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have been successfully undertaken against offenders of
all kinds— many of them against the most formidable
and wealthy combinations in the land; in some the
combinations have been dissolved, in some heavy fines
have been imposed, in several cases the chief offenders
have been imprisoned.

It behooves us Americans to look ahead and plan out
the right kind of a civilization, as that which we intend

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to develop from these wonderful new conditions of vast
industrial growth. It must not be, it shall not be, the
civilization of a mere plutocracy, a banking-house,
Wall-Street-syndicate civilization; nor yet can there be
submission to class hatred, to rancor, brutality, and
mob violence, for that would mean the end of all civi-
lization. Increased powers are susceptible of abuse as
well as use; never before have the opportunities for
selfishness been so great, nor the results of selfishness
so appalling; for in communities where everything is
organized on a merely selfish commercial basis, such
selfishness, if unchecked, may transform the great forces
of the new epoch into powers of destruction hitherto un-
equalled.

We need to check the forces of greed, to insure just
treatment alike of capital and of labor, and of the gen-
eral public, to prevent any man, rich or poor, from
doing or receiving wrong, whether this wrong be one
of cunning or of violence. Much can be done by wise
legislation and by resolute enforcement of the law. But
still more must be done by steady training of the in-
dividual citizen, in conscience and character, until he
grows to abhor corruption and greed and tyranny and
brutality and to prize justice and fair dealing.

The men who are to do the work of the new epoch
must be trained so as to have a sturdy self-respect, a
power of sturdy insistence on their own rights, and with
it a proud and generous recognition of their duties, a
sense of honorable obligation to their fellows, which will
bind them, as by bands of steel, to refrain in their daily
work at home or in their business from doing aught to
any man which cannot be blazoned under the noonday
sun.



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13

THE PURITAN SPIRIT AND THE REGULATION
OF CORPORATIONS*

It is not too much to say that the event commemo-
rated by the monument which we have come here to
dedicate was one of those rare events which can in good
faith be called of world importance. The coming hither
of the Pilgrim three centuries ago, followed in far larger
numbers by his sterner kinsmen, the Puritans, shaped
the destinies of this continent, and therefore profoundly
affected the destiny of the whole world. Men of other
races, the Frenchman and the Spaniard, the Dutchman,
the German, the Scotchman, the Irishman, and the
Swede, made settlements within what is now the United
States, during the colonial period of our history and
before the Declaration of Independence ; and since then
there has been an ever-swelling immigration from Ire-
land and from the mainland of Europe; but it was the
Englishman who settled in Virginia and the English-
man who settled in Massachusetts who did most in
shaping the lines of our national development.

We cannot as a nation be too profoundly grateful for
the fact that the Puritan has stamped his influence so
deeply on our national life. We need have but scant
patience with the men who now rail at the Puritan's
faults. They were evident, of course, for it is a quality
of strong natures that their failings, like their virtues,
should stand out in bold relief; but there is nothing
easier than to belittle the great men of the past by

* Address at the laying of the comer-stone of the Pilgrim Memorial Monument,
Provincetown, Mass., August 20, 1907.

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dwelling only on the points where they come short of
the universally recognized standards of the present.
Men must be judged with reference to the age in which
they dwell, and the work they have to do. The Puri-
tan's task was to conquer a continent; not merely to
overrun it, but to settle it, to till it, to build upon it a
high industrial and social life; and, while engaged in the
rough work of taming the shaggy wilderness, at that
very time also to lay deep the immovable foundations
of our whole American system of civil, political, and
religious liberty achieved through the orderly process of
law. This was the work allotted him to do; this is the
work he did; and only a master spirit among men could
have done it.

