Roosevelt On Trusts

August 30, 1902


President Roosevelt claims that it is impossible to “get any complete or perfect solution for all of the evils” that have to do with trusts, but the government will try to enforce antitrust laws.


President Says He Has Not Discovered a Patent Cure-All.
Better Laws Are Needed.
Declared first thing wanted is publicity, which would cure many evils-- all anti-trust laws will be enforced.

Boston, Mass., Aug 26.-- The week's work for President Roosevelt in his trip through New England began in earnest yesterday afternoon, when he departed from the summer home of the junior senator of Massachusetts, Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge, at Natant, and, amid the enthusiasm of the greatest number of people he has faced since the Pittsburg visit on July 4, rode into Lynn under a cavalry escort and spoke from a platform at City Hall. Then he was taken to Boston by special train, and on his arrival went to Symphony Hall, there addressing a great gathering of Boston business men. His speech here was devoted almost entirely to consideration of the trust question.
President Roosevelt's speech in part was as follows:
"I wish to say that I have not come here to say that I have discovered a patent cure-all for the trusts. It is worse than useless for any of us to rail at or regret the great growth in industrial civilization of the last half century. There is but little use in regretting that things have not shaped themselves differently. The practical thing to do is to face the conditions as they are and see if we cannot get the best there is in them out of them. We are not going to get any complete of perfect solution for all of the evils which come to our minds when we think of the trusts by any single action on our part. A good many actions in a good many different ways will be required before we get many of those evils even partially remedied.
"I am inclined to think that much the greatest trouble in any immediate handling of the question of the trust comes from our system of government. Remember, I am not saying that even if we had all the power we could completely solve the trust question. Gentlemen, if what we read in the papers is true, they are speaking of a number of international trusts now. It would be very difficult for any set of laws, on our part, to deal completely with a problem which becomes international in its bearings, but a great deal can be done in various ways.
"Some time ago the attorney general took action against a certain trust. There has been considerable discussion as to whether the trust aimed at would not seek to get our from under the law by becoming a single corporation. I want laws to enable us to deal with it, no matter what shape it takes. I want to see the government able to get at it differently, so that the action of the government cannot be evaded by any turning, within or without federal or state statutes: At present we have really no efficient control over a big corporation which does business in more than one state.
"The first thing we want is publicity, and I do not mean publicity as favored by some corporations. I want the knowledge given to the accredited representatives of the people of facts on which those representatives can, if they see fit, base their actions later. The publicity itself would cure many evils. As far as the anti-trust laws go they will be enforced. No suit will be undertaken for the sake of seeming to undertake it. Every suit that is undertaken will be begun because the great lawyer and upright man whom we are so fortunate as to have as attorney general, Mr. Knox, believes that there is a violation of the law which we can get at, and when the suit is undertaken it won't be compromised excepting the basis that the government wins. Of course, gentlemen, no laws amount to anything unless they are administered honestly and fearlessly."
This morning bright and early the presidential party started for Maine.
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“Roosevelt On Trusts,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed January 30, 2023,