VI. TR’s Square Deal for Labor
The Progressivism spirit touched President Roosevelt, and his “Square Deal” embraced the three
Cs: control of the corporations, consumer protection, and the conservation of the United States’ natural
In 1902, a strike broke out in the anthracite coalmines of Pennsylvania, and some 140,000 workers
demanded a 20% pay increase and the reduction of the workday to nine hours.
Finally, after the owners refused to negotiate and the lack of coal was getting to the freezing
schools, hospitals, and factories during that winter, TR threatened to seize the mines and
operate them with federal troops if he had to in order to keep it open and the coal coming to the
As a result, the workers got a 10% pay increase and a 9-hour workday, but their union was
not officially recognized as a bargaining agent.
In 1903, the
Department of Commerce and Labor
was formed, a part of which was the Bureau of
Corporations, which was allowed to probe businesses engaged in interstate commerce; it was highly
useful in “
VII. TR Corrals the Corporations
Interstate Commerce Commission
had proven to be inadequate, so in 1903,
Congress passed the
, which fined railroads that gave rebates and the shippers that accepted
The Hepburn Act restricted the free passes of railroads.
TR decided that there were “good trusts” and “bad trusts,” and set out to control the “bad trusts,”
such as the Northern Securities Company, which was organized by
and James J. Hill.
In 1904, the Supreme Court upheld TR’s antitrust suit and ordered Northern Securities to
dissolve, a decision that angered Wall Street but helped TR’s image.
TR did crack down on over 40 trusts, and he helped dissolve the beef, sugar, fertilizer, and
harvester trusts, but in reality, he wasn’t as large of a trustbuster as he has been portrayed.
He had no wish to take down the “good trusts,” but the trusts that did fall under TR’s big
stick fell symbolically, so that other trusts would reform themselves.
William Howard Taft
, crushed more trusts than TR, and in one incident, when Taft
tried to crack down on U.S. Steel, a company that had personally been allowed by TR to absorb the
Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, the reaction from TR was hot!
VIII. Caring for the Consumer