History of America’s One Percent – Episode #30

hogaf-logo-wip2In this podcast series we dive into the long and shadowy history of America’s ruling elite through the works of authors who were either silenced, suppressed, or forgotten, to discover the origins of the 1% and from where their power and wealth was, and still is, extracted. Each recording will be approx. 1 hour in length to allow for easy consumption of the material.  The narrator will only interrupt the reading to provide insight, spell names, read informative footnotes, or provide definitions for archaic words.


In this episode – Continued reading of History of Great American Fortunes by Gustavus Myers.  Includes Part III, Chapter VII:  The Vanderbilt Fortune in Later Generations, continued.  The Labor Movement Collapses After 1887.  Labor Party Leaders Bribed With Offices In Democratic and Republican Administrations.  Labor Reduced to Begging Politicians For Scraps of Legislation.  War Resumes Between the Middle Class and the Great Magnates.  The Middle Class Passes Anti-Trust Laws in 23 States By 1890.  Each Trust Busted Reorganizes Deeper In the Technicalities of the Law.  The Great Magnates Install Their Agents On the Benches and as Attorneys General.  The Vanderbilt’s Acquire the “Big Four.”  Some Circumstances Behind the Panic of 1893.  Gathering In Anthracite Coal Mines In Pennsylvania.  Squeezing Out the Independent Operators.  Abuses of the Mine Workers.  The Company Store.  The Grand Prize: Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Owned One-Half of Coal Supply in Pennsylvania.  President of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, Arthur McLeod’s Wreckless Ambition.  Vanderbilt and Morgan Join Forces To Crush McLeod.  Splitting the Spoils of War.  Treatment of the Mine Workers Under the New Owners.  Gathering in the Bituminous Coal Mines Also.  Untold Profits From The Coal Mines.

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Click Here for a complete list of episodes in this podcast.
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PART III, CHAPTER VII – FOOTNOTES, cont’d.

[7] See testimony before the committee to investigate the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, and the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, Pennsylvania Legislative Docs. 1876, Vol. v, Doc. No. 2. This investigation fully revealed how the railroads detained the cars of the “independent” operators, and otherwise used oppressive methods.

[8] Spahr quoted an independent operator in 1900 as saying that the railroads charged the independents three times as much for handling hard coal as they charged for handling soft coal from the West—”America’s Working People”: 122-223.

[9] “Organized Labor”:359. Mitchell’s comments were fully supported by the vast mass of testimony taken by the United States Anthracite Coal Commission in 1902.

[10] Ibid.

[11] “The Present Distribution of Wealth in the United States”: 110-111.

[12] An investigation, in 1905, showed that the “Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad owned about 43.3 per cent. of the entire capital stock of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company.” “Report on Discriminations and Monopolies in Coal and Oil, Interstate Commerce Commission, January 25, 1907”: 46.

[13] A good account of this expropriating transaction was that of Wolcott Drew, “The Reading Crash in 1903” in “Moody’s Magazine” (a leading financial periodical), issue of January, 1907.

[14] One of the particularly indisputable examples of the glaring fraud by which immense areas of coal fields were originally obtained was that of the disposition of the estate of John Nicholson.
Dying in December, 1800, Nicholson left an estate embracing land, the extent of which was variously estimated at from three to five million acres. Some of the Pennsylvania legislative documents place the area at from three to four million acres, while others, notably a report in 1842, by the judiciary committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, state that it was 5,000,000 acres. Nicholson was a leading figure in the Pennsylvania Land Company which had obtained most of its vast land possessions by fraud. Some of Nicholson’s landed estate lay in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and other States, but the bulk of it was in Pennsylvania and included extensive regions containing the very richest coal deposits.
The State of Pennsylvania held a lien upon Nicholson’s estate for unpaid taxes amounting to $300,000. Notwithstanding this lien, different individuals and corporations contrived to get hold of practically the whole of the estate in dispute. How they did it is told in many legislative documents; the fraud and theft connected with it were a great scandal in Pennsylvania for forty-five years. We will quote only one of these documents. Writing on January 24, 1842, to William Elwell, chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Judge J. B. Anthony, of the Nicholson Court (a court especially established to pass
upon questions arising from the disposition of the estate), said:
“On the nth of April, 1825, an act passed the Governor to appoint agents to discover and sell the Nicholson lands at auction, for which they were allowed twenty-five per cent. A Special Board of Property was also formed to compromise and settle with claimants. From what has come to my knowledge in relation to this Act, I am satisfied that the commonwealth was seriously injured by the manner in which it was carried out by some of the agents. It was made use of principally for the benefit of land speculators; and the very small sums received by the State treasurer for large and valuable tracts sold and compromised, show that the cunning and astute land jobbers could easily overreach the Board of Property at Harrisburg. . . . Many instances of gross fraud might be enumerated, but it would serve no useful purpose.” Judge Anthony further said that “very many of the most influential, astute and intelligent inhabitants” and “gentlemen of high standing” were participants in the frauds. —Pennsylvania House Journal, 1842, Vol. ii, Doc. No. 127: 700-704.

[15] See Special Report No. 1 of the Interstate Commerce Commission on Intercorporate Relationship of Railroads: 39. Also Carl Snyder’s “American Railways as Investments”: 473.

[16] Final Report of the U. S. Industrial Commission, 1902, xix: 462-463.

[17] It was on this occasion that George F. Baer, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, in scoring the public sympathy for the strikers, justified the attitude of the railroads in his celebrated utterance in which he spoke “of the Christian men and women to whom God in His infinite wisdom has intrusted the property interests of the country,” which alleged divine sanction he was never able to prove.

[18] “The Anthracite Coal Communities”: 346-347.

[19] See testimony brought out before Charles H. Guilbert, Examiner appointed by the United States District Court in Philadelphia. The Government’s petition charged the defendants with entering into a conspiracy contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Sherman act.

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2 thoughts on “History of America’s One Percent – Episode #30

  1. Hopefully you can complete the book.

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