I suppose after the manner of those who stealthe titles of other authors an apology should be made to Victor Hugo. The crime thathe described was one purely political. It told the story of Louis Napoleon, who,having been elected President of the French Republic in 1848, following the modelof his illustrious uncle, became Emperor of the French nation in 1852. Victor Hugowas one of the leaders against this movement and naturally became a persona nongrata at Paris. With hundreds of others who had opposed this coup d'étathe sought safety in Brussels. He arrived there on the 14th day of December, 1852,and began his "History of a Crime" on that very day. It was completed byMay 5, 1853. He did not publish it for twenty-five years afterward.
It has been only twenty-one years since the crimeabout to be described was committed. Perhaps it would be the part of wisdom if itshistory, still unpublished, be withheld for another six years. The everthreateningthought of Anno Domini warns that it is not likely that I may still be on this planetafter the lapse of six years. This fact should absolve me from any blame for a somewhatpremature publication. The theft of his title is not likely to disturb the ashesof Victor Hugo in the Pantheon, to which they were committed by five hundred thousandof his fellow citizens in the summer of 1885, three months after his eighty-thirdbirthday.
Presumably a similar lese majestémight be charged against the author of this story. Probably the truths which aretold in the following pages, and a Government less violently set up than that ofNapoleon III, will be a safeguard against expatriation. It is advisable and evendesirable, while the memories of this crime are still fresh, to set down in simplelanguage a recital thereof. There are many embarrassments in connection with writinga story of this kind which usually would deter or prevent the completion of the work.Many of the authors and participators in this crime have already joined the greatmajority and entered upon the Great Adventure. I am not unmindful of the excellentadage, nil de mortuis nisi bonum. I will not impute any base motives to thosewho are no longer here to defend themselves. It is far better to take the safe course.That is to assume that the crimes committed against the Food and Drugs Act were dueto errors of judgment and not to any set purpose to destroy the salutary provisionsof this law. While in the recital of these crimes, in spite of a purpose to the contrary,there may be found at times language which would indicate that the actors were notsimply ignorant, it must be attributed to. the zeal for proper enforcement of thefood law which leads to a recital of these facts, rather than to a purpose of. misjudgingthe motives of the actors themselves.
Twenty years have passed since these offensesagainst the law began. There are two reasons why I have waited so long before settingdown in order this history. The principal one is that my time was all consumed withmy efforts toward improving the nutrition, and consequently the health of the nation.The need of better nutrition is shown in an address opposing the repeal of the mixedflour law quoted further on. This was an indictment of the severest kind of the methodsof up-bringing our youth. The deplorable condition of our young men was vividly shownin the Great War. Fully one-third of those called to the colors were found to bephysically and mentally unfit to serve their country in its hour of need. Anotherthird could only attend to camp and hospital tasks. Only one-third could go into.the trenches and serve their country on the field of battle.
It was a matter of supreme importance to endeavorin all honorable ways to remove the possibility of a similar stigma which might arisefrom any future crises of the republic. To instruct young persons to be parents,to teach them how to bring up their children after they are born, and to eliminatesuch a percentage of unfit are problems which require careful study. Having now reachedthe age of eighty-four, I am forcibly reminded that if this history of a crime isever to be written it must be done now, without undue delay.
The second reason which has made, me hesitateis because of my high personal regard for those who are not shown as wholly devotedto the public service in the lapses of their conduct respecting the food and drugslegislation. It is always painful to say anything which could even be construed asderogatory to those who have been one's friends.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
It is the practice in criminal proceedings beforethe courts for the opposing counsel to lay before the court and the jury an outlineof the points he expects to prove and the nature of the evidence which it is proposedto offer. It is advisable to set down briefly the important points in this history.First of all will be a recital of the efforts made over a period of twenty-five yearsto secure a national food. and drugs act. Attention is called to the indifferenceof the people at large in regard to the character of the foods and drugs which theyused, and the efforts that were made to overcome this attitude. It was soon foundthat individual activities were practically useless in securing national legislation.Only mass action could produce any progressive results. The organized bodies of menand women who gradually became interested in this legislation will be pointed out.At the same time the character of the lobbies formed efficiently to block nationallegislation will be described. Particular attention will be called to the dominantfeatures which always characterized this proposed legislation. There was very littlediscussion of the question of misbranding. The chief points discussed were the resultsof adding to our food products preservative substances to keep them from decay, andcoloring matters which made them look more attractive and fresh. Brief citationsfrom the evidence before the various committees in the House and the Senate willillustrate the magnitude of the struggle which finally resulted in the approval ofthe Food and Drugs Act on June 30, 1906.