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CHAPTER VII

ATTITUDE OF ROOSEVELT

Absurdum est ut alios regat, qui seipsum regire nescit.

   "The world has a sure chemistry, by which it extracts what is excellent in its children, and lets fall the infirmIties and limitations of the grandest mind."

            Emerson,Essay on Swedenborg.

 

IN EARLY DAYS

   In the early days of the enforcement of the foodand drugs act great encouragement was given, due to the soundness of President Roosevelt'sviews as to what is whisky. On the other hand the temporary support of the harmfulnessof benzoate of soda, which lasted for only a few minutes, was then entirely abandoned.There was another incident which led me to believe that the President thought theBureau of Chemistry was entirely too radical in its efforts to carry out the provisionsof the law under the mandates which the law gave it. Of course the Bureau simplytried to do, to the best of its ability, the duties imposed upon it by the law. Allthe Bureau of Chemistry could do was to serve as a grand jury. Any indictments itmight bring could only be reported to the Department of Justice and could only beratified by the decision of the Court. Soon after the law went into effect I wascalled to the White House by the President and directed to bring with me Mr. Harrison,the chemist in charge of the New Orleans laboratory. At the appointed time Mr Harrisonhad not arrived, due to a failure of the Southern Railway to reach Washington ontime. I therefore went to the President's office alone. On my arrival I found thePresident in rather an ugly mood. The French Ambassador had complained to him thata shipment of vinegar from France to New Orleans had been refused admission becauseof a cluster of grape vines hanging full of grapes portrayed upon the label. Theanalysis had disclosed that the vinegar in question was not sour wine, as both nameand label indicated, but was an artificial vinegar made by passing dilute alcohol,presumably distilled from beet sugar molasses, over beech shavings. The shipmentwas ordered returned to France, with the instructions that the grapes should be removedfrom the label. This was done but the grapevine was left. The shipment a second timereached New Orleans, whereupon I instructed Mr. Harrison to send it back as the grapevinewas just as indicative that the vinegar was made of sour wine as were the grapesthemselves. On reaching the President's office and explaining why young Harrisonhad not accompanied me, he said very sternly:

   "The Food Law is an excellent measure, but it should be administered with some discretion. Full particulars in regard to the proper branding should have been furnished at once."

   Explaining as best I could to the President Iquoted the very words of the law itself, namely that an article was misbranded ifthe label bore any design or device or statement which was false or misleading inany particular, that as the executive officer I had no choice in the matter, butmy only purpose was to execute the law as it was written. The scowl on the President'sdied away and a rather benignant smile took its place. He grasped my hand cordiallyand said:

   " If the French Ambassador bothers you again in matters of this kind tell him to go to Hades."

   Inasmuch as I valued my friendship for the FrenchAmbassador and his for me very highly, I am certain that no one would have expectedme to use any such language in any subsequent protest made from the French embassyin regard to the exclusion of French products from this country under the law. Nevertheless,this incident increased the feeling in my own mind that the President was not entirelyin sympathy with a rigid enforcement of the food and drugs act.

   He evidently felt that the Congress had madea great mistake in placing the execution of the law in the Bureau of Chemistry. Mr.Loeb, private secretary to President Roosevelt, was strongly impressed that the Presidentconsidered the Chief of the Bureau entirely too radical in his views concerning theharmfulness of preservatives. He thought the Chief of the Bureau was lacking in diplomaticdiscretion. The President was undoubtedly still of the opinion that an underlingwho had the temerity to appear before a Congressional committee and denounce a presidentialpolicy on reciprocity had few, if any, redeeming traits.

ROOSEVELT FAVORED LEGISLATION

   During the progress of the campaign for purefood legislation, and especially during the last one or two years when apparentlypublic sentiment was sufficiently aroused and unanimous to warrant the expectationof a speedy successful issue, I felt that President Roosevelt was heartily in favorof this legislation. The appearance in 1906 of Upton Sinclair Is novel entitled "TheJungle," brought public opinion to the pitch of indignant excitement. PresidentRoosevelt was eagerly in quest of a law supervising the packing of our animal foodproducts. The time of the session was so nearly at an end, that it seemed hopelessto bring in a meat inspection bill as an expansion of the food and drugs bill. Itwas deemed best, therefore, to try to engraft the meat inspection bill as a rideron the agricultural appropriation measure. I am not aware whether at that periodit was a violation of the rules to introduce legislation on an appropriation bill;at the present time it is. At any rate, a rider satisfactory to the President wasoffered to the appropriation bill in the House of Representatives. It was not adopted,however, except after serious mutilation of the measure. The chairman of the HouseCommittee on Agriculture, Mr. Wadsworth, thought the offered measure was too drasticand uncalled for by those engaged in our meat industry. President Roosevelt was greatlydisturbed at the changes made in the measure, but was powerless to prevent such modificationas the House Committee on Agriculture thought desirable. It is not quite certainwhether the Agricultural Appropriation Bill carrying these meat inspection provisionsbecame a law prior to, or subsequent to the food and drugs act. Only a search ofofficial documents could determine this fact. Nevertheless, it is a matter of someimportance, for if the appropriation of the Department of Agriculture was approvedsubsequent to the approval of the food and drugs act, any disagreements between thetwo acts would be construed by the courts in favor of the later bill. In point offact, no effort whatever was made by the Bureau of Chemistry to enforce any provisionsof the meat inspection law. The reason for mentioning these matters here is becausePresident Roosevelt's intense interest in the meat inspection bill seemed to obscure,at least for the time being, any interest he had in the food and drugs act.

