bankers themselves are not, as a rule, aware of it. But they are the beneficiaries of a false system, one that makes them rich, very rich as a class. Their wealth is created through a burden placed upon us, and the wonderment of it all is that we should be so foolish as to supply other individuals who possess no more intelligence than ourselves, with both the law and the deposits on which to base issues of currency, and systems of credit that tax our life necessities more than all other things combined. That is not an extravagant statement. It is the absolute truth, and the object of our first study is to make it so clear that everyone will understand it.
Banks are not generally organized by the note-kiting system, but they can be, and many are and have been. Even dummy notes are sometimes used, and the extent to which these practices have been resorted to, directly and indirectly, is considerable ; but the general public has never realized that it has been done at all.
The law providing for bank capital has been of comparatively little protection to depositors.
The bankers themselves have protected their depositors and charged for doing so. Bankers are under the necessity of protecting themselves from failure, and it is due to their diligence and their self-interest that there has been so little direct loss to depositors. Many banks were originally started and capitalized on the paper of individual makers which was worthless at that time, but these banks got our deposits and charged those who borrowed them so much that the profits finally made the paper good. The careful banker usually becomes rich regardless of the fact that he often starts without capital. In other words, the business itself is carried on according to a system which allows the public to be so heavily taxed that failure, generally speaking, is visited on the careless and incompetent only.
It is impossible to determine how many banks started without the actual amount of required capital, but since most banks so started have become financially strong by reason of their accumulated profits, no great good could come from a knowledge of which of the existing solvent banks were originally organized on paper which was actually worthless at the time of the organization. We wish principally to understand the system because it is a false one. Even if the letter and the spirit of the law were followed, still the using of the system is a greater wrong by a thousand times than the more technical violation of its law. The fact is that our laws are so ridiculous that the bankers have often warped the law to the advantage of the public when it involved no loss to themselves as a consequence.
THE GREATEST OF ALL OUR BURDENS IS THE BANKING AND CURRENCY SYSTEM.
The speculation and gambling that is incidental to our banking and currency system is simply appalling, and it is absolutely ridiculous that we should tolerate it, and pay the cost of its continuance. Before considering a few of its details let us make a partial review of the burdens that accrue to us as a result. When we examine our losses, even in part only, and see how great is our sacrifice because of our stupendous stupidity in supporting such a system, no doubt we shall be more interested in the manner in which it is operated. Of course it is not a pleasure for one to feel that he has been fooled, but our appetite for information ought to increase when we realize that we could double, yes multiply many times, the advantages we would receive in return for our daily expenditure of energy if a proper system were to be instituted.
It is worth while to know that there are simple remedies which would, if applied, overcome certain conditions that are immensely complicated and tremendously cumbersome because of their falsity. It is always easier to deal in truth and honesty and follow these to their legitimate ends, than it is to construct and adjust a false superstructure upon a false base. But even if no remedy were possible we should still seek to know about the game that is being played by the speculating interests. We certainly do not wish the financially fat fellows to be able to look beguilingly into our eyes, and with the concealment of their innermost amusement and delight at our stupidity in permitting ourselves to be so bamboozled, talk brazenly about the game that they are playing, knowing all the time that we do not understand it. We wish to know the truth about this even if we do feel humiliated because of our having previously been ignorant of it.
Here are some figures. In the year ending June 14th, 1912, the 7,372 national banks cost us $450,043,250.04 to operate, pay their losses, dividends, surplus, etc. Up to June 14, 1912, 17,823 State and private banks had reported, and approximately 4,000 banks had failed to make any report. The 25,195 reporting banks operating in 1912 held individual deposits of $17,024,067,606. Including those not reporting there were 28,995 banks conducting business in 1912, and the sum it cost the people to operate these, pay losses, dividends, surplus, etc. (I believe it a conservative estimate) would exceed $1,300,000,000, or approximately $14 for every man, woman and child. This is more than it costs to run the U.S. Government, all things included. But large as this sum is, it does not include any report of the operations entered into by the bankers for their individual consideration. That, no doubt, far exceeds the mentioned sum, because bankers have unusual opportunities to speculate and many of them do speculate on a large scale.
On January 1, 1911, the report of 7,140 national banks showed that they had $1,005,740,915 of capital stock paid in, and $662,090,881.82 surplus. The surplus is that part of the profits not declared as dividends. On September 4th, 1912, there were 7,397 national banks, and their capital stock was increased to $1,046,012,580, their surplus to $701,021,452.71, and their undivided profits on the last date, less expenses and taxes, were $242,735,174.37. The dividends on the stock of national banks in 1912 were 11.66%. But large as these dividends, surplus and undivided profits are, we have not reached the climax of this system of extortion.
THE JUGGLING OF CREDITS TO CREATE CAPITAL.
We seem never to have learned the value of credit or to know that we ourselves form the basis for it. We are capitalized as so much stock on hand owned by the trusts. A few of us get into the deals, some on a small scale, and a comparatively few on a large scale, and a half dozen or so have become the real kings of finance. Of course, it is necessary for the kings of finance to have scattered throughout the land underlings who help them gather in the products of our applied energies, and these involuntary contributions of ours are afterwards distributed among the favored. Naturally the underlings are given some crumbs and some of them even fair slices, but considered in a general way all of the crumbs and slices are distributed in proportion to the capacity the underlings possess for playing the game well. The whole loaves are only handled by the kings of the system, and it is through the expenditure of our united energy that they are enabled to amass this so-called wealth.
Now, in 1913, there are approximately 30,000 banks. Their number, capital and surplus continually increases. On the basis of that fact the Wall Streeters tell us that the capital of the banks is less concentrated now than it was formerly. They intend by that assertion to lead us to believe that they have less control. I shall prove, however, that the banks are merely the nests from which the Wall Streeters gather the people's financial deposits ; that these deposits and the credits built upon their use as a means of amassing capital and levying interest are ever so much more serviceable to the bankers than the capital stock. A large part of the capital stock is consumed in the purchase of natures and buildings that serve the banks for offices. The more numerous the banks are, and the more widely scattered through all communities, the greater is the control the Wall Streeters obtain. The people deposit their money in these banks and a large part of the money is used by the Wall Streeters as if they actually owned it, and upon its use they base an enormous credit system.
No bank is organized with the idea that its capital is the basis upon which it secures its main profits. No bank would be organized unless its organizers believed that they could secure the use of the people’s savings in a larger amount than the bank’s capitalization. Take, for instance, the following six banks in New York City : First National; Chase National; Hanover National; National Bank of Commerce; National City, and National Park. Their deposits on September 4, 1912, amounted to $839,444,143, while their capital stock was only $73,000,000.
Approximately the deposits equal 11½ times their capital, exclusive of surplus. Is it not very foxy of them to try to divert our attention from this fact to a consideration of the location of bank capital ? When I use the phrase “Wall Streeters” I do not confine it to those having offices in Wall Street. The Wall Street system is maintained in all of the large cities, and I include within the term Wall Streeters all those supporting the Wall Street system, wherever they may be.
In 1900 there were 13,977 banks, which includes non-reporting banks. In 1912 there were 28,995 banks and in that time the deposits increased from $7,688,956,450 to $17,494,067,606.
Their surplus increased in a still greater ratio and in the meantime they paid large dividends. It must be apparent to anyone that the money with which to pay the expenses incurred by operating this system (by which I mean to include the whole system of trusts) is collected from the people by capitalizing the products of our energy and even discounting the future in the form of stocks, bonds, and securities issued, on which they collect dividends and interest. This is being accomplished by a reduction of our wages and of the prices for which we sell our products, or the services we render as well as by increasing the price of what they control that we must buy.
By inversion this prevents a proper reduction in the hours of labor. These have not decreased, nor has our pay increased proportionately with the new mechanical devices and the new methods of application which have immensely increased our productive energy, but the additional product which has resulted from their use has been capitalized in order that the dividends which we pay shall increase. All of these things were scientifically figured out, then commercialized, then speculatized, and finally gamblerized both as to the present and the future. All have been overdone and all pooled as a common charge against the products accruing from the expenditure of our life’s energy.
Many of us were children when the extortion began, and we can hardly blame our parents for permitting the initiation of what we have allowed to be developed into a full-fledged, scientific, legalized system of extortion. But now, since we understand its effects, our children ought to look back on us with shame if we permit its continuance. It is not the bankers who have primarily fastened upon us this system of capitalizing our life energies for their own selfish use.
It is the banking and currency system, which we have allowed to remain in operation, and create special interests. The people alone have the power to amend or change it. Therefore we and not the bankers are responsible for the existence of the present system.
Omitting the banks not reporting, of which there were more than 4,000 in 1911, the 25,195 that did report up to June 14, 1912, showed,
Capital stock paid in ............................$2,010,843,505.43
Undivided profits .................................$ 581,178,042.47
Total accumulations, capital included ..$4,177,002,654.34
Over four billion dollars bank capital ! That is approximately $44.40 for each man, woman and child, and the bankers actually believe we owe them that, notwithstanding that it is practically a capitalization of ourselves, the same as a farmer capitalizes the growth of his hogs, but with the advantage to the hogs, because the farmer takes good care of the hogs until they are sold to be slaughtered. And what is more, this $44.40 is the nest egg only. We have already paid several times that to them in dividends. But greater than both combined are the profits from the speculation and gambling indulged in by the king bankers, and by many of those to whom they loan the people's deposits. We shall study their operations at another time. The banks are merely the nest eggs of the whole system. Those who gather from these nests have the greatest opportunities.
If we were to look into the banks just before they close, we would find in them persons from the business houses depositing their daily collections. In the earlier banking hours we would find such people making deposits as the farmers, wage earners, and others who do not collect each day the returns of their labor and business affairs.
Out of the 94,000,000 of us, all who are engaged in work or business of any kind for which we receive cash, are trotting immediately to the receiving windows of the 30,000 banks and trust companies and passing over their counters our hard-earned cash. This cash is flowing from these 30,000 banks into Wall Street and other speculating centers like a flood stream. It is the use of these deposits by the speculators that gives the Money Trust its power over the people. Indeed the Wall Streeters have had all the greatest opportunities, for this practice has been going on for a long time.
You may say, "Yes, but the banks loan part of the people's deposits back to them." That is true, but eventually it works out to the satisfaction of the Wall Streeters. Of course, they want enough cash left back in the respective communities from which it pours in, so that our country’s industries, whatever they may be, may be operated. That is on the same principle that a farmer will always keep breeders to replenish his live stock. The Wall Streeters know that the harder we work in order to produce commodities of whatever kind, the more we will have to turn over to the rich. The industries must be active everywhere in order to concentrate the cream of their products into the vaults of the banks and finally into the control of the trusts and special interests. In our studies this will become as plain as the noonday sun on a clear day.
