|FDA History 05
||HISTORY OF A CRIME AGAINST
THE FOOD LAW
CHAPTER V: BOARD OF FOOD AND DRUG INSPECTION
AND REFEREE BOARD OF CONSULTING SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS
by Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., the very
first commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), then known
as the “US Bureau of Chemistry.”
It has often
been said that, to make discoveries, one must be ignorant.
This opinion, mistaken in itself,
nevertheless conceals a truth. It means that
it is better to know nothing than
to keep in mind fixed ideas based on
theories whose confirmation we
constantly seek, neglecting meanwhile
everything that fails to agree
with them. * * *
"Men who have
excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill
prepared for making discoveries;
they also make very poor observations. Of
necessity they observe with a preconceived
idea, and when they devise an
experiment, they can see, in its
results, only a confirmation of their theory.
In this way they distort observation
and often neglect very important facts
because they do not further their
aim. This is what made us say elsewhere that
we must never make experiments
to confirm our ideas, but simply to control
them; which means, in other terms,
that one must accept the results of
experiments as they come, with
all their unexpectedness and irregularity.
"But it happens
further quite naturally that men who believe too firmly in
their theories, do not believe
enough in the theories of others. So the
dominant idea of these despisers
their fellows is to find others' theories
faulty and to try to contradict
them. The difficulty, for science, is still
the same. They make experiments
only to destroy a theory, instead of to seek
the truth. At the same time, they
make poor observations, because they choose
among the results of their experiments
only what suits their object,
neglecting whatever is unrelated
to it, and carefully setting aside everything
which might tend toward the idea
they wish to combat. By these two opposite
roads, men are thus led to the
same result, that is, to falsify science and
From Experimental Medicine,
by Claude Bernard, pages 37 and 38.
PURPOSE OF CREATING BOARDS
In the enactment of the Food
Law the Congress plainly provided the mechanism
of its enforcement. There was no provision
in the law for any additional
machinery. It was evident that the Bureau
of Chemistry was the dominant factor
in bringing offenders of the law before
the Courts. Those who "felt the halter
draw" had "no good opinion of the law"
as the poet has pertinently and wittily
said. The elimination of the Bureau was
therefore the thing of prime importance.
The President of the United States seems
to have taken the initiative in this
President Roosevelt wrote
to the various universities to secure a chemist,
not to replace me, but to be placed in
such a position as to counteract all my
activities. Accordingly on the recommendation
of President Angell of Ann Arbor
the President issued an order permitting
Dr. Frederick L. Dunlap to be
appointed, without Civil Service examination,
as associate chemist in the Bureau
of Chemistry without being subject to
the orders of the Chief of that Bureau,
but reporting directly to the Secretary.
(Moss Committee, page 921.)
In order to make this point
perfectly clear I quote the following from page
849, Moss Committee:
MR. MOSS: " It is also stated
in the record that a board of food and drug
inspection was organized to advise the
Secretary of Agriculture on matters
concerning which the Pure-food law says
he must make a decision."
SECRETARY WILSON: "That is
MR. MOSS: " These two boards
were created by executive order?"
SECRETARY WILSON: "Yes."
MR. MOSS: "Then the powers
and the duties of either one of the boards were
fixed by executive order and not by statute?"
SECRETARY WILSON: "That is
right. I do not think there was any special order
sent to me to do that, but President Roosevelt
appealed to the presidents of the
big universities to get an additional
chemist put on there and that brought Dr.
Dunlap from Ann Arbor. So I doubt if I
had a special order, although there was a
very clear understanding what was to be
MR. MOSS: "The question I
had in mind was that the Board of Food and Drug
Inspection was not created by statute
but was created by executive order."
SECRETARY WILSON: "That is
what I was doubting. It was not created by
statute. I created it for the purpose
of getting information and all that, but
of the three gentlemen on the board, two
were in the Department, and in bringing
in Dr. Dunlap, an additional chemist,
made the third one, so technically there
was no general order of the President
to do that, but there was a clear
understanding that it would be done. "
We should not forget that
in the legislation of Congress specific duties are
often assigned to particular units of
administration of a character which does
not permit of executive interference.
I may cite in this connection the
activities of the Comptroller of the Treasury.
To the Comptroller of the
Treasury is assigned by Congress certain
specific duties. Even the President of
the United States can not legally interfere
with the Comptroller's prerogatives.
The story is told of a case in the Grant
administration where the decision of
the Comptroller was particularly objectionable
to certain citizens. They went to
the President and asked him to rescind
the comptroller's opinion. President
Grant, who believed in obeying the law,
replied that he could not legally alter
a comptroller's decision. He said:
"If I thought
it was a very bad decision I might change comptrollers and
get one who would decide the way
I think he should. In this case there does
not seem to be any exigency demanding
any such action."
The Bureau of Chemistry had
specific duties assigned to it. Theoretically
these duties could not be repealed by
executive order. Practically in this case
they were, but, of course, illegally.
The proper way was to follow the
suggestion of Grant, and remove the Chief
of the Bureau and put Dunlap in his
Soon after the episode of
the whisky conference, on February 22, 1907, was
ended the Secretary of Agriculture walked
into my office one morning in company
with a young man whom I had never before
seen, and introduced him as Professor
F. L. Dunlap, your associate.
I have appointed an associate in the Bureau of Chemistry
who will be entirely independent
of the Chief and who will report directly to
me. During the absence of the Chief
he will be acting chief of the Bureau."
I was astounded and dumbfounded
at this action. He handed me at the same time
the letter in which he had established
this office and described the duties of
the officer. Whatever qualification Dr.
Dunlap had for the office to which he
was appointed does not appear. In the
first place he was to take the office of
Acting Chief in my absence, a position
which was filled most ably by Dr. W. A
Bigelow, my principal assistant in the
Bureau. Dr. Bigelow had rare judgment and
discrimination. I depended upon him largely
for the control of the personnel of
the Bureau. He was efficient, firm, just
and capable. He had grown up in the
Bureau from a humble position to be, for
several years, my first assistant.
There was no one else so
capable as he to discharge the duties of Chief in my
absence. This action of the Secretary
was a direct insult to one of the most
able men with whom I have ever worked.
At the same time he put in charge of the
Bureau during the absence of the Chief
a person who knew nothing of its
personnel, nothing of its activities,
nothing of its duties either under the
food law or otherwise, and wholly unskilled
and untrained in the control of a
large Bureau of several hundred members,
as was the Bureau of Chemistry at that
time. This was an astounding action. At
the same time I was informed that the
Secretary had organized a Board of Food
and Drug Inspection. Such a board was
not authorized by law nor by any action
of Congress, nor by any appropriation
made by Congress. Its purpose was to take
away from the Bureau all its power and
activities under the Food Law. This body
was composed of the Chief of the Bureau
as Chairman, with Dr. F. L. Dunlap and
Mr. George P. McCabe as its other two
members. As long as Dr. Dunlap acted with
Mr. McCabe--and that was always--all
decisions in regard to food adulteration,
placed by law in the hands of the
Bureau of Chemistry, were approved or
disapproved by the other two members of
the Board. This was a complete paralysis
of the law. This Board was appointed by
General Order III, on April 25, 1907.
The time that elapsed from February 22d,
when the whisky case was erroneously decided
by the Solicitor, to April 25th,
1907, was only a little over two months.
This order was issued before the final
decision on the whisky question by the
Attorney-General was published. The order
reads as follows:
United States Department of Agriculture,
Office of the Secretary,
Washington, D. C., April 25, 1907.
There is hereby
created in the Department of Agriculture a Board of Food
and Drug Inspection. The members
of this board will be Dr. Harvey W. Wiley,
Chief, Bureau of Chemistry, chairman;
Dr. Frederick L. Dunlap, associate
chemist, Bureau of Chemistry; and
Mr. George P. McCabe, Solicitor of the
Department of Agriculture. The
board will consider all questions arising in
the enforcement of the food and
drugs act of June 30, 1906, upon which the
decision of the Secretary of Agriculture
is necessary, and will report its
findings to the Secretary for his
consideration and decision. All
correspondence involving interpretations
of the law and questions arising
under the law not theretofore passed
upon by the Secretary of Agriculture
shall be considered by the board.
The board is directed to hold frequent
meetings, at stated times, in order
that findings may be reported promptly.
to the above duties, the Board of Food and Drug Inspection
shall conduct all hearings based
upon alleged violations of the food and drugs
act of June 30, 1906, as provided
by regulation 5 of the rules and regulations
for the enforcement of the food
and drugs act approved October 17, 1906.
WILSON, Secretary of Agriculture.
(Expenditures in Department of
Agriculture, Hearings July-August, 1911, page
First you will note that
this Board was created in the Department of
Agriculture and not in the Bureau of Chemistry.
The result of the appointment
of a board of Food and Drug Inspection was that
the functions of the Bureau as defined
by the law were entirely paralyzed. The
Solicitor of the Department was made,
by General Order No. 140, the supreme
arbiter in all cases. In all of the decisions
which he rendered, without
exception, the Secretary of Agriculture
ORIGIN OF THE REMSEN BOARD
Encouraged by the success
of the first effort to evade the provisions of the
law through the appointment of the Board
of Food and Drug Inspection, the time
was propitious to push the matter further.
The services of President Roosevelt
in securing the appointment of a chemist
who would sympathize with the efforts
to defeat the purpose of the law had made
that result possible. There was still
needed some further encouragement to attack
the activities of the Bureau in the
matter of what was injurious to health.
Up to this time the decisions of the
Bureau on these points had been respected.
To eliminate the Bureau completely,
some plan had to be devised to counteract
the decisions reached. A remarkable
incident made it possible to use the President
of the United States in the
accomplishment of this purpose. As an
eye and ear witness of the event about to
be described I am able now to set down
exactly what occurred.
Adulterators of our foods
who were using benzoate of soda particularly in
ketchup, and saccharin particularly in
canned corn, had visited President
Roosevelt and urged him to curb the activities
of the Bureau of Chemistry in its
opposition to these practices. They had
spent the greater part of the day in the
President's office. He promised to take
these matters into consideration the
very next day and asked these protestants
to stay over. He invited the Secretary
of Agriculture and the Chief of the Bureau
of Chemistry to come to his office at
ten o'clock on the day following and listen
to the protests of the gentlemen
At the appointed hour we
all met in the President's office, or as I recall,
in that part of his office where Cabinet
meetings were usually held. When all
were assembled he asked the protestants
to repeat in the presence of the
Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief
of the Bureau of Chemistry the demands
which they had made upon him the day before.
