Thomas Lawson was a millionaire businessman who had made a fortune from the stock-market. Upset by the way that some of the leading business leaders had been behaving he approached John O'Hara Cosgrave, the editor of Everybody's Magazine, about him writing a series of articles on the subject. He agreed and the first of these articles appeared in July, 1904.
He wrote: "Through its workings during the last twenty years there has grown up in this country a set of colossal corporations in which unmeasured success and continued immunity from punishment have bread an insolent disregard of law, of common morality, and of public and private right, together with a grim determination to hold on to, at all hazards, the great possessions they have gulped or captured.The series ran for 20 months and gave examples of how corporations had bribed judges and politicians."
Lawson spent over $250,000 of his own money to advertise the series. He hoped that President Theodore Roosevelt would take up the case and "would shake the largest trusts and corporations until their teeth chattered and their backbones rattled like hung dried corn in a fireplace when the wind gets at it". Lawson was disappointed by the impact his articles had on public opinion and he returned to gambling on the stock-market.
Through its workings during the last twenty years there has grown up in this country a set of colossal corporations in which unmeasured success and continued immunity from punishment have bread an insolent disregard of law, of common morality, and of public and private right, together with a grim determination to hold on to, at all hazards, the great possessions they have gulped or captured. It is the same "System" which has taken from the millions of our people billions of dollars and given them over to a score or two of men with power to use and enjoy them as absolutely as through these billions had been earned dollar by dollar by the labour of their bodies and their minds.
All financial institutions which in any way are engaged in taking from the people the money that is their surplus earnings or capital, for the ostensible purpose of safe-guarding it, or putting it in use for them, or exchanging it for stocks, bonds, policies, or other paper evidences of worth, are a part of the machinery for the plundering of the people.
This sumptuous scene (Sherry's banquet-hall), this matchless luxury, were paid for out of dollars, blood and tear-soaked, wrung cent by cent from the honest toilers of the land - that these dollars meant sacrifice and abstinence, chilled bodies and scant food, fireless hearths and dreary days - all that there might be of a widow's mite or an orphan's livelihood - a fierce rage rose within me.
I have devoted three and a half years of my time and some millions of my fortune to reform work in the interests of the public. Beginning January 1st, I shall allow the public to do their own reforming, and I shall devote my time and capital exclusively to my own business of stock "gambling" in wall and State Streets - particularly Wall Street - for the purpose of recouping the millions I have donated to my public work.