THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN AMERICA: CONSEQUENCES, CAUSES, AND REMEDIES (3a of 5)

By guest author, diogenes (bio below).

PART 1: THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN AMERICA

PART 2: WALL STREET CUSTOMS: ECONOMIC BULLYING, LEGALIZED AND LAWLESS 

PART 3.1-3.4:  OLIGARCH’S PROGRESS (this article)

PART 3.5 – 3.8: OLIGARCH’S PROGRESS: TRAIL OF TEARS

PART 4.1 – 4.2:  AMERICAN PROGRESSIVE TRADITION: IDEAS, POLICIES, METHODS, PROGRAMS

PART 4.3 – 4.4:  AMERICAN PROGRESSIVE TRADITION: IDEAS, POLICIES, METHODS, PROGRAMS

PART 5: A SUGGESTION 

PART 3.5-3.8: OLIGARCH’S PROGRESS: TRAIL OF TEARS

The Context of Progressive Origins  [3.1]

Informed responses on behalf of the public interest and the general welfare contesting the financial reconstruction of the American economy began in the Midwest during the depressions of the 1870s and 1880s in reaction to the operations of railroads, grain dealers, commodity speculators and banks, and to violent employer attacks on organizing labor.  It found its voice in local groups that united for regional and national action in associations such as the Greenback movement, the Grange, the Knights of Labor, the Midwestern Farmers Alliance and its Colored and Southern fellows, and culminated in the People’s Party convention and campaign of 1892 (which was racially integrated).  From the first, these “populists” correctly understood themselves to be the objects of predatory economic and financial bullying enabled by law, and by the force of absentee credit in a tight-money economy. They turned to grassroots democratic action for legislative redress of grievances in accordance with American civic tradition and constitutional practice.  In the industrializing Northeast, they were confronted and often blocked by the adverse and corrupt establishments of both major political parties, hostile courts, vested wealth, and violent repression by private and public police and troops.  This was less the case in the rest of the country, where the metropolitan “money power” was not yet so potent.  Populists were well represented and sometimes prevalent in most Midwestern and many southern legislatures.  Many “Insurgent Republicans” were Midwestern grassroots progressive activists who took over their state’s historically dominant party.

Progressive understanding of the centrality of finance was crystalized in the Depression precipitated by the Panic of 1893, when import-export money-market exchange finance on Wall Street was destablized by an overseas investment credit bubble collapse and ensuing bank failures.  “Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of the Treasury was forced to sell massive gold bond issues through a syndicate organized by the J.P.Morgan Company in an effort to maintain the government’s gold reserves.  The effort unnecessarily saddled the country with a debt of over a quarter of a billion dollars, from which only the bankers profited.  Indeed, the government gained nothing from its frantic efforts, since bankers paid for the bonds with gold they had withdrawn from the Treasury!”  The game of financial thimblerig that rescued Wall Street banks from the consequences of selling hundreds of billions of dollars of fraudulent mortgage bonds on international markets in 2009 used different tokens but produced similar results.  Besides Morgan Stanley’s parent firm (J.P. Morgan), Goldman Sachs and Lehmann Brothers also participated in both deals.

From the 1890s, progressives set about attempting to alter the legal entitlements underwriting Wall Street’s corporate financial reconstruction of the American economy, and to restrain, repair and redress its damages by legislative means — with successes in many states and increasing promise federally as well, after 1901.  Investigative writers whose wide circulation was enabled by advances in inexpensive magazine printing — inducing an expansion of public access to facts comparable to the Internet’s — were a key factor.  Eventually David Graham Phillips’ pivotal 9-part series in Cosmopolitan, “The Treason of the Senate,” evoked Theodore Roosevelt’s definitive smear, “muckrakers.”

Informed opposition drew forceful counterstrokes.  Big business is in the business of staying ahead of the public interest.  The keels of the navy that captured Havana and Manila in 1898 were laid during the 1892 heyday of the People’s Party.  In 1896, populists were diverted by the bogus financial panacea of “Free Silver,” coopted by its advocate William Jennings Bryan (covertly funded by silver interests) and his Democratic Party presidential nomination, and defeated by McKinley in America’s first centrally managed mass publicity election campaign.  Boards of Directors (Morgan partners and their law firms sat on dozens) advised corporate headquarters to instruct management to inform employees that work would end if Bryan were elected.

The Spanish-America War and the climax of Morganization followed.  New York businessmen were prime movers behind the seizure of the Philippines.  Wall Street was heavily invested in Cuba, described by American Ambassador to Madrid, New Yorker Stewart Woodford, as “the richest slice of earth.”  As former Secretary of State John W. Foster summarized afterward, it was “a necessity to find new and enlarged markets for our agricultural and manufactured products.  We cannot maintain our present industrial prosperity without them.”  Consolidation of corporate finance culminated over the next several years.  President Roosevelt denounced “malefactors of great wealth” loudly, and conserved wilderness; the Justice Department won his railroad anti-trust suit dissolving Northern Securities handily during March of election year, and in his final year in office filed several more cases which would be resolved with equal ineffectuality under Taft and Wilson.  Meanwhile, “something new and even revolutionary occured during the Roosevelt-Taft years.  The trust problem grew immeasurably worse under Roosevelt.”