The three chief protestants were
Curtice Brothers of Rochester, N. Y.,
Williams Brothers of Detroit, Michigan,
and Sherman Brothers of New York, represented
by James S. Sherman, M.C., who was
near his election as Vice-President of
the United States in 1908. There were a
number of lawyers and others closely related
to the protestants, making a very
goodly number in all. They were loath
to repeat the charges but Mr. Roosevelt
insisted that they should do so. Whereupon
the representative of the ketchup
industries spoke. He told the well-known
"sob" story of how the business of
putting up ketchup would be utterly destroyed
if the decisions of the Bureau
banning benzoate were carried into effect.
It was a touching and pathetic
recital of the ultimate confiscation of
hundreds of thousands of invested
capital. There was no way in which this
disaster could be diverted except to
overrule the conclusions of the Bureau.
The Chief of the Bureau was dramatically
set forth as a radical, impervious to
reason and determined to destroy
legitimate business. After this recital
was completed, Mr. Roosevelt turned to
Mr. Wilson and said: "What is your opinion
about the propriety and desirability
of enforcing the rulings of your Chief
of Bureau?" Mr. Wilson replied:
" The law demands
that substances which are added to foods for any purpose
which are deleterious to health
shall be forbidden. Dr. Wiley made extensive
investigations in feeding benzoated
goods to healthy young men and in every
instance he found that their health
The President then asked
me what I thought of this ruling. I replied as
I don't think; I know by patient experiment, that benzoate
of soda or benzoic acid added to
human food is injurious to health."
On hearing this opinion the
President turned to the protestants, struck the
table in front of him a stunning blow
with his fist, and showing his teeth in
the true Rooseveltian fashion, said to
that you are using is injurious to health and you shall not
use it any longer."
If matters had rested there
the crowning blow to the food law would have been
prevented. Mr. Sherman, however, took
the floor and said:
there was another matter that we spoke to you about
yesterday that is not included
in what you have just said about the use of
benzoate. I refer to the use of
saccharin in foods. My firm last year saved
$4,000 by sweetening canned corn
with saccharin instead of sugar. We want a
decision from you on this question."
Unfortunately I did not wait
for the President to ask the customary
questions. I was entirely too precipitate
in the matter. I addressed the
President without his asking me, which
is considered an offense to royalty or to
a President. In the presence of rulers,
we should always wait until we are
spoken to before joining in the conversation.
Had I followed this precept of
respect the catastrophe which happened
might have been avoided. I immediately
said to the President:
"Every one who
ate that sweet corn was deceived. He thought he was eating
sugar, when in point of fact he
was eating a coal tar product totally devoid
of food value and extremely injurious
This answer was the basis
for the complete paralysis of the Food Law. Turning
to me in sudden anger the President changed
from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, and
"You tell me
that saccharin is injurious to health?" I said, "Yes, Mr.
President, I do tell you that."
He replied, "Dr. Rixey gives it to me every
day." I answered, "Mr. President,
he probably thinks you may be threatened
with diabetes." To this he retorted,
"Anybody who says saccharin is injurious
to health is an idiot."
This remark of the President
broke up the meeting. Had he only extended his
royal Excalibur I should have arisen as
Sir Idiot. That distinction has not
departed from me to this day. The thing
which hurts most is that in the light of
my long career I fear I deserved it. The
next day the President issued an order
establishing the Referee Board of Consulting
Scientific Experts. In order that
his favorite sweetener might have fair
hearing he asked Dr. Ira Remsen, who held
a medal given him by the Chicago Chemical
Society as the discoverer of
saccharin, to be chairman and to select
the other members. According to the
ordinary conception of a juror Dr. Remsen
would not have been entitled to sit on
the subject of saccharin. Such little
matters as those, however, were not
dominating with the President of the United
States. As Milton describes the
episode in the Garden of Eden--
"Of man's first
disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden
tree whose mortal taste
into the world and all our woe"
the creation of the Remsen Board of Consulting
Scientific Experts was the cause
of nearly all the woes that subsequently
befell the Pure Food Law. Joined to the
creation of the Board of Food and Drug
Inspection there was little left of the
method prescribed by Congress for its
UNIFICATION OF ADULTERATORS
From this time on all the
interests seeking to paralyze the enforcement of
the food and drugs act acted as one body
under the leadership of the Department
of Agriculture. The rectifiers were perhaps
the best organized of the enemies of
the pure food and drugs legislation. The
interests that supported and demanded
the use of benzoate of soda represented
only a minority of the manufacturers of
ketchup. Those who demanded the free use
of sulphurous acid and sulphites were
confined to the manufacturers of cane
molasses and of dried fruits. Those who
demanded the use of saccharin were only
a very small part of the interests
engaged in the canning and preserving
of our foods. The people who were anxious
to use alum, however, represented a great
majority of baking-powders. Those
manufacturers who made baking powder out
of phosphates and tartrates were not so
numerous and did not do so big a business
as the makers of alum powders. The
whole body of adulterators and misbranders
of our foods who were depressed by
the results of the decision of the question
of what is whisky were restored to
optimism and tremendous activity by the
appointment both of the Board of Food
and Drug Inspection and of the Remsen
Board. By this time, however, public
sentiment which had been so unanimously
in favor of food and drug legislation
was awakened to the danger which came
from the betrayal of the cause of pure
foods by these executive proclamations.
The daily, weekly, and monthly press of
the United States were almost solidly
opposed to these illegal activities of the
executive officers in charge of the pure
food and drugs legislation. Not a day
passed without numerous attacks upon this
laxity of administration appearing in
all parts of the country.
I will return to this condition
of affairs later on. The Secretary of
Agriculture was perfectly acquainted with
the incident just described in regard
to the origin of the Remsen Board. Nevertheless,
in the following statements to
the fruit growers of California he ascribed
the origin of the Remsen Board to a
totally different cause. I quote from
page 847 of the Moss Committee on
Expenditures in the Department of Agriculture:
I went out to
the Pacific Coast, I think it was in 1907 to look at the
forests which had just come to
our department. Telegrams began to come all
around me, and finally reached
me that something was seriously the matter at
San Francisco, and I wired back
that I would be there at a certain day, and I
went there. I found the mayor,
the bankers, the business men and the farmers
in a very great commotion. They
wanted me to talk. I said, "I do not know what
to say, I will listen; you talk,
gentlemen." "Well," they said, "we have a
$15,000,000 industry here in the
growing and drying of fruits. These dried
fruits are contracted for by the
big eastern merchants. Our people borrow
money from the banks, and when
the fruit is sold everything is straightened
out and things go on, but you people
in Washington say we can only use 350
milligrams of sulphur to the kilo,
and the eastern men who have contracted for
our fruit will not make their contracts
good; they are afraid it will not
to these good people all day I said, "I see the condition
you are in, gentlemen. I do not
think the American Congress in making this law
intended to stop your business.
We have not learned quite enough in Washington
to guide your business without
destroying it; we will know better by and by,
but I will tell you what to do.
Just go on as you used to go on and I will not
take any action to seize your goods
or let them be seized or take any case
into court until we know more about
the number of milligrams to the kilo, and
all of that. In the meanwhile I
shall send a chemist from our Bureau of
Chemistry out here, and I want
to get the best chemist in your state at your
State University at Berkeley, put
the two together and try to get the facts,"
and we did that. They worked that
summer; and before I think they completed
all they would like to have done
the Referee Board came * * * I think that
about answers the question why
the Board was created.
When the chemists made their
report, Secretary Wilson promptly refused to
have it printed because they had found
a harmless substitute for sulphur fumes.
The hearings accorded the
users of saccharin, after the report on saccharin
by the Referee Board had been published,
developed the following curious
The President selected the
alleged discoverer of saccharin as Chairman of the
new committee to revise the findings of
the Bureau of Chemistry. This committee
entirely reversed President Roosevelt's
decision that benzoate of soda was a
harmful substance. They did not, however,
agree with him entirely in regard to
the harmlessness of saccharin. In their
report they permitted the use of a
sufficient amount of saccharin to sweeten
foods, but they were of the opinion
that if one consumed over 3/10th of a
gram of saccharin at any one time it might
prove injurious and that also as a sweetener
it was a fraud. The manufacturers
of saccharin asked for and secured a hearing
on this point. The hearing was held
before Secretary Wilson and Secretary
Nagel. Addressing the saccharin
manufacturers, Secretary Wilson (Page
908, Moss Committee) made the following
I want to say
frankly to you gentlemen that the Referee Board was organized
and put in action for the very
purpose of conserving the interests of the
manufacturers, by insuring them
a sane hearing, and, that being the case, it
is the best the Government can
To the users of burning sulphur
he promised complete immunity until the
Remsen Board made its decision. In point
of fact, that came only after many
years. It was never published by the Department
of Agriculture. The indulgence
has continued for twenty-two years and
bids fair to go on forever. Now to the
makers of saccharin he says the Remsen
Board was created to be sure
manufacturers get a "sane hearing." The
plain inference is that the hearing
specified in the Act is not "sane."
Of course Secretary Wilson
was right in so frankly stating the purpose for
which the Referee Board was created. Manufacturers
of adulterated goods were
never shut out from a full and fair hearing.
That was always available before
the Courts when they were cited to appear
as violators of the law. The Referee
Board was an effective buffer for all
this class of manufacturers. It prevented
a full and fair hearing of the case before
a jury and a United States Court. It
was the most baleful influence toward
the degradation of the food supply of our
country that ever existed. The Referee
Board has passed away, but the evil
effects of its activities will be felt
for all time to come. Its decisions and
its activities are still regnant in the
mal-administration of the pure-food law.
The only hope of the future lies in the
possibility of some day getting a
Secretary of Agriculture who with one
stroke of his pen will erase forever from
the records of the Department every decision
of the Referee Board and every
regulation made in conformity therewith,
and remove every administrative officer
who willingly carries these decisions
and regulations into effect.
SENSITIVE TO NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
The officials, paid experts
and aides of the low-grade manufacturers realized
very keenly their unpopularity as reflected
in the notices of their activities
which appeared in the newspapers and magazines.
This sensibility caused Dr.
Remsen at the end of his testimony before
the Moss Committee to express his
feelings which have been recorded in another
place. Prior to this he was keenly
sensitive to what the newspapers were
saying about him and his Board. On Feb.