We have travelled far since his day. That liberty of
conscience which he demanded for himself, we now
realize must be as freely accorded to others as it is reso-
lutely insisted upon for ourselves. The splendid quali-
ties which he left to his children, we other Americans
who are not of Puritan blood also claim as our heritage.
You, sons of the Puritans, and we, who are descended
from races whom the Puritans would have deemed alien
— we are all Americans together. We all feel the same
pride in the genesis, in the history, of our people; and
therefore this shrine of Puritanism is one at which we
all gather to pay homage, no matter from what coun-
try our ancestors sprang.

We have gained some things that the Puritan had
not — we of this generation, we of the twentieth century,
here in this great Repubhc; but we are also in danger
of losing certain things which the Puritan had and
which we tan by no manner of means afford to lose.
We have gained a joy of living which he had not, and
which it is a good thing for every people to have and to

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develop. Let us see to it that we do not lose what is
more important still; that we do not lose the Puritan's
iron sense of duty, his unbending, unflinching will to
do the right as it was given him to see the right. It is
a good thing that life should gain in sweetness, but only
provided that it does not lose in strength. Ease and
rest and pleasure are good things, but only if they come
as the reward of work well done, of a good fight well
won, of strong effort resolutely made and crowned by
high achievement. The life of mere pleasure, of mere
effortless ease, is as ignoble for a nation as for an indi-
vidual. The man is but a poor father who teaches his
sons that ease and pleasure should be their chief ob-
jects in life; the woman who is a mere petted toy, in-
capable of serious purpose, shrinking from effort and
duty, is more pitiable than the veriest overworked
drudge. So he is but a poor leader of the people, but a
poor national adviser, who seeks to make the nation in
any way subordinate effort to ease, who would teach
the people not to prize as the greatest blessing the
chance to do any work, no matter how hard, if it be-
comes their duty to do it. To the sons of the Puritans
it is almost needless to say that the lesson above all
others which Puritanism can teach this nation is the
all-importance of the resolute performance of duty.
If we are men we will pass by with contemptuous dis-
dain alike the advisers who would seek to lead us into
the paths of ignoble ease and those who would teach us
to admire successful wrong-doing. Our ideals should
be high, and yet they should be capable of achievement
in practical fashion; and we are as little to be excused
if we permit our ideals to be tainted with what is sordid
and mean and base, as if we allow our power of achieve-
ment to atrophy and become either incapable of effort

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or capable only of such fantastic effort as to accomplish
nothing of permanent good. The true doctrine to
preach to this nation, as to the individuals composing
this nation, is not the life of ease, but the life of effort.
If it were in my power to promise the people of this
land, anything, I would not promise them pleasure. I
would promise them that stern happiness which comes
from the sense of having done in practical fashion a
difficult work which was worth doing.

The Puritan owed his extraordinary success in sub-
duing this continent and making it the foundation for
a social life of ordered liberty primarily to the fact that
he combined in a very remarkable degree both the
power of individual initiative, of individual self-help,
and the power of acting in combination with his fel-
lows; and that furthermore he joined to a high heart
that shrewd common sense which saves a man from the
besetting sins of the visionary and the doctrinaire. He
was stout-hearted and hard-headed. He had lofty pur-
poses, but he had practical good sense, too. He could
hold his own in the rough workaday world without
clamorous insistence upon being helped by others, and
yet he could combine with others whenever it became
necessary to do a job which could not be as well done
by any one man individually.

These were the qualities which enabled him to do his
work, and they are the very qualities which we must
show in doing our work to-day. There is no use in our
coming here to pay homage to the men who founded
this nation unless we first of all come in the spirit of
trying to do our work to-day as they did their work in
the yesterdays that have vanished. The problems shift
from generation to generation, but the spirit in which
they must be approached, if they are to be successfully

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AMERICAN PROBLEMS

solved, remains ever the same. The Puritan tamed the
wilderness, and built up a free government on the
stump-dotted clearings amid the primeval forest. His
descendants must try to shape the life of our complex
industrial civilization by new devices, by new methods,
so as to achieve in the end the same results of justice
and fair dealing toward all. He cast aside nothing old
merely for the sake of innovation, yet he did not hesi-
tate to adopt anything new that would serve his pur-
pose. When he planted his commonwealths on this
rugged coast he faced wholly new conditions and he
had to devise new methods of meeting them. So we
of to-day face wholly new conditions in our social and
industrial life. We should certainly not adopt any new
scheme for grappling with them merely because it is
new and untried; but we cannot afford to shrink from
grappling with them because they can only be grappled
with by some new scheme.