Outside the center of corporate-financial power, progressive opposition also grew.  In 1910 Nebraska Congressman George Norris led Insurgent Republicans in deposing House Speaker Cannon, a key gatekeeper preventing discussion of their proposals.  By 1912 the momentum of progressive initiatives promised more widespread action on a national scale.  When Wisconsin “insurgent” Senator Robert La Follette credibly threatened to take the party’s nomination from incumbent President Taft, Morgan partner George Perkins funded Theodore Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose” candidacy to coopt progressives the same way Bryan did the populists.  Roosevelt — progressive activist Amos Pinchot’s memoir calls him “the bell hop of Wall Street” —  derailed La Follette, split the Republican Party, and turned the election into a three-sided contest — won by another ostensible “progressive,” Woodrow Wilson, whose original financial backer, Morgan associate George Harvey, was supplanted by Wall Street financiers Paul Warburg and Bernard Baruch.  Taft came up short in the Wall Street campaign finance derby, and at the polls, but his horse, too, like every major-party presidential candidate ever since, had Wall Street backing.  In politics as in business, the Morgan method is to own the racetrack, and all the horses, all the riders, and the bookmakers.

Wall Street War Bonds  [3.2]

During his first term Wilson signed progressive legislation addressing social and labor welfare issues but the jokers in the deck, which were presented as progressive also, were the Federal Reserve Act and the Income Tax (the tax insured payment of interest to investors in the rising Treasury debt facilitated by the Reserve).  Warburg was the originator and first proponent of the Reserve’s private central bank concept; Wilson appointed him to its founding Board of Governors.  The Act was the primary and most pressing item on Wilson’s first-year legislative agenda.  When it passed, on December 23, 1913, Vice President Thomas Marshall remembers in his memoirs, after endorsing it as President of the Senate, “I said … there would be a war in Europe within five years, and that we would be drawn into it; and if we were, that this system would enable us to finance the war.  I was laughed at by the Senators who were present.”

The war began seven months later and the Morgan firm was well-placed to capitalize on the opportunity.  When the Confederacy bombarded Fort Sumter, Pierpont’s father, Junius Morgan (a second generation millionaire), was resident in London as a partner in Peabody & Co., an English investment bank specializing in the trade of American securities.  “Believing in Confederate victory, European investors almost completely disposed of their American holdings; it was not until 1864, upon definite assurance of Union victory, that foreign capital again began to flow into the United States.  Most of the resales of American securities were through Peabody & Company, who dominated the flow.”

Junius’s son Pierpont began his Wall Street career handling the American end of this international business, which remained central to his activities and to his firm’s.  When the Great War broke out in Europe in 1914, his son Jack and partners were perfectly positioned.  Wall Street was an old hand at selling war bonds — for both sides during the Civil War, for Prussia in 1870, and for the British during the Boer War (1890-1902).  August Belmont, financial agent on Wall Street for the Rothschild banks from 1837 through the 1880s, and Chairman of the Democratic Party National Committee from 1860 to 1872, brokered their large investments in the Confederacy.  During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) Kuhn-Loeb, where Paul Warburg was a partner, headed syndicates with Morgan participation which floated $130 million in war bonds for the Japanese.  But the sums to be collected in 1914 were far more vast.  J.P. Morgan & Co. became both the organizer of syndicates selling British war bonds to American investors, and also the sole American purchasing agent for the munitions, armaments and other supplies which the proceeds of these bond sales paid their clients to produce.  Overseeing the mint and the market and the factory, and taking handsome tolls on each and all, they would make a killing.  Everybody would.

Sale of arms to belligerents violated American neutrality laws, but President Wilson issued an executive decision suspending them — by what rationale is unknown since 102 years afterward it is still “classified.”  His pacifist Secretary of State, old party standard-bearer Bryan refused to cooperate and resigned. The new one, Robert Lansing, former Secretary John W. Foster’s son-in-law, obliged.  During his brief tenure before Cleveland defeated Harrison, “Foster helped direct the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarcy” by staging a coup, the “first American secretary of state to participate in the overthrow of a foreign government.” After retiring from diplomacy, he built a law practice in Washington, D.C., as a liaison, intermediary or lobbyist with the Federal government for corporations wishing to do business abroad and seeking assistance.  His daughter and Lansing shared his Washington residence.

As the intensive manufacture of weaponry and other goods began to kick in, American business started to recover from its latest recession in the quick series of panics and slumps that dominated the first dozen years of the Morganized economy.  Now, business was booming.  There was plenty of work, though wages quickly fell behind prices in the new prosperity.  In Europe, the armies fought to a stand-still in five weeks and settled in along a continent-spanning front for a prolonged war of attrition.  By mid-1915 both sides were exhausted; Germany suggested negotiations, but encountered French intransigence, British-backed.  British finances approached bankruptcy, but the expensive industrial warfare continued burning DuPont powder on Wall Street credit.  The toll was atrocious.

The Organization of Opinion  [3.3]

From the start, like Vice President Marshall, Morgan and his crew understood that “we would be drawn into it.”  If the Allies were defeated or the war ended in an exhausted stalemate, as threatened, the investments would be lost.  Eventually “some special personnel whose duty lies that way” would need to be sent “Over There” to insure by victory the Allies’ future ability to pay interest.  And public opinion (strongly opposed) needed to be organized to support it.  In March 1915, Morgan convened twelve experts who settled on “the 25 most influential newspapers in the United States, … emissaries were sent to purchase [their] policy, national and international, … and an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies.”  Martial glory, atrocity stories, Allied nobility and sacrifices, democratic ideals and editorial cartoons ensued.  Buying newspaper policy was nothing new; the Morgan touch shows in the operation’s scale and organization and the stature of the targets.