11th , 1910, in a letter to the Secretary
of Agriculture, (Moss Committee, Page
366) he said:
of our principal newspaper brought me yesterday an
inflammatory article which had
been sent by the Washington correspondent. The
object of the article was to discount
the reports of the Referee Board on the
sulphur question. It was venomous
and inflammatory to the last degree. It also
took up the benzoate question with
the object of showing how entirely
unreliable the work of our Board
had been. Our bombastic friend, C. A. L.
Reed* of Cincinnati, was held up
as a great and good man and a high authority.
I presume this attack has been
sent all over the country. I made some comments
on it and the newspaper to which
it was sent here declined to publish it. I
have no doubt as to the source
of that article. It was altogether the worst
thing that I have seen."
*Eminent surgeon and Past-President of
the American Medical Association. Died in
The curious thing about all
this is that the Secretary of Agriculture and his
aides, the Remsen Board and their followers
were continually insinuating that
there was some one in Washington who inspired
all these criticisms of the Remsen
Board. They were never bold enough to
come out openly and say who this person
was. It is perfectly plain who was in
their minds. The report of Dr. Bigelow,
who was the chemist sent to California,
not by Secretary Wilson, but by myself,
was refused publication when it was completed
and has never yet seen the light
of day. Dr. Bigelow in this report showed
how by dipping the freshly cut fruits
in a weak solution of common salt and
then drying them a product was produced
equal in color to the sulphured article
and far more palatable, wholesome, and
desirable in every way.
Large quantities of dried
fruits made by this process were shipped to
Washington, submitted to dealers and pronounced
a far superior product in every
way to the ordinary sulphured article.
Also attention should here be called to
the fact that the meat inspection law
specifically denies the use of sulphur
dioxide and sulphites in the preparation
of meats on the ground that a
preservative of this kind is injurious
to health. Its use had been discarded
practically before the regulation forbidding
it was made by reason of the
scandal of embalmed beef which stirred
this country deeply during the Spanish
War. In other words the use of any sulphur
dioxide or sulphites in meat was an
adulteration, but in dried fruits it was
necessary to prevent the destruction of
the dried fruit business, in the eyes
of the Secretary of Agriculture.
Further questioning of the
Secretary threw additional light on this point:
MR. FLOYD: You, personally,
as Secretary, were made responsible, but
President Roosevelt acted in harmony with
you in establishing this referee
SECRETARY WILSON: We have
to obey the President of the United States when he
indicates what he wants.
MR. FLOYD, I understand.
The President, sanctioned this board?
SECRETARY WILSON: Oh, yes.
He wrote to the presidents of the great
universities and got them to recommend
men, and when the men came that he wanted
he ordered me to appoint them, and I appointed
MR. HIGGINS: Mr. Secretary,
in your observation of the enforcement of this
law, is it your opinion, based upon that
observation, that it was a wise thing
to have a referee board?
SECRETARY WILSON: It certainly
was my judgment that we should have a referee
MR. HIGGINS: Is that confirmed
by your experience with it?
SECRETARY WILSON: I have
no reason to conclude that it was not wise.
MR. HIGGINS: Are you familiar
with the character of the gentlemen who make up
that board and their scientific attainments?
SECRETARY WILSON: By reputation
only; I did not know them personally, any of
MR. HIGGINS: Have you ever
imposed any restrictions on them as to the methods
SECRETARY WILSON: No. I told
them frankly when they began that nobody had any
business to interfere with them anywhere;
that they were to find us the facts
with regard to what we submitted to them;
and I did not impose any restrictions
and nobody else had any right to, unless
it was the President, and I did not
think he would.
MR. MAYS: Did you have any
doubt in your mind as to the legality of their
appointment at the time?
SECRETARY WILSON: Never.
MR. FLOYD: Now, Mr. Secretary,
how many of these great questions have been
submitted to the referee board?
SECRETARY WILSON: I suppose
I could count them on my fingers.
MR. FLOYD: The chairman tells
me that that is in the record.
SECRETARY WILSON: Very likely
it is in the record.
MR. FLOYD: Now, under the
pure-food law, as I understand it, Mr. Secretary,
the work of the Bureau of Chemistry is
preliminary to a prosecution?
SECRETARY WILSON: Oh, surely.
MR. FLOYD: And no prosecution
can be instituted against anyone in a criminal
procedure until the Bureau of Chemistry
has made an adverse finding and you have
so certified to the district attorney?
SECRETARY WILSON: That is
the way it is done.
MR, FLOYD: Now, I am going
to ask you a question that I would ask other
witnesses as to the effect of the decision
of the referee board. In case the
Bureau of Chemistry should make a finding
adverse to the use of a certain
commodity on the ground that it was deleterious
to health and that should be
referred to the referee board and the
referee board should make a contrary
decision, is there any way, under the
regulations, to your knowledge, that the
question at issue between the Bureau of
Chemistry and the referee board could be
taken into the courts and be settled by
SECRETARY WILSON: Of course,
I can not state intelligently with regard to how
a thing might get into the courts, but
the department would enforce the decision
of the referee board. They would do that,
MR. FLOYD (interposing) :
If the decision of the referee board was adverse to
that of the Bureau of Chemistry the effect
of enforcing the decision of the
referee board would be to prevent the
prosecution of anyone using that
SECRETARY WILSON: Well, it
would depend on--yes, I see your point; yes, it
The unanimous decision of
the committee investigating the expenditures of the
Department of Agriculture completely exonerated
the accused officials and
censured their accusers.
Who certified to President Taft that Dr.
Wiley was worthy of "condign
The activities of two Presidents,
three cabinet officers, and one
Attorney-General in promoting the efforts
to exclude the Bureau of Chemistry
from any efficient steps looking to the
enforcement of the Food and Drugs Act
created a veritable storm of protest,
as has already been indicated, in the
press of the country. This protest was
voiced most effectively by the attitude
of The World's Work under the able editorship
of Walter H. Page. In the issue of
that magazine for September, 1911, the
following editorial comment is found,
under the title, "The Fight on Dr. Wiley
and the Pure Food Law."
There is no better
illustration of the difficulty of really effective
government than the obstructions
that have been put in the way of Dr. Wiley,
the head of the Bureau of Chemistry
at Washington. So long as the Pure Food
and Drugs Act ran foul of only
small violators, it was easy to enforce it;
but, as soon as it hit the vested
interests of the rich and strong, the most
amazing series of successful. obstructions
were put in the way--so amazing and
so successful that the story will
be told with some fullness in the succeeding
numbers of this magazine.
Here is a man--Dr.
Harvey W. Wiley--who has given his whole working life to
the protection of the people from
bad and poisonous food and drugs. There is
no more unselfish or devoted public
servant. He has time and again declined
offers of lucrative and honorable
private work. He has lived and labored for
this one purpose.
It is to him
that we owe the law and the agitation for its enforcement. It
is to him that we owe the education
of the public which has brought state laws
and municipal ordinances for pure
food and drugs. It is to him that we owe
such an important advance in more
careful living and such a quickening of the
public conscience as we owe to
hardly any other living man; and the whole
people are his debtors. He is the
direct cause of a wider and safer public
knowledge and of more healthful
habits of life.
Still the Pure
Food and Drugs Act is not yet enforced against the great
offenders. Dr. Wiley has had his
hands tied from the time of its enactment.
The Board, whose duty it is to
report violations of the law, consists of Dr.
Wiley, Dr. Dunlap, a chemist, and
Mr. McCabe, the solicitor of the Department
of Agriculture. But out of the
thousands of cases of adulteration and fraud
that have been discovered, practically
no cases against the strongest
corporations and groups of law-breakers
have been brought to trial. Dr. Wiley
is a man of scientific distinction,
of accuracy, and of responsibility. Yet
his two associates on this board,
men, to say the most for them, of far less
ability and less distinction, have
been permitted to check almost every move
that he has made. The aged Secretary
of Agriculture has given his confidence
and his support to them and withdrawn
it from Dr. Wiley.
More than this--the
Attorney-General, reversing an opinion prepared by one
of his own subordinates and accepting
an opinion by Mr. McCabe, declared that
the referee board of distinguished
chemists (the Remsen Board) was authorized
by the law--a very dangerous and
very doubtful construction of a plain
statute; and this Board has been
used to prevent the enforcement of the law
against the use of benzoate of
soda. This Remsen Board has never declared that
benzoate of soda is a permissible
preservative. It has never been asked
whether it can be or is extensively
used to preserve rotten food. It was asked
only if it proved injurious to
the health of strong young men when taken for a
time in small quantities. They
found that it did these young men no
appreciable harm. Then this declaration
was used to permit the canners and
packers of rotten fruits and vegetables
to continue to put them up in benzoate
of soda. Even if benzoate of soda
does no harm to health, its use in
disguising rotten food brings it
within the proper prohibition of the law.
is a good illustration of the way in which Dr. Wiley has been
balked and hindered. Influences,
legitimate and illegitimate, have been used
to prevent the enforcement of the
law in its most important applications.
Inside the Government
and outside, the manufacturers of dangerous and
unwholesome food and drugs have
carried on a continuous and effective campaign
against Dr. Wiley and his work.
He has been practically without power to put
the law into effect against strong
offenders. He has been humiliated by being
overruled by his subordinates.
He has suffered from an inefficient
administration of the Department
of which his bureau is a part; for the
venerable Secretary of Agriculture
is too old vigorously to administer his
great Department. Yet Dr. Wiley,
purely for patriotic reasons, has suffered
this hindrance and humiliation
till some change might come which should
On the outside
the bad food and drug interests--or some of them--have
maintained a lobby in Washington,
have kept "syndicate" newspaper writers in
their pay to write about the unfairness
and the injustice of the law and the
unreasonableness and "crankiness"
of Dr. Wiley. One such organization--or
pretended organization--some time
ago sent a threatening letter to all the
most important periodicals, saying
that large advertisers would withdraw their
patronage if they published articles
favorable to the law!
There has been
an organized fight, therefore, against the law and the man.
And, although the man's official
power has been curtailed, he has won--won
such a victory for the people as
will insure the continuance, with new vigor,
of the campaign for pure food and
drugs, by national law and by local laws.
against Dr. Wiley that provoked this popular outburst of
approval, is not worth explaining.