   I had the good fortune to know somewhat intimatelytwo or three of the newspaper men who had the ear of the President and I learnedfrom them that the President's interest in the food and drugs act was genuine andunreserved. Particularly I knew well Harry Needham, intimate associate of the President.Mr. Needham subsequently met an untimely death in an accident in an aeroplane inParis. As was recited in the chapter on "What is Whisky," I learned fromMr. William Loeb, the President's private secretary, his great interest in that matter.This was subsequent to the passage of the food and drugs act.

   I had close relations also to two other men whohad more or less free access to President Roosevelt. These were Mr. Mark Sullivanand Mr. Robert M. Allen. I have secured interesting data from each of these gentlemenin regard to President Roosevelt's interest in the passage of the pure food bill.Mr. Allen has furnished me with the following data, which I have permission to quote.he says:

   "I do not believe that President Roosevelt had shown any interest in the pure food law prior to 1905. 1 feel without any doubt that Roosevelt sincerely and earnestly supported the passage of the act after his message to Congress in December, 1905. When he took this stand it was characteristic of him to back it. Hapgood, Sullivan, Needham, and Gilson Gardner were close to the President, as was also Dr. Abbott, editor of The Outlook.

   "The White House had a strong influence on their activities for the bill. Needham told the Dalzell story at the time it happened. If it is true, and I believe it was true, Roosevelt's statement to Cannon that he would call Congress into extra session if they did not pass the food bill, was one of the decisive factors in bringing the bill to a vote in the House. There are so many people, like the writers that I have mentioned, so earnest in their feeling that Roosevelt strongly supported the passage of the Act from the fall of 1905, that I do not want you to make any mistake in this matter in your memoirs. You have a big and important message to get over. The country needs it."

   I have the following statement from Mr. MarkSullivan, also :

   "I cannot say that I have any positive recollection of ever having discussed the pure food bill specifically with President Roosevelt. I did discuss it very often with Harry Needham and with R. M. Allen. I also did discuss it occasionally with yourself, as you will remember. Based on my recollections of conversations I had with Needham and Allen, my strong belief is that Roosevelt not only believed in the Pure Food Bill but was energetic in getting it passed. It is true that the pure food bill.and the railroad rate bill were before Congress during the same session. I think it possible, or even likely, that Roosevelt's major interest was in the railroad rate bill, because at the time that was the great controversy; but I have recently been over the records sufficiently to show that Roosevelt gave powerful aid to the pure food bill."

   Mr, Sullivan then discusses another overlappingand supplemental measure, the meat inspection bill.

   To continue the quotation:

   "That Roosevelt threw immense energy into the meat inspection rider there can be no doubt whatever. In effect the one went with the other. Roosevelt's pressure for the meat inspection bill is proved by scores of documents and publications in old newspaper files. The two bills, the pure food bill and the meat inspection rider, went through the lower house substantially on identical dates. Everybody thought of the two as one."

   To this I wish to add my own recollection andimpression at the time. I was fully convinced that although Mr. Roosevelt came intoaction late in the fray he was enthusiastic and earnest in his support of the purefood and drugs act. It was not until nearly five years later that I had any intimationwhatever that I was wrong in this opinion. I did feel that I was under a serioushandicap at the White House by reason of my opposition to Cuban reciprocity.

 

HON. JAMES R. MANN
Leader in the House of Representatives for the enforcement of the Food Law

 

   Two important statements were made to me in 1912,after my resignation from the Bureau of Chemistry. Mr. James R. Mann, leader of thefinal fight in the House for the food bill, thought the President not only was indifferentabout the matter, but considered the measure the work of impractical cranks. Mr.Roosevelt made a similar statement in a letter published in a Kansas paper at thattime. Senator Heyburn, who led the final fight in the Senat% showed me a letter writtento him by Mr. Roosevelt while the bill was under discussion, begging him to ceasehis efforts for such an impractical measure, and aid him in passing a bill to restoreto the Naval Academy three students who had been dismissed for drunkenness. Evenif it be granted that the President favored the food bill, it is perfectly clearthat he took the most active part in pre venting the Bureau of Chemistry from enforcingit.

ORIGIN OF THE WHITE HOUSE PREJUDICE

   The prejudice which the President had againstthe Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry was most pronounced. It arose early in his administrationwhen he was urging Congress to pass the law remitting part of the duties on importedsugar coming into this country from Cuba. I have no desire to criticize the Presidentfor his attitude in this matter. At that time the planter and manufacturer of sugarin Cuba scarcely got a cent a pound on his product. All the nations of Europe producingbeet sugar were paying large bounties on beet sugar when it was exported. The resultwas that practically all the sugar consumed by Great Britain, which was one of thegreat sugar consuming countries of the world was cheapened by bounties paid by France,Germany, Belgium, Russia and Austria on exported beet sugar. Sugar was so cheap inLondon that the makers of cane sugar in the West Indies had lost the greater partof their trade. At the time (1902) the United States was considering the subjectof a rebate of import duties on sugar to Cuban planters a congress called by beet-sugarproducing countries in Europe was sitting in Brussels considering the question ofabolishing export duties on beet sugar. Sereno E. Payne of New York was chairmanof the House Committee on Ways and Means before which the question of rebate on Cubansugar was under consideration. I was very much embarrassed on receiving a summonsto appear before that committee. I had no sympathy with the proposed legislation.I had devoted many years of study to the domestic sugar problem, in investigatingthe possibilities of extending our domestic production from sorghum, sugar beetsand sugar cane. I was naturally a high protectionist on sugars imported from abroad.I went to the Secretary of Agriculture and explained to him that I was opposed tothis legislation but that I did not want to appear in opposition to the President'splan. I asked him to communicate with Chairman Payne and have him withdraw the summons.The Secretary said:

   I am just as much opposed to this legislation as you are but being a member of the President's cabinet I can not say anything; I think the committee ought to know the truth about this matter. (Quoted from memory.)

   I replied that I also thought they ought to knowthe truth, but that I didn't see any difference between his telling them the truthand 1, who was only one of his assistants. The result was, however, that I had toappear before the committee. I was two days in giving them the data which to my mindclearly disclosed that the trouble in Cuba was not due to our import tax, but tothe giving of bounties in Europe on exported beet sugar. I quote from the hearingsof the Ways and Means Committee.

   "It follows as a logical conclusion, therefore, that the people who come to this committee for relief from the low price of sugar should strike at the true cause, not the false one, of the evil of which they complain. * * * Their cause should be pleaded in the Parliaments of Europe, not in that of America; their plaints should go before the Reichstadt, Bundesrath, and the Corps Legslatif, and not before the American Congress. The place to plead their cause is before the Congress of Brussels, not before the Ways and Means Committee of the Congress of the United States. "

RECIPROCITY WITH CUBA
THE COLLOQUY WHICH UNDID ME

   (Hearings Before Committee on Ways and Means, Fifty-SeventhCongress, First Session, Wed., January 29, 1902, Page 572)

   MR. RICHARDSON: You have read the report of the Secretary ofWar?

   DR. WILEY: Yes, Sir.

   MR. RICHARDSON: And the recommendation of the President?

   DR. WILEY: Yes, Sir.

   MR. RICHARDSON: And General Wood?

   DR. WILEY: I have not read that, but I have heard of it. I haveread the other two, however.

   MR. RICHARDSON: You do not agree with them in the recommendationsin respect to the treatment of Cuba on this question?

   DR. WILEY: I do not.

   MR. RICHARDSON: I ask you this, doctor, for this reason: Doyou contemplate remaining in the Agricultural Department? Is that your ideal (Laughter.)

   You need not answer if you do not wish. I ask simply becauseI have heard that you did not.

   THE CHAIRMAN: You need not answer that question, doctor.

   MR. RICHARDSON: Not unless he wishes to.

   MR. HOPKINS: I do not think that is proper.

   MR. RICHARDSON: I do not want him to answer it unless he iswilling to do so.

   MR. ROBERTSON: That has not anything to do with the case.

   MR. RICHARDSON: The object of my question is just this, Mr.Chairman, as I am frank to state, and he need not answer it if he does not wish todo so: I have understood that the doctor contemplated leaving the Agricultural Departmentand going into the sugar-beet industry. Whether that is true or not I do not know.

   DR. WILEY: It is the very first I have heard of it. (Laughter.)Mr. Chairman, it is the first intimation of the kind I have ever had. I thought thegentleman implied that I would be removed because I did not agree with the Secretaryor the President. (Laughter.)

   As I left the committee room, a famous artist,Mr, Augustus C. Heaton, who had been in attendance, handed me the following rhyme:

"A chemist both learned and witty
Came before a sugar committee,
And O such statistics and learned linguistics
He poured upon Recipro-city."

   As it turned out it was no laughing matter.

   The result of my testimony was what I had anticipated.President Roosevelt was furiously angry. He sent at once for Secretary Wilson andordered him to dismiss immediately that man Wiley. The Secretary pleaded for my life,explaining that I did not go up there willingly, but had earnestly tried to havemy subpoena recalled. The President relented and said to let it go this time, butto tell Wiley never to do Such a thing again. The result was that I never was a favoriteat the White House as long as Roosevelt was president. I was not surprised, therefore,to find that he took the lead in so limiting the activities of the Bureau of Chemistryas to deprive the Chief of that Bureau from performing the functions placed uponhim under the law.



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