In a memoir he was finishing at his death, published after 50 years delay, Herbert Hoover, a participant in these events, writes:  “The First World War marked the first time in our history that our government organized all the powerful agencies of publicity and manipulation of news without moral restraint under the genius of skilled men, to get America into war.”  Baruch, for his part, tossed $50,000 into the pot and organized “a long roll of first rank plutocrats (Harkness, Schiff, Schwab, Dodge, Warburg, Couzens, Ford, Morgan, McCormick…)” to chip in $10,000 each and form the skillfully-named League to Enforce Peace to carry on systematic publicity for American military intervention and launch a war-drive mobilizing civic organizations.  A nationwide “Preparedness” campaign staged patriotic (martial) parades, informative exercises and drills.  The Allied cause — “Democracy!” — was lauded, and the Hun beast execrated.

The president held a different view.  On October 10, 1916, “in a private note to his intimate adviser Col. House, Wilson describes the European Allies’ actual war aims in late 1916 as ‘to destroy Germany politically and economically, so that France and Russia might divide the dictatorship of the Continent and Great Britain be rid of German naval and commercial competition.'”  After the election (his slogan was “He Kept Us Out Of War”), Wilson’s ambassador in London, recipient of “a $25,000 a year allowance from Cleveland Dodge, president of Rockefeller’s National City Bank,” Walter Hines Page, an ardent anglophile and advocate for American military intervention, cabled the president in early 1917 “warning of internal collapse in the United States if the government did not extricate J.P. Morgan and Company from the tangle of Allied financing by entering the war.”  On April 6, Congress declared war, and Wilson designated Baruch as Chairman of a federal War Industries Board to direct American industrial mobilization with centralized dictatorial powers comparable to Morgan’s in finance.  After the Armistice, it was estimated that American loans, and English and French hopes of eventual American military involvement prolonged the war by over eighteen months and added above two million casualties (besides American) to the toll.  Bankruptcy and exhaustion would have compelled a halt before 1917 without Wall Street marshalling American investors.

Once war was declared, Wilson instituted a vigorous suppression of dissent.  Prominent opponents of intervention like Senators La Follette and Norris, and Minnesota Representative Charles Lindbergh were vilified and demonized as “traitors.”  When the Armistice came nineteen months later, over 10,000 Americans were in prison, most for exercise of First Amendment rights.  Labor leader Eugene Debs, who campaigned as Socialist presidental candidate in 1920 from the Atlanta federal penitentiary, was imprisoned for public reference to the role Wall Street played in prompting American intervention — which was obvious in 1917 and established past doubt by the Senate’s 1934-37 Munitions Inquiry chaired by Gerald Nye.  The muckraking magazines were already mostly bought out or muzzled by syndicate control of their advertising revenues, but now the Post Office enforced a universal censorship, and a wide range of publications were barred from the mails; many failed, including the Girard, Kansas weekly Appeal to Reason, with 10 million subscribers the largest socialist newspaper in the country.  Police and patriotic thugs attacked all manner of “suspect” organizations — German-American, pacifist, labor, socialist…  The Wobblies (International Workers of the World) — whose “one big union” concept challenges corporate power far more than fragmented trade-unionism — were particularly targeted.  Young J. Edgar Hoover got his start as a junior bureaucrat listing “reds” on file cards.  This police-state repression lasted months beyond the Armistice as Attorney General Palmer’s “red squads” raided, rousted, beat up, jailed (and deported when possible) labor organizers and social activists, wrecked their meetings, halls, offices, presses and publications, and persecuted their members and other “undesirables.”

International Development  [3.4]

The Armistice left Wall Street where Ambassador Page’s telegram discovered it, like the tar-baby in the sticker-patch inextricably “entangled” in European finances.  Morgan & Co. was positioned at the center of the web, between arranging payment of war bond interest and the draconian reparations extorted from bankrupt Germany by the Treaty of Versailles.  Sullivan & Cromwell, Morgan’s principal legal counsel since 1899 (they wrote US Steel’s incorporation papers), specialized in transnational corporate operations (United Fruit became a client) and worked beside Morgan representatives at Versailles.  During the early stages of their management of the Panama Canal acquisition (1900), which culminated in a coup, they engaged the assistance of John W. Foster.  After the declaration of war in 1917, his son-in-law, their “Uncle Bert,” recruited Foster’s grandsons John Foster Dulles and Allen into the state department; both were members of the American delegation at Versailles.  Allen Dulles, fresh from his first assignment in intelligence as Lansing’s envoy in Bern, worked on the “redrawing of central European boundaries.”  Foster Dulles, an associate of Sullivan & Cromwell, was acting as an assistant to Baruch and became his fellow member of the War Trade Board, instrumental in writing the treaty’s reparations passages, and of the Supreme Economic Council.  “The whole treaty was an affair or speculation of big business,” Brooks Adams wrote Henry Cabot Lodge.  After the signing British Treasury representative John Maynard Keynes resigned and published The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920), arguing that the terms of the Treaty stipulated conditions that insured another European war.  Many agreed.  In the event, reparations and central European boundaries proved especially incendiary items.