Yes, there are 30,000 banks in the small towns, villages, and great cities, that serve as nests into which the eggs are dropped,—that is, our cash. The total of our individual deposits for the year of 1912, in the banks making reports to the Comptroller of Currency, was $17,024,067,606. Add to that the deposits in banks not reporting, and the total will be correspondingly increased. That enormous amount was supplied by us as a result of the expenditure of our energy and labor, and it is important that we should know what good, if any, comes from our supplying these banks with working material to be used under the present system.
Banks are divided into three classes:
First, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis form a class by themselves, and are called the Central Reserve Banks.
Second, 47 of the other large cities are Reserve Cities, and in those, banks are designated as Reserve Banks.
Third, all of the banks not in the first two classes are called Non-Reserve Banks. This classification gives the greatest elasticity to the system of speculating and gambling with the deposits. It is this classification also that gave the Money Trust its start. It secured the use of the people’s money just the same as if it had actually owned it. How, you ask ? . . . Simple enough ! It is worked by a rule of self interest—profit to the banks. The law requires the non-reserve banks to keep 15% reserve. This they are prohibited from loaning to borrowers in the locality from which the banks get their deposits, but they may keep 3/5 (or over half) of it in reserve banks, and the latter may loan 75% of that 3/5 out to anybody. Further, the Reserve Banks offer the Non-Reserve Banks 2% interest and that inducement secures for them the greater part of these reserves, and much of the time even more than is required for the reserve.
The Reserve Banks are required to keep 25% reserve, but all except those in the three Central Reserve Cities, New York, Chicago and St. Louis, may keep 50% of their reserves in these three cities. From this it will be seen that a practical working out shows that the actual reserves of the banks are, in non-reserve banks, approximately 6% of their deposits ; and in the other banks, except New York, Chicago and St. Louis, 12½% of their deposits. The rest is principally sent to the banks in Central Reserve cities which pay 2% interest and loan it out largely to speculators and promoters.
To those not knowing the tricks of the business, the practice of keeping reserves in other banks may seem harmless. But upon examination we find it to be a most clever device, and operated in order that the banks generally shall supply the financial speculators and gamblers with the people’s money. It is true that that is not the real purpose of most bankers, but it results in that.
Editorials in that portion of the press that is subservient to the Money Trust, state that we plain people have billions of dollars deposited in the banks, and seek to make the list of depositors appear to be a general one. But any one person having deposits in two or more banks was listed as many times as his name appeared in the list of depositors in different banks, and some business houses have hundreds of accounts in one form or another. After this process they boldly proceed to ask, "Who is the Money Trust ?" . . . This is their brazen answer to their own question : "The people are." Thousands of newspapers are supported by the interests for the very purpose of beguiling us into believing the things that these interests want us to believe.
This question of who owns and who uses the money is the one on which they expend the greatest efforts in order to deceive.
It is a fact that the people own a part of the bank deposits, but the banking system is so cleverly arranged in the interest of the banks that the people have comparatively little benefit from their own deposits. On the contrary, the people's money placed in the banks is principally used as a basis for credit and on that credit the banks collect the interest which operates to reduce the prices of what we sell and increase the prices of what we buy.
General business is transacted on approximately $24 credit to each dollar in cash, ...and under the highly specialized system of Wall Street there is a still greater elasticity of credit. We all know that business is not carried on wholly with the actual money, in fact, business is almost wholly conducted on credit.
Yes,...the people do own considerable of the money deposited in the banks, but they do not use the credit that is based upon it. They deposit the money, but the banks in conjunction with the speculators, appropriate and manipulate the credit based upon that. We support that credit and during normal times that practice has a vastly greater effect in the control of business than does the actual money. That is where we plain folks get left. If any of us wish to use the credit we must pay the banks 6% and upwards, and yet the value of that same credit is based upon the products of our own energy. The banks do not, ordinarily, part with the money when they make loans. The borrower gives his note and the sum for which it calls is placed to his credit on the bank books, after which he checks on that account to pay bills. These checks are usually deposited by the payee in the same or some other bank and in the general average of business each bank gets back as much as it loans. The money that we deposit forms the basis for an amount of credit many times greater than the amount of actual money. The bankers have the advantage of all that, . . . and it is pyramided and sold and resold many times. The banks are specialists in the manipulation of that credit and as a matter of fact they are required by the exigencies of business to be so, as long as we allow the present ridiculous system of money and credit supply to continue.
On June 14, 1912, all told, there was only $1,572,953,579.43 of actual money in the reporting banks, but in these same banks there was credited to individual depositors over seventeen billions. The banks have never had, at one time, much in excess of one and one-half billion dollars of real money.
The banks are properly the clearing housed for money and credit exchanges, but they have misapplied their trust and have become our commercial masters. Many of them have associated themselves with the gambling speculators and are now speculating for themselves. Further, the people’s deposits are being used by them and those to whom they loan to pyramid in stocks, bonds, and other securities, which aggregate at the present time approximately amounts to $50,000,000,000 and is rapidly nearing the $100,000,000,000 mark. Excessive dividends and interest are charged and compounded semiannually and annually on this sum. That decreases our net earnings, increases the price of the commodities we buy, and prevents a proper reduction in the hours of labor required. Against this $50,000,000,000 on which the Money Trust combination charges us exorbitant maintenance expense, in addition to interest and dividends, we own merely a part of the $17,000,000,000 of deposits, and a few of us are drawing 3% and 4% interest on small balances.
You can now begin to appreciate how comparatively insignificant the little deposits a few of us plain folks are able to make for ourselves are, when we measure the interest we get with the maintenance expense, dividends, interest and profits which the bankers, trusts, and speculators obtain on the credits they create on these deposits, and realize that all of these are supported by the products of our energy expenditure.
To give a concrete illustration, take, for instance, the increasing reserves held by the following central reserve banks : Hanover National, National City, National Bank of Commerce, First National Bank, and Chase National. These are the six principal banks in New York City and we can apply the principle that governs them with that which governs other banks without going into tiresome details. Covering a period of 15 years, notice how diligently they have been skimming the country for the reserves of other banks. The growth of these reserves held by the six banks are as follows for the period named:
September, 1898......................$ 94,394,210
September, 1899...................... 154,514,691
September, 1900...................... 176,731,918
September, 1901...................... 210,763,488
September, 1902...................... 253,515,055
September, 1903...................... 227,780,147
September, 1904...................... 258,558,149
September, 1906...................... 334,560,214
September, 1908...................... 311,499,877
September, 1909...................... 399,658,140
September, 1910...................... 400,740,817
September, 1911...................... 451,050,573
The capital of these six banks has been increased from time to time during the last fifteen years by means of adding a part of their profits. In 1912 it was $73,000,000 (the larger part of which was the profits that had been previously made on a smaller capitalization), and in addition they had $82,000,000 surplus ; in other words, profits piled up. Besides all that, they had $26,332,698 of undivided profits, or profits that have not been declared as dividends or placed to the credit of surplus. In the meantime, these six banks had paid enormous dividends to the stockholders. The profits of the First National, one of the banks mentioned above, amounted to $56,000,000 in fifty years. The original investment was $500,000. The total deposits of the "Big Six" now, in 1913, approximates a billion dollars. We should not overlook the fact that this is largely actual money, as the New York banks secure more of that than banks elsewhere, and that by Wall Street's system of credits it may support many billions of credits for the Wall Streeters.
There is a group of banks in each of the large cities working the same game with the credit supported by the people, and yet, enormous as the aggregate amount of these bank profits may seem, they are almost insignificant when compared with profits that we pay the other special interests which have grown out of our monstrous banking and currency system.
We now have fixed, as a part of our knowledge, the fact that bankers have by law and by practice special privileges which enable them to handle the people’s money and juggle with credits in such a way that they become rich, but we have not yet seen the greatest of their advantages. We have already found that bankers as a class are rich, made rich by the use of the credit that is supported by us, and they are organized for the very purpose of using that.
We should mention something about the personalities of the bankers whom we meet upon the journey of life, and strive to learn by what rule or right, they secure the privilege of converting into their own control the credit that is necessary in order to carry on the business and commerce of the country. Why should the bankers have the power to contract and expand at their pleasure, the credit that the people themselves support ? Under the present order of civilization it is the greatest privilege in existence. The manner of its exercise by bankers and speculators is continually sending to their graves thousands of poverty-stricken persons for each person that it aids to competency. Is it not extremely important that we should know by what method these bankers become the arbiters of our destinies ? They were not selected by us to do this. Just so long as we allow them to dominate by the system they employ, the road to success is absolutely closed to the vast majority of farmers, wage earners, and others employed in different pursuits of life.
In the earlier part of our study we made some observations about bank capital. We are now prepared to know more about it. In order to obtain the controlling advantage in the banking business, it is not sufficient to own a little bank stock. Many people own bank stock and some control banks without knowing much about their actual power. These, however, are the ordinary banks, such as most of us patronize if we have occasion to do a direct business with banks.
These banks serve as supply stations for the larger city banks. They are not designed for that purpose, but that is the result of the system under which they operate.
We have already observed that any person of ordinary capacity, bearing a fair reputation, and possessing actual nerve, can start a bank, without capital, in any place where a bank is needed, and that they frequently do at points where no additional bank is necessary. We have also learned that the greater part of the banking capital has been created out of profits obtained from the use of the people's labor and credit; that the surplus of the six largest New York banks exceeds their stated capital, it being $73,000,000, while the surplus is $82,000,000; that much of their stated capital was created out of earlier surplus accounts; and that, in addition, they have $26,332,698 of undivided profits. What is commonly thought of as actual capital is simply the notes, or the proceeds from the notes, of some of the principal incorporators who borrowed from banks, or from others, and paid them with money out of the dividend collections. The whole thing is, and has been, based almost entirely upon a system of credit, and we have remained ignorant of the fact that instead of allowing a few men with average capacity, supposed fair reputation, and actual nerve, to appropriate the credit that the rest of us have supported by hard labor, we should have utilized that credit for the benefit of those plain people who really support it.
We should become firmly imbued with the truth of that statement. Indeed, the most of us who are over 21 years old and have voted will become more and more humiliated as we proceed and realize how, we have been beguiled into supporting the very things that have robbed us of the best results of our life’s energy. But it is better to be once humiliated and become thereafter ashamed of our own past stupidity, than it is to continue in ignorance and place the increasing burdens upon the shoulders of our children. It is time that we realized that our banking and currency system is not only rotten in its application but that it is absolutely false in its basis, and must be changed.
It is because of that condition that I introduced a resolution providing for an investigation of the Money Trust. The interests saw the danger in which such an investigation would place them if the public should learn the actual facts, and they immediately started that portion of the press controlled by the trusts to laughing at my resolution. An attempt was made by those interests and the subservient political bosses, irrespective of party, to ridicule it out of Congress. They recognized that the resolution was aimed at the very heart of all the trusts and combinations.
