Chapter 1 - The Monopoly of the Lumber Trust
The lumber industry of the United States presents a good example of trustification. Practically all the timber lands are owned or controlled by that great Rockefeller - Weyerhauser combination of capital known as the Lumber Trust. Wherever we find timberlands' there we find the Lumber Trust the ruling power, controlling not only the industry, but also the local, and sometimes the state machinery of government, while it's powerful and corrupt influences at the National Capital is well known.
The following extract from an article by Louis F. Post, Assistant Secretary of Labor, in the "Public" of June 7th, 1919, will give some idea of the degree of monopoly that exists in the lumber industry. The statistics given are taken from a report made to President Taft by the then Commissioner of Corporations, the Honorable Herbert Knox Smith. It may be found in the published documents of the United States Department of Commerce (Bureau of Corporations) under the title "The Lumber Industry-Part 1, Standing Timber."
"Some six or seven years ago, the facts about the privately monopolized natural resource known as 'Standing Timber' tracts, were officially obtained. Even at that time there was, as the official report phrased it, 'a dominating control of our standing timber in a comparatively few enormous holdings steadily tending towards the control of the lumber industry.'
"The value of the standing timber when these significant facts were officially obtained, had increased more then ten-fold, twenty-fold, and even fifty-fold within a few years-the value, that is, the privilege of control in the use of the timber in industry.
"In the Southern pine region, the prices had risen from a dollar or two an acre to $60.00. For other regions, one of the three specific tracts had risen from $24,000 to $153,000, another from $10,000 to $124,000, and the third from $23,000 to $5,200,000.
"The commercial value of the privately owned standing timber in the United States at that time was estimated by the official report referred to, as at least six billion dollars about $60 for every inhabitant. But this burden of $60 per capita, as a penalty upon the people for the use of our natural resources, and an unearned profit for the monopolists, is not all. 'Ultimately,' as the report went on to say, 'the consuming public will have to pay such prices for lumber as will give this timber a far greater value.'
" 'Such concentration in standing timber, if permitted to continue and increase' to quote further from that official report 'makes probable a final central control of the whole lumber industry.'
"Now notice the amazing degree of monopolistic concentration which that official investigation of a few years ago showed.
"Ten monopoly groups, aggregating only one thousand, eight hundred and two holders, monopolized one trillion, two hundred and eight billion eight hundred million (1,208,800,000,000) board feet of standing timber--each a foot square and an inch thick. These figures are so stupendous that they are meaningless without a hackneyed device to bring their meaning home. These one thousand, eight hundred and two timber business monopolists held enough standing timber, an indispensable natural resource, to yield the planks necessary (over and above manufacturing wastage) to make a moating bridge more than two feet thick and more than five miles wide from New York to Liverpool. It would supply one inch planks for a roof over France, Germany, and Italy. It would be enough to build a fence eleven miles high along our entire coast line. All monopolized lay one thousand, eight hundred and two holders, or interests mole or less interlocked. One of those interests--a grant of only three
holders-monopolized at that time two hundred and thirty-seven billion, five hundred million (237,500,000,000) feet, which would make a column one foot square and three million miles high. Although controlled by only three holders that interest comprised over eight per cent of all the standing timber in the United States at that time. But these timber figures relate to only one phase of this particular form of natural resource monopoly. 'When the timber has been cut, the land remains,' says the official report. The report then continues, 'there has been created, therefore, not only the frame work of an enormous timber monopoly, but also an equally sinister land concentration in extensive sections which involves also a great wealth in minerals; another highly important item of our natural resources. In Florida, for instance, as stated in the same report, three holders had four million, two hundred thousand acres, and the largest timber holder in Florida appeared to hold 'over sixteen million, nine hundred and ninety thousand acres-about one-eight of the land area of the state.' "
Just how the lumber barons obtained possession of this great natural resource is a story which would make interesting reading, but would take too much space in a pamphlet of this nature. It is sufficient to say that in its outstanding features the history of the Lumber Trust is no different from that of all other great combinations of wealth. Intrigue, fraud, bribery, corruption, legal chicanery, violence and murder were freely used by these "respectable" and "patriotic" gentlemen, to accomplish their purpose of stealing the natural resources of the country; while the editorial prostitutes of the kept press held them up to the toiling mutlitude as brilliant examples of what can be accomplished by honesty, industry, and conscientious attention to business.