Progressive momentum was decisively broken by this episode of militarization and Wilson’s reign of patriotic terror.  Labor was cowed for twelve years.  After Harding took office, progressive activists regrouped and resumed, with some legislative successes in the states and cities — notably in the cause of local public ownership of utilities, against well-financed and often victorious resistance from organized absentee investment.  Even so, by the mid 20s, ten companies controled 75% of the country’s electric business.  Like the 1990s for the prosperous 10% of Americans, the 1920s “roared” while the rest struggled and fell behind.  The depopulation of rural America by bank debt began in earnest.  Wall Street expanded its consolidations and finance-cartel operations from finance, corporations, industry, resources, transportation, and commodities into regional utilities and commerce, wholesale and local retail with new developments in absentee predation.  Its mercantile and consumer credit enabled such innovations as chain stores displacing local businesses, bread factories supplanting neighborhood bakeries, and dairy conglomerate Kraft’s industrially-produced “processed-cheese” destroying the markets of local creameries with subsidized price competition from a uniform cheapened poor imitation.  Today every Western European country produces palatable cheeses in numbers and varieties greater than all fifty states combined — among the manifold cultural impoverishments conferred by corporate finance.  These and other cartelizations became objects of congressional investigations and progressive legislative initiative, but  effective legal remedy or limitation was evaded or blocked.

Like Amsterdam in Poland and eastward, but casting a far wider net, Wall Street’s major ventures in the 20s were directed to foreign plunder.  The American economic lemon was squeezed dry.  It could not support further investment on the scale of Wall Street’s war loot without a wider distribution of income to permit workers to pay prices sufficient to support profits on investment at the desired rates.  In a system where production is for profit, not for use or for need, cheapened labor is key.  The decade saw an immense expansion of American investment abroad — in loans, businesses, and natural resources, corporate subsidiaries and building infrastructure in Argentina and Jugoslavia sooner than West Virginia or Georgia  — wherever a higher rate of return could be extracted.

Morgan and GE electrified the planet.  ITT and RCA networked international wireless communications.  Rockefeller prospected globally.  United Fruit tightened its grip on Central America with the assistance of the Marines.  In South America, Wall Street began to displace London as primary source of finance and industrial goods.  Japan continued as an important trading partner.  Starting in 1927, engineering firm Albert Kahn, Inc., of Detroit (builder of plants for Ford, Packard, GM, etc.) began “design, architectural, and engineering work for all heavy and light industrial units,” and American corporations (Ford, GE and RCA among them) contracted for “extensive provision of technical assistance and equipment” that, over the next decade, as Stalin told Averell Harriman in 1944, built “about two-thirds of all the large industrial enterprises in the Soviet Union.”  Touring Russia in 1938 at the private request of the War Department, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., (the aviator) noted in his diary “Engine factory No. 24 on outskirts of Moscow … is filled with American machinery, … a completely equipped factory for the manufacture of Wright Cyclone [aircraft] engines, including the best types of high-production machines…. an American factory moved to Russia and operated by Russian workers….”

By 1930, the Morgan portolio included such properties as the hydroelectric system on the Alps’ south slope in northern Italy, “owned by a multinational holding company called Italian Superpower Corporation incorporated in Delaware in 1928” and swallowed the next year by a Morgan-financed cartel.  Investment in Germany continued into the mid-30s.  Sullivan & Cromwell were intimately involved in arranging German reparations payments from the beginning, and continued facilitating German-American cartel patent controls until 1940.  Throughout the 20s, Wall Street, with Morgan to the fore, pressured Washington to cancel European debts to the public Treasury, the better to collect for private investors.  Everywhere in Western Europe the depression was over by 1936; it lasted through 1941 in the United States.  It is an open question what role Wall Street’s prioritization of international investment played in this.  During the 30s some said that American capital was “on strike.”  Hindsight suggests it was seeking better pay in foreign parts.  Tudor English law might construe this as praemunire, a form of treason and a capital offense — ‘furnishing support firstly’ to some other sovereign (such as the Pope or the King of France) rather than to His Majesty.  In a republic (res publica) sovereignty inheres in the public.  A republic is “a state in which all citizens participate,” as contrasted with one controlled by the interests of an oligrachy or the will of a tyrant.  A republic represents the public interest.

REFERENCES

Sources referenced more than once are abbreviated in CAPITALS with the abbreviation and full bibliography given at their first appearance.

PART 3.1-3.4:  OLIGARCH’S PROGRESS:

3.1:  The Context of Progressive Origins

Populists & The Panic of 1893:

GOODWYN is fundamental and essential on the populists generally and on their cooptation by Bryan, Free Silver interests and the Democratic Party.  Pages 351-352 are quoted on the 1893 gold bond issue.

KARP = Walter Karp, The Politics of War:  The Story of Two Wars Which Altered Forever the Political Life of the American Republic (1890-1920) (New York, Harper & Row, 1979) passim.  Fundamental.  On the difference of the “Northeast” see p. 210 with note.

Richard O. Boyer & Herbert M. Morais, Labor’s Untold Story (New York, 1955; 2nd ed. 1965):  see e.g. (among innumerable sources) on 19th-century repression of labor.

CIL vol. 7-9 p. 6345-8948 examines in exhaustive detail a later, notorious case — the 1914 Ludlow Massacre.

SINCLAIR p. 154 on privately paid militia at Ludlow.

THELEN = David P. Thelen, The New Citizenship:  Origins of Progressivism in Wisconsin 1885-1900 (Columbia, University of Missouri, Press, 1972), an extremely biased boook, but on the catalytic effect of the Panic of 1893 see p. 57ff.

