Accordingly the famous Standard Oil Trust was drawn; written, I believe, in ordinary handwriting, of which there is but one copy in existence, and that kept from the possession of the parties to the trust themselves. No other person has ever seen it, and all the public can know about it is to judge it by its fruits; for since that trust was drawn, the Standard Oil has grown to be a more powerful—corporation, shall we call it? or what? for this is one of our questions—than any other below the national government itself.
We may take the Standard Oil as the type and consummation of the simple business trust. Ectypes are springing up in all directions with portentous rapidity. Philadelphia, in particular, is the home of trusts, for a Philadelphia lawyer is said to have invented them. Trusts for monopolizing the gas production of the country; the water supply system; the horse-railway system; the cotton-seed oil business, of which more later; the cattle trust; the rubber trust; the straw-board trust,—the list is endless. Now, these trusts have one legitimate advantage, the economy that arises from the united management of a large concern, owning the best inventions, buying its supplies in the lowest market, and employing the best advice and most skilled labor. Moreover, by this general system many offices and management charges in each local enterprise are dispensed with. But here, almost immediately, those advantages which may be called absolutely legitimate end; it is questionable whether under older ideas even the “regulation”—i.e., repression—of production is so. One of the great advantages of some trusts is the power they possess of destroying private enterprise. Take the Philadelphia gas, for instance (and the name is purposely misquoted), a company which owns gas-works in a hundred cities. Say that in two of these are competing works, and that the gas costs the company sixty cents a thousand; a price at which the competing company can also live. The Philadelphia company puts its price in those two cities down to ten cents a thousand, and charges its patrons sixty-one cents in the other ninety-eight cities. The profits of the Philadelphia company remain the same, but its only two remaining rivals are ruined.
Now, before turning to the law, let us take an example of the other and even more dangerous trusts,—corporate trusts. They are usually created for controlling the stock or management of the corporation in whose shares they consist; thus creating a sort of a