He made an arrangement to pay Dr. Rusby, a
distinguished specialist, a higher
rate for work per day than the law
specified for per them payments,
but less than the law permitted as a yearly
salary. By this arrangement the
services of Dr. Rusby to the Government were
secured for less than if the letter
of the law had been followed and he had
been paid the yearly salary that
the law specified--since he gave and was to
give only a small part of his time
to the work. This technical violation of
the letter of the law--if it were
a violation of its real meaning--has long
been customary in many departments
of the Government; for it has common sense
and economy to commend it.
When the Attorney-General
wrote that this offence deserved "condign
shall be said of him with respect?
Surely it was a narrow and silly
recommendation. He put a greater value on a
microscopic legal technicality
than on the incalculable service of a man whose
work is worth more to the health
and happiness of the people than the work of
many Presidents and Attorneys-General.
Dr. Wiley's "offence" was instantly
forgotten by the public, which
has some common sense if not much legal
knowledge. But the accusation was
important for this reason: it showed the
determination of those who brought
it to get rid of him.
Now, if Dr. Wiley
deserves dismissal for any sufficient reason, it is
proper and it is the duty of somebody
to present such a reason. But to propose
"condign punishment" for saving
the public money by following a common custom
of paying for professional service-that
shows a personal and private purpose
to be rid of him.
The upshot of
it all is that Dr. Wiley has been made a sort of popular
hero. Now popular heroism has decided
disadvantages and even dangers. It is
fair to Dr. Wiley to say that he
has not sought such a place on the stage. He
has his vanities (who hasn't?)
and the popular appreciation of his work is of
course welcomed by him, as it ought
to be. But mere personal popularity and a
personal "fight" are likely to
obscure the main matter at stake. The main
matter is the Pure Food and Drugs
Act--not only nor mainly Dr. Wiley and his
personal vindication, but the firm
and permanent establishment of this fact
and purpose: that no opposition
of interested law-breakers, no personal
jealousies, no departmental feuds,
no infirm and feeble administration of any
Department, no narrow legal technicalities,
shall longer hinder the execution
of the law that guards the health
of the people. This is of far greater
importance than anybody's tenure
of office or than anybody's official "face"
It has been made
plain that the administration of the Agricultural
Department is feeble. Feuds and
cliques are not permitted to obstruct the laws
in well-administered institutions.
And it has again been made plain by the
Attorney-General that this is a
"legal" administration; and, again, that the
President's amiable qualities lead
him to patch-up and smooth-over troubles
that become worse with every patching
and smoothing and can then be removed
only after public discussion and
possible scandal. The incident ought and
seems likely to bring big results
in rallying public opinion to the support of
the law and of its author and zealous
and useful guardian. The investigation
by the Congressional Committee
that has the subject in hand will bring out
facts that are likely to make the
law far stronger than it has ever been.
Committee on Expenditures in the Department
of Agriculture, 1911, investigating
charges preferred against Dr. H. W. Wiley,
Representative Ralph W. Moss,
presiding. At the right of Mr. Moss are
the three of the Democratic members of
the Committee, namely, Hon. J.C. Floyd,
Hon. R.L. Doughton, Hon. D.H. Mays;
Henry E. Davis and Hon. W.P. Hepburn,
attorneys for Dr. Wiley. On the left of
Mr. Moss are the Hon. Edwin W. Higgins,
Hon. Burton L. French, and the Hon.
Charles H. Sloan, the stenographer and
The editor of The World's
Work did not have to wait long to know the
conclusions reached by the committee investigating
the expenses of the
Department of Agriculture. The report
was issued early in 1912. It was a
complete vindication of the Bureau of
Chemistry and a complete reversal of the
penalties which the personnel board had
inflicted, or tried to inflict on the
Chief of the Bureau and his assistants.
Before the committee's report was
published, however, the President of the
United States, who had been asked to
approve the dismissal of the Chief of
the Bureau, wrote the following letter to
the Secretary of Agriculture (Page 2 of
"The truth is,
the limitations upon the bureau chiefs and heads of
departments to exact per diem compensation
for the employment of experts in
such cases as this is of doubtful
legislative policy. Here is the pure-food
act, which is of the highest importance
to enforce and in respect to which the
interests opposed to its enforcement
are likely to have all the money at their
command needed to secure the most
effective expert evidence. The Government
ought not to be at a disadvantage
in this regard, and one can not withhold
one's sympathy with an earnest
effort on the part of Dr. Wiley to pay proper
compensation and secure expert
assistance in the enforcement of so important a
statute, certainly in the beginning,
when questions arising under it are of
capital importance to the public."
Other high lights of the
report of the committee are summarized below:
on expenditures in the Department of Agriculture beg leave
to submit the following report
of the recent hearings commonly referred to as
the "Wiley Investigation." This
was instituted on information that an
alleged conspiracy had been entered
into between certain high officials of the
Bureau of Chemistry and Dr. H.
H. Rusby whereby Dr. Rusby was to be paid a
compensation for his services at
a higher rate than authorized by law. * * *
In the discharge of its duties
under the rules of the House, your committee
made a patient and careful investigation
of the whole controversy. * * * Your
committee regards the "Wiley Investigation,"
so-called, only an incident in
its broader inquiry into the organization
and administrative routine of the
Bureau of Chemistry and the Referee
Board. * * * We failed to find from the
evidence in the whole case that
there existed any secret agreement or that the
terms of compensation or rates
to be paid Dr. Rusby were withheld from the
Secretary designedly or otherwise.
* * * We therefore find from the evidence
adduced that the charges of conspiracy
have not been established, but, on the
contrary, that the accused officials
were actuated throughout solely by desire
to procure for the Bureau of Chemistry
an efficient assistant in the person of
Dr. H. H. Rusby under terms and
conditions which those officials believed to
be in entire accord with the law,
regulations, and practice of the Department
of Agriculture. * * *
"The record shows
that three members of the Referee Board were in
attendance at the trial at Indianapolis,
Indiana, in the capacity of witnesses
at the instance and on behalf of
the plaintiffs in the suit to which Curtice
Brothers and Williams Brothers,
who are interested in the sale of food stuffs
to which soda benzoate has been
added as a preservative, and that the expenses
of these witnesses were paid by
the Department of Agriculture. In the opinion
of your committee the payment of
these expenses by the Department of
Agriculture was wholly without
warrant of law. * * *
does not question the motives or the sincerity of the
Secretary of Agriculture, whose
long service as the head of the Department of
Agriculture has been of signal
service to the American people. From the
beginning, however, the honorable
Secretary has apparently assumed that his
duties in the proper enforcement
of the pure-food laws are judicial in
character, whereas in fact they
are wholly administrative and ministerial.
This misconstruction of the law
is fundamental and has resulted in a complex
organization within the Department
of Agriculture, in the creation of offices
and boards to which have been given,
through Executive order, power to
overrule or annul the findings
of the Bureau of Chemistry.
created the Bureau of Chemistry as an agency to collect
evidence of violations of the food
and drug act and to submit this evidence
duly verified to the Department
of Justice for judicial action. The Secretary
of Agriculture is the officer whose
duty it is to transmit this evidence from
the Bureau of Chemistry to the
Department of Justice. Added to this simple
duty is the more responsible obligation
delegated to him by the three
Secretaries to review the findings
of the Bureau of Chemistry by granting a
hearing to parties from whom samples
were collected and in the light of these
hearings, of deciding whether or
not the findings of the bureau are free from
of the law, which, in the opinion of your committee, is
the correct one, places the judicial
determination of all disputes in the
courts, where the standard of purity
in foods must finally be established. It
also makes it the imperative duty
of district attorneys to proceed against all
violators of the law on receipt
of certified record of cases prepared by the
Bureau of Chemistry; but if we
accept this construction of the law in its full
meaning, it is apparent that at
the time of the taking effect of this law the
prompt prosecution of every infraction,
whether of major or minor importance,
was an impossibility, as such a
course would have utterly congested the
business of the courts. * * *
"Thus the administration
of the law began with a policy of negotiation and
compromise between the Secretary
and the purveyors of our national food
supplies. * * *
of the statute and the jurisdiction of the courts cannot be
affected by the executive orders
of the Secretary of Agriculture, though they
be issued in obedience to the suggestion
of the President of the United
duties of the Secretary and Bureau are enumerated
separately in the statute and whatever
other duties either may be charged with
in the administration of the Act
come by virtue of the rules and regulations
established by the Secretary of
Agriculture, the Secretary of the Treasury,
and the Secretary of Commerce and
Labor. * * *
"The Act of Congress
approved March 4, 1907, contains this provision, 'and
hereafter the Secretary of Agriculture
is hereby authorized to make such
appointments, promotions, and changes
in salaries, to be paid out of the lump
sum of the several bureaus, divisions
and offices of the Department as may be
for the best interest of the service.'
In view of these provisions of law your
committee is of the opinion that
there may be authority under the law for the
creation and maintenance of such
Board (Referee Board) to aid the Secretary in
the discharge of any duty enjoined
on him in his official capacity; but raises
the question as to its legality
on the sole ground that the determination of
the general questions submitted
by the Secretary to the Referee Board is not
enjoined upon him under the law.
"We have here
presented the very crux of the controversy which has been
waged over the terms of the pure-food
law, and which, fortunately for your
committee, has been recently discussed
(by the Supreme Court) in a decision of
the United States vs. Morgan, et
al. * * * The weight of this decision clearly
denies to the Department of Agriculture
any judicial authority. * * * We have
thus presented another weighty
question to be considered in this connection as
to the necessity, wisdom, or sound
policy of maintaining such a board at a
heavy expense to the Government
when the work done by it is largely a
duplication of work performed,
or which might be performed by the Bureau of
Chemistry. The functions of this
board as at present constituted are purely
advisory. Their decisions have
no legal or binding effect upon any body. The
Secretary can follow or ignore
their recommendations as he sees fit. * * * The
Honorable Secretary of Agriculture
seems to have regarded the findings of this
board as conclusive in all cases
over the opinions and findings of the Bureau
of Chemistry, the tribunal which
by express terms of statute is vested with
authority to determine the questions
of adulteration and misbranding within
the meaning of the act. In the
practice of the Department, the Bureau of
Chemistry has been restrained from
examining any specimens of foods and drugs
under any general subject which
is submitted to the Referee Board during the
time of examination of such questions
by such Board; and if such general
subject is submitted to the Referee
Board before the Bureau of Chemistry has
made any examination of specimens
to determine the question of adulteration
and misbranding, then the Bureau
is not permitted by the Secretary to make any
such examination until the Board
shall have made its report.