RUSSELL = Charles Edward Russell, Bare Hands And Stone Walls:  Some Recollections of a Side-Line Reformer (New York, Scribners, 1933) see p. 57-78 on the ‘Populists.,’ and esp. p. 63 & 70:  James Baird Weaver, presidential candidate of the Union Greenback party in 1880 and the People’s Party in 1892 “said that … two issues overshadowed all else in America.  One was the threat to our institutions and liberty that lay in the swift advance of corporation power… The other was the menace, quite as great, that lay in the control of the world¹s finances by a group of bankers and large bondholders…  The real issue went far deeper; it was the control of the government by the money power.  If that were not destroyed or checked it would produce an iron-heeled autocracy.”

Vernon Louis Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1930).  See vol. 3 p. 212-236 on Henry & Brooks Adams’ critiques of usurocracy; vol. 3 p. 266-282 on populist monitary reforms, Greenbackism, etc.; vol. 3 p. 273, 281-282:  the Populist platform (1892) declares that “a vast conspiracy against mankind has been organized on two continents” … leading to “colossal fortunes for a few usurers.”

R.B. NYE = Russel B. Nye, Midwestern Progressive Politics:  A Historical Study of Its Origins and Development 1870-1958 (Michigan State University Press, 1959) discusses the continuity of traditions, issues and proposed solutions from Grangers & Greenback-Labor parties of the 1870s through the Populists and Progressives into the 1930s.

On Southern populists see also:

Stuart Noblin, Leonidas La Fayette Polk, Agrarian Crusader (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina, 1949).

Robert McMath, Populist Vanguard:  A History of the Southern Farmers Alliance (Chapell Hill, University of North Carolina, 1975).

Huey Long, Every Man A King:  The Autobiography of Huey P. Long (New Orleans, National Book Co., 1933).

Huey Long, My First Days in The White House (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Telegraph Press, 1935).

Gerald L.K. Smith, “The Huey Long Movement,” As We Saw The Thirties, ed. Rita James Simon (Urbana, University of Illinois, 1967) p. 48-75.

Maury Maverick (1895-1954). A Maverick American (New York, Covici-Friede, 1937).

Wright Patman and William Fulbright were longer-lived members of this tradition.

On the Grange:

Charles Francis Adams, “The Granger Movement,” North American Review (April 1875) vol. 120 p. 394-424.

Four central populist texts:

Henry George, Our Land And Land Policy (San Francisco, Wright & Bauer, 1871).

Henry George, Progress and Poverty (San Francisco, Hinton, 1879).

Laurence Gronlund, The Coöperative Commonwealth (Boston, Lee & Shepard; New York Billingham, 1884).

Henry Demarest Lloyd, Wealth Against Commonwealth (New York, Harper, 1894).

On the “muckrakers”:

The best place to encounter the “muckrakers” is in the files of the magazines where they appeared between 1894-1917, including (seldom for the full period of their publication) McClure’s, Everybody’s, Hampton’s, World’s Work, American Magazine, Twentieth Century, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, Pearson’s, Arena, Independent, Outlook, The Public and many other magazines occasionally, such as Scribner’s, Munsey’s and (briefly) Harper’s.

Important “muckraking” authors (among dozens) include Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, Ida M. Tarbell, David Graham Phillips, Thomas W. Lawson, Frederic C. Howe, Charles Edward Russell, Ben Lindsey, Ray Stannard Baker, Frederick Upham Adams, Brand Whitlock, Vance Thompson, William Hard, Garet Garrett, and George Kibbe Turner.

Lincoln Steffens, “It:  An Exposition of the Sovereign Political Power of Organized Business,” in 5 parts, Everybody’s Magazine (September 1910 – February 1911), never collected, deserves special attention.  So do Lawson’s numerous articles in the same magazine in 1904-1906, many collected in:

Thomas W. Lawson, Frenzied Finance (New York, Ridgway-Thaye, 1905) and six years later:

Thomas W. Lawson, “The Remedy:  How we have been robbed and why,” in 9 parts, Everybody’s Magazine (October 1912-July 1913).

David Graham Phillips, “The Treason of the Senate,” in 9 parts, Cosmopolitan (February-October 1906).  Chamberlain (see below) comments:  “His facts were assembled for him by Gustavus Myers, but … the Cosmopolitan having been bought by Hearst, it commenced, with Phillips’s articles to give muck-raking the tone of the yellow journals.  But Phillips’s series was, in the main, justified.”

CHAMBERLAIN = John Chamberlain, Farewell To Reform:  The Rise, Life and Decay of the Progressive Mind In America (2nd ed., Aug. 1933; rpr. Gloucester, Peter Smith, 1958) p. 140:  President Theodore Roosevelt borrowed the term “muckraker” from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in a speech to the Gridiron Club, March 17, 1906.  On April 14, 1906 in another speech he attacked the “lunatic fringe” of magazine writers.

Thomas W. Lawson, “The Muck-Raker,” Everybody’s Magazine vol. 15 no. 2 (August 1906) 204-208 offers a good-humored but pointed reply to Roosevelt’s disparagement.

Useful primary accounts of the muckrakers’ work are found in:

Samuel S. McClure, My Autobiography (New York, Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1914).

HOWE 1925 = Frederic C. Howe, The Confessions of a Reformer (New York, Scribners, 1925).

CHAMBERLAIN p. 127-143.

C.C. Regier, The Era of the Muckrackers (Chapell Hill, University of North Carolina, 1932).

Besides these works, on the suppression of muckraking see:

Charles Edward Russell, “Keeping the Kept Press,” “The Magazines Soft-Pedal,” and “How Business Controls the News.” Pearson’s (January, February & May 1914).

