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1911

A political cartoon drawn by cartoonist Robert Minor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1911 made an unusual statement. Minor’s cartoon portrays a bearded, beaming Karl Marx standing in Wall Street with Socialism tucked under his arm and accepting the congratulations of financial luminaries J.P. Morgan, Morgan partner George W. Perkins, a smug John D. RockefellerJohn D. Ryan of National City Bank, and Teddy Roosevelt – prominently identified by his famous teeth – in the background. Wall Street is decorated by Red flags. The cheering crowd and the airborne hats suggest that Karl Marx must have been a fairly popular sort of fellow in the New York financial district.

“A pamphlet was issued January 16, 1911, Suggested Plan for Monetary Legislation‘, by Hon. Nelson Aldrich, based on Jekyll Island conclusions. An organization for financial progress has been formed. Mr. Warburg introduced a resolution authorizing the establishment of the Citizens’ League, later the National Citizens League . . . Professor Laughlin of the University of Chicago was given charge of the League’s propaganda.” (biography of Nelson Aldrich by Stephenson, 1930)

The two most tireless propagandists for the Aldrich Plan were Professor O.M. Sprague of Harvard, and J. Laurence Laughlin of the University of Chicago. Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., notes:

“J. Laurence Laughlin, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Citizens’ League since its organization, has returned to his position as professor of political economics in the University of Chicago. In June, 1911, Professor Laughlin was given a year’s leave from the university, that he might give all of his time to the campaign of education undertaken by the League . . . He has worked indefatigably, and it is largely due to his efforts and his persistence that the campaign enters the final stage with flattering prospects of a successful outcome . . . The reader knows that the University of Chicago is an institution endowed by John D. Rockefeller, with nearly fifty million dollars.” (Secrets of the Federal Reserve, Griffin, 1952)

Testifying before the Committee on Rules, December 15, 1911, after the Aldrich plan had been introduced in Congress, Congressman Lindbergh stated,

“Our financial system is a false one and a huge burden on the people . . . I have alleged that there is a Money Trust. The Aldrich plan is a scheme plainly in the interest of the Trust . . . Why does the Money Trust press so hard for the Aldrich Plan now, before the people know what the money trust has been doing? […]

The Aldrich Plan is the Wall Street Plan. It is a broad challenge to the Government by the champion of the Money Trust. It means another panic, if necessary, to intimidate the people. Aldrich, paid by the Government to represent the people, proposes a plan for the trusts instead. It was by a very clever move that the National Monetary Commission was created. In 1907 nature responded most beautifully and gave this country the most bountiful crop it had ever had. Other industries were busy too, and from a natural standpoint all the conditions were right for a most prosperous year. Instead, a panic entailed enormous losses upon us. Wall Street knew the American people were demanding a remedy against the recurrence of such a ridiculously unnatural condition. Most Senators and Representatives fell into the Wall Street trap and passed the Aldrich Vreeland Emergency Currency Bill. But the real purpose was to get a monetary commission which would frame a proposition for amendments to our currency and banking laws which would suit the Money Trust. The interests are now busy everywhere educating the people in favor of the Aldrich Plan. It is reported that a large sum of money has been raised for this purpose. Wall Street speculation brought on the Panic of 1907. The depositors’ funds were loaned to gamblers and anybody the Money Trust wanted to favour. Then when the depositors wanted their money, the banks did not have it. That made the panic.” (Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., Banking, Currency and the Money Trust, 1913, p. 131)

The Aldrich Plan never came to a vote in Congress, because the Republicans lost control of the House in 1910, and subsequently lost the Senate and the Presidency in 1912.

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