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to him and the duties he should perform become malfeasance in office. A remarkable characteristic of the disease is, that the man that can be relied upon to violate his oath of office is in many instances most certain of political preferment.
This is the way it works in one class of offices. Thomas J. Grafter has been elected State's attorney. His nomination was made with great care by men interested in having a safe man in that office. His chief recommendation for public office before the election was his inexperience and poverty.
He was poor and of course honest. During his term of office the grand jury have found it not necessary to return true bills charging offenses, except in a few instances of flagrant violation of the criminal code of the grossest sort. There have been few informations filed in the County Court. It is noticed that the gambling houses run merrily on and the click of the slot machine is heard in the land. The saloons permit minors to frequent their precincts, in order that they may be properly rocked, in their infancy, in the cradle of liberty. As usual, they continue to sell to habitual drunkards. The disorderly houses are unmolested. During his administration he has grown in popularity and seemingly has accumulated wealth. His family walked when he went into office. They ride in a carriage now. They formerly lived in a rented house, but they have just moved into their new home on the shady side of Easy street; that he has been able to purchase during his incumbency in office at a salary fixed by law at four hundred dollars per year. He has grown in importance and popularity, and when he goes out of office the organ of his party will announce to the voters and citizens of his county that the Hon. Thomas J. Grafter was the most popular and efficient State's Attorney that the county ever had. You can put the setting of this scene either in the county of which Bird Center is the county seat, or in the county of which Cook Center is the county seat; it will fit the landscape equally well. Perhaps some of you may have met this popular gentleman. He is now a candi
date for some more important place where the opportunities for a man of his peculiar qualities of statesmanship will be more fully appreciated. This condition exists. No man who loves his country and who has given the situation the most superficial examination will dare to deny it. This office is only one of many in which the trail of the serpent can be traced. The mayors of cities, the presidents of boards of trustees of villages, the police departments of municipalities great and small and executive officers generally in the various departments are emasculated by it.
The executive officers of cities and villages are selected with great care with an eye single to their pliability in the hands of their political bosses, and in many instances when removed from office for malfeasance by the judgment of a court of last resort, their violation of duty is rewarded and endorsed by a triumphant re-election to the same office. Their constituents do not seem to realize that an endorsement at the ballotbox of malfeasance in office, or violated pledges and oaths of office, is an endorsement of anarchy and subversion of all law. They do not seem to comprehend that a general disregard of the laws of the land by the officers appointed to execute them would mean an overthrow of the government and that a vote or voice for the non-enforcement of any law is but the vote and voice of treason to the government. Yet the ward boss and grafter and the follower of his lead put in their days and nights to bring about that dire result. All branches of the government are affected to some extent except the judicial, which so far commands the respect and faith of the people; yet the supreme court is compelled to exercise diligent care to prevent the inquisitive grafter from publishing its opinions before they are announced.
Notwithstanding the great sacrifices made to secure the right of suffrage for this people, there is widespread among the electors a lack of appreciation of the value of the right to vote, or its importance in free government. The spirit of materialism
has so grown upon them that there is a tendency to throw off and avoid the duties of citizens, to refuse to vote or give the matter of government the time, thought and attention it requires. The politician has patted the voter on the back until he now refuses to go to the election unless he is hauled there and hauled back. In many instances is unwilling even to ride, in a free carriage, unless his time is paid for. In addition to this the practice of purchasing the votes directly or indirectly of large number of electors, at general elections, has grown up, and the delivery of blocks of five, or blocks of any other denomination convenient for graft, has become a recognized occupation, not only of the citizen and patriot, but of the grafter and enemy of his country. By this means combinations of grafters, politicians and trust magnates are enabled to put into power their agents to serve their purposes and to subvert the proper ends of free government.
The corporation, in its original inception and intent, is not an engine of evil; its purpose and object was within proper scope and under proper restrictions to strengthen, widen and perpetuate commercial transactions and render their management more efficient. A corporation is like any other creature of government; it is as good and no worse than its creator. If a corporation is properly restricted by law, is managed by a board of directors, all of whom are honest, upright, conscientious men who would not permit the rights of another to be violated by their corporate strength; who would not knowingly and intentionally override the equities of a weaker interest, that corporation never will become a means of oppression, wrong or violated right. On the other hand, however, if a corporation is made up of a majority of stockholders or is managed by a board of directors a majority of whom do not recognize the rights of their fellowmen, who are not honest, upright and conscientious in their private dealings, who are willing to defraud their neighbors of their property, ruin their business by unjust and unfair competition, and use deception,
fraud and chicanery to injure them; are willing to enjoy stolen franchises and the fruits of padded balance sheets, unfair rebates and rotten lobbies, then that corporation and that combination will be as evil and sinister in its effect upon those not in it, with whom it comes in contact, as the combined wickedness of the men who compose it. The morals of corporate interests will be neither better nor worse than the morals of the majority of the men who control the corporation. The morals and ethics of a just corporation must be composed of just as high standard and governed by the same rules that the commercial morals and political standards of an individual or any combination of individuals, who are honest men. Unless corporations are governed on this principle they are a menace and a danger to the rights of all men with whom they come in contact or whose interest their interests contravene. By this standard and operated in this manner, ungoverned and unrestricted, corporate power is as dangerous to free men as William the Norman and his armored knights were to the progress of human liberty. The sword and shield of the feudal system were not one whit more fatal to the liberties of the ancient Saxons than the policy of special privileges gained by corporate power and trust combinations are to the individual rights of the modern American. The former made serfs of our Saxon progenitors, who were free men, and under its blight they became chattels and were conveyed with the soil. Corporate power in the hands of unjust, wicked men, if not restrained, will make menials and dependents of a large majority of the free citizens of this nation. One of the chief uses of corporate combinations lies in the fact that men who in their private capacity would not dare to wrong their neighbors or trample upon their rights are perfectly willing to participate in the profits of any corporate wrong doing without a shock of conscience. They use corporate power to do for them what they dare not do in person.
The offense of the accumulation of wealth by the added
strength of corporate combinations or trusts, or graft, or any other kind, cannot be atoned for by building libraries or endowing colleges or making large missionary gifts. You cannot violate the right of a man and then atone for that transgression by handing him a glittering bauble. Captain Kidd was kind to the widow and orphan, and poverty was relieved in many instances by his largess, yet he was a pirate and his bounty the result of piracy. The moral doctrine of David Harum to do unto the other fellow as he would like to do you, and do it fust, when used for entertainment in the pages of literature, will pass current with the smile that it creates, but when put in general, actual practice by the descendants of the horse trainer and trader in the management of the great Standard Oil company and kindred organizations of corporate capital, it becomes a menace to the nation.
Rockefeller, steel armored by hypocrisy and the doctrine of fore-ordination taught by his theology, plated with gold, the fruit of special corporate privilege and violated law, confidently defies punishment at the hands of his creator and his fellowman. This individual is representative of all that class of men who have sought to use the corporation for illegal purposes and to violate their duties to mankind and the nation. They have incorporated, combined and intrigued until that which was originally of benefit to commerce is subverted into an engine of oppression. The means for this to be done has been furnished by their victims. With the stupidity and endurance of asses the American people have stood idly by and permitted one State of the Union, for gain, to create artificial persons to go forth and despoil the inhabitants of all the other States, and allow the State creating that person to determine, by law, what shall be the governing limitations of its creatures in all of the other States. A natural person born in New Jersey, when he removes to Illinois or assays to do business there, must obey the laws of Illinois, and submit himself to the jurisdiction of her courts; but this artificial person created in New Jersey by