Robert M. La Follette, La Follette’s Autobiography:  A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences (Madison, Robert M. La Follette Co., 1913) comments in Philadelphia speech in Appendix.

HOWE 1925 p. 239:  “Hampton’s, along with McClure’s, the American, Everybody’s, and a number of lesser publications, were either purchased, starved of advertising, or pushed to the wall.”

SINCLAIR = Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism (Pasadena, 1920) passim.

On Bryan and 1896:

GOODWYN is basic.

KARP.

On the Spanish American War:

William Appleman Williams, The Contours of American History (New Viewpoints, New York, 1973 rpr., original pub. Cleveland, 1961) 340-370.

WILLIAMS p. 27-70.  See p. 44 ff. on “New York businessmen;” he quotes Foster on p. 51.

KARP.

LAFEBER 334 ff.; he quotes Ambassador Woodford on p. 339.

Walter Millis, The Martial Spirit:  A Study of Our War with Spain (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1931).

William Reynolds Braisted, The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1897-1909 (Austin, University of Texas, 1958).

COREY p. 224-227.

George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy 1900-1950 (University of Chicago, 1951) 13-14.

On the “trust problem” see:

Richard Drake, The Education of an Anti-Imperialist:  Robert La Follette and U.S. Expansion (Madison, Wisconsin University Press, 2013) p. 127 quoted.  An excellent book on its subject and this period.

PUJO.

On the 1912 election see especially:

LUNDBERG 1937.

Matthew Josephson, The President Makers (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1940).

KOLKO 1963 = Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 (Free Press of Glencoe, CollierMacmillan, London, 1963).

KARP.

PINCHOT = Amos R.E. Pinchot, History of the Progressive Party 1912-1916, ed. with a Biographical Introduction by Helene Maxwell Hooker (New York University Press 1958) p. 69 quoted.  Pinchot, an intimate eyewitness and major progressive activist for several decades, describes how the funding and leadership assumed by Morgan partner George W. Perkins compromised and wrecked the Progressive Party in 1912-1916.  He eventually came to regard Roosevelt as a delusional opportunist and no progressive.

3.2:  Wall Street War Bonds

LAFEBER see p. 237:  In the Congressional debate on Naval appropriations in 1894, “Populists led the opposition … Sen. William Peffer noted that fourteen states had recently been under martial law because of labor discontent.”

On the history and passage of the Federal Reserve Act see:

BROWN p. 120-128.

Eustace Clarence Mullins, A Study of the Federal Reserve (New York, Kasper & Horton, 1952) on Paul Warburg’s initiative in the creation of the Federal Reserve.

Gary Allen & Larry Abraham, None Dare Call It Conspiracy (Seattle, Double A, 1983; American Opinion, 1972) esp. p. 55-56.

GRIFFIN = G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island:  A Second Look at the Federal Reserve (American Media, Westlake Village, CA  1st ed 1994; 4th ed. 2003; 17th printing 2005).

George Sylvester Viereck, The Strangest Friendship In History: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (Liveright, New York, 1932) 37-45.

Thomas R. Marshall, Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall: A Hoosier  

Salad (Indianapolis, Bobbs Merrill, 1925) p. 244-245 quoted.

Wall Street war bonds:

COREY p. 74 (quoted) on Junius Morgan etc.

KOLKO 1963 esp. 142 on Morgan power and international finance.

LAFEBER p. 323 on Wall Street support for Prussia.

MOODY p. 162-163 on Boer War bonds.

COREY p. 328 on Japanese war bonds.

August Belmont:

BROWN p. 118-119.

WRIGHT p. 167-168.

LEE p. 5 & 21.

FONER p. 285-294.

COREY p. 186.

John W. Foster:

KINZER = Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers:  John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (Henry Holt, New York, 2013) p. 8-12.

LISAGOR & LIPSIUS p. 61-62.

3.3:  The Organization of Opinion

On the organization of public opinion:

PETERSON = H.C. Peterson, Propaganda For War:  The Campaign against American Neutrality, 1914-1917 (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1939).  The essential text on the title subject and a principal one on American entry into the war.

Texas Congressman Oscar Calloway, February 27, 1917, Congression Record, 64th Cong., 2nd Ses., vol. 54, p. 2947, quoted on the Morgan interests’ 25-newspaper syndicate.

HOOVER =  Herbert Hoover, Freedom Betrayed:  Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and its Aftermath, ed. George H. Nash (Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 2011) p. 189; I forebear to italicize first.

LUNDBERG 1937 p. 265 quoted on Baruch and the League To Enforce The Peace.

SINCLAIR.

Wilson on Allies’ war aims:

PETERSON p. 285-286; 286 n.7 cites Wilson’s note to House on “October 10, 1916” from:

Edward Mandell House, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, arranged as a narrative by Charles Seymour (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1926-28) 4 vols.

George Sylvester Viereck, The Strangest Friendship In History: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (Liveright, NY, 1932) see p. 102 ff.  In the end Wilson was disillusioned, broken, disgusted and furious: “James Kerney, editor of the Trenton Times, reports that Wilson said to him in the year of his death:  ‘I should like to see Germany clean up France, and I should like to meet Jusserand and tell him that to his face.'” (page 254).  Jusserand was French ambassador to Washington during the war.  In the slang of Wilson’s time and class, “clean up” meant “beat up.”