The political bosses do not always keep so well informed about the ways of business as they do about the jugglery of politics, nor the means by which the public may be prevented from understanding their operations, but they do juggle the rules of both Houses of Congress in order to restrain action against and promote action favorable to the trusts. The trusts inform the politicians of how they wish them to act upon matters which affect the trusts, and in the case of my resolution they were induced to pigeon-hole it. But the public had heard the alarm. The independent press was insistent on information . . . sought to obtain facts from me, searched for other facts themselves . . . and heralded to the world the purposes of the resolution. Thousands of letters and telegrams were sent to the Members of Congress from their constituents. . . . The political bosses soon found it necessary to cover the tracks the trusts had made when coming to their offices. . . . Something had to be done ; and that quickly, or the indignation aroused at the failure of Congress to act would run riot and the heads of political bosses tumble.
Secret meetings were held by the representatives in Congress of the trusts and bosses. The doors of the innermost and least suspected offices were barred to the public, and so guarded that none should enter who were interested on behalf of the public. In these offices plans were laid for the drafting of a new resolution, the purpose of which was to defeat the appointment of a special committee, and to substitute for it the Banking and Currency Committee; which was chiefly composed of bankers, their agents and attorneys, and the interests expected that that committee would faithfully protect the wrongs committed against the public, in so far as it could be done without arousing public suspicion. It could not whitewash the whole of the Money Trust operations, but much could and would be concealed by that means, and was in fact, as was shown by subsequent developments.
The next step was to secure the passage of this substituted resolution, which really amounted to the investigation being made by the secret friends of the Money Trust. This committee, as well might be expected, . . . because of the special personal interest of its members, . . . did not select an attorney to aid them from among the many able attorneys who are Members of the House and who would serve without further pay than that to which they are entitled as Members, . . . but they selected a Wall Street attorney, paid him a very high salary, allowed him to manage the whole investigation and practically draft the committee’s report. I do not make that statement as a reflection upon the attorney so selected, but merely to indicate the fact that the Banking and Currency Committee did not view this subject from the standpoint of the general public.
At first it was supposed that the public would be appeased with such a proceeding, and the whole subject be easily handled under the sacred boss system. A secret caucus was resorted to. ... In a later study we shall consider these secret caucuses and ascertain the method by means of which the politicians have so long served the trusts while being maintained in office by the public.
The caucus on the Money Trust resolution was attended by many well-meaning but misguided followers of bossism. The substituted Money Trust Resolution was adopted, and on a later day passed by the House. Those Members who bound themselves by the gag caucus rule were guilty of perjury and treason, but that has been so common a result of the caucus rule that it is no longer considered as such by them. They believe that anything founded in precedent is justified, and each believes that he is justified and his conscience satisfied when once he yields his convictions to the will of the bosses. But the people will awaken their asphyxiated consciences on this caucus system once they learn the cost it entails on national efficiency.
The Money Trust won, . . . of course, . . . and the Banking and Currency Committee took charge of the investigation on behalf of their masters, the bankers. Probably not one of the men on this committee is really dishonest. I believe that each one of them believes that he is conscientious and that he does not intentionally wrong the public. But they have developed the selfish viewpoint to a degree that enables them to believe that the public is really mistaken. That is almost always the case, however, with those who have become the beneficiaries of a system.
The Banking and Currency Committee had to be forced by public opinion to do more than make a pretense at action. It was presumed by its members that the public was ignorant of the facts, but the truth was that too many things had already been exposed. The public demanded proof. A great political party was in danger. The bosses saw the danger and they made a feint at investigation, as a result of which they gathered in a few morsels to be spread broadcast before the general election. Then all was silent and the committee would meet and adjourn, and meet again and adjourn, and so on, over and over again. While that continued the Money Trust and the subservient politicians were safe. All was quiet until Congress convened. Then, on December 2, 1912, I introduced the following resolution:
WHEREAS. Congress created in 1908 a National Monetary Commission with authority to investigate monetary problems in general, andThe press immediately published broadcast the substance of the above resolution. As a result of the strong public sentiment, the committee was forced to act with more diligence. (The same as the politicians in the old political parties became progressive when public opinion forced it.) The party in control scented danger. The fear of adverse public sentiment, the only thing that boss politicians fear, aroused them to action. The committee was now forced to subpoena witnesses and hear their testimony, some parts of which were afterwards published by the press.
WHEREAS, said Committee has been discharged, but first made and filed a report and recommendations for certain legislation embodied in a bill now pending in Congress and popularly known as the Aldrich plan, but the report failed to disclose any facts in relation to the monopolistic control exercised by certain great special interests of the principal money and credit that enters into commerce, business, and speculation; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that Congress should know the facts relating thereto before permanent remedial financial legislation should be undertaken, and
WHEREAS, there is a pressing demand for early legislation, and for other good and sufficient causes, the House authorized the Banking and Currency Committee to investigate the Money Trust, which exercises a potential and injurious influence in the control of the principal sources of money and credit supply entering commerce, business and speculation, and
>WHEREAS, the Committee, in the many months that have passed since it was so authorized, seems not to have undertaken the investigation for the purpose of securing facts to aid in framing early remedial financial legislation, but rather to have been planning an investigation as if for indictment or some other remote purpose, and in which it is blocked by offenders against honest and impartial rules of business and Government officials who deem the personal privileges of banks so sacred that their business shall not be inquired into even for the benefit of the public, and
WHEREAS, this action on the part of the special interests, supported by the refusal of the Government officials to help the committee, is important in itself, the facts should become a part of the committee report, but should in no way delay the investigation which is important in that its purpose is to secure the facts and circumstances that improperly interfere with legitimate commerce and business. If the committee intends to secure information for other purposes and has not sufficient power, it nevertheless should secure the information which is of the most vital importance and which was the moving cause for its authorization ; that is, information which will enable Congress to intelligently enact remedial laws relating to the control of money and credits; and
WHEREAS, it has never been claimed that there is or ever was an organized or even an unorganized association that can be specifically pointed to and named as the Money Trust, it is therefore useless to undertake to prove such an organization exists for the purpose of punishing it. Neither formal nor informal organization is necessary to its potential existence. In fact, its power is the greater because it exists without actual material rules of organization, for by the methods of its existence it is immune from prosecution. It nevertheless can and does by indirection what it could not do by direction. The very fact that the business interests know that there is a money power which can make or unmake business for them gives that power its greatest efficiency of control. Silently and surely that power is exerted, and its force is realized by all industrial agencies. Because of its peculiar, yet potent, force, it is important that we have early legislation. The main facts and circumstances by which the Money Trust is maintained may be easily proven to the intelligence and understanding of the public by a proper compilation of the facts that are now obtainable, and it was for that purpose principally that the committee received its authority from the House; Now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Committee on Banking and Currency is requested to proceed without delay with an investigation of the Money Trust influence, for the purpose of securing all the practical information and data that may reasonably be had in regard to the influence exercised by the Money Trust in the control of banks and of money and credits.
RESOLVED FURTHER, That said committee shall report the results of its investigation to the House from time to time with reasonable promptness.
In the speech that I made in support of my first resolution, I disclosed the conditions that the subsequent evidence of the kings of finance proved to exist. . . . But the committee softpedaled, and brought out only those things that every student of the financial conditions already knows, and such information as had been substantially published in magazines and discussed in Congress by Senator LaFollette, myself, and others. It was only the fact that it was furnished verbally by the fellows in the actual game that aroused a new and more general interest.
The committee did not seek out the most crafty parts of these speculators and gamblers in order that the public might secure a correct view of the false system of laws that govern the banking and currency business ; but what was to be expected from a committee that was controlled by bankers, and whose chairman was a banker ? . . . Naturally, it avoided questions upon the most important economic truths which should have been disclosed as a result of the investigation. The tricks of the witnesses will die with them, but the system that permits the tricks still remains for others to operate under until it shall be remedied.
A sub-committee was created to propose a remedy. This committee is also controlled by the bankers, and has a banker for chairman. These men have personal financial interests in the legislation. Our—that is, the peoples'—concern in changing the system is to promote the general welfare. . . . The bankers have a special interest, and since they control the committee, . . . what show have we against them ? Since their interest is to collect interest from us! . . . They go as far as they dare without arousing a hurricane of public indignation as a result of the favors they extend to their own business. The friendliness that the Banking and Currency Committee displayed toward the Money Trust was apparent to anyone who had given any time to the study of the problems placed before it for investigation. Their work was as mere play when compared with the importance of the subject. Nevertheless, it served a good purpose, although its service was of a weak nature.
Jacob H. Schiff, one of New York’s greatest financiers, and one of the witnesses who testified before the committee, is an example of a man with the kind of mind and over-selfish viewpoint which prevails among the men who had a personal financial interest in the result of the Committee’s investigation, such as the banker members of the Banking and Currency Committee may be expected to have. Mr. Schiff, under oath, told the committee in substance that:
If individuals can accomplish a monopoly he believed they should not be hampered by law ! The laws of nature, he told the committee, are best for preventing too gigantic projects; and he cited the fall of the Tower of Babel as an example of the futility of human effort extended too far. Among the articles expounded by Schiff in his creed of business and finance was the assertion that the minority in all corporations should not he allowed representation among the officers and directors by law. "The majority should always rule," he said, "and the minority should protect their rights as best they can."
Is it not easy to see by this statement of Mr. Schiff’s that it is preposterous for Congress to appoint mostly bankers, their agents and attorneys on its Banking and Currency Committee ? Mr. Schiff is not cut from a different cloth, nor by a different pattern than the rest of humanity. Acting in our individual capacity, we look after our own interests, but in a collective sense we have not carried this interest far enough, and, consequently, we have such financial wizards as Mr. Schiff.
Now, let us analyze the last sentence of the quotation from Banker Schiff's testimony to his brother bankers when the committee examined him. He said:
"The majority should always rule and the minority should protect their rights as best they can."Now suppose we consider our own case—that is, the interests of the public—in the light of this statement of a king banker, which statement bears reference to the smaller stockholders in corporations. There are 30,000 banks in this country. There may be 200,000 bankers. I do not know their exact number, but I know that there are approximately 94,000,000 of us. In the percentage of human beings the bankers are not equal to 1 per cent of the population. There is, on the average, perhaps not more than one banker to 2,000 other people. Suppose we should take Mr. Schiff at his word and let the minority "protect their interests as best they can," and we, the people, take the power which we possess,—and the Constitution contemplates that we should exercise as a government, and Lincoln proposed, . . . namely, "coin the people’s national credit," . . . instead of letting the bankers coin it for their own selfish use. What would happen to Mr. Schiff and his brother bankers who control the Committee on Banking and Currency if we did that ? . . . That is one of the questions that will be answered before this study ends.
THE ALDRICH PLAN.
Lest the purpose of my starting the original Money Trust probe be misconstrued, I here state that it was not for the purpose of discovering the Money Trust. Long before that time it was known by those who had carefully studied the problem that there was a money power combination that operated and controlled the country’s finances and carried on its operations in a shameful manner. The purpose and actual effect of my original resolution was a flank move, to defeat the special interests in their attempt to fasten on the people of this country the so-called Aldrich Banking and Currency Plan for 50 years. This plan was an attempt on their part to make the greatest steal from the people that has ever been made.