The Puritan was no Laodicean, no laissez-faire theo-
rist. When he saw conduct which was in violation of
his rights — of the rights of man, the rights of God, as
he understood them — he attempted to regulate such
conduct with instant, unquestioning promptness and
effectiveness. If there was no other way to secure con-
formity with the rule of right, then he smote down the
transgressor with the iron of his wrath. The spirit of
the Puritan was a spirit which never shrank from regu-
lation of conduct if such regulation was necessary for
the public weal; and this is the spirit which we must
show to-day whenever it is necessary.

The utterly changed conditions of our national life
necessitate changes in certain of our laws, of our gov-
ernmental methods. In dealing with any totally new
set of conditions there must at the outset be hesitation

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and experiment. Such has been our experience in deal-
ing with the enormous concentration of capital em-
ployed in interstate business. Not only the legislatures
but the courts and the people need gradually to be
educated so that they may see what the real wrongs
are and what the real remedies. Almost every big busi-
ness concern is engaged in interstate commerce, and
such a concern must not be allowed by a dexterous
shifting of position, as has been too often the case in
the past, to escape thereby all responsibility either to
State or nation. The American people became firmly
convinced of the need of control over these great ag-
gregations of capital, especially where they had a mo-
nopolistic tendency, before they became quite clear as to
the proper way of achieving the control. Through their
representatives in Congress they tried two remedies,
which were to a large degree, at least as interpreted by
the courts, contradictory. On the one hand, under the
antitrust law the effort was made to prohibit all com-
bination, whether it was or was not hurtful or beneficial
to the public. On the other hand, through the inter-
state commerce law a beginning was made in exercising
such supervision and control over combinations as to
prevent their doing anything harmful to the body
politic. The first law, the so-called Sherman law, has
filled a useful place, for it bridges over the transition
period until the American people shall definitely make
up its mind that it will exercise over the great corpora-
tions that thoroughgoing and radical control which it
is certain ultimately to find necessary. The principle
of the Sherman law, so far as it prohibits combinations
which, whether because of their extent or of their char-
acter, are harmful to the public, must always be pre-
served. Ultimately, and I hope with reasonable speed,

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AMERICAN PROBLEMS

the National Government must pass laws which, while
increasing the supervisory and regulatory power of the
government, will also permit such useful combinations
as are made with absolute openness and as the repre-
sentatives of the government may previously approve.
But it will not be possible to permit such combinations
save as the second stage in a course of proceedings of
which the first stage must be the exercise of a far more
complete control by the National Government.

In dealing with those who offend against the anti-
trust and interstate commerce laws the Department of
Justice has to encounter many and great diflSculties.
Often men who have been guilty of violating these laws
have really acted in criminal fashion, and if possible
should be proceeded against criminally; and therefore
it is advisable that there should be a clause in these
laws providing for such criminal action and for punish-
ment by imprisonment as well as by fine. But, as is
well known, in a criminal action the law is strictly con-
strued in favor of the defendant, and in our country,
at least, both judge and jury are far more inclined to
consider his rights than they are the interests of the
general public; while in addition it is always true that
a man's general practices may be so bad that a civil
action will lie when it may not be possible to convict
him of any one criminal act. There are unfortunately
a certain number of our fellow countrymen who seem
to accept the view that unless a man can be proved
guilty of some particular crime he shall be counted a
good citizen, no matter how infamous the life he has
led, no matter how pernicious his doctrines or his prac-
tices. This is the view announced from time to time
with clamorous insistence, now by a group of predatory
capitalists, now by a group of sinister anarchistic leaders

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and agitators, whenever a special champion of either
class, no matter how evil his general life, is acquitted
of some one specific crime. Such a view is wicked
whether applied to capitalist or labor leader, to rich
man or poor man. (And, by the way, I take this op-
portunity of stating that all that I have said in the past
as to desirable and undesirable citizens remains true,
and that I stand by it.)