Ambassador Page’s telegram to Wilson:

LUNDBERG 1937 p. 296:  “On October 14, 1934, the New York World-Telegram published the text of the cable sent by Ambassador Page to President Wilson in 1917, warning [as quoted above].  The World-Telegram said the cable was to be made the subject of inquiry by the Nye Munitions Investigating Committee” (as it was).  Lundberg records (p. 317) that mention of the telegram was excised from a widely read contemporary history, Walter Millis’s Road To War (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1935) before publication, at the instigation of J.P. Morgan.

GRIFFIN p. 239 on Ambassador Page’s “allowance.”

American entry in World War One:

TANSILL = Charles Callan Tansill, America Goes To War (Boston,  Little, Brown, 1938).  Tansill’s fine work had the advantage of benefiting from almost 20 years of published historical investigation and, crucially, from the results of the Nye Committee’s inquiry.

PETERSON.

Nye Committee:  United States Senate, Special Committee to Investigate the Munitions Industry, Gerald P. Nye, Chairman, 74th Congress, 2nd session et seq., Report … (Washington, D.C., U.S. Goverment Printng Office, 1934-1943) 12 volumes.

Matthew Ware Coulter, The Senate Munitions Inquiry of the 1930s:  Beyond the Merchants of Death (Greenwood Press, Contributions in American History, No. 177, Westport, Connecticut, 1997).  A solid but overly understated review of the Nye Committee’s work and conclusions.

Colin Simpson, The Lusitania (Boston, Little, Brown, 1972).

Patrick O¹Sullivan, The Lusitania:  Unravelling The Mysteries (Cork, Ireland, Collins Press, 1998).

Patrick Beesly, Room 40, British Naval Intelligence 1914-18 (London, Hamish Hamilton, 1982), “Lusitania:  Cock-Up or Conspiracy,” p. 84-122.

European origins of the First World War

J.T. Walton Newbold, How Europe Armed For War (1871-1914), (London, Blackfriars Press, 1916).  An acute eyewitness of the coming of war in Europe and incisive analyst of the economic realities of industrialized warfare.

Harry E. Barnes, Genesis Of The World War (New York, Knopf, 1929, new & rev.).  Fundamental on diplomatic history and the question of “war guilt.”  Includes an estimate of additional casualties occasioned by American loans and the hope of American intervention.  See p. 608-613 on “The Pressure For War By American Business and Finance” and p. 640-649 on “The Effects of American Intervention.”

Sidney B. Fay, The Origins of the World War (New York, Macmillan, 1928):  with Barnes this is basic for the diplomatic history.  Harvard history professor Fay broke the story of the “secret treaties” and their implosion of Allied war myths to American historians.  Honest accurate historiography on the subject began in America with his articles “New Light on the Origins of The World War (I, II & III),” American Historical Review (July & October 1920, January 1921) and flourished until 1939.  TANSILL is its summa.

On the repression of dissent 1917-1920:

PETERSON.

H.C. Peterson, Opponents of War 1917-1918 (Madison, University of Wisconsin, 1957).

3.4:  International Development

Versailles:

KINZER p. 21-33 on Versailles; p. 25-27 on Foster Dulles & Baruch.

LISAGOR & LIPSIUS p. 34-35 on beginning of Sullivan & Cromwell’s work for Morgan; p. 39ff. on Panama Canal & p. 61 on Foster’s work; p. 66-88 on Versailles; p. 71 on Allen Dulles; on Foster Dulles p. 60-66, 70ff., 88 etc.; p. 85 on Baruch.

John Maynard Keynes, Economic Consequences of the Peace (London, Macmillan, 1920)

William [Aylott] Orton, Twenty Years’ Armistice 1918-1938 (New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938) on the consequences of Versailles in middle Europe.

ANDERSON p. 172 (Brooks Adams quoted).

On global Morganization in the 20s:

LISAGOR & LIPSIUS p. 60 cited on utilities consolidation (“ten companies”) and creameries.

DENNY = Ludwell Denny, America Conquers Britain (New York, Knopf, 1930) passim, esp. 132 ff.  On trade with Japan see p. 81; on funding of Mussoini’s Italy see 164-165.  Denny is an acute eyewitness and informed observer of international finance and corporate operations.

COREY p. 430 on investment in Italy.

TALBOT = David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard:  Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (New York, HarperCollins, 2015) p. 82, quoted on Italian Superpower.

LISAGOR & LIPSIUS p. 95:  “From 1924 to 1931, Sullivan & Cromwell handled $1.15 billion in loans to [i.e. facilitated bond sales for] Germany and Europe as well as $250 million to Latin America and $139 million to Japan.”  On investment in Germany and cartel arrangements see p. 91-95 & 119-157.  On Foster Dulles’s negotiation of diesel cartel licensing in 1940 see p. 150.

Smedley Butler, War Is A Racket (New York, Roundtable, 1935) on Marines in Nicaragua.

DENNY p. 176 on Wall Street pressure to cancel debts and passim on commercial tensions between the British Empire and Wall Street’s.

Soviet industrial development:

Antony C. Sutton, National Suicide:  Military Aid to the Soviet Union (New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House, 1973) p. 70-73 quoted on industrial development of the Soviet Union.

Antony C. Sutton, Wall Street And The Bolshvik Revolution (New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House Publ, 1974) quoted on Stalin to Harriman p. 17, citing State Dept. telegram June 30, 1944; cf. 254-255.

Antony C. Sutton, Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development (Stanford, Hoover Institute, 1968-1973) 3 vols, authoritative on this subject.

