ALCStudies Journal

Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

A Nation of Laws

‘Next!’ (Cartoon by Udo J. Keppler, Puck Magazine)

Who is left to uphold [the law]? The lawyers? Some of the best lawyers in this country are hired, not to go to court to defend cases, but to advise corporations and business firms how they can get around the law without too great a risk of punishment. The judges? Too many of them so respect the laws that for some ‘error’ or quibble they restore to office and liberty men convicted on evidence overwhelmingly convincing to common sense. The churches? We know of one…which had to be compelled by… a health officer to put its tenements in sanitary condition. The colleges? They do not understand. There is no one left; none but all of us.

Editorial by Samuel McClure, McClure’s Magazine, January 1903 (the same issue that published Ida Tarbell’s article on Standard Oil and Ray Stannard Baker’s exposé of union practices) — DA


One response to “A Nation of Laws

  1. ALCStudies Journal on Wordpress February 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Ida Tarbell, one of the most significant journalists in U.S. history, grew up in Titusville PA north of Pittsburgh and graduated from Allegheny College, my alma mater, in 1880 (being the only woman to enter with her class in 1876). Her father, one of the successful pioneers in drilling after Drake’s initial exploration, was ruined by John D. Rockefeller’s machinations in creating the Standard Oil trust. This experience motivated Tarbell to write her classic series for McClure’s, which later became a book and contributed to the 1911 Supreme Court decision to break the trust. See Doris Kearns Goodwin’s ‘The Bully Pulpit’ referenced here earlier for more info.

    For an interesting current take on ‘too big to fail’ and the law of unintended consequences, see the City Journal: — CDL

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