« PreviousContinue »
of Government, to bring reliable evidence before the House of Representatives in regard to the great importance of preserving our rapidly diminishing forest reserves. At our annual meeting. in April, 1906, resolutions were passed, and were made use of in this campaign, which is still in progress, towards effective legislation by Congress and at a hearing before the Committee on Agriculture at Washington, on Thursday, January 30, we were officially represented by our Secretary, C. J. H. WOODBURY and such eminent manufacturers as F. C. DUMAINE, Hon. ARTHUR H. LOWE, JAMES P. TOLMAN, and others, in such a way that the commercial side of this matter, as effecting the water power of our mills, was for the first time brought clearly to the attention of our legislators, and it is to be hoped that the individual efforts of each member of our Association, as suggested by a circular recently issued, will bear fruit. It should be remembered that this important measure, upon its own intrinsic merits, has twice passed the Senate, but for lack of something more than formal resolutions, has failed of recognition in the House. Resolutions which are not backed up by intelligent co-operation of individual effort are not likely to get or keep the attention of either law making or executive powers.
A subject upon which only our individual efforts could be employed was in reference to the Gardner Bill, of which you all no doubt have received official information. It is possible that one of our most effective ways of usefulness to the trade in general can be developed along the lines of spreading information to our members for their individual action, as has been done in reference to this particular bill. It is certainly desirable that the influence of our Association upon all matters of interest to the trade, not strictly confined to financial management should have an opportunity for recognition.
The question has been asked: What should be the attitude of this Association towards the seeming causes for our financial panic? So far as they are political, or relate strictly to the merchandizing side of the industry, we cannot, of course, take any united action, but even as individuals it may be worth our
while to reflect whether we consider that antagonism to evil conditions, or the evil conditions themselves have been the principal factor in bringing about our unpleasant situation. It may be assumed as axiomatic that without the evil conditions, efforts to overcome them would not have been required, and while it may be the part of wisdom to act with discretion, the element of valor must not be left out. It is evident that the people are not inclined to regard the house-cleaning efforts of the so-called big stick as responsible for the dirty house. On the other hand, those who are responsible for great financial undertakings are disposed to ask the question if in this effort to clean house it was necessary to raise such a terrible dust, spreading disease and disaster in its train. But regrettable and dangerous as this dust may be, has it not been blown away by the moral awakening of the nation? The primary confidence required for financial success lies with the people. Has not the knowledge that wrongs exposed (and perhaps yet to be exposed) will be righted under the full power of the law, been a great factor in preventing a total collapse of this confidence now happily being restored?
As regards the textile industry in general, and the cotton industry in particular, there is nothing to be said from a technical point of view, except to improve the opportunity for betterment of all mill conditions, and to keep courageously at work to this end.
The change of conditions of business since our meeting in Washington is certainly remarkable, and while the financial stress appears to be over, its after effects are far from complete adjustment, and the efforts to maintain marketable conditions by curtailment of production and reduction of wages seem for the time to be unavoidable. The lowering of the purchasing power of the laborer throughout the United States may have a temporary effect to further diminish the demand for goods, for which a diminution of supply is the economic offset. The insufficient supply of work is already returning to foreign shores many of those who have emigrated here: a temporary blessing
perhaps, for the distress of the unemployed in some of our cities is already serious. It is certainly incumbent upon every industry to act soberly and cautiously, but with a full degree of optimistic expectation.
Speculative efforts to raise the price of cotton in the face of the diminished demand have been meeting the natural result of such efforts, but a reaction to materially lower prices in cotton may not necessarily be an advantage to the cotton manufacturer, for its effect is discounted by the buyer, and this greatly increases the difficulty of maintaining contracts yet to be delivered.
All these relations, however, are ultimately readjustable, just as rapidly as confidence between buyer, seller and banker, and the general public can be fully restored, and possibly we as manufacturers will be soon welcoming back to our shores again, perhaps more greatly needed than ever, those whom we are now unable to keep employed.
In this matter of recuperation we must not forget that a great indebtedness is to be due the farmer, who supplies the main necessities of life. His purchasing power may be lessened by the general condition of the country, but he feeds the world, and he has had, and is likely to have, the necessary supply. As long as the farmer can be depended upon for this, no long depression seems possible, and we have a right to expect a future development for our whole country upon a firm basis of success, firmer perhaps than heretofore, because of the awakened sense of moral obligation: a cultivated inheritance to the many, but compelled to the few.
I thank you, gentlemen, for your attention.
The PRESIDENT. I wish to add a few words of comment. Our program has been prepared beforehand and those who are speakers thereon are either members or those who have been
invited by the Board of Government to make addresses before It will not be possible for us to hear other interpolated speakers in outside interests. There has been a great deal of effort made to get an opportunity to present subjects for the consideration of this meeting. This we will be enable to undertake in our limited time. Of course the Association is run for the benefit of its members and any advertising which is incidental of course is welcome, but it ought not to be made a feature of our meetings.
The gentleman who is about to address us was, as I understand, in his early childhood connected with one branch of the textile industry, that is, the woolen manufacturing. He began to work in the mill much earlier than is permitted now and probably worked according to the custom of the time much longer hours than any people do today in our mills. Yet by reason of his great energy he was enabled to obtain a thorough education, through night schools or otherwise; he has had an active and honorable business career, and is the head of a great manufacturing corporation. He is an authority on economic questions, has written numerous papers for the magazines and I believe is a lecturer before one of our colleges on this subject. He is now also exhibiting his business capacity as the first foreign-born mayor of the great city of Worcester. I have the pleasure of introducing to you the Hon. JAMES LOGAN. [Applause].
Hon. JAMES LOGAN. Mr. President, Gentlemen: I thank you for your invitation and for your kindly words of welcome to speak here today. I did begin working in a woolen mill rather young, before I was quite ten years of age, in those good old days of the past when we worked from five in the morning to seven at night and didn't think we were abused. There must be no preliminary remarks if you are going to hear my paper, Mr. President. The topic given to me is The Steadying Power and Influence of Consolidation.
THE STEADYING POWER AND INFLUENCE OF
HON. JAMES LOGAN, Mayor of Worcester, Mass.
Industrial consolidation is a many-sided problem with many conflicting interests, and hence it must be considered from many points of view, from each of which it presents a different aspect. No half-hour talk can do justice to even one phase of this, the largest commercial and economic problem with which business men have ever been called upon to wrestle, and one which has taxed and will continue to tax their abilities to the utmost.
The belief is quite general in certain directions that all combinations and consolidations are organized to stamp out competition and unduly advance prices.
Without doubt, many consolidations have been organized with that end in view; but there are many others which have been organized to correct abuses which on account of ignorance and lack of intelligence, had become fastened upon many lines of industry and which threatened their destruction. The fact is not lost sight of that the promoter has been one of the largest influences in the work of consolidation, but ignorant, unequal, even dishonest competition in business had brought many industries to such a condition that manufacturers were willing to listen to plans of the promoter, or to any scheme which gave promise of even partial relief.
A recent economic writer, from the seclusion of his study, far removed from the conflict of the great, busy world, a conflict which often anihilates theories, has written in glowing terms of the beauties of friendly competition; and another forceful writer