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“Trust in Poverty”: Lampooning the Trusts

At the turn of the 20th century, the number of business mergers skyrocketed. Among manufacturing companies, mergers jumped from three in 1896 to sixty-three only three years later. Just as quickly the wave of mergers subsided—by 1904, there were only three mergers. This unprecedented wave of mergers was marked by horizontal consolidation—the simultaneous merger of many or all competitors in an industry into a single, giant enterprise. Many of the consolidated firms created in this period—DuPont, U.S. Steel, and International Harvester—remained major corporations throughout the 20th century. Contemporaries reacted to the great merger movement with alarm. Some used satire to express their concern. In this poem published in the New York Journal, George V. Hobart lampooned the wide range of trusts created by merger mania.

Trust in Leather,

Trust in Ales,

Trust in Copper,

Trust in Nails.

Trust in Whiskey,

Trust in Wine,

Trust in Iron,

Trust in Twine.

Trust in Pickles,

Trust in Tools,

Trust in Gumdrops,

Trust in Mules.

Trust in Harness,

Trust in Meal,

Trust in Dry Goods,

Trust in Steel.

Trust in Rubber,

Trust in Hens,

Trust in Paper,

Trust in Pens.

Trust in Sawdust,

Trust in Rice,

Trust in Green Goods,

Trust in Ice.

Here’s the Limit:

Andrew C.

Wants a Trust in


Source: George V. Hobart, New York Journal, n.d.