We have to take this feeling into account when we
are debating whether it is possible to get a conviction
in a criminal proceeding against some rich trust mag-
nate, many of whose actions are severely to be con-
demned from the moral and social standpoint, but no
one of whose actions seems clearly to establish such
technical guilt as will insure a conviction. As a matter
of expediency, in enforcing the law against a great cor-
poration, we have continually to weigh the arguments
pro and con as to whether a prosecution can success-
fully be entered into, and as to whether we can be suc-
cessful in a criminal action against the chief individuals
in the corporation, and if not, whether we can at least
be successful in a civil action against the corporation
itself. Any effective action on the part of the govern-
ment is always objected to, as a matter of course, by
the wrong-doers, by the beneficiaries of the wrong-
doers, and by their champions; and often one of the
most effective ways of attacking the action of the gov-
ernment is by objecting to practical action upon the
ground that it does not go far enough. One of the
favorite devices of those who are really striving to pre-
vent the enforcement of these laws is to clamor for ac-
tion of such severity that it cannot be undertaken be-
cause it will be certain to fail if tried. An instance of
this is the demand often made for criminal prosecutions

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AMERICAN PROBLEMS

where such prosecutions would be certain to fail. We
have found by actual experience that a jury which will
gladly punish a corporation by fine, for instance, will
acquit the individual members of that corporation if we
proceed against them criminally because of those very
things which the corporation which they direct and con-
trol has done. In a recent case against the Licorice
Trust we indicted and tried the two corporations and
their respective presidents. The contracts and other
transactions establishing the guilt of the corporations
were made through, and so far as they were in writing
were signed by, the two presidents. Yet the jury con-
victed the two corporations and acquitted the two men.
Both verdicts could not possibly have been correct; but
apparently the average juryman wishes to see trusts
broken up, and is quite ready to fine the corporation
itself; but is very reluctant to find the facts "proven
beyond a reasonable doubt" when it comes to sending
to jail a reputable member of the business community
for doing what the business community has unhappily
grown to recognize as well-nigh normal in business.
Moreover, under the necessary technicalities of crimi-
nal proceedings, often the only man who can be reached
criminally will be some subordinate who is not the real
guilty party at all.

Many men of large wealth have been guilty of con-
duct which from the moral standpoint is criminal, and
their misdeeds are to a peculiar degree reprehensible,
because those committing them have no excuse of want,
of poverty, of weakness and ignorance to offer as par-
tial atonement. When in addition to moral respon-
sibility these men have a legal responsibility which can
be proved so as to impress a judge and jury, then the
department will strain every nerve to reach them crimi-

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nally. Where this is impossible, then it will take what-
ever action will be most effective under the actual con-
ditions.

In the last six years we have shown that there is no
individual and no corporation so powerful that he or it
stands above the possibility of punishment under the
law. Our aim is to try to do something effective; our
purpose is to stamp out the evil; we shall seek to find
the most effective device for this purpose; and we shall
then use it, whether the device can be found in existing
law or must be supplied by legislation. Moreover, when
we thus take action against the wealth which works
iniquity, we are acting in the interest of every man of
property who acts decently and fairly by his fellows;
and we are strengthening the hands of those who pro-
pose fearlessly to defend property against all unjust
attacks. No individual, no corporation, obeying the
law has anything to fear from this Administration.

