Stanley R. McCormick to Jane Addams, April 28, 1902


Unaca Ranch. Cimarron, N.M

April 28th 1902


My dear [Miss] Addams,

Thank you so much for sending me your "Democracy & Social Ethics". I have been intensely interested in the chapter on "Industrial Amelioration", and believe that the principle of democratic government of industrial organizations which you advocate therein is the ideal toward which industries much develop. I do not suppose that this can be accomplished without affecting property rights, and it will therefore be correspondingly difficult. I have been and am as you surmise, extremely interested in this question--in fact I am so perforce interested, as it is thrust upon [page 2] me inevitably. The idea of a term of stock which is not negotiable, but can only be owned by someone who is actually engaged in the industry which the stock represents, appeals to me very strongly. In fact I am now engaged in working out such a scheme on the ranch and have found the development of the idea tremendously interesting. The plan in a word is that I turn the livestock and other personal property over to the employees and in the form of stock such as I have mentioned lending them the money at a low rate of with which to buy the stock and leasing to them the ranch. I say "low rate". It is a four per cent which is extremely low for this country but not bad for the East. Right here is the point at which I now have doubts on the question, and that is as to the motive which can be depended upon to work out [page 3] this problem. Would a philanthropic motive be a correct one? I cannot credit myself with that but can imagine one doing so who had himself earned the money. The sense of justice does not seem to be adequate as a motive, for why should the advantage, if advantage it be, go to the particular men who happen to be in the [employ] of the ranch rather than others. This would logically lead one to general efforts rather than special cases. The question in my mind, however, is whether the motive must not be the old one of personal advantage in order to be stable. Having this question in the form of a doubt, I have not allowed myself to go beyond this motive and feel that what I am doing is a good move under the circumstances or "strictly business principles", the circumstances being that it is impossible for one to [page 4] personally supervise the work and thereby secure a greater rate of interest. It has seemed to me that this line of thought would encourage capitalists to refrain from themselves engaging in business, and to hold bonds rather than stocks, leaving the active management to the men in the ranks of the industry. The capitalist would then be satisfied with a low rate of interest which would probably become lower and lower as wealth increased. This is a novel idea to me, having been led to feel that it is rather the duty of one inheriting an industry to manage it. Perhaps it also follows natural law, as the average capitalist is not particularly inclined to be the active management of an industry.

I hope I have not bored you by this rather long note of thanks, and find I have allowed myself to "run on".

Hoping that I mave have the chance of more than one conversation with you on this subject.

Believe me. Sincerely yours,

Stanley R. McCormick

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