"It has resulted
in another remarkable situation, namely, that under the
practice of the Department the
decisions of the Bureau of Chemistry, if in
opposition to the findings and
opinions of the Referee Board cannot be
referred to the Courts and thus
permit a judicial decision to be made as is
comprehended under the plain provisions
of the law. It would thus happen that
if the Bureau of Chemistry were
right and the Referee Board were in error that
violations of the law would receive
protection through the proposed
enforcement of the law; because
the effect of such a policy is to give this
advisory Board, created by Executive
order paramount authority over the Bureau
of Chemistry and lodges in the
personal advisers of the Secretary the power to
annul the decisions of the Bureau
within the Department of Agriculture which
was created by law."
These luminous opinions of
the committee investigating the expenditures of
the Department of Agriculture show that
not a dollar of the money expended by
the Referee Board was legally expended.
At the time this investigation took
place the total expenditures made by the
Referee Board of the money appropriated
by Congress to enforce the Food and Drugs
Act amounted to over $175,000. Every
dollar of this money was expended in protecting
and promoting violations of the
law. It seems strange in view of these
findings which were approved by the House
of Representatives that no effort was
made to impeach the Secretary of
Agriculture and the President of the United
States who had thus perverted money
appropriated for a particular use to activities
totally repugnant to the purpose
of the appropriation. The following violations
of law were permitted and
protected by this crime, namely, the use
of benzoate of soda as a preservative
of foods, the use of sulphur dioxide and
sulphites as bleaching agents and food
preservatives, the use of saccharin as
a sweetener in foods up to an amount not
exceeding three-tenths of a gram, and
the free and unrestricted use of alum in
food products. It is a striking comment
also on the attitude of Congress and the
people at large that no steps have ever
been taken from 1911 to 1928 to correct
these outrages on the Americaia people
and to attempt to restore the law to its
power and purpose as enacted. Administration
after administration has come and
gone and these abuses still persist.
THE REFEREE BOARD ALREADY DECLARED ILLEGAL
After considering all the
evidence adduced over a period of six weeks the
House committee on expenditures unanimously
declared the Referee Board to be an
illegal organization. It had a very good
reason for doing so even before the
evidence was considered. The matter had
been decided by an assistant to
Attorney-General Wickersham in a report
from the Department of Justice dated
March 31, 1909. This was fully two years
and more before the decision of the
investigating committee was rendered.
This report of the Department of Justice
was signed by J. A. Fowler, assistant
to the Attorney-General. It is printed in
full in the proceedings of the committee,
pages 205 and following.
Attorney-General Fowler called attention
to the fact that at the time the
committees of the House and the Senate
met for final conference on the food and
drugs bill, the House bill contained a
provision authorizing the appointment of
a committee of five experts to consider
questions of deleterious or injurious
substances in foods, and to establish
food standards. The Senate bill did not
contain a provision of this kind but did
contain a statement of the duties of
the Bureau of Chemistry to perform these
functions. The Senate conferees
insisted on the elimination of the House
provision for a special board and this
was acceded to by the conferees from the
House. When the conference report was
presented to the two houses Mr. Mann,
manager for the House made the following
statement in answer to a question by Mr.
MR. POLLARD: Was there any
change made in the provision of the House bill
wherein we provided that a board, of five
inspectors should be selected to pass
upon the wholesomeness or deleteriousness
of the foods?
MR. MANN: That provision
was in Section 9, directing the Secretary of
Agriculture to determine standards and
the entire section goes out. As I stated
in the House when the bill was before
the House, it is the courts which must
determine in the end as to the question
of the wholesomeness or the
deleteriousness of preservatives or of
any article of food. * * * The Senate
conferees were unalterably opposed to
that provision and as it was not an
essential provision of the law we gave
way on that provision in order to save
the rest of the bill practically intact
as the House had enacted it. (Record
59th Congress, First Session, Page 9738,
Expenditures in the Department of
Agriculture, page 269.)
MR. FOWLER: "This statute
authorizes the prescribing of such regulations as
are consistent with law, and for the reason
above stated I regard the
appointment of this Board of Referees
as inconsistent with law.
Senator McCumber also commented
in the Senate on this same subject, as
"Now what have
we eliminated from this bill? Senators will remember that
the House measure provided for
the fixing of standards and it called to the
assistance of the Secretary of
Agriculture certain experts who were to aid him
in determining what the standards
should be and also provided that the
standards so established by them
should be for the guidance of the court. The
Senate has always contended that
the power to fix standards should not be
given to any man and the House
conferees receded from that portion of the
House amendment and it goes out."
In spite of this clear intention
of Congress the Solicitor of the Department
of Agriculture wrote an opinion to the
effect that the appointment of the
Referee Board was legal and this opinion
was adopted by Attorney-General
Wickersham as a choice between the opinion
of the Solicitor of the Department of
Agriculture and the opinion of his own
assistant in the Department of Justice.
With the promulgation of
the opinion of the Attorney-General, the effacement
of the Bureau of Chemistry from any further
participation in the enforcement of
the food and drugs act was completed.
Even the Board of Food and Drug Inspection
was deprived of its office of confirming
or overturning the decisions of the
Bureau of Chemistry. Under General Order
No. 140 the Solicitor of the Department
was made the sole arbiter of the recommendations
which should go to the
Secretary in regard to whether or not
an article was misbranded or adulterated.
General Order No. 140 is found on page
10 of the report of the committee. The
committee expressed the following opinion
"Under the terms
of this order all the evidence in all cases examined in
the Bureau of Chemistry, together
with such summaries as the solicitor may
prescribe is referred to the solicitor
to determine whether or not a prima
facie case has been made. * * *
We are at a loss to understand what favorable
results can come from the preparation
of such summaries in the Bureau of
Chemistry and their further study
in the solicitor's office."
The committee realized that
this was the consummation of the plan of the
solicitor. It totally disregarded the
provisions of the food law as to the
methods of its execution. It placed the
solicitor, not mentioned nor recognized
in the law, in the place of the Bureau
of Chemistry as the sole arbiter of all
processes looking to the enforcement of
the act. With this final blow at the
vitality of the law its enforcement passed
entirely into the hands of the
enemies of the law. The public which it
was intended to protect was left without
any redress. The result was a wild orgy
of adulteration and misbranding, paid
for by the money of tax-payers appropriated
for the enforcement of the law. The
members of the Referee Board became experts
paid by the Government to protect
the interests of adulterators and misbranders.
Their eff orts in this direction
were put into effect by the Solicitor
of the Department. All the fruits gained
by the victory in the enactment Of the
legislation were thus sacrificed by the
direct negation of the law's demands.
The fai-reaching effects of this crime
against law I have tried to set down in
as small a space as possible to do
justice to the story.
UNCONTROLLED FOOD SUPPLY
If an expert dietitian and
physiologist should take up for study a report on
metabolism made by a scientific authority,
he would expect first of all that the
composition and weight of food ingested
should be accurately stated. Without
knowing the amount of intake, data respecting
the outgo have no significance. In
Bulletin 84, Part 4, Benzoate of Soda,
containing the experimental data of the
Bureau of Chemistry, it will be noticed
that careful analytical examinations
were made of all the foods ingested and
the quantities of each kind of food for
each subject is accurately stated. The
data in this investigation therefore
obtained by the examination and analyses
of the feces and urine have a direct
significance. In the experiments on the
same subject conducted by the Referee
Board no attempt was made to have complete
analyseg of the foods administered
nor the quantities thereof eaten. It was
all left to the experimentees
themselves. This is forcibly brought out
by the statement of Dr. Chittenden on
page 17 of Report No. 88 of the Referee
Board. He says:
First, the subjects
were not restricted to a limited dietary, but on the
contrary were allowed reasonable
freedom of choice, both as to character and
quantity of the daily food. 1n
other words, there was no interference with the
normal desires of the individual
but each subject was allowed full latitude in
the exercise of his personal likes
and dislikes. To be sure each day a
definite menu was arranged for
all three meals, but this was sufficiently
generous in character to admit
of choice; further' after a short time
sufficient knowledge was acquired
of the special tastes of the subjects, so
thdt a daily dietary could easily
be provided quite satisfactory to all. By
this method of procedure there
was no violation of that physiological good
sense so essential in experiments
of this character.
In the experiments of the
Bureau of Chemistry no such latitude was permitted.
In the fore period in each case sufficient
quantities of the diet prescribed,
which was a thoroughly wholesome and well-balanced
one, were used to establish
an even daily weight of each one. This
quantity was given to the subject each
day, during the experimental administration
of the drug. If during the
administration of the benzoic acid the
subject would not feel like eating his
whole meal, the amount he did not eat
was weighed and deducted. This failure of
appetite, if no other cause could be found
for it, was an indication of the
effects produced by the administered preservative.
I suppose this method of
procedure would be designated by members
of the Referee Board as "physiological"
The records printed in Report
No. 88 indicate the wildest riot in diet ever
recorded in a physiological investigation.
Enormous differences in the amount of
food consumed are recorded in that report.
In the evidence before the court in
the Indiana case, page 33, this matter
was brought to the attention of Dr.
Remsen in the following question:
in order to conduct an examination of that. kind, an
investigation that was of any very
great value, oughtn't every article of food
that was given to the subject to
be analyzed, some part of it, so as to know
what it contained?
A. I suppose
there are other ways of getting at that besides analyzing it.
You can often form generally an
opinion of the character of the food you are
giving or examining without analyzing.
Q. Are there
not variations, for instance in breads?
A. There are
Q. And they are
variations of wide extent, are they not, doctor?
A. Well, wide--depends
on the meaning of the word wide. That is a technical
question that I should want to
refer to the experts of this Board.
Q. You would
not be prepared to say what would be a normal range in the
quantity of nitrogen that would
A. Not I, no.
I could get the information very readily. One moment--my
impression is that there were analyses
of some foods made--very many.
Some time in the remote future
when all personal matters have passed away and
an expert chemist and physiologist calmly
reviews the data obtained by the
Bureau of Chemistry and the data obtained
by the Referee Board on the same
subject, they will show a comparison of
values of the two investigations which I
am quite content to leave to the judgment
of the unbiased future.
