Western Stock Journal and Farmer IX:100 5/79
Interview with J. Haish
Provided by Northern Illinois University Archives & Regional History Center:
Desiring to obtain the fullest information on the barbed wire controversy one of our editors took a trip to DeKalb, Ill., to interview Jacob Haish, one of the parties against whom the original suits were brought, and the man to whom the honor is due of preventing the consumation of the monopoly.
Editor: Mr. Haish, I have called to ask you some questions on the barbed wire question, if you have no objections.
Haish: No objection to answering anything I may know.
Editor: Now, please state, Mr. Haish, why the Ohio Barbed Fence Co. and others compromised with Washburn & Moen, if, as you say, there is nothing in this so-called "Brood-claim," and that it can never be sustained by the courts.
Haish: It is this way. The Ohio Barb Fence Co. and the others were not so much alarmed at the suits as at the prospect of there being so many manufacturing establishments that the price of wire would be reduced to living rates. The President of the Ohio Company told me that the only way to save ourselves was to make a combination with Washburn, Moen, & Co., and allow them to take a decree against us. The decree of the courts would scare the dealers and farmers, and we could have everything our own way.
Editor: Did Washburn, Moen & Co. ever propose to you a definite plan of compromise?
Haish: Yes. I have here their terms of settlement.
Editor: If you have no objections I will take a copy.
Haish: I have no objections. Of course you understand this is simply the substance of the terms of compromise.
BASIS OF SETTLEMENT AS PROPOSED BY WASHBURN, MOEN & COMPANY
1st. Haish should pay a portion of the expenses of litigation.
2nd. He should sign over all his patents and pay a royalty of 1 3/8 cents per pound on all he should manufacture.
3rd. He should be limited to 2,500 tons per year.
4th. He must buy all his wire of Washburn, Moen & Co.
5th. Washburn, Moen & Co. should fix the price of all barbed wire sold.
6th. He must allow a decree of the court to be taken against him by Washburn, Moen & Co.
Editor: Do you think this is the same basis as that accepted by H.P. Scott & Co., Joliet, Ill., the Ohio Barb Fence Co., Cleveland, Ohio, and the Thorn Wire Hedge Co., of Chicago?
Haish: It is undoubtedly the same, with one exception; they bound Washburn, Moen & Co. to sue every manufacturer of wire who did not enter into the combination.
If the above be facts, and we have no reason to doubt them, the combination plan of settlement contains several points detrimental to the public interest.
1st. If they had driven all the manufacturers of barbed wire into the combination, it would have given Washburn, Moen & Co. the monopoly on smooth wire.
2nd. Limited the amount manufactured by each party is in the sole interest of monopoly and high prices.
3rd. This idea is squarely presented in the article which allows Washburn, Moen & Co. to fix the prices of barbed wire.
As a fight between manufacturers, the people of Iowa have no interest in the issue, but when it involves the question monopoly on such a vast interest as barbed wire, every citizen of Iowa is intensely interested. If the citizen thinks that this question will be settled by a few newspaper articles, he is mistaken; there is too much money involved, and the monopolists will never surrender till after the persistent fight. We have seen the opinions of two of the best patent attorneys in the United States on the validity of the Hunt patent, and in their judgment there is no question of the invalidity. But must the people wait and travel through the slow process of litigation, appeals, demurrers, etc.? Congress should enact a law immediately, covering two points--1st, prohibiting the issue of broad-gauge patents, 2nd, protecting the innocent purchaser. Our imbecile Congress can do an immense amount of hard work to gain strategic positions for the next political campaign, but when a little healthy legislation is asked in the interests of the people from the extortions of patent rights, these broadcloth representatives of the farmers are constitutionally tired. Farmers, there is one way to reach this thing. Send men to Congress whose interests are identified with the producer. The man that won't get right out and work for his rights, and fight for them, too, will be a slave. After the producer has refused to help himself, let there be no sickly howl about oppression.