Democracy and Trusts

Republican editor Edward Rosewater went on a campaign to discredit Thomas Majors, the Republican nominee for governor in 1894, and to expose railroad influence in the campaign. Rosewater's disgruntled disgust with party fealty to the railroads did not prevent him from attacking the Democratic Party as beholden to trusts and against the interests of workingmen.

Congressman Bryan had to step in Iowa to give his friend, Mr. Weaver, a lift in his congressional campaign. This means that Nebraska is in turn to be afflicted with Weaver before the campaign shall have ended.


One of the democratic claims in behalf of the present congress, and perhaps the most preposterous of any of them is that its policy and legislation have been inimical to the trusts. This claim is set up by Mr. McMillin, whose statement is understood to be in the nature of a manifesto representing the views of the house democrats, and therefore especially designed as a vindication of the party and at the same time to supply an argument for campaign purposes. That gentlemen makes the extraordinary assertion that this congress has passed the most stringent law against trusts ever enacted in this country and he says that at the same time the attorney general has instituted proceedings in the courts to try to dissolve illegal trusts. "The democratic party," says Mr. McMillin, "was pledged to the enactment of more stringent legislation against trusts. It has kept this pledge and offers this as its fulfillment," referring to the tariff bill, with its sugar schedule, under which the refining monopoly is assured, according to democratic testimony, of not less than $40,000,000 plundered from the sugar consumers of the country during the next twelve months, and a very generous sum thereafter, while the Whisky trust will also be benefited to the amount of many millions.

Fortunately there is able and candid democratic testimony in refutation of this preposterous claim. On August 13 Representative Tom L. Johnson of Ohio made a speech in the house vigorously combating the proposed surrender to the senate on the tariff. Mr. Johnson is an uncompromising advocate of free trade. He does not, like so many of his fellow partisans, hide his light under a bushel, but declares his views in a plain and straightforward way, so that everybody can understand them. In his speech, when the house had under consideration the resolution to recede from the disagreement to the senate amendments to the Wilson bill, Mr. Johnson said of the senate bill: "It is more fully and emphatically a trust bill than was even the McKinley bill. All the trusts were called in to make it up and what tricks and devices like hidden to the general public in its technical language no man—I do not believe even Senator Gorman—yet really knows." Referring to the consideration shown the Sugar trust, the Ohio congressman said with a frankness that must have amazed his democratic associates: "I know and you know and the people know—I was about to say that every dog that barks in the streets of the capital knows—that the real purpose of imposing this tax is not to give revenue to the government, but revenue to the [boodlers.] You cannot disguise it from the people, for the people know it already, that the purpose of this sugar tax is to put millions and millions in the pockets of men who are already millionaires by robbing the people. They know that this tax on sugar has been brought through every step of its way, carried by such open, undisguised corruption as has never been flaunted in their faces before; they know that the Sugar trust has purchased this privilege of taxing them, and that, though the price it may have paid may be millions, it will receive back millions and millions before the treasury gets 1 cent." There was much more by this candid and outspoken free trade democrat, who stands squarely upon the last national platform of his party, in the same vein, and it constitutes an arraignment the great merit of which is that it is absolutely truthful. It is democratic testimony that cannot be gainsaid.

The pretense that the democrats in congress or that the administration has done anything looking to the suppression of the trusts is as false as any other of the numerous claims which that party has put forth. What has the administration done to enforce the law already on the statute book against trusts? A single case has been instituted against the Sugar trust, and is understood to be now on the docket of the supreme court, but who would venture to say when it will be reached if the present attorney general of the United States, with his well known devotion to corporations, is to determine when proceedings shall go on? That official has no confidence in the existing law, or professes not to have. He believes with Mr. McMillin, that it is "so mild and gingerly" as to be inadequate to the purpose of crushing the combinations, yet he has failed to give it a fair test, and neither he nor the president has suggested to congress how its defects might be remedied and the law made stronger and sufficient for its object. The democratic pretense of hostility from Mr. Cleveland or Mr. McMillin, or any others who speak with responsibility for the party, as been shown to be hollow, false [?] that will be in the least degree injured to the legislation of this congress and not one of them stands in any fear of the administration.

The railroad press of the state is just now assiduously engaged in denying the fact that the republican state convention was manipulated and controlled by railroad managers. If the nomination of Majors did not prove the power of railroad cappers, the fact that a Farnam street hotel was made the secret headquarters of railway officials prior to and during the convention, and that said officials kept their runners going day and night, trading and buying delegates, would plainly indicate the character of the nominee. No man who watched the course of Majors when the maximum freight rate bill was before the state senate can doubt for a moment his abject subserviency to the railroads of this state. They, and they alone, have nominated him.

The science of railroading is becoming more and more profound as the years go on. Perhaps ordinary minds are not expected to fathom it. When Kelly's army sought transportation eastward last spring it was denied them at any price. Now the Wabash road has dumped a detachment of the army upon this community, having hauled them from St. Louis at a merely nominal rate.

Niobrara Pioneer: The nomination of Thomas J. Majors for governor of Nebraska bodes no good to Nebraska or the republican party. He is one of the worst types of the politician, and while he parades his army record as something wonderful, there are many men equally as braves who never have been heard of. A brag for himself and a tool for the great corporations, self-respecting republicans will think many times before they cast their votes for him.

Lexington Pioneer: The defeat of John H. MacColl at the recent republican state convention was accomplished by a series of unscrupulous tricks wholly beneath the dignity of any man who desires or aspires to hold a state office. Straw men and verdant dupes were induced by the Majors strikers to become candidates in a number of countries in the state with the end in view of weakening MacColl's support. Annual passes over the B. & M. lines in Nebraska were also used with a liberal hand and produced the effect desired—votes in the convention for Majors. It is not probable that western Nebraska will for many years have another opportunity to be represented in the gubernatorial chair, and vet it was western delegates that defeated the western candidate. We believe today that a large majority of the voters of the state prefer MacColl to Majors. That the latter is not a popular candidate—especially knowledged. With MacColl as a candidate the party would have accomplished a sweeping victory; with Majors as a leader the result is doubtful.

Grand Island Independent: The republican state convention was not representative of the republican party, but of the railroads, whose influence put its stamp upon most of the members and brought about the nomination of men who will never defend the interests of the people, but protect the railroads in all their nefarious schemes for taking the most possible amount of money out of the people and defrauding them of their right of self-government. This character of the convention which has led to such a result, is not only contemptible, but it shows great stupidity, endangering the success of the republican party. The railroads have become more bold than ever, and want to rule or ruin. And the ruin of the republican party may be the first result. There is immense dissatisfaction in our community, and probably in all other communities, with the convention and its work, and large numbers of true republicans declare that they will not vote for the man of bad repute placed at the head of the republican ticket. Whether these men will vote for a candidate of their own or endorse a candidate of another party, or not vote at all, nobody can tell yet. But there can be no doubt that there will be in Nebraska a great exodus from the republican party as far as the gubernatorial candidate is concerned, and it is feared that this will also have a bad influence on other nominees of the republican ticket, and perhaps even on the county tickets. If such things happen, as they probably will, the railroads and their subservient tools will have to stand the responsibility for republican defeat.

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha Daily Bee
  • Citation: 4
  • Date: August 28, 1894