As has been clearly illustrated,
the Remsen Board was appointed to protect
manufacturing interests. The Chief of
the Bureau of Chemistry under his oath was
trying to protect the neglected American
consumer. One would have thought that
in selecting five eminent scientific men
that at least some one of them might
have revolted from the purpose to which
he was assigned. The quotation from
Claude Bernard discloses most emphatically
the proper psychological attitude of
the true investigator when he undertakes
PROFESSOR CARLSON ON THE REMSEN BOARD
The Supreme Court has ruled
that the user of a deleterious product in foods
must justify that use. Prof. A. J. Carlson*
sees a scientific reason therefor:--
has opened up another avenue of poisoning the human system
through the field of food preservatives
and food substitutes. We have the
problem of the harmfulness or the
harmlessness of the various baking powders,
of benzoic acid as a permissible
food preservative, of saccharin as a
substitute for sugar, etc. Many
of the experiments purporting to prove the
permissibility or harmlessness
of the substance or preservative, even those
carried out by competent scientists,
seem to me wholly inadequate. I have in
mind, as an example, the experiments
and finding of the Remsen Consulting
Board, on the question of saccharin
in foods. Under the direction of this
board, composed of leading biochemists
and chemists, varying quantities of
saccharin were fed to a small number
of healthy young men, daily, for periods
up to nine months. The board concluded
that the daily ingestion of this food
substitute below a certain quantity
(0.3 gram per day) is without injurious
effects; above this saccharin produces
injury. This conclusion became guide to
federal legislation and regulation.
Was the above conclusion warranted by the
experiments performed? We think
not. All the experiments proved was that the
substance (saccharin) when taken
by healthy young men over this period did not
produce any injury that the commission
could detect by the tests used. Society
is composed of individuals other
than healthy young men, and nine months is a
short period in the span of human
life. There are many deviations of
physiological processes that can
not be detected by body weight, food intake,
or the chemical examination of
the urine. Most of the organs in the body can
be injured a great deal before
we become actually sick. It would seem a safer
principle for governments and society
to insist that the burden of proof of
harmlessness falls on the manufacturer
or the introducer of the new food
substitutes rather than on society,
and the test of the harmfulness or
harmlessness should involve all
phyidological processes of man.
*Prof. A. J. Carlson, Science, April 6,
1928, page 358.
POLITICS AND PURE FOOD
One of the most remarkable
episodes in the activities of the Remsen Board was
in connection with the Convention of State,
Dairy and Food Officials in their
annual meeting in Denver, in 1909. The
previous meeting of this official body
was held at Mackinac Island in 1908. At
this meeting vigorous protests against
the mutilation of the food law by the
creation of the Remsen Board were voiced
in the resolutions adopted by the convention.
These resolutions reflected
severely upon the attitude of the Secretary
of Agriculture and other officials
of the Department in accepting the decisions
of this Board which were held to be
contrary to law. The Secretary of Agriculture
was indignant at this feature of
the meeting in 1908. It is evident that
he did not want a repetition of it to
occur in 1909. Previous to the date of
the meeting George P. MeCabe, Solicitor,
made an official trip to the Central West,
which, according to the testimony
given, was for the purpose of interviewing
prospective delegates to Denver and
urging them to vote to support the policies
of the Department of Agriculture. As
related in the testimony in the Moss Committee
on the expenditures of the
Department of Agriculture, Mr. McCabe
was somewhat hazy as to the purposes of
this trip and as to exactly when it was
made. Only two years had passed, but
they seemed to have had a remarkable effect
upon his memory. Under the urgent
questioning of members of the Committee
and in a burst of loyalty to his chief
he finally told the whole story.
To strengthen still further
the administration lines in the forthcoming
convention, the Secretary of Agriculture
requested the members of the Referee
Board also to attend this convention.
In addition to this urgent request of the
Secretary, the President of the forthcoming
convention, the Hon. J. Q. Emery,
Food and Drug Commissioner of Wisconsin,
invited the members of the Referee
Board to attend the convention and justify,
if they could, the conclusions
already reached in the benzoate of soda
question. It was particularly desirable,
also, to hear their opinions on the saccharin
question, inasmuch as that was the
chief motive of the appointment of the
Remsen Board. The attitude of Dr. Remsen,
the Chairman of that Board, and the part
played by it in the Denver convention
are luminously set forth in the testimony
of the Moss committee which follows.
The memory of Mr. McCabe, as I have said,
was somewhat short, andthis seemed to
be the case with the memory of Dr. Dunlap.
He was specially sent by the
Secretary of Agriculture to acquaint Dr.
Remsen with his plans for controlling
the Denver convention. Dr. Dunlap's memory
in regard to the plan which he
discussed with Dr. Remsen was quite as
hazy as was Mr. McCabe's memory in regard
to his trip to interview the delegates
to the Denver convention. One of the most
striking features in connection with this
event was the fact that special
commissions were issued to the members
of the Remsen Board to cover their
expenses in connection with this trip.
It was shown by the questioning of the
committee that there was cloubt as to
the legality of these expenses under the
general proclamation establishing the
Remsen Board. That no question might arise
with the disbursing officers, this special
dispensation was given. The reading
of the testimony will be sufficient to
illustrate the other points in regard to
the appearance of the Remsen Board at
Denver. Following this are quotations from
the Denver press at the time the meeting
was in session. The pages of the
testimony are given in each selection.
HON. J. Q. EMERY
EXCERPTS FROM TESTIMONY BEFORE MOSS COMMITTEE
Dr. Remsen's Testimony
MR. FLOYD: What is saccharin,
DR. REMSEN: I can explain
that if you want a scientific lecture. I happen to
be the discoverer of that substance. I
could not explain it in a few words very
MR. FLOYD: Did you say you
were the inventor of saccharin?
DR. REMSEN: No; I would not
say I was the inventor. The substance was
discovered in the laboratory under my
direction in an investigation carried out
way back, over 30 years ago. A young man
was associated with me in the work, and
his name is generally connected with "saccharin."
That man is Mr. Fahlberg.
MR. FLOYD: Is it a patent?
DR. REMSEN: He patented it.
I did not. Incidentally he made a good deal of
money out of it. I did not.
MR. FLOYD: For what reason,
if to your knowledge, was saccharin referred to
your board for investigation?
DR. REMSEN: I have no idea
why it was referred except the general idea that
in every case it was desired to know whether
the substance mentioned in the
reference is or is not harmful That is
the main point.
MR. FLOYD: When used in food?
DR. REMSEN: When used in
MR. FLOYD: Is saccharin a
food within itself or is it a preservative used in
foods? I do not want you to go into a
long scientific explanation, of course.
DR. REMSEN: It is not a food;
it is to a slight extent a preservative. But
the purpose for which it is used is as
a sweetening agent. It is about 500 times
sweeter than ordinary sugar and can be
made at a rate which renders sweetness
per unit very much cheaper than ordinary
MR. MAYS: Is it harmful?
DR. REMSEN: That was the
MR. MAYS: And have you decided
DR. REMSEN: Yes; we have
made our report.
MR. FLOYD: Their opinion
is printed in the record.
DR. REMSEN: I may say also
that it is used as a medicine in diabetes. I
believe it is very useful in that disease,
as diabetic patients cannot take
sugar, but can take saccharin and thrive
MR. FLOYD: Do you know whether
any members of the board selected by you
previous to their appointment had taken
any special interest in or expressed any
opinion of chemical preservatives of food?
DR. REMSEN: I can not answer
that question fully, but I can give an answer to
the best of my knowledge. They had all
been interested in the general problem of
the use of preservatives. Two of them--possibly
only one; I know Dr. Chittenden
was interested in the effect of saltpeter
on meat and was engaged in an
investigation on that subject until quite
recently. He also, I believe, although
I am not sure about that--I have seen
this in the newspapers and have not
followed it in detail otherwise--was interested
at one time in the investigation
of the effects of borax* or boracic acid
as a preservative. I think Dr. Long was
on that same committee that investigated
saltpeter. I am not sure.
*Dr. Chittenden appeared before a legislative
committee and declared borax a
MR. FLOYD: Did you attend
the convention of State and National dairy and food
departments at Denver, in 1909?
DR. REMSEN: Yes, sir; on
the way back from California I stopped there.
MR. FLOYD: Did you attend
on your own volition, or were you directed by the
department to attend?
DR. REMSEN: I was not directed;
I was requested.
MR. FLOYD: You were requested
DR. REMSEN: Yes.
MR. FLOYD: How long did you
remain at Denver during that convention?
DR. REMSEN: Two or three
days; I am not sure just exactly how long.
MR. FLOYD: What was the purpose
of that convention, and what were the
questions discussed there? Did they relate
to pure foods?
DR. REMSEN: Well, I do not
know much about the association. I do know that I
was asked by the president of the association
to give an address on the subject
of the work of the referee board, I think,
or, at least it had reference to the
benzoate question, and after finding I
could stop there conveniently on the way
from California and that the other members
of the board could do the same, I
accepted the invitation. The association
discussed all sorts of questions
pertaining to things of which I have no
knowledge, but I do know that they took
up this benzoate question in rather an
active way, and I suppose it was felt by
the Secretary that it was desirable to
have some one there to explain what it
all meant. They seemed to be going on
the wrong track, so far as we could
gather. They got some wrong impressions
of the thing and the nature of the work,
or what we were appointed for, or what
we were doing, and it did seem wise not
to let them go too far that way without
some explanation from us, which we gave
in a dignifled way, I think I can safely
MR. FLOYD: And the expenses
of yourself and the other members of the board
for this trip to California and this trip
to the convention in Denver were paid
by the department?
DR. REMSEN: Yes. Of course,
the trip to the convention amounted to very
little. That was simply stopping over.
MR. FLOYD: You state that
you addressed the convention yourself. Did any of
the other members of the board address
the convention, and if so, who?
DR. REMSEN: Dr. Chittenden,
Dr. Long and Dr. Herter all addressed the
convention, at the request of the president
of the association, Mr. Emery.
MR. FLOYD: I will ask you
to state if in the address you made before the
convention on the question of benzoate
of soda you made a defense of the use of
benzoate of soda?
DR. REMSEN: No, sir.
MR. FLOYD: You just discussed
DR.. REMSEN: I discussed
the general method of procedure which we had
followed. I have nothing to do with the
use of benzoate of soda. We were not
asked to decide whether it was,a good
thing to use or not, and we have never
expressed ourselves upon that point.