During the present trouble with the stock-market I
have, of course, received countless requests and sug-
gestions, public and private, that I should say or do
something to ease the situation. There is a world-wide
financial disturbance; it is felt in the bourses of Paris
and Berlin; and British consols are lower than for a gen-
eration, while British railway securities have also de-
preciated. On the New York Stock Exchange the dis-
turbance has been peculiarly severe. Most of it I be-
lieve to be due to matters not peculiar to the United
States, and most of the remainder to matters wholly un-
connected with any governmental action; but it may
well be that the determination of the government (in
which, gentlemen, it will not waver) to punish certain
malefactors of great wealth, has been responsible for
something of the trouble; at least to the extent of hav-

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ing caused these men to combine to bring about as much
financial stress as possible, in order to discredit the
policy of the government and thereby secure a reversal
of that policy, so that they may enjoy unmolested the
fruits of their own evil-doing. That they have misled
many good people into believing that there should be
such reversal of policy is possible. If so I am sorry;
but it will not alter my attitude. Once for all let me
say that so far as I am concerned, and for the eighteen
months of my presidency that remain, there will be no
change in the policy we have steadily pursued, no let
up in the effort to secure the honest observance of the
law; for I regard this contest as one to determine who
shall rule this free country — the people through their
governmental agents, or a few ruthless and domineer-
ing men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formida-
ble because they hide behind the breastworks of cor-
porate organization. I wish there to be no mistake on
this point; it is idle to ask me not to prosecute criminals,
rich or poor. But I desire no less emphatically to have
it understood that we have sanctioned and will sanc-
tion no action of a vindictive type, and above all no
action which shall inflict great and unmerited suffering
upon innocent stockholders or upon the public as a
whole. Our purpose is to act with the minimum of
harshness compatible with attaining our ends. In the
man of great wealth who has earned his wealth honestly
and uses it wisely we recognize a good citizen of the
best type, worthy of all praise and respect. Business
can be done under modern conditions only through cor-
porations, and our purpose is heartily to favor the cor-
porations that do well. The Administration appre-
ciates that liberal but honest profits for legitimate pro-
moting, good salaries, ample salaries, for able and

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REGULATION OF CORPORATIONS

upright management, and generous dividends for capital
employed either in founding or continuing wholesome
business ventures, are the factors necessary for success-
ful corporate activity and therefore for generally pros-
perous business conditions. All these are compatible
with fair dealing as between man and man and rigid
obedience to the law. Our aim is to help every honest
man, every honest corporation, and our policy means
in its ultimate analysis a healthy and prosperous ex-
pansion of the business activities of honest business men
and honest corporations.



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14

THE RADICAL MOVEMENT UNDER CONSERVATIVE

DIRECTION *

My friends, I am very glad to appear before a Cham-
ber of Commerce in the East, and to say just what I
have said to my farmer gatherings in the West. I have
in the course of my life quoted, again and again, the
utterance of one of New Haven's— I am going to cor-
rect that— of one of America's most distinguished citi-
zens, a man who is present to-night, a type of what is
best in American scholarship, Professor Lounsbury of
Yale. I have often quoted one of the sentences con-
tained in his "Life of Fenimore Cooper" in which he
speaks of "the infinite capacity of the human brain to
withstand the introduction of knowledge." I think
that capacity is not confined to those classes of the
community who have failed to enjoy a college educa-
tion. You don't seem enthusiastic over that remark.

Now I feel most strongly that in our country, in a
republic constituted as ours is constituted, the safety
of the commonwealth depends to a very large degree
upon the way in which the men of the different sections
and in different types of business and social develop-
ment can feel with and for one another. That extraor-
dinary industrial development witnessed by the last
half of the nineteenth century has left to those who will
shape the course of legislative, of political, of social, of
industrial development during the first half of the
twentieth century a double task. It is ours to take

* Address before the Chamber of Commerce, New Haven, Conn., December 13,
1910.

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advantage of all the good that was done by the men
who shaped affairs during the last sixty years; and it
also is ours to remedy the defects, to remedy the errors,



Online LibraryTheodore RooseveltThe works of Theodore Roosevelt (Volume 7) → online text (page 8 of 44)