Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Lost Speech of Peter S. Grosscup, I: Introduction


We’ve been interested in the writings of Peter Stenger Grosscup, Judge of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in the early twentieth century for some time.  This began when we read “How to Save the Corporation” published in 1905.  This made us want to find out more about this guy.

Judge Grosscup
We found out that Judge Grosscup (1852-1921) was an associate of President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858-1919), and made a number of speeches and wrote a series of articles (far too many to list here) highlighting the problem of declining small ownership in America.  Focusing on weaknesses in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, Grosscup recommended a program of expanded capital ownership through reform of corporate law.

Archbishop Ireland
Grosscup was also associated with Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minnesota (1838-1918), both being strong progressives — back when “progressive” was something to be proud of and not a dirty word.  At this time progressivism was, to all intents and purposes, a synonym for common sense political and religious orthodoxy.  This also applied to the Roosevelt form of Americanism, the essence being to apply old principles in new ways.

Archbishop Ireland was another advocate of expanded capital ownership, and a friend of Roosevelt.  Grosscup and Archbishop Ireland, who may have become acquainted as a result of the archbishop’s approval of Grosscup’s authorizing the use of federal troops to keep order during the Pullman strike of 1894, both served on the Committee on Arrangements of the National Conference on Trusts and Combinations in October 1907.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Unfortunately, Grosscup’s proposals took for granted the presumed necessity of past savings to finance new capital formation.  This ensured its economic impracticability.  Politically, a quarrel with Roosevelt over some legal technicalities in the Standard Oil Rebate case in 1907/1908 ensured that Grosscup’s proposals to (as Grosscup put it) “people-ize” the corporation came to nothing.

While tracking down Grosscup information, we came across a speech he made while serving on the Committee on Arrangements of the National Conference on Trusts and Combinations (whew) that had not seen the light of day since it was published and forgotten in the proceedings of the Conference (the name of which we won’t repeat in full again).  On reading it, we realized that this wasn’t just some canned speech, but a careful analysis that deserves to be brought back.

That’s why we’re printing Grosscup’s speech up in its entirety as the next couple of blog postings.  It really does tie in with the “Five for the Family” campaign, for the security of the family throughout the world must be built on a foundation of private property in capital — not dependence on the State or a faceless corporate employer.

#30#

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