THE CHAIRMAN: Your expenses
at Denver were also paid by the Department of
DR. REMSEN: We went, as I
said yesterday, to California for an important
purpose, looking into the sulphuring process,
and on our way back we stopped
there. We did make a little effort to
time our trip back so that we could attend
the meeting, because we had been asked
to give addresses. We were asked by the
president of the association. We stayed
there possibly three days. I am not sure
whether it was two or three, but not more
than three. The slight expense of the
board during that period in the way of
traveling expenses was paid by the--
THE CHAIRMAN (interposing):
You gave an address there?
DR. REMSEN: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: And the purpose
of that address was to explain and defend the
report you had made to the Secretary of
DR. REMSEN: I did not defend
the work. I didn't think that was my business.
The report had been made. But I did do
this: I explained, somewhat as I have
explained to this committee, how the board
came into existence, and very little
else. I don't think that the address was
ever published. Then, I may say, that
after that the work of the board was attacked
very violently by Dr. Reed, of
Cincinnati, which was most astonishing
to me. After that attack I felt it my
duty to respond, which I did in measured
manner, and I didn't say anything I
would not repeat. I will add that to what
I said yesterday, because I made
really two addresses there. The other
members of the board I think did not
answer the attack. I think they were satisfied
with my answer.
THE CHAIRMAN: In making either
one of those addresses did you go beyond the
official work of your board and defend
the use of benzoate of soda as a
preservative of food?
DR. REMSEN: No, Sir.
Dr. Reed's address was solely
in the interest of public health. The criticism
he made of the Remsen Board was for its
open support of adding benzoate of soda
and saccharin to foods. If it was "violent"
it was because of Dr. Reed's
indignation that a law passed, as the
Supreme Court has said, for the protection
of public health, was so flagrantly flouted
by the Remsen Board in the two cases
then decided, namely, benzoate of soda
DR. C. A. L. REED
Who led the fight against the Remsen Board
at the Denver Convention
DR. REMSEN'S AVERSION TO NEWSPAPERS
MR. HIGGINS: Did you desire
to make any other statement that has not been
covered by the questions that have been
DR. REMSEN: There is just
one point that I should like to refer to, that has
not been brought out in the examination.
This board has been aware for some time
that there is some influence at work to
undermine it and discredit it. We do not
pretend to know and have not discovered
what the source of that influence is;
but it is perfectly clear that that influence
is at work.
MR. HIGGIN: How does it manifest
DR. REMSEN: Newspaper articles.
So far as I know the newspapers almost
without exception are opposed to the Remsen
Board. Why, I am sure I don't know.
The Remsen Board is an innocent board
and does not quite like to be considered
guilty before it has been tried, at all
events. I have noticed that within the
last month nearly every reference to the
Remsen Board that has appeared in the
papers has put the board in a bad light,
and anybody reading those articles day
after day would get the impression that
Remsen and his whole tribe ought to
disappear from the face of the earth.
Sometimes friends of mine come up to me
with long faces and say, "Remsen, it is
too bad about this matter." I say,
"What's the matter?" They say, "Haven't
you seen that article about your board?"
I say, "Oh, no, and don't show it to me;
I have seen enough." Now, those
articles would not appear day after day,
at least I can not imagine they would
appear, without there being some influence
at work to inspire them. I merely
make this statement to show my state of
mind. I am getting, as I have confessed,
somewhat thicker skinned, and I rather
rejoice that I have been through this
experience because I think on the whole
a thick skin is worth something.
The attack upon the Remsen
Board by the public press was nation-wide. The
only people who were pleased with it,
aside from the high officials of the
Government, were the adulterators and
misbranders of our foods. At the hotel in
Denver I saw a most remarkable phenomenon.
There was gathered at Danver a strong
lobby of the supporters of the Remsen
Board. At the head of this lobby, which
apparently numbered 100 at least, was
Warwick M. Hough, chief attorney for the
rectifiers. There seemed to be little
enthusiasm among the people of Denver for
the Secretary of Agriculture, his solicitor,
and the members of the Remsen
Board. There was, however, tremendous
enthusiasm of the lobby above referred to
for all of these individuals. After adjournment
of the afternoon session I saw
this lobby gathered around the members.
of the Remsen Board and Warwick M.
Hough's arm was lovingly encircling the
shoulders of Dr. Ira M. Remsen, eminent
chemist and president of Johns Hopkins
University, and according to his own
statement, discoverer of saccharin. Although
each member of the Remsen Board was
personally known to me except Dr. Alonzo
Taylor and Dr. C. A. Herter, not one of
them spoke to me during the three or four
days they were in Denver except Dr.
Herter. He came up and introduced himself
to me and attempted to make some
apology for his part in the activities
of the Remsen Board. He realized very
keenly the condition they were in, in
espousing the cause of adulteration,
becoming the paid agents of the adulterators,
and incurring the universal
condemnation of the press and the people
of the country. Dr. Herter was then a
very sick man. In a few months from that
date he died. I have often wondered
with what misgivings he approached his
end and what feelings the other members
of the Board must have had when they realized
the universal condemnation which
was heaped upon them. I doubt if any reference
is ever made in the biographies
of these men, as they pass away one by
one and their deeds while living are
recorded, to the service they rendered
their country as members of this Board.
THE CHAIRMAN: Might not the
fact that you gave certain testimony and the fact
that you appeared at the Denver convention
making speeches there be at the
bottom of some of this influence that
you are speaking about as being inimical
to the Remsen Board?
DR. REMSEN: I am sure I don't
know, but I can say that it was found that the
influence, whatever it was, was at work
long before the Denver meeting.
THE CHAIRMAN: When the Remsen
Board was appointed of course no one expected
that it was going to do anything more
than give advice to the Secretary of
Agriculture in his official duties, and
yet, according to your testimony, the
Department of Agriculture has suggested
to different members to appear in court
and give testimony, has paid their expenses
at that trial, when the effect would
be to affect the decision of the courts
in the State of Indiana.
DR. REMSEN: Well, it might
affect the decision of the court in so far as it
would enable them better to get at the
truth, which I suppose was the object of
THE CHAIRMAN: That may be
the object of the court, but it surely was not the
object of the creation of this referee
board, was it?
DR. REMSEN: Of course the
referee board was never defined exactly--exactly
what it should do.
THE CHAIRMAN: Well, let us
define it. Do you understand it now to be part of
the purpose of the referee board to in
fluence the decisions of the courts of
DR. REMSEN: Why, no; in no
MR. HIGGINS: Except so far
as the truth is concerned?
DR. REMSEN: Except so far
as the truth is concerned by telling the facts, and
if I am asked to do so I should do so,
so far as it would influence the action
of the court I should think it would be
proper for the board to do so.
THE CHAIRMAN: However, I
believe you admit that your official report is not
DR. REMSEN: Yes, sir.
THE CHAIRMAN: And it is voluntary
with you whether you should appear and give
DR. REMSEN: I think I could
have been subpoenaed. I am not sure.
THE CHAIRMAN: And you referred
the matter to your superior and it was upon
his advice that you gave this testimony?
DR. REMSEN: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: That is the
point I wanted to get at, and that you advised Dr.
Chittenden also to give his testimony?
DR. REMSEN: Yes; I did the
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes; and that
Dr. Chittenden's expenew were paid by the
Department of Agriculture?
DR. REMSEN: I believe so.
I am not entirely clear about that.
MR. HIGGINS: And the Indiana
courts had the benefit of the decision which
your board had reached as the result of
its scientific investigations as to the
effect of benzoate of soda?
DR. REMSEN: That was the
effect of our appearance, that is all. We did not
argue the case, of course.
To Secretary Wilson:
THE CHAIRMAN: You are speaking
there about the Board of Food and Drug
Inspection; you are referring to some
advice to be given to Dr. Taylor about
some testimony to be given at Indianapolis,
Ind., and you state there: "I shall
consult with our people on the Board of
Food and Drug Inspection (that is,
Dunlap and McCabe)." What meaning do you
attach to that language--if you dare to
SECRETARY WILSON: There is
no hesitation in my mind in telling you all that
was in my mind there.
THE CHARMAN: I recognize
the fact that you need not answer unless you wish.
SECRETARY WILSON: Oh, I am
going to answer it, My answer is this: You are
pretty well aware that there was friction
between those men, there. You have got
that pretty much every bit in your testimony.
It would have been an insult to
Dr. Wiley to have consulted him in regard
to anything concerning benzoate of
THE CHAIRMAN: Why?
SECRETARY WILSON: Because
he despised it, and everything connected with it,
and believed that a big mistake had been
made, and a big mistake had been made
by ever getting the Referee Board; that
is why. I do not gratuitously offer
insults to any of my people.
INVESTIGATIONS OF THE BUREAU OF CHEMISTRY
REFUSED PUBLICATION BY SECRETARY WILSON
THE CHAIRMAN: I understand
also, Mr. Secretary, that you have referred the
report of the Bureau of Chemistry on the
copper question to the Referee Board
SECRETARY WILSON: Oh, yes;
I remember now. I had two bureaus considering the
sulphate of copper, and there was a man
in the Plant Industry named Woods who
had done a most remarkable lot of work
with sulphate of copper. He found by
taking a little bag of sulphate of copper
and going into a large reservoir that
had green scum over it, if he would sail
around for an hour and drag that bag
after him he would kill every single particle
of that green scum there; and he
went to a number of States in the country,
and he went to Panama and cleaned up
every one of the reservoirs they had.
He and the doctor did not come within
gunshot of agreeing on sulphate of copper.
In a case of that kind, Mr. Chairman,
one must go slow when they have two scientists
in two different lines and they
do not quite agree. It is not best to
bring any arbitrary rulings in there, but
wait and see if we can not get more light.
THE CHAIRMAN: It is a matter
of fact, however, the Bureau of Chemistry did
make a report upon copper, and it has
not been published?
SECRETARY WILSON: Yes; and
that is the reason, Mr. Chairman; that is the
THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Secretary,
will you be willing to have prepared and
inserted in the record at this point a
complete list of the investigations of
the Bureau of Chemistry which you have
refused or have failed for any reason to
SECRETARY WILSON: I could
do that; yes; I could do that.
(Manuscripts relating to
subjects involved in the enforcement of the food and
drugs act, approved June 30, 1906, submitted
for publication by the Bureau of
Chemistry, but not published:)
Corn Sirup as a Synonym for
Glucose. Submitted as Food Inspection Decision
83, November, 1907.
