Items of Interest

President Roosevelt last week submitted to Congress the report of Commissioner Garfield on the inquiry into Standard Oil, and in his own message said: "The report shows that the Standard Oil Company has benefited enormously up almost to the present moment by secret rates, many of these secret rates being clearly unlawful. This benefit amounts to at least three-quarters of a million a year. This three-quarters of a million represents the profit that the Standard Oil Company obtains at the expense of the railroads; but, of course, the ultimate result is that it obtains a much larger profit at the expense of the public. A very striking result of the investigation has been that shortly after the discovery of these secret rates by the Commissioner of Corporations, the major portion of them were promptly corrected by the railroads, so that most of them have now been done away with. This immediate correction, partial or complete, of the evil of the secret rates is, of course, on the one hand an acknowledgment that they were wrong, and yet were persevered in until exposed; and, on the other hand, a proof of the efficiency of the work that has been done by the Bureau of Corporations.

"It is unfortunately not true that the Standard Oil Company is the only great corporation which in the immediate past has benefited, and is at this moment benefiting in wholly improper fashion by an elaborate series of rate discriminations, which permit it to profit both at the expense of its rivals and of the general public. The Attorney General reports to me that the investigation now going on as to the shipments by the sugar trust over the trunk lines running out of New York City tends to show that the sugar trust rarely if ever pays the lawful rate for transportation, and is thus improperly, and probably unlawfully, favored at the expense of its competitors and of the general public.

"Though not bearing upon the question of railroad rates, there are two measures, the consideration of which is imperatively suggested by the submission of this report. The Standard Oil Company has, largely by unfair or unlawful methods, crushed out home competition. It is highly desirable that an element of competition should be introduced by the passage of some such law as that which has already passed the House, putting alcohol used in the arts and manufactures upon the free list. Furthermore, the time has come when no oil or coal lands owned by the Government, either upon the public domain proper or in territory owned by the Indian tribes, should be alienated. The fee to such lands should be kept in the United States Government whether or not the profits arising from it are to be given to any Indian tribe, and the lands should be leased only on such terms and for such periods as will enable the Government to keep the entire control thereof."

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An Interesting Letter
May 12, 1906

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