JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1785WHO YOU GONNA CALL? TRUSTBUSTERS!
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 114 years ago today, December 3, 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt delivered his First Annual Message, a 20,000 word speech to the United States House of Representatives to ask Congress to curb the power of trusts 'within reasonable limits.'
The President said...
"The growth of cities...and the upbuilding of the great industrial centers has meant a startling increase...in the number of very large individual and corporate fortunes..." and while the "mechanism of modern business is so delicate that extreme care must be taken NOT to interfere with it in a spirit of rashness or ignorance....the Government should have the right to inspect and examine the workings of the great corporations in interstate business."
Later in February 1902, J.P. Morgan, head of the Northern Securities Trust, learned that TR's attorney general had filed a lawsuit against his company. Morgan, one of the most powerful men in the nation, couldn't understand how a mere President of the United States could do this to him.
J.P. Morgan sent a private message to TR which read...
"Send your man to my man and they can fix it up."
The United States Supreme Court ultimately supported TR's view and dissolved the National Securities Corporation. A vindicated President Roosevelt said that this proved that no man, no matter how powerful, was above the law.
A total of 44 trusts were dissolved during TR's presidency and he earned the title "TRUSTBUSTER". It was his successor, however, President William Howard Taft, who set the record by "busting" 90 trusts.
"Theodore Roosevelt, First Annual Message, December 3, 1901," The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/