Investigations of a Substitute
(weak brine) for Sulphur Dioxide in Drying
Fruits, by W. D. Bigelow.
Sanitary Conditions of Canneries,
Based on the Results of Inspection. By A.
W. Bitting, February, 1908.
Influence of Food Preservatives
and Artificial Colors on Digestion and
of Copper. By H. W. Wiley and others, April, 1908.
Nitrate. By H. W. Wiley and others. April, 1908.
The Bleaching of Flour. By
H. W. Wiley, February, 1909.
Influence of Food Preservatives
and Artificial Colors on Digestion and
IV. Benzoic Acid
and Benzoates. By H. W. Wiley and others. Submitted for
reprint, June, 1909.
Medicated Soft Drinks. By
L. F. Kebler and others. July, 1909.
Drug Legislation in the United
II. Indexed Digest
of Drug Legislation. By C. H. Greathouse. October, 1909.
Food Legislation During the
Year Ended June 30, 1909. January, 1910.
Estimation of Glycerin in
Meat Preparations. By C. R Cook. March, 1910.
Technical Drug Studies. By
L. F. Kebler and others. April, 1910.
Experiments on the Spoilage
of Tomato Ketchup. By A. W. Bitting. January,
The Influence of Environment
on the Sugar Content of Cantaloupes. By M. N.
Straughn and C. G. Church. May, 1911.
A Bacteriological Study of
Eggs in the Shell and of Frozen and Desiccated
Eggs. By G. W. Stiles. May, 1911.
The Arsenic Content of Shellac.
THE CHAIRMAN: Is it the policy
of the Department of Agriture, Mr. Secretary,
to suppress or refuse publication of the
reports which the Bureau of Chemistry
may make to you on any questions which
are referred to the Referee Board, until,
after the board has made its final report?
SECRETARY WILSON: I may have
done that. I think probably there is
justification for having anything which
treats with benzoate of soda handled in
that way. I believe that is the question,
is it? Benzoate of soda is a question
that was referred to the Referee Board.
I think I would not favor printing
anything in the department until we heard
THE CHAIRMAN: As a matter
of fact, whether the findings of the Referee Board
govern your action, or whether the findings
of the Bureau of Chemistry govern
your action, is a question which you yourself
decide within your own diseretion,
is it not?
SECRETARY WILSON: Surely.
You have to have a secretary there who must decide.
THE CHAIRMAN: In other words,
the decisions of the Referee Board have no
value whatever until approved by you?
I am speaking now legally, and as to its
influence upon the administration of the
pure food law.
THE CHAIRMAN: It is true,
is it not, Mr. Secretary, that money which you
allot to the Referee Board is drawn from
money appropriated for the Bureau of
Chemistry, and that this allotment is
anticipated in the estimates which you
SECRETARY WILSON: Yes; anticipated
and understood by the Committee on
Agriculture when they appropriate the
THE CHAIRMAN: And for that
reason you do not consult with the chief of bureau
in regard to making that particular allotment?
Is that true?
SECRETARY WILSON: The chiefs
of the bureaus are always consulted. Dr. Wiley,
the chief of that bureau, is a little
touchy on anything of that kind, and one
has to bethink himself quite often about
getting along smoothly in this world,
THE CHAIRMAN: Has Dr. Wiley
ever recommended that any money be allotted to
the Referee Board from the appropriation
under his department?
SECRETARY WILSON: I think
I would not want to hurt his feelings by ever
mentioning it at all.
We had a referee board, and
I think a pretty expensive referee board, you
will confess. We had gone after big men,
and it was costing a good deal of
money, and those people met there at Mackinac
Island and got themselves outside
of sympathy with the department along
those lines, attacked me personally,
misrepresented things, and I thought the
amount of effort the United States was
making and the amount of money it was
expending to get facts from the greatest
chemists in the land made it worthwhile
for us to get those big men there before
that class of men and let them see them
and let them hear them. I did not think
they comprehended the difference there
was between a small chemist and a big
one. That was the one thing in my mind.
They were in California studying the
drying of foods with sulphur, and the
arrangement was that they should stop over
at Denver on the way back. I was going
to the forests, and I arranged and it was
my plan to stop there on my way to the
forests. I went into the forests from
Denver and stayed a month. Those were
the plans. There is nothing I care to
conceal here, noththing. Those were the
plans and we talked them over, and
everyone of them addressed that convention,
everyone of them, and I think those
people got new light from those men.
THE CHAIRMAN: I wish to refer
to you page 338 of the hearings of August 3, to
correspondence between yourself and Dr.
Remsen. Dr. Remsen says, in this letter:
"It is clear from the newspaper reports
that there is 'pernicious activity'
somewhere." In your reply you say: "The
pernicious activity you speak of is
quite evident." Will you kindly tell the
committee what you referred to as
SECRETARY WILSON: Yes. The
activity of people attacking that Remsen Board.
That is just what it was.
THE CHAIRMAN: It was correspondence
between you and the chairman of the
board. Of course, if this "pernicious
activity" is without the Department of
Agriculture it would not be proper for
us to go into it. But if it is within the
Department of Agriculture, it would seem
to me proper for us to know what you
referred to as "pernicious activity."
SECRETARY WILSON: If you
have been watching the public press you have
discovered that there has been a good
deal of criticism. If you have been
watching the proceedings of Congress you
will no doubt have seen there has been
a desperate effort made there for the
purpose of destroying the Remsen Board,
and things of that kind. That is what
I had reference to.
THE CHAIRMAN: In your letter
of April 19, 1909, you say further: "Things will
come to a head before a great while, I
think, along this line." Would you care
to explain what that means?
SECRETARY WILSON: I thought
the work of that board, as it was being done and
reported, would settle all those questions.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you consider,
or did you consider at the time, that the
attendance of members of the Remsen Board
and Solicitor McCabe at this Denver
convention, which we were speaking about
heretofore, was in line with their
SECRETARY WILSON: Yes; it
was a kind of public trial we were having, really,
of the Remsen Board.
THE CHAIRMAN: Their attendance
in the line of their official duty, will
you explain why you issued to each one
of them a special authorization for
traveling expenses to attend this particular
convention, when each one of them
had an annual authorization for travel
anywhere in the United States upon
SECRETARY WILSON: If you
have evidence of that special authorization, you had
better call my attention to it.
THE CHAIRMAN: Very well,
I will be glad to do that.
(Reads letter from Secretary
Wilson to Dr. Remsen, dated August 6, 1909,
wherein it is stated that authorization
No. 1163 is amended so as to permit Dr.
Remsen and his assistants to attend the
SECRETARY WILSON: I guess
that is correct. What do you want to know about it?
THE CHAIRMAN: I want to know,
if this attendance was in line with their
official duties, as stated here, why it
was necessary they should have special
authorization when they had a regular
SECRETARY WILSON: I 'Presume
they had some doubts about stopping off at
Denver being in their original authorization.
If they had, then I gave them all
the authorization they would need.
THE CHAIRMAN: If there were
any doubt it would be doubt as to whether or not
that came within their official duties?
SECRETARY WILSON: Precisely.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you hold
that you have executive authority to add to the
official duties of the Remsen Board other
than that prescribed in the order
SECRETARY WILSON: To this
THE CHAIRMAN: To that extent
SECRETARY WILSON: Yes.
One of the most detestable
features of the persecution of those delegates to
the Denver Convention of 1909 who opposed
the decision of the Remsen Board was
the dismissal of Floyd Robison. This action
was investigated by the Moss
Committee. Mr. Robison was one of a group
of state chemists who were
occasionally requested to cooperate with
the officials of the Bureau of
Chemistry in enforcing the Food Law. (Pages
MR. FLOYD ROBISON
MR. Moss: Were there any
charges filed against you?
DR. ROBISON: None.
MR. Moss: Have you the letter
of dismissal with you?
DR. ROBISON: I have.
MR. Moss: Please read it
to the committee.
(I will quote only last line
of this letter.)
DR. ROBISON (reading): "He
is removed from the department for the good of the
service. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture."
Dr. Robison appealed to the
Secretary of Agriculture for reasons which led to
such drastic action. The Secretary, in
his reply, under date of July 25, 1911,
"* * * At the
meeting of the Association of State and National Food and
Dairy Departments at Denver, in
July, 1909, you attracted attention by taking
a strong and public position against
the policies of the department and of the
administration. You appeared in
the Federal court in Indianapolis in
opposition to the policies of the
administration with regard to the reports of
the Referee Board on benzoate of
soda and the report of the three secretaries
with regard to it. * * * I have
approved your dismissal for the good of the
service. There are no charges against
you; we make none. I recognize the fact
that you have a perfect right to
occupy any position you see fit. with regard
to the policies of the administration
or of the department, but I do not think
you should draw salary while you
are taking this stand."
Question by MR. MOSS: Were
you a delegate to the Denver convention?
DR. ROBISON: I was.
MR. MOSS: Whom did you represent?
DR. ROBISON: The State of
MR. MOSS: Who paid your expenses
for attending that convention?
DR. ROBISON: The State of
MR. MOSS: Were you drawing
any salary from the Government at that time?
DR. ROBISON: I was not.
MR. MOSS: Did you draw any
money, either directly or in. directly, from the
National Government for your attendance
at the convention or for your expenses?
DR. ROBISON: I did not.
MR. MOSS: What position did
you hold at the Denver convention?
DR. ROBISON: I held the position
of chairman of the committee of eleven State
food chemists appointed by the president
of the Association of State and
National Food and Dairy Departments.
MR. MOSS: Did you make any
DR. ROBISON: As chairman
of the committee, I did.
MR. MOSS: Will you read into
the record that report?
DR. ROBISON: I will read
the final recommendation:
therefore respectfully suggests to this association the
wisdom of asking the President
of the United States and the honorable
Secretary of Agriculture to institute
investigations along some such broader
lines as indicated above."
MR. MOSS: Did you make any
address to the Denver convention in which you
referred to the Remsen Board one way or
DR. ROBISON: I did not.
MR. MOSS: Did you receive
any information from Secretary Wilson or any person
representing him as to the policy of the
Department of Agriculture?
DR. ROBISON: I received none.
MR. MOSS: Did you make any
address to the convention advocating or opposing
the use of benzoate of soda?
DR. ROBISON: I did not.
MR. MOSS: In your capacity
as delegate did you cast a vote for president of
DR. ROBISON: I did. I voted
for