Charles A. Lindbergh, The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (NY, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970) p. 54-55, August 21, 1938.

Capital on strike:

Philip F. LaFollette, “Capital On Strike,” Common Sense (July 1934) p. 6-6-9.

Raymond Gram Swing, “The Strike of Capital,” The Nation (September 12, 1934) vol. 139, no. 3610 p. 289-291.

Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P.G.W. Glare (Oxford, 1982) s.v. respublica 4 quoted.

**

Diogenes is an over-educated American landless peasant.  His great-grandfather, a co-operative orchardist, helped California progressives overturn Southern Pacific’s corporate political machine in 1910.  He thinks this advance needs to be re-established and greatly extended, nationally, not reversed.  He regards progressive successes in many states during this era as a recommendation for their non-partisan grassroots methods of public education and legislative action and for their targeting of the legal enablements of financial predation, and he considers it crucial to extract lessons for the present from their history of defeats and failures as well as of successes, and to understand the methods by which they were thwarted, the better to succeed in the future.

**

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Carl_Herman

    I fully recommend diogenes’ work. It’s a fascinating guided tour through economic history that corporate media will never remind you happened. This history shines light on today’s economic oligarchy, and is vital context to grasp the looting in our world today.

    • diogenes

      Thanks Carl. That’s exactly what I have in mind. I hope it comes across.

      As Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

      Less often quoted is its “Rockefeller Corollary”:

      “So if you want to repeat it, keep your victims ignorant of it.”

  • Don Robertson

    The raceless, borderless, classless society advocated by both Diogenis and Carl Herman is the path toward the quick impoverishment and total destruction of the natural world upon which humankind depends.

    The only future world these two clowns are willing to advocate is one in which the survivors will live underground in communal nests like mole rats.

    Juxtaposed to this insnae internationalist view that promises so many impossible benefits, is the view that race and borders are far more important than tolerance and political correctness can be, because of the sure end result of each view.

    You two have to think the consequences of your ideas through, instead of simply harpiing the completely insane religion of love and sharing. Respect is something that is earned. It is not, never was, and never will be a birthright in this reality.

    • Carl_Herman

      Don: you get triggered and spew strawman positions that you never ever ever ever ever quote and support.

      You put words in our mouths that are your fears, and not anything we state. If you want any response, you have to first accurately state our positions.

      It’s that simple.

      • diogenes

        It’s even simpler than that, Carl. Spew as clueless as this is so obvious there’s no need even to point it out. Just ignore it the way you ignore the guy on the corner ranting about whatever.

        What’s sad is that Washingtonsblog can’t come up with more intelligent comment that this. If this guy had a quarter of a functioning intellect, he would be embarrassed to display it. But he doesn’t. His “ideas” are just lowest common denominator reflexes. Garbage in garbage out. As a contribution, they are equivalent to throwing sand. Not a help. And to any thinking reader, this is obvious. It’s pathetic that Robertson doesn’t understand it.

        • Don Robertson

          I stand by my words as written, despite my hasty typos. Whenever someone starts talking about the greater good of the whole, they are always talking about their own lack of success, success being the only way to contribute to the whole. Ideologically these failed whiners end up with little less to come back with than their strained perception of a straw man argument with another straw man argument, one even more obvious and pointless.

          Right, Carl?

          If you’re looking for a contribution,Diogenis, get a violin and a fucking tin cup and forget about taxing the rich. By taxing the rich, you’ll end up making the poor ever more ubiquitous and even poorer in the end.

          Diversity in wealth accumulation is the surest sign of incentive, and equally, a solid, self-reliant population. From cradle to grave guarantees only assure alcoholism, drug abuse, incarceration and insanity. Men need to struggle. But the struggle should be worthwhile, not idiotic ideological windmills.

          Welfare has destroyed black and white Americans for decades. Indirectly, but just as surely as driving over a bed of nails will result in flat tires, welfare is the reason so many black and white Americans end up spending so much of their lives in jail. They call it, home.

          As those raised on welfare grow up, their demands on society increase. And welfare teaches them, the society in which they live owes to them enough to meet their increasing needs. So, they engage in crime to meet those needs.

          And off to the hoosegow they go.

          • Carl_Herman

            Don: you attack a position I don’t occupy.

          • Don Robertson

            That’s nice.

            Now talk about the money printing. Those of us who are solvent should be running the show. But the money-printers are so busy giving everything away, there’s absolutely no cogency to the leadership at the helm, or with the ideologists in the back room who are calling for more freebees and ending the wealth disparity with money drops and wealth taxes.

            A strong economy is built on the facts of life. Squander your ass away, and you should have to live in the trough foraging with the pigs for a while.

          • diogenes

            As Carl says, you are invented nonsense, attributing it to others and then attacking us for it. This is bogus and despicable. You do not deserve an answer. You repeatedly make a fool of yourself in public. Go right ahead.

  • March 21, 2016 American Democracy Struggles To Recover From Betrayal

    Some Americans are catching on, shedding their unawareness. I am not confident that Sanders or Trump could bring change. In The Deep State (2016), Mike Lofgren concludes that powerful private interest groups, such as the military/security complex and the financial sector, have hijacked democracy. Still, voters’ interest in Sanders and Trump, despite the beating they receive in the media, is a positive sign. I have the impression that voters are supporting them not so much for their positions on issues as for the fact that neither are part of the Washington establishment. Many voters now understand that the political establishment represents the One Percent, not them.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/american-democracy-struggles-to-recover-from-betrayal/5515518