Orders to the Attorney General on Dissolution of New England Railroad Mergers
[As a result of sensational disclosures in New England relating to monopoly of transportation acquired by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad as a principal, the Federal Government, in order to save the interests of stock-holders and of the public, proposed to the controlling financiers a systematic process of correcting the objectionable practices and of dissolving the unlawful combinations. After long negotiations the United States Attorney-General, J. C. McReynolds, was obliged to inform the President that the directors of the N.Y., N.H. and H.R.R. had failed to comply with the terms of settlement. The President thereupon gave the Attorney- General the following written instruction:]
Their final decision in this matter causes me the deepest surprise and regret. Their failure upon so slight a pretext to carry out an agreement deliberately and solemnly entered into, and which was manifestly in the common interest, is to me inexplicable and entirely without justification.
You have been kind enough to keep me informed of every step the Department took in this matter and the action of the Department has, throughout, met with my entire approval. It was just, reasonable and efficient. It should have resulted in avoiding what must now be done.
In the circumstances the course you propose is the only one the Government can pursue. I therefore request and direct that a proceeding in equity be filed, seeking the dissolution of unlawful monopolization of transportation in New England territory now sought to be maintained by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, and that the criminal aspects of the case be laid before a Grand Jury.
The White House, July 21, 1914.
Editorial Note: The suit was begun October 13, 1915, and ended January 10, 1916, in the acquittal of six defendants and a disagreement of the jury as to the guilt or innocence of the other five.
Woodrow Wilson, Orders to the Attorney General on Dissolution of New England Railroad Mergers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/317102