Read CHAPTER VIII of Frenzied Finance Vol. 1: The Crime of Amalgamated , free online book, by Thomas W. Lawson, on ReadCentral.com.

“STANDARD OIL” INVESTS “MADE DOLLARS” IN GAS

And now I shall have to go back a bit in my story. After “Standard Oil” had firmly established, through the agency of the curb, the value of the 1,000,000 shares of Standard Oil, the corporation seller of oil, at between $600,000,000 and $800,000,000, and had used it as collateral in securing control of the four classes of money institutions I have named the national and savings-banks and trust and insurance companies it proceeded to use the funds thus controlled to manipulate the stocks of great public corporations for its own profit, forming them into trusts with capitals far beyond their values, represented by new stocks and bonds, which it sold to the public at prices aggregating a hundred to five hundred per cent. over the old capitalization. It then engaged in a wonderfully clever campaign to work off on the people directly, the very rich people, but indirectly, the people as a whole through institutions which exist because of the people’s savings the $600,000,000 to $800,000,000 of Standard Oil stock which had at this stage served the principal use for which it had been created. It must be borne in mind that while “Standard Oil” is grinding out “made dollars,” its owners never for an instant lose sight of that dim, distant day of reckoning when the people will awaken to their losses. The “Rogerses” and the “Rockefellers” know well that the public cannot always be kept in ignorance of the methods of the “System” by which it has been plundered, and that once it is in possession of the secret of how the savings of the many have become the property of the few, there may be reprisals of such a nature as will compel the “System” to yield up its gains. They know that when that day comes it will not be best for them to have their enormous fortunes in such get-at-able property as real estate, in which so many of the legitimately acquired American fortunes are invested. In a quiet way, therefore, they have put the bulk of their “made dollars” into unrecorded forms, such as Government bonds; bonds and preferred stocks of what they consider non-duplicatable franchise corporations such as railroads, which require rights of way; into municipal public service enterprises, such as gas companies, the existence of which depends upon rights of way for pipes; and into the stocks of banks and trust and insurance companies, which they believe the people will never dare attack because their savings are largely deposited in them.

I would not have my readers think that the principal motive actuating “Standard Oil” in parting with its Standard Oil stock is doubt of its present intrinsic worth, for such is not the case. The masters of “Standard Oil” are very able, far-seeing men, and they know that so thoroughly have the American people been educated to the crimes which created Standard Oil, the crimes by which it has existed and does exist, that no passage of time or “pious-ing” of latter-day methods, will ever blind them to its iniquities, and that when reprisal day comes, as come it surely will, the first thing the people in their frenzy will look for will be Standard Oil. This is the reason which, more than any other, influences them in selling to others an enterprise which has up to the present time not only enjoyed tremendous prosperity, but which has as yet met with no obstacle or hindrance.

Of all forms of tangible investment “Standard Oil” has looked most favorably upon gas stocks, and its secret devices have been worked overtime in consolidating gas companies throughout the United States. In a general way, as manufacturers of illuminating oil, “Standard Oil” had early become familiar with the problems of supplying large communities cities with gas light; and with the advent of water-gas, as sellers of petroleum they controlled an important factor in the production of that volatile commodity. All the talent of the “System,” trained in “handling” municipal authorities, came into play in this big new business of lighting cities a business which perforce became a monopoly as soon as the powerful tentacles grasping it were recognized as “Standard Oil.”

At the time my story opens (1894) “Standard Oil” had already captured the gas-lighting corporations of certain of the great cities of the United States, including the immensely rich ones of New York (directly), Philadelphia and Chicago (indirectly); and for two years previously had been besieging the several independent Brooklyn companies for the purpose of consolidating them into a single gigantic corporation. This project it has since accomplished. Its intention is to weld this corporation with the great one that already holds the monopoly of Manhattan.

The task of diagramming a territory for invasion is one after Henry H. Rogers’ own heart. His campaigns are planned with Napoleonic power and foresight. When the capture of Brooklyn was decided on, the several corporations to be subdued were “sized up” as to their revenues and liabilities; the resources of their stockholders were studied out, and a plan of action organized to separate each one from his shares at “hard-pan” prices. In the “Standard Oil” armory there are many instruments of “persuasion,” and he is indeed a hardy fellow who can resist the various “trying-out” processes to which mutineers are subjected. This obstinate capitalist will be summarily knocked on the head; that other inveigled into a dark corner by a strong-arm man; another group owe money to one of the “System’s” banks and a brief spell on the financial rack will weaken their grip. Sooner or later all succumb. While such details as these were being attended to, lines were being strung here and there to bring about the passage by the city of Brooklyn and the Legislature of New York State of ordinances and laws which should allow this and compel that to be done, and so rivet the various links of the great venture.

While in the midst of this campaign, to which Henry H. Rogers’ genius, matured in many a hard-fought business battle, foresaw an early and easy triumphal termination, there came athwart his victorious path a financial guerilla, “balloony,” mysterious, yet as sticky as a jelly-fish, who was destined to exert a most maleficent influence on his after-life. Fate hangs no red lights at the cross-roads of a man’s career. No “pricking of his thumbs,” no strange portents warned the Master of “Standard Oil” that the impudent Philadelphia swashbuckler who dared interfere with the execution of his plan to fetter the “System’s” yoke to the necks of the citizens of Brooklyn was the factor that destiny had chosen to shape the ends that he had rough-hewn.

The financial guerilla was J. Edward O’Sullivan Addicks, votary of rotten finance, perpetual candidate for the United States Senate, wholesale debaucher of American citizenship and all-round corrupter of men J. Edward O’Sullivan Addicks, a corporation political trickster, who has done more to hold up American laws, American elective franchises, and American corporations to the scorn of the civilized world than any other man of this or any previous age.