Paul Underwood Kellogg to Jane Addams, October 10, 1912



October 10, 1912.

My dear Miss Addams:

Since dictating the above I heard Mr. Brandeis at the Charities Building this morning.

What he said was less a demonstration of social policies of Wilson and the Democratic Party, than a destructive criticism of the Progressive movement and platform. Perhaps the points he made would be ones which you ought to know.

1. That the social and industrial planks in the progressive platform are merely a hollow superstructure; the fundamental thing being the policy of regulating monopolies, which he holds Perkins and Roosevelt responsible for, which he regards as pernicious; and which he regards as inimical to any real social or industrial reforms, for the reason that he believes that the latter are to come, and should come, through the organized activities of the people themselves, and that the policy of monopolies is to crush labor organization. Therefore, the Democratic Party, in so far as it attacks monopolies, will release the forces of organized labor, to secure better conditions for itself.

2. He made the point that state and national supreme courts have refused to uphold the right of workmen to organize in an effective way; that there is no hope of getting such constitutional change for years ahead, and that in the interval monopoly will crush out the working people's movements, unless we crush monopoly.

3. He made the point that the social and industrial planks in our platform were largely negative; and that the thing that interested him was affirmative action, not merely propositions and <prohibitions;> affirmative action at the hands of the workmen themselves.

You will remember that I [urged] most strongly both Roosevelt and the platform makers to put a positive series of planks in, in the same way that they did our industrial minimum planks. This was not done, and yet at different points in the platform planks were inserted which, grouped together, as I have done under the heading "Developing the Creative <Labor> Power of America" <(Sheet B.)> form a distinctly constructive <and> positive range of propositions, I hope you will bring them out strongly. [page 2]

Of course, we came out strongly in the platform for organized labor, and if constitutional amendments are necessary to make the right of organization effective, I would rather anticipate action from a party of progressive men, unhampered by a conservative Southern wing, than from a party committed to states rights, and the narrow limitation of Governmental power.

I don't know enough on the subject of monopoly to put a real valuation on what Mr. Brandeis says. I agree with him heartily that the Steel Corporation and monopolies in general are today the biggest and most successful antagonists of organized labor, as they can close a plant in one part of the country, and run another while the strike is on. At the same time, I am not unmindful of the fact that the steel workers union was shattered in the 90's in the days of the competitive struggle in the industries; before the steel corporation; and that labor conditions in some of the independent plants, such as the Bethlehem works, Jones and Laughlin at Pittsburgh, and the Colorado Fuel and Iron, are today worse than in the Steel Corporation mills.

I scarcely believe that Kirchwey, Pinchot, William Allen White, who drafted the platform, would stand for such a policy as Mr. Brandeis charges; and of course I had personal evidence in the special points of the platform with which I was concerned, of this group distinctly overriding Beveridge <and Perkins> on several planks. It seems to me that perhaps they <Brandeis> personifies the Progressive Party in one or two men, and fails to see the group.


Paul U Kellogg [signed]