In the panic of 1903 I began taking notice of the operations of the larger banks. At that time, as far as I could see, there had been no attempt to form combinations in order to centralize deposits. Each banker seemed to be working out his separate business existence along that line, and at the same time getting all that he could in return. There were, however, banking associations which brought the bankers together, and in these meetings they discussed ways and means for their mutual advantage—even to the extent of maintaining efficient influence over legislation.
Ever since the Civil War, Congress has allowed the bankers to completely control financial legislation. The membership of the Finance Committee in the Senate and the Committee on Banking and Currency in the House, has been made up of bankers, their agents and attorneys.
These committees have controlled the nature of bills to be reported, the extent of them, and the debates that were to be held on them when they were being considered in the Senate and the House. No one, not on the Committee, is recognized under the practice of the House as long as a member on the committee wishes recognition, and one of them is sure to hold the floor unless someone favorable to the committee has been arranged for. In this way the committees have been able to do as they pleased.
The men who have appointed the committees in the last 50 years have not had the clear and earnest viewpoint of our forefathers. On Tuesday, January 14, 1794, the following resolution was introduced in the U.S. Senate:
"Nor shall any person holding any office or stock in any institution in the nature of a bank, for issuing or discounting bills or notes payable to bearer or order, under the authority of the United States, be a member of either House whilst he holds such office or stock,"
It passed the Senate two days later, after being fought by the bankers, and amended at their instigation in order that they might be allowed to sit in Congress, but it still remained a protest to bankers controlling legislation in which they were personally interested. At the present time we possess a dulled and worn appreciation of the general fitness and consistency of these things, and we have surrendered all of our finances, including the actual control of legislation in Congress to the bankers, their agents and attorneys. At the earlier date above stated, when people were less commercial and more ethical than now, . . . they feared to trust the bankers even as plain Members of Congress. We of this age allow them to absolutely control all of the committees in Congress that make the laws of finance. Some of the members of these committees belong to banking associations that lobby in Congress in order to secure action favorable to the bankers.
Are we satisfied that the bankers to whom we pay enormous tributes from our very life's necessities, . . . should control financial legislation ? . . . Shall the Senate and House continue to give the representatives in Congress who are supported by the financial usurers a monopoly of the committees that deal with this most important subject ? . . . Shall the people supinely pay the constantly increasing usury, and still cheer their popularly elected representatives for permitting bankers to control the bills that are to be reported to the House, as well as the debates on them ? . . . Are the people to have no hearing on the questions of banking, currency, and usury?
On two different occasions within the last two years I have, by the introduction of resolutions, called the attention of Congress to the fact that no Senator or Representative should be a member of a committee that controls or influences legislation in which he has a personal interest, and especially that no banker should be on either of the committees controlling financial legislation. But Congress, notwithstanding such notice, has failed to act, and goes right on filling up the committees with members who are personally financially interested in the legislation that their committees control, and even appointing such members chairmen of the committees.
In 1893 the large Wall Street banks, and the large affiliating banks in other centers, determined to make some changes in the banking and currency laws, and especially in regard to the purchase of silver by the Government. They began by creating a stringency which we shall refer to later. It resulted in a general business and financial scare to all of the smaller banks and the business interests. It became a real panic which continued with its disastrous results for a period of years. During that period the special interests squeezed many of the small banks and some large ones, and some of these, and many business concerns, were forced into bankruptcy. Time and time again before that the bankers had been able to secure many special favors from Congress. But even with all these to their advantage they had some sleepless nights during that panic. They went through an experience that gave them further suggestions as to what would be required in their interests in the way of legislation. Immediately they began to form powerful affiliations among themselves in order to further protect themselves against the disadvantages of panics. But instead of seeking safety for themselves and protection for the general public by means of a modification of the methods of the banking business, as a reward for the special favors that had been given to them by Congress, they did not consider for a moment the protection of the public, but sought diligently for a method by which they could secure the privilege of fleecing the public whenever a panic should be in progress. That is, they would have panics, if they did occur, profitable to the favored bankers and disastrous to the public, and a panic may happen at any time under present conditions. As a matter of fact the bankers may cause a panic whenever the public seeks to enforce its rights.
In the last twenty years the banking business has grown enormously. About 1898 the signs of affiliation between the larger and more powerful banks and trust companies began to multiply. It is doubtful if at that time there was any intention on the part of the active management of the banks to associate together for any but legitimate purposes. Their affiliation was due principally to the fact that the wily heads of the big business and speculative interests decided to buy in bank stocks with a view to controlling their deposits in order that they might possess the means with which to exploit the people. They were after the deposits, and the ownership of the bank stock was necessary if they were to accomplish their purpose, but, it was merely incidental.
About the year 1900 there was some open talk of combinations being favored between the larger banks in New York City and some of the large trust companies in that and other cities. Steps were also taken to link with those interests the largest of the life insurance companies. That is why J.P. Morgan & Co. bought the control of a great life insurance company. Cash was coming in to the companies from the policy-holders everywhere. The interests, of course, wished to control that. Combinations of various kinds rapidly increased to include all of the greater concerns in large cities as well as many of the concerns in smaller towns, and in many cases it included even those in the villages. The large operators do not enter extensively into the ownership of the small institutions. These are controlled through a mutuality of business interests. Employees are frequently given the control of the smaller concerns. One can easily understand why this same selfish purpose of making the biggest profits possible causes institutions, separately owned, to co-operate as completely as they do when the stock ownership is identically the same.
The consequence is that the capitalists and financiers of Wall Street who do their "High Finance" stunts and are known as “Big Business” now dominate the banking system. It requires a little patience for those not familiar with business methods generally, to understand the facts and their bearings as they are presented, but since we know that a knowledge of these things will make us more successful in a business way, make our lives better, happier, and more intelligent, and require of us less hours of labor, and give us more equable returns for our labor, we should not fail to give a great deal of attention to the subject. If once convinced that it intimately concerns our daily existence, we will do so.
We shall not take the time to review the scandals that grow out of the Wall Street control of the funds of the life insurance companies and the manipulation of the finances by insiders. All this manipulation is done in order to compel the liquidation of many solvent banks, and industrial as well as transportation companies. We already know that it has caused numerous suicides and other desperate acts on the part of the owners and managers. These things serve as examples of what occurs to those who dare to disobey the command of the financial kings. Many of the men at the head of, or managing big business interests, possess the spirit of friendliness toward all the people of the world, but they, too, in many cases have been forced to fall into line.
Neither verbal or written contract is necessary for the existence of a money trust. The power to punish without trial is a sufficient weapon in the hands of the money kings. The late J. Pierpont Morgan swore that he did not loan money on security, however perfect or valuable it might be, unless he knew the borrowers personally or had an individual knowledge that satisfied him. That was the substance of his statement before the Money Trust Committee in December,
1912. Mr. Morgan was the world’s greatest banker. Many of the institutions that he controlled have had special privileges conferred upon them by the Government and yet this king of bankers, who was financially the most powerful in the world, proved by his testimony given under oath, that the institutions controlled by him and to which the public, through its Congressmen (who are subservient to his and other special interests), have surrendered a sacred trust,—this man, by his statement proved that he was only partially performing the trust when he stated that he refused money to all who were not known to him—known, you will understand, by the law of selfish interest to be subservient to J.P. Morgan & Co. It mattered not how honest the applicants, or how much or how valuable their security. They had to be known to be subservient to that firm. If that is not a proof of partiality in the application and business administration of the law, and the trust reposed in banks, when we give them special privileges,—then, by the great heavens, what proof do we want ? It shows that they have the power, and Banker Morgan did choose to exercise it. The others who were associated with him had to do the same thing as he, or he did not accept them as associates. Others who were associated with J.P. Morgan & Co. naturally followed the same practice. By that method it passed along, and with a comparatively few exceptions there is favoritism from the dominant to the servient, and the rest of us are only goats.
How easy it is to understand the Money Trust when we catch the spirit of Morgan’s answer, and when we realize its resources we begin to understand the silent but no less effective force, which commands, without word or act to which we can point specifically and say, "This is the identified power." The refusal of a loan to those who would secure it because they were not favorably known to bow to the king banker was sufficient proof. Shall we, notwithstanding that fact, continue to allow the banks to control the finances, a power which the Constitution gives to the government only ? Banks may properly conduct the financial transactions between the people and receive a reasonable compensation for the service, but should neither control the legislation nor the issue of money.
Of course, no one who has given the subject proper study claims that there is an organized or even an unorganized association that can be specifically pointed to and named as the Money Trust, but formal organization is not necessary to its potential existence. As a matter of fact, its power is greater because it exists without organization. It gains its purposes by indirection more effectively than it could by direction. It derives its greatest efficiency from the very fact that the business interests are aware of the existence of a power which can make or unmake them at its will. Silently and grimly, that power is exerted, and it is recognized and felt by all of the industrial interests of today.
That is a condition, and while I do not spare my criticism of the system, I do not blame such men as Mr. Morgan was, nor do I blame any of the bankers, because they are doing the things that are quite natural for human beings to do when opportunity is presented without limitations. For the sake of argument let us try to see as Mr. Morgan did and consider these facts from the viewpoint that he probably took. None of us will have the opportunity to do what he did in his time, because when we really understand we will not permit anyone to fleece us as J.P. Morgan & Co. and other bankers have fleeced us.
Surely when we see how these bankers have impoverished us by selling to us,—at usury prices,—the credit that is supported by our own toil, we will demand the privilege of controlling that credit for ourselves. We are willing to pay the bankers for their actual services, and for the skill which they exercise in facilitating exchange that is incidental to the legitimate commerce of the country, but further than that we are not obligated.
The king bankers put in motion, in 1907, a great scheme. They had gambled and speculated on Wall Street until so many watered stocks and bonds had been manufactured on speculation, that numberless speculators, big and small, sprang up all over the country, and stocks, bonds, and credits were pyramided, and re-pyramided, and re-re-pyramided. Of course such a condition could not last and a crash was inevitable, because it was not natural for such gambling to continue.
The largest crop ever grown, up to that time, was harvested in 1907 and all of the natural conditions were favorable to the greatest prosperity,—but speculation, unnatural and false, had expanded to a point where it offset all of the natural advantages. The king bankers knew the conditions and informed the most favored of their friends what was to come.
There was to be a panic in the fall of 1907 that would be advertised as the result of our bad banking and currency laws. They are bad, we admit, but it was the general speculation and the manipulations of the king bankers that was directly responsible for the panic. The bad laws were merely used as an excuse for covering their acts. But while that is the truth, it does not settle the question. We must make laws to fit the people, for we cannot make people to fit the laws. Ever since civilization began, that has been tried without success. The so-called "trust busters," who generally have been former attorneys for the trusts, do make a pretense of trying it, but they often secure their government retainers through politicians subservient to the trusts, and educated as they are in the interests of the trusts, we cannot expect much from their efforts. None of their prosecutions have resulted in lessening the cost of living. It is rather strange that anyone would believe that the cost of living will be lessened by the prosecution of the trusts. Prosecutions will serve only to establish the majesty of the law. They will not remedy the high cost of living.
We have already stated that an enormous amount of watered stock, bonds and securities were issued prior to 1907. The old laws had aided the trusts in the manufacture of these, but at that time they decided that they must have new laws favorable to their operations if they were to aggrandize and monetize their securities as they wished. They had indeed secured great holdings—the largest ever. This 1907 panic was to be the means by which the people were to be forced to enact new laws, guaranteeing the full face value of the watered stocks and bonds. That guarantee would make the people pay the interest and dividends on them forever. By this method the greatest steal ever contemplated since the beginning of humanity would be accomplished. Thus, in 1907, when Nature had responded most bountifully and when there was due to us the greatest prosperity, we were given a panic as the initial move for the proposed steal,—the Aldrich Plan.
That portion of the press subsidized by the Money Trust blamed the panic to the bad banking and currency laws. A majority of the independent press unwittingly fell into the trap and helped the interests by also blaming the laws. The failure of the latter to express the truth about it is accountable to the fact that it requires more study to understand the banking and currency laws than most editors have the time or opportunity to give on short notice. All, except the few who had been prepared for the panic, suffered more or less loss and struck back at random without really knowing what or who to blame or hit at. That is what the special interests wanted them to do. It is not strange, is it, that most people criticized the laws to which the beguiling trusts,—the Money Trust particularly—cunningly pointed as the cause?
It did not seem to occur to many that these were the same laws under which the trusts have been enabled to acquire their fortunes and to which they had given their former praise. But now the fortunes of these interests had become so very large that the great advantages given them under the laws no longer satisfied their increasing greed, and for that reason they sought to modify the laws and greatly increase their advantages.
Accordingly, when Congress convened bills were introduced to amend the banking and currency laws. The 1907 panic had been a forceful reminder to the people that a change was needed, but what kind of a change it should be, they had not the opportunity to investigate for themselves in the short time given them in which to decide upon the nature of the bill to be adopted. That fact was relied upon by the Money Trust, and the bill that finally passed was kept from the public notice until it became a law. It was purposely kept back, the intention being to spring it at the opportune time and rush it through.
Nelson W. Aldrich, whom the politicians of Rhode Island had sent to Congress as their Senator, took charge in the Senate, and Edward B. Vreeland, a prominent banker who was elected by the voters of the 37th Congressional District of New York to Congress, took charge in the House. These two distinguished gentlemen protected well the cause of the banks. In every session of Congress much time is deliberately wasted on nothingness and frivolity. Members make partisan political speeches and do all sorts of monkey work,—over half of the time is absolutely wasted. Sometimes a single Member will take an hour on a so-called "question of personal privilege." But when great problems involving our fundamental rights are up before the House for consideration, the time for debate is then limited so that it may be placed at the disposal of those who strongly favor the special interests. The special interests fear that the special privileges which they enjoy, or which they may be seeking to increase, will be taken away or refused if the problems involving the exercise of the privileges and rights belonging to the people should receive proper consideration.
When the Aldrich-Vreeland Emergency Currency Bill was sprung on the House in its finished draft and ready for action to be taken, the debate was limited to three hours and Banker Vreeland placed in charge. It took so long for copies of the bill to be gotten that many members were unable to secure a copy until within a few minutes of the time to vote. No member who wished to present the people’s side of the case was given sufficient time to enable him to properly analyze the bill. I asked for time and was told that if I would vote for the bill it would be given to me, but not otherwise. Others were treated in the same way.
Accordingly, on June 30, 1908, the Money Trust won the first fight and the Aldrich-Vreeland Emergency Law was placed on the statute books. Thus the first precedent was established for the people's guarantee of the rich man's watered securities, by making them a basis on which to issue currency. It was the entering wedge. We had already guaranteed the rich men’s money, and now, by this act, the way was opened, and it was intended that we should guarantee their watered stocks and bonds. Of course, they were too keen to attempt to complete, in a single act, such an enormous steal as it would have been if they had included all they hoped ultimately to secure. They knew that they would be caught at it if they did, and so it was planned that the whole thing should be done by a succession of acts. The first three have taken place.
Act No. 1 was the manufacture, between 1896 and 1907, through stock gambling, speculation and other devious methods and devices, of tens of billions of watered stocks, bonds, and securities.
Act No. 2 was the panic of 1907, by which those not favorable to the Money Trust could be squeezed out of business and the people frightened into demanding changes in the banking and currency laws which the Money Trust would frame.
Act No. 3 was the passage of the Aldrich-Vreeland Emergency Currency Bill, by which the Money Trust interests should have the privilege of securing from the Government currency on their watered bonds and securities.
But while the act contained no authority to change the form of the bank notes, the U.S. Treasurer (in some way that I have been unable to find a reason for) implied authority and changed the form of bank notes which were issued for the banks on government bonds. These notes had hitherto had printed on them, "This note is secured by bonds of the United States." He changed it to read as follows: "This note is secured by bonds of the United States or other securities." "Or other securities" is the addition that was secured by the special interests. The infinite care the Money Trust exercises in regard to important detail work is easily seen in this piece of management. By that change it was enabled to have the form of the money issued in its favor on watered bonds and securities, the same as bank notes secured on government bonds, and, as a result, the people do not know whether they get one or the other. None of the $500,000,000 printed and lying in the U.S. Treasury ready to float on watered bonds and securities has yet (April, 1913) been used. But it is there, maintained at a public charge, as a guarantee to the Money Trust that it may use it in case it crowds speculation beyond the point of its control. The banks may take it to prevent their own failures, but there is not even so much as a suggestion that it may be used to help keep the industries of the people in a state of prosperity. The main thing, however, that the Money Trust accomplished as a result of the passing of this act was the appointment of the National Monetary Commission, the membership of which was chiefly made up of bankers, their agents and attorneys, who have generally been educated in favor of, and to have a community of interest with, the Money Trust. The National Monetary Commission was placed in charge of the same Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and Congressman Edward B. Vreeland, who respectively had charge in the Senate and House during the passage of the act creating it. The act authorized this commission to spend money without stint or account. It spent over $300,000 in order to learn how to form a plan by which to create a greater money trust, and it afterwards recommended Congress to give this proposed trust a fifty-year charter by means of which it could rob and plunder all humanity. A bill for that purpose was introduced by members of the Monetary Commission, and its passage was planned to be the fourth and final act of the campaign to completely enslave the people.
The fourth act, however, is in process of incubation only, and it is hoped that by this time we realize the danger that all of us are in, for it is the final proposed legislation which, if it succeeds, will place us in the complete control of the moneyed interests. History records nothing so dramatic in design, nor so skillfully manipulated, as this attempt to create the National Reserve Association,—otherwise called the Aldrich Plan,—and no fact nor occurrence contemplated for the gaining of selfish ends is recorded in the world’s records which equals the beguiling methods of this colossal undertaking. Men, women, and children have been equally unconscious of how stealthily this greatest of all giant octopuses,—a greater Money Trust,—is reaching out its tentacles in its efforts to bind all humanity in perpetual servitude to the greedy will of this monster.
I was in Congress when the panic of 1907 occurred, but I had previously familiarized myself with many of the ways of high financiers. As a result of what I discovered in that study, I set out to expose the Money Trust, the world’s greatest financial giant. I knew that I could not succeed unless I could bring public sentiment to my aid. I had to secure that or fail. The Money Trust had laid its plans long before and was already executing them. It was then, and still is, training the people themselves to demand the enactment of the Aldrich Bill or a bill similar in effect. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had already been spent and millions were reserved to be used in the attempt to bring about a condition of public mind that would cause demand of the passage of the bill. If no other method succeeded, it was planned to bring on a violent panic and to rush the bill through during the distress which would result from the panic. It was figured that the people would demand new banking and currency laws ; that it would be impossible for them to get a definitely practical plan before Congress when they were in an excited state and that, as a result, the Aldrich plan would slip safely through. It was designed to pass that bill in the fall of 1911 or 1912.
At that time the people had been hearing of all kinds of trusts but one. Other trusts were being prosecuted in the hope of keeping our attention from that one. I had studied the ways of the trusts and the manner of their organization. I had concluded that they were all the offspring of one colossal trust, and that particular trust had not been named, but that it was the trust that desired to pass the Aldrich Bill. Further, I concluded that if the public could be advised of that trust, it (the trust) would be kept so busy defending itself that it would be compelled to postpone its attempt to force the passage of the Aldrich Plan by means of the drastic process of a panic, and that it might possibly be entirely defeated. Accordingly, I introduced a resolution naming the Money Trust and asked for a committee to investigate.
My purpose was accomplished. The Aldrich Plan was defeated for the time being by the influence of a positive public sentiment which developed to greater and greater proportions as I pressed the inquiry, and the press published articles about it. The advocates of the plan began to look for a means of retreat, and later they declared the plan abandoned, but lest that declaration be misconstrued, let us not deceive ourselves by believing that the purposes of the Aldrich Plan have been abandoned. They have not, and the same interests that were advocating the plan are covertly operating in order to secure a plan that will accomplish the same results and satisfy the same selfish purposes. The Aldrich Plan is not dead, but is being advocated under a disguise.
It now becomes important to know what good the investigation of the Money Trust has done when the purposes for which I started the proceedings were accomplished before the resolution even passed. We have previously seen the methods by means of which my resolution was sidetracked by the bosses, and the appointment of a special committee which would honestly go to the root of the evils avoided. If the Money Trust was to hold its sway it must have bankers in charge of the investigation. Let us inquire into the interest that the bankers have heretofore taken in the financial acts of Congress.
The bankers and the money loaners have always framed the financial legislation in their own interests. They have found, from time to time, that they did not anticipate even the extent of their own avarice. The development of new inventions which they could not anticipate has left them at times without quite as complete a control as they insist upon having, and they have kept coming to their subservient Congressmen again and again for more special favors, but since Congress has given them committees of their own in both the Senate and House, and left that class of legislation exclusively to them (to report bills on), they have had things practically their own way. I shall not go over the whole history of their scheme. A recital of a few of their acts will serve to illustrate their method. All we seek to acquire by this study is an understanding of the system, and after that each may make his research as thorough as he chooses. I shall not give the most flagrant cases of which I have knowledge because I am not seeking to stir up strife and hatred for the bankers. I merely think they ought to occupy the same standing in the social order that the rest of us occupy. As a matter of fact, they cannot even get out of their own position until we help them. We have given them so much power and privilege that they cannot handle it, and still they seek more, and they themselves do not know where the trouble lies. The kings of the game do, but the rank and file of their followers do not.
Yes, these money lenders began early to acquire control. They have never let it go. They started in Europe long, long ago, and just as soon as there was anything doing over here they were on hand. Alexander Hamilton was one of their supporters. I shall not review his acts, but shall refer to a few later things emanating directly from the banks. The English money lenders have co-operated with those of our country, and in 1862 an agent, quietly and under a sort of confidential seal, distributed among the aristocrats and the wealthy class a circular. It was called the Hazard Circular and related in a way to the Civil War. It read:
"Slavery is likely to be abolished by the war power and all chattel slavery abolished. This I and my European friends are in favor of, for slavery is but the owning of labor and carries with it the care of the laborers while the European plan, led on by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages. The great debt that capitalists will see to it is made out of the war, must be used as a means to control the volume of money. To accomplish this the bonds must be used as a banking basis. We are now waiting for the Secretary of the Treasury to make this recommendation to Congress. It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is called, to circulate as money any length of time, as we cannot control that. But we can control the bonds and through them the bank issues."
This shows how mercenary these usurers are. Rather than assume the care of the slaves, they would control labor with the use of capital. It necessarily followed that when the laborer ceased to be of service because of sickness or old age, he would be of no concern to capital. He could either get well or die without the capitalists being obliged to provide medical attention or bury the dead. Such was the interest that capital had in the result of the Civil War. The people of this country poured out both their treasure and their blood to establish the political and industrial independence of humanity, and the mercenary capitalists turned a trick of finance and converted the enormous sacrifice made by the people during that struggle into a victory for capital, in order that they might enforce upon humanity the industrial slavery that the trusts preferred rather than the chattel slavery which then existed in the Southern States. About the close of the war, 1865, we have another example worthy of note. Mr. Jay Cooke, the fiscal agent for the Government, who acted in the interest of the money loaners and bankers of our country and of Europe, published a circular and in it stated, among other things:
"We lay down the proposition that our national debt made permanent and rightly managed, will be a national blessing. The funded debt of the United States is the addition of three thousand millions of dollars to the previously realized wealth of the nation. It is three thousand millions added to the actual available capital."
Did you ever know of a person who thought that his home was worth more to him with a mortgage on it than it would be without? According to Mr. Cooke, it would be. With truthfulness he could have added that the national debt was so much on which to tax the daily earnings of those who survived the horrors of a civil war. He said practically that in another clause of his circular which runs as follows: "To tax this debt would be to extinguish the capital and lose the wealth."
Is it any wonder that the cost of living is high, and still getting higher, when we have such statesmen to administer our government? Again in 1877 a circular was issued by authority of the Associated Bankers of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. It was signed by one James Buel, Secretary, and sent out from 247 Broadway, New York. It was sent to the bankers in all of the States. It read:
"Dear Sir:—It is advisable to do all in your power to sustain such prominent daily and weekly newspapers, especially the agricultural and religious press, as will oppose the greenback issue of paper money; and that you also withhold patronage from all applicants who are not willing to oppose the government issue of money. Let the Government issue the coin and the banks issue the paper money of the country, for then we can better protect each other. To repeal the act creating bank notes, or to restore to circulation the government issue of money, will be to provide the people with money and will therefore seriously affect our individual profits as bankers and lenders. See your Congressman at once and engage him to support our interests, that we may control legislation."
Isn't it astounding how very like the bankers of the present time those bankers of 1877 were? Some of them are still with us. "Withhold patronage from all applicants who are not willing to oppose the government issue of money." That was their decree. Again note how they would control the press by sustaining the press, especially the "agricultural and religious press," if these would support the money loaners, but "withhold patronage" if they would not. And note also how they were to "See your Congressman and engage him." Every cunning device was to be used to prevent the people from having the government issue money and to force them to have bank money supported by the government. What simpletons we plain folks have been to pay these bankers for the credit given to them by our own government at our own expense.
I call attention to another of their schemes. This bears a somewhat later date, one which I myself remember. I read the "Panic Circular of 1893" at the time of its issue. It was that circular which started me to studying the problems of finance. The circular was issued direct by The American Bankers’ Association, an organization in which most bankers hold membership. It bears the date March 11, 1893, and was sent to the trusted national banks in all states. It read:
"Dear sir:—The interest of national banks requires immediate financial legislation by Congress. Silver, silver certificates and treasury notes must be retired and national bank notes upon a gold basis made the only money. This will require the authorization of five hundred millions to one thousand millions of new bonds as the basis of circulation. You will at once retire one-third of your circulation and call in one-half of your loans. Be careful to make a monetary stringency among your patrons, especially among influential business men. Advocate an extra session of Congress to repeal the purchasing clause of the Sherman law and act with other banks of your city in securing a large petition to Congress for its unconditional repeal, per accompanying form. Use personal influence with your Congressman, and particularly let your wishes be known to your Senators. The future life of national banks, as fixed and safe investments, depends upon immediate action, as there is an increasing sentiment in favor of government legal tender notes and silver coinage."
One would think that after the bankers had fooled us so many times, squeezed us by suddenly retiring a part of their circulation, made the borrowing public pay half their loans, and brought stringencies among their patrons, that they would have had things fixed “for good and all.” But no ! They are after us again with another scheme cleverly disguised. This time it is called the Aldrich plan. Let us compare the present scheme with those of the past and note what we find.
Wall Streeters organized the National Citizens’ League of Chicago by means of their, secret agents and afterwards that league, through its secret agents, organized Citizens Leagues in practically all of the states. The purpose for which they were designed was that they might serve the same purpose with relation to the present proposed financial legislation that the Panic Circular of 1893 filled with regard to the legislation then desired by the interests. The circular proposed a “large petition” to be secured through the influence of "influential business men" by forcing a “monetary stringency.” This last scheme gets at the Senators and Congressmen in a more persuasive manner than the petitions did. It is also a cunning design by means of which to deceive the people who have become too intelligent to be deceived by the methods formerly practiced.
No one familiar with the facts, and not prejudiced in the matter, doubts for a moment that the National Citizens League of Chicago was an emanation from, and is supported in the main by, Wall Streeters and their dependents. All of the branch leagues throughout the different states are mainly supported from the same source. The leagues invite all people to join, and advertise that by paying $1 admission fee they will be entitled to all of the literature. The receipts from that source have not paid a twentieth part of the expense. But the scheme gets the people to join, and the greatest number of those who do join do not know from what source the league gets its principal support. One of its principal definite purposes is to publish a financial journal called "Banking Reform," the purpose of which is to influence us and cause us to ask our Congressman to support some money plan that has (covertly) received Wall Street’s approval.
This money and banking business is of great importance. A study of the principles and methods by which it is conducted requires so much time and energy, because of its immensity, that comparatively few people have any chance to give it a thorough study. That is why the so-called Citizens Leagues, organized by the influence of Wall Street, have been able to induce some honest men to join in the advocacy of its plans. The leagues claim that they are not prejudiced in favor of, nor against any plan, but wish to consider all and choose the best—a very beguiling method, is it not ? But the literature alone, which is, by the way, supplied by the Wall Streeters, and distributed by the leagues, is proof enough for anyone who wishes to know the truth.
The method used by the Citizens Leagues is simply a change made from the old method of direct action used by the money loaners, namely, petitions and letters induced by "creating a monetary stringency." The people are better educated now, and it requires a more subtle game to fool them, and a more round-about way is selected by the interests, in order that they may conceal their underground work. I have had occasion to investigate the origin of the National Citizens' League, the father of them all, and since we shall hear more of its work in its attempts to foster on us a further tenure of the money loaners' control of our life's action, I wish to insert a part of a speech I made in Congress on the plan it advocated. It is as follows:
"The subtle and underground influence of Wall Street in furthering and advocating that plan is illustrated in the formation of the National Citizens' League.
"It would be interesting to inquire why no other such powerful citizens leagues are formed to advocate other important problems than this Aldrich Plan. . . . I might run through a long list of problems, vastly important to the people, and yet not one, except this Aldrich Plan, has been dignified by the formation of national citizens leagues with branches in forty-four states. Is it because the people are, by the Aldrich Plan, to give billions of dollars to a private monopoly that these leagues have been formed ? Draw your own inference. Certain interests got busy inspiring citizens leagues. I believe in citizens leagues, but I would like to see them started voluntarily by the people themselves. I do not believe in a few men getting together and appointing themselves to the offices of a so-called citizens league and then solicit citizens to join simply to say 'Amen.'
"The chief officials of the leagues had a conference and luncheon at the Great Northern Hotel, Chicago. It was attended by the officials of the branch organizations. Its president, John V. Farwell, in opening the meeting, stated:
"The National Citizens’ League, with organizations in forty-four states of the Union, with its members drawn from all our agricultural, manufacturing and mercantile interests, is the strongest organization of its kind ever enlisted in a great public service.'
" 'We do not advocate any bill now before Congress,' stated Mr. Farwell. In the next breath he disregarded his solemn statement that, 'We do not advocate any bill now before Congress,’ and he advocated the Aldrich Bill, which was then and is now before Congress. This is the same bill that I am discussing. He spoke as follows:
" 'We do, however, recognize in the report that has been unanimously made by the National Monetary Commission the greatest step that has yet been taken in this country to give us a sound banking system. We believe that this report embodies those fundamental principles for which we all stand. The report is a conscientious, painstaking effort to provide a working basis for legislation in Congress. We will continue to advocate these principles, confident that Congress will give us the legislation the country demands.'
"How could the National Citizens' League indorse and advocate the bill more subtly than in the language of that speech ? Not only did it advocate the plan at its meeting but it employed speakers to travel all over the country and speak in its favor. It distributed all kinds of literature in support of the Aldrich bill, and as far as practicable for it to do so, it suppressed all literature that opposed that plan. Wall Street is the underground support of the leagues, and Wall Street sought through the help of the leagues to force Congress to pass the Aldrich bill before the general public had solved its mysteries because it knew that once the public learned the real purpose of the bill it would not permit its passage. Members of the leagues, with few exceptions, do not know at present that they are advocating the Wall Street plan."
"I particularly call attention to one phase of the Wall Street underground work. I have already received letters on this particular phase of the subject from over one hundred different banks in many different States. Only seven of these letters are from my own State. The letters written by the New York banks to their correspondents are all practically the same. I shall quote one set only, as an example of what they all are. To wit:
" 'The Chase National Bank,
"'New York, Feb. 21, 1912.
"'(Gentlemen:—We inclose a letter from the National Citizens' League which we have been asked to forward to you. The campaign of education which the league is conducting in favor of currency and banking reform is nonpartisan in character and national in scope. We believe it of direct importance to the business interests of the country. The merchants interested in the work have felt that, while they regard themselves as responsible for the raising of funds for the prosecution of the work, the country at large should know that the banking interest is in sympathy with the work. Any correspondence should be taken up with Mr. Isidor Straus, treasurer, Broadway and Thirty-fourth Street, New York, and any contributions made direct to him.
" 'Yours sincerely,
"'A.H. Wiggins, President."
You will notice that the letter does not give the name of the bank to which it was sent. Some of these letters are written to others than bankers. You will realize that it is another case of the Wall Streeters using the interests’ method in order to scare the country bankers, merchants and others, and not reap the blame for the “monetary stringency.” The following blank was enclosed in the letter of President Wiggins, who is one of the "big six" Wall Street bankers. It was intended that it should be filled out by the bankers to whom it was sent. The blank was:
New York Feb. .... 1912.
"To Isidor Straus, Esq.,
"Treasurer National Citizens' League,
"100 Broad Street, New York City.
"Dear Sir:—I inclose herewith my check for $...... as my subscription to the fund of the National Citizens' League in its campaign of public education for the promotion of a sound banking system.
Attached to the letter of the Chase National Bank was a letter from which I quote a few paragraphs as follows:
"Dear Sir:—You insure your property against fire, your business against risks, yourself against incapacity and death. For this protection you pay many annual premiums of considerable amount.
"We ask you to pay a single premium for the insurance of your business against money panics, against the business collapse that attends them, and the business depression that follows them."
* * * * * *
"These are the benefits of banking and currency reform. And this reform is assured if the business men will combine and lend it the same support they gave the sound money in the ’nineties.
"The issue is just as live and big. Sound currency needs a sound currency system back of it. Business isn’t paralyzed today as it was four years ago. Another panic is not anticipated. But the fact remains and it must be faced squarely now, that under our present defective and dangerous banking system disastrous panics can not be controlled. Revision is demanded now."
* * * * *
"Business men all over the country, irrespective of rank and party lines, have organized the National Citizens’ League for the promotion of a sound banking system."
"The league does not advocate any particular plan, but is carrying on a nation-wide campaign of education in an economical and legitimate way, to the end of arousing Congress to prompt and business-like action free from the prejudice of partisan politics.”
"Any subscription from $1 upward will constitute a membership in the league.”
* * * * * *
"If you count this a good business investment, with 1907 clearly remembered, will you fill out and return the inclosed blank ?
"Yours very truly,
"President New York State Branch of the National Citizens' League."
I ask you to re-read the Panic Circular of 1893, Quotation "E." It is important in connection with the above letter.
I have similar letters which were sent out by the Wall Street banks. These letters were sent into all of the states. Every banker, except one, who wrote me, expressly requested that I should not disclose his name, for to do so, they wrote, would bring upon them the disfavor of certain business interests. I shall quote one of these letters in order to show what I believe to be the attitude held by the bankers in the small towns. This belief is suppressed because the country bankers fear that their business will be harmed if they incur the disfavor of the special interests. I omit from the letter all the facts that would identify the party, for reasons appearing in the letter itself. It is as follows:
".................., Minn., 1912.
"HON. C.A. LINDBERGH,
"Dear Sir:—I have noticed with considerable interest your charge against the National Citizens’ League—that it is being financed by wall Street influence. I am inclosing herewith a circular letter from a Wall Street bank, soliciting subscriptions for the league from the Minnesota banks. This letter comes from our New York correspondent. I assume that the plan is to reach our banks in this way through their New York depository. I take the liberty of sending this to you as it may be of some value to you in your campaign against the iniquitous Aldrich currency measure.
"This letter comes to you from a stranger, but from one who is in hearty sympathy with your congressional work. I would, of course, not want either my name or bank mentioned publicly in this connection.
It is to be regretted that the conditions are such that bankers dare not come forward and openly fight this “iniquitous Aldrich currency measure,” as this man so aptly terms it.
It has been announced that the Aldrich plan has been abandoned because it is believed that the name would prove disastrous to its chances for adoption, but, although this attempt has been made in order to make it appear that the bill has been abandoned, the substance has been retained and is still being pushed by the Wall Streeters for adoption. It is the substance and not the name that is material to us, and we should center our fight on the substance and disregard the name with which it is labeled.
The bankers are willing to join with the citizens not selfishly interested, and aid them in their attempt to correct the present system. But they insist that we should show strength enough to make our fight seem to have a reasonable chance of success. They are too practical, and I may as well add selfish, to jeopardize their interests, by embracing a cause that fails to give some reasonable promise of success, and no sound policy favorable to the general welfare has any prospect of success until the people themselves understand the ways and means by which to meet their own vital necessities. Until they do, the temptation to fleece them is too great for the selfish interests to resist.
While I was making an aggressive fight against the Aldrich plan, the National Citizens’ League of Chicago sent the Hon. Robert W. Bonynge to its branch league in my own State to make speeches for the Aldrich plan. Mr. Bonynge was himself a member of the National Monetary Commission that reported to Congress on the Aldrich plan. He was sent to my home town, Little Falls, and to two other towns in the district that I represent, to advocate the Aldrich plan. Incidentally it was expected to influence the people of my own district against me because I opposed the Aldrich plan. They hoped by doing so to force me to abandon the fight. After Mr. Bonynge completed his lecture course, which covered several states, he sent the following notice to Members of Congress:
"26 Exchange Place,
"New York City, Dec. 2nd, 1912.
"Robert W. Bonynge, lately of the Colorado Bar, and Paul Bonynge announce the formation of a partnership for the general practice of law under the firm name of BONYNGE AND BONYNGE, with offices at the above address. Telephone 4967 Broad."
The location of 36 Exchange Place, New York City, is down in the Wall Street district. Each fact brings out more clearly that there is an attempt being made to make the greatest steal of all times, but because of its enormity, and because the people understand the social problems better, it is necessary that more adroit measures be resorted to than were formerly necessary, in order that special legislation may be secured, which will be favorable to the Money Trust. The National Monetary Commission was no sooner created than plans were formulated to advocate a scheme that was expected to be evolved by it, and the National Citizens’ League of Chicago was put into effective organization for that purpose very soon after the commission was created. Let us further consider the work of these leagues, because they were organized as agencies by means of which it was expected to fool the people and secure additional favors for the Money Trust. If you will again refer to circulars B, C, D, and E, you will observe the subtleness of the following circular which was issued by the National Citizens’ League of Chicago, and distributed by its branch leagues as a means of accomplishing the latest designs of the Money Trust. It reads:
"The National Citizens' League
"For the promotion of a sound banking system,
"223 West Jackson Boulevard.
"To the Members of the National Citizens’ League:
"There is enclosed herewith for your information a brief report of the progress made by the League during the year which has just closed, a statement of the situation and the prospects ahead. You will observe at once that it was never more important that the work of education be pushed, that discussion of the question be promoted and study of it urged.
"By joining the League you proved your interest in the cause of banking reform. Every member of the League should prove again that interest by doing active missionary work. It is necessary to spread the gospel of a sound, panic-proof banking system.
"President-elect Wilson and dozens of Congressmen have expressed the view that public opinion on this question is still unformed. It is the work of the League to form public opinion and impress the fact on Congressmen.
"One way is for the League members to write direct to their Representatives and Senators, urging action and giving reasons for it. Another is to urge your interested friends to do the same. And another way is for every member of the League to get a new member. You know the returns members receive. You know whether membership is worth while.
"The league has less than 10,000 members now. This number can be doubled before February 1. It will be doubled if every member will get a new member.
"Will you do your share?
"When the League has 100,000 members there will be tangible and audible proof that public opinion is crystallized, sound and militant.
“The members of the League must act with the League and for banking reform.
"Very truly yours,
"A.D. WELTON, General Secretary."
Notice especially, how the letter says, "One way is for League members to write direct to Representatives and Senators," etc. This is substantially the same old story that we find in quotations "D" and "E." Notice also that the membership of the League is less than 10,000.
They have not been able to fool many of the country bankers because most of them realize that the Aldrich plan would make of them merely the agents of Wall Street.
The following shows the method by which the State Leagues assist in upholding the purposes for which the National Citizens’ League was formed. Here we have the Minnesota branch of it:
"President John H. Rich,
"The Citizens' League of Minnesota.
"The publications and report of the Monetary Commission form the most complete and valuable reference library on banking and currency in every civilized country that has ever been gathered together. This was available for the use of the Glass committee when it began its sessions.
"The Glass Committee has been at work since last April and has supplemented the testimony taken by the Monetary Commission by calling many new witnesses. Sufficient testimony has been taken. This subject has been presented from the view point of hundreds of the best business men, financiers and economists in the United States and hearings to take testimony and obtain information have been held (by the Monetary Commission) in the principal commercial centers.
"Since June, 1911, the National Citizens’ League and the Minnesota branch, affiliated with it, have been devoting their energies solely to broadening the public information on this subject. In forty-four states this work has been energetically going on. While all business men have not become expert, very many have become well informed and possess clearly defined opinions favorable to a reform of the banking and currency system.
"The press, at first antagonistic, has come to see the necessity of modernizing American methods and changing to a sound banking system. In Minnesota the radical newspapers have greatly modified their expressions and many of the latter now favor a reform.
"The Monetary Commission Bill (Aldrich Bill) cannot pass. The Glass Committee Bill will shortly be before Congress. The Powler Bill is before Congress now, and other bills will be introduced. It is probable that the Glass Bill will be found acceptable in large part, and the outlook for the enactment of legislation is very favorable.
"Congress undoubtedly can, if it will, settle this question at the forthcoming special session. It will be very undesirable to permit it to go over to the following long session, because of the danger that it may be made a political question and enter into the Congressional elections.
"The influence of business men, exerted at this time in the form of letters to representatives in Congress, and members of the Senate, will be a powerful aid in the present movement to secure prompt consideration and action on this question. Your active co-operation in this respect is earnestly requested."
The secretary of the association inclosed the Rich statement within a letter of his own to Mr. Hugh J. Hughes, editor of "Farm, Stock and Home," an influential publication with a large circulation. It was as follows:
"Minneapolis, Minn., Jan. 24, 1913.
"Hugh J. Hughes,
"Farm, Stock, and Home,
"DEAR MR. HUGHES:
"The preliminary draft of the Glass Committee Bill will be sent within a few days for the private examination of a selected list of business men, bankers, and economists. This indicates that the Committee, after the hearings it has been conducting, plans to act promptly. The best information available indicates that this bill will be acceptable in large measure.
"The national organization believes that if business men show sufficient interest and will act promptly, it will be possible to secure action on banking and currency reform at the coming special session. Any bill will naturally undergo the modifying influences of debates and hearings in Congress, and if a fairly good measure is reported by the Committee, it will be possible to perfect it before passage.
"Your influence with members of Congress will be of great assistance. In behalf of President Rich, who is absent from the state at present, and the national organization, I am instructed to earnestly request your active cooperation by writing personally to the Members of Congress from this state, and to any in Congress from other states, with whom you are acquainted, urging,
"That Congress act on this subject at the special session.
"That sufficient hearings have been held.
"That the business of the country needs this reform and should have it at once.
"I beg to call your attention to the memorandum by President Rich, attached, and also to the recent report of the national organization which you may not have seen.
"We will appreciate it if you will advise us of any action you take, in order that we may be informed.
"Yours very truly,
CURTIS L.MOSHER, Secretary."
The following is taken from the report of the National Citizens’ League, Chicago:
"The League was obliged to get publicity through other sources. It printed and distributed in the first six months of 1913 nearly one million pamphlets. It began the publication of a semi-monthly—now published monthly—news bulletin, and, as interest increased under this system, it prepared hundreds of newspaper articles."
"The League's text-book, 'Banking Reform,' was published in May. It was sent free to members of the League, and about 1500 copies were distributed to newspapers for review. Nearly 12,000 copies of the book have been distributed. The circulation of the news bulletin, 'Banking Reform,' is now 30,000 copies.”
The membership of this league is less than 10,000. The fee charged is $1. This fee entitles the member to all of the literature as long as the League lasts. The postage account alone amounts to more than the entire amount of the membership fee. The amount paid to the lecturers alone is more than the entire fees amount to, and the other expenses of the League are simply enormous, but, Wall Streeters are seeking to rob the people of tens of billions of dollars and that makes it worth while for those who expect to secure the benefits to pay the main costs. The Philadelphia bankers contributed over $100,000 to this league’s campaign. Everything is being done which it is thought will cause the people to think as these bankers wish them to.
If it were not so important that we should know the truth about this disguise (which the leagues actually are for Wall Street), I would not take the trouble to give so many of these facts, but to know them may save us from having heaped upon us the greatest burden that humanity has yet had to bear. We should beware of the so-called National Citizens’ League and its branches. Numerous other facts could be shown that would be sufficient by themselves to convince any impartial person beyond a doubt that these leagues were conceived in the brains of Wall Streeters, officered by men educated in Wall Street methods, and supported by the Wall Street system. It deceives the people, and more especially the agents of the people in Congress, who are entrusted with the people’s work and expected to help create a new banking and currency system. Its aim is to aid them in gaining the control of the financial monetary system in order to further enslave humanity in the aggregate.
Is it at all strange that the Glass Committee, composed mostly of bankers, their agents and attorneys, should be referred to by the Citizens' League as having given out that “the preliminary draft of the Glass Bill” would "be sent in a few days for the private examination of a selected list of business men, bankers, and economists.” Oh, what inconsistency! The Citizens Leagues, themselves, pretending to be organized for "publicity," sending out a preliminary draft for the private examination of a selected list of business men, bankers and economists. What about the farmer, the wage earner, and people generally? It is the same old game of deception. The people are always the last to know anything that is planned by the interests in order that they may only “lock their doors when their goods have been stolen."
I wrote to the Glass Committee for a copy of its draft for a banking and currency plan and three weeks later received the following answer:
"February 12, 1913.
"Hon. C.A. Lindbergh,
"House of Representatives.
"My DEAR MR. LINDBERGH:
"I have been so engrossed recently with committee work that I have been unable to give attention to in correspondence, which accounts for this belated response to your letter of recent date. Replying now, I beg to say that we have not yet formulated a currency bill, but just as soon as we shall have done so, I will be glad to let you have one of the first copies of the measure.
"With cordial regards,
It was the duty of the Glass Committee to first report to Congress, but no effort has thus far, April, 1913, been made by that Committee to make such a report or to furnish Congress with a preliminary draft of a bill, and when the Citizens’ League had sent out their letter to the “selected list” informing them that the preliminary draft of the Glass Committee bill would be sent out in a few days for the examination of a “selected list of bankers, economists, business men,” etc., Congress had heard nothing about it. Many Members requested the preliminary draft, but it was impossible to secure even a suggestion about it. I expressly requested it because I wished to read it and because of the many requests I received from people who were trying to keep posted, but the committee furnished me with no information other than the letter written by Mr. Glass, its chairman. It is now four months since the Citizens’ League promised “in a few days” to send to its selected list of bankers and economists the draft of the Glass Bill, but the public has not been permitted up to this time to see it. Further, the Wall Streeters, as might be expected, steered the persons whom they desired to appear before that Committee in order to influence, insofar as it would be possible, the form of any proposed bill. The real producers and consumers of the country and those who have studied their needs the most have had no hearing before that committee. Those who have been allowed to testify are principally those whose business it is to get all they can out of the people.
It will be observed that the letter written by Mr. Glass was dated 19 days later than the letter written by the Secretary of the Minnesota Citizens’ League to Mr. Hugh J. Hughes. The Secretary of that League stated on Jan. 24th that the preliminary draft of the Glass Committee bill would be sent within a few days for the “private examination of a selected list of business men, bankers, and economists.” Mr. Glass’ reply to me states that his committee “have not yet formulated a currency bill.” It will be noticed that he makes no suggestion as to when one will be formulated, nor does he say anything about a preliminary draft. Now, then, note what
"Banking Reform," the publication of the National Citizens' League, said in its issue of February 1st, 1913. On the front cover, surrounded by a heavy black line, is the following:
"DO BUSINESS MEN WANT BANKING REFORM?
"Speaking before the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in Washington, January 21, Congressman Glass, of the Banking and Currency Committee, said that upon the business and commercial men of the country rests a large part of the responsibility for action on remedial banking legislation. He gave warning that unless the business world acts promptly, there would be a long postponement of currency legislation."
On the same cover, immediately following, is a notice to members of the League in the following form:
"To Members of the National Citizens' League:
"Congress is wavering over the question of banking reform. The Democratic leaders are undecided whether to bring in a currency bill at the special session in the Spring or defer action until the regular session next December.
"The reason given for this hesitation is that the business men of the country have not made it plain to Congress that they demand a new banking law. In short, business men have been challenged to show that there is a demand for immediate action.
"There is such a demand.
"The one thing to do is to get it home to Congress that demand exists. The only way to do that is to tell your representatives and senators that you want immediate action.
"If business men and bankers of the country make it clear to Congress that immediate action is demanded, there will be action at the special session.
"Through Representative Glass, of the Banking and Currency Committee, Congress has said to the business men of the country that unless they act promptly the remedial legislation 'so badly needed will be long deferred.'
"The question has been placed squarely before the business men of the country.
"Make your decision.
"Write a letter to your representative. Write to your senator. Write to Mr. Glass. Write to Mr. Underwood.
"President-elect Wilson has been quoted as holding the view that public sentiment as to banking reform has not yet crystallized. Write to Mr. Wilson, if you know him. If you don’t know him, it is a good way to get acquainted."
Following these disclosures by the National Citizens’ League, comes its April issue of "Banking Reform” with the following notice:
"J. Laurence Laughlin, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Citizens’ League since its organization, has returned to his position as professor of political economy in the University of Chicago.
"In June, 1911, Professor Laughlin was given a year’s leave from the university, that he might give all his time to the campaign of education undertaken by the League. Last fall this leave was extended for three months, and then until April 1st, at the request of the League’s directors.
"To the League Professor Laughlin brought, in addition to natural endowments of an unusual nature and a profound knowledge of economics, a wide experience in campaigns for sound money and better banking conditions. On all the questions involved in the campaign he was able to speak with authority. He has worked indefatigably, and it is largely due to his efforts and his persistence that the campaign enters the final stage with flattering prospects of a successful outcome. ...”
The reader knows that the University of Chicago is an institution endowed by John D. Rockefeller, with nearly $50,000,000. It may truly be said to be the Rockefeller University. Of course it does not follow that its professors would teach as Rockefeller wished them to, nor that there is any understanding between him and them. They may be, and undoubtedly in most cases are, independent in their work, but in the selection of the professors for that institution careful consideration has always been given to select such as actually believe in the general scheme of things as they have developed under the present capitalistic era.
In the same issue of Banking Reform was an article from which I quote the following parts:
"While this was going on [referring to the investigation of the Money Trust] another section of the Banking and Currency Committee was doing effective work. This section, presided over by Representative Carter Glass, who will be Chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee in the 63rd Congress, has given nearly a year to study. It has held many hearings at which bankers and business men gave information and opinions. It has had expert counsel. It has had the benefit of all the work done by the Monetary Commission. It has digested the information, reached a conclusion and has a plan of reform practically outlined.
"There are some new actors on the scene, however. There is a new President, a new Secretary of the Treasury, and a new Chairman of a new Banking and Currency Committee in the new Senate. We need not worry about the President. He is too familiar with economic questions to admit doubt of his power to grasp the details of any plan of banking reform instantly. The Secretary of the Treasury is well equipped to come to a speedy conclusion, and Senator Owen, who has not yet had time to familiarize himself with details, has long been a banker and will have the advantage of the work of his associates.”
Senator Owen, as the reader probably knows, is the chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee in the Senate. It is wonderful what absolute information the National Citizens’ League claims to have as to what will happen in Congress. The committees that control financial legislation in both the Senate and House are presided over by chairmen who are bankers and personally are financially interested in the proposed legislation. The people of this country have good reason to be ashamed of their Congress for permitting such a state of affairs, but it is not only the chairmen who preside who are thus interested. These committees are chiefly composed of bankers, their agents and attorneys, all of whom have a personal financial interest.
We do not expect the National Citizens’ League to admit that it is a creature of Wall Street. We know that it repudiates Wall Street on the same principle that all things of that character are denied by those who join in them. We know, of course, that in promoting the formation of the State leagues, everything possible was done to conceal its Wall Street affiliations. We know that that method enabled it to secure many members who are opposed to the Wall Street demands. But after all, its admission of having only 10,000 members, after its statement of having sent out in the first six months nearly a million pamphlets, is sufficient to show that the 94,000,000 people are not falling over each other in their eagerness to be gathered in by this Wall Street scheme. And it will also be borne in mind that of the 10,000 members that it has secured in its several years of existence, some were always Wall Street supporters, or those employed by or under the domination of Wall Streeters; that they are active for selfish reasons, and therefore will follow the suggestion made by the Panic Circular of 1893: That is, to “Use personal influence with your Congressman and particularly let your wishes be known to your Senator.”
Thousands of letters asking immediate financial legislation are now pouring in on Members of Congress. Some are written in good faith with the honest hope of influencing Congressmen in favor of just legislation. But the majority of the letters received are from persons selfishly interested, while those who are not selfishly interested seldom take the trouble to write. And yet, it is the duty of every citizen to take an interest in this most important subject and write to his Congressman and I do not criticize those who write, whether their purpose is a selfish or unselfish one. The vast majority of citizens should have a similar interest in this proposed legislation; an interest which is worth their most earnest thought and consideration, and their influence in shaping the proposed legislation. To all of these I suggest that they should write to their Congressmen on all problems of vital importance requiring the action of Congress, and then it will not appear to the Congressmen that the interest of the public is only in shaping legislation that will further promote the special interests.
The Congressmen receive a dozen and more letters from those selfishly interested to every one that they receive from the general public whose interest it is simply to preserve the general welfare.
Having defined what I am convinced to have been the original and controlling influence in the organization of the so-called National Citizens’ League and its State branches, I do not wish to dismiss the subject and leave the impression that its members generally desire to fasten on the country a false money system, but I do not hesitate in saying that those who control the distribution of literature do so in the interests of the selfish Wall Streeters, but there is no disposition on my part to make the public believe that these men are willfully opposed to the public welfare. They are a production of this capitalistic era and they believe in it and are fighting for its supremacy, but as against that, I claim that no careful honest student will deny that the commercialism and speculation of the present period, and the basis on which business and speculation are conducted, lead the rank and file of the population into industrial slavery—in fact that condition actually exists, now, and it is that that I am pointing out, and trying to remedy.