May 22, 2014 - Sale 2351

Sale 2351 - Lot 146

Price Realized: $ 5,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
"THE MEN OF GREAT WEALTH . . . ALSO HAVE TO OBEY THE LAW" ROOSEVELT, THEODORE. Typed Letter Signed, as President, to General James H. Wilson, expressing the conviction that his recent actions [challenging the legality of certain mergers] are in the best interest of everyone. 1 page, small 4to, White House stationery, with integral blank; masking tape at edges of terminal page. Washington, 3 June 1902

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". . . I am sorry that the financial men should be tempted to criticise me but I have never been more certain of anything than that I was right in taking the actions which they criticise. It is above all to the interests of the man of great wealth that the people at large should understand that they [the wealthy] also have to obey the law."
In early 1902, without consulting any other member of his cabinet nor any business leaders, Roosevelt ordered his Attorney General, Philander C. Knox, to challenge the legality of the merger of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads. The Supreme Court ruled in 1895 (United States v. E.C. Knight Co.) that Federal government has no jurisdiction over the activities of enterprises that do not affect interstate commerce, so some objected that the President's actions showed a lack of respect toward the Court. Roosevelt believed that the government had jurisdiction over the merger, and other similar ones, and that such mergers violated the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. In 1904, the Supreme Court ruled (Northern Securities Company v. United States) that the merger had violated the Act, thereby reenforcing the view that the Federal government is justified in regulating mergers--a view which was repeatedly reinforced in subsequent decisions.
James Harrison Wilson (1837-1925) served throughout the Civil War in several engagements including the Battle of Nashville, rising through the ranks to brevet Major General, later serving in the Spanish-American War and the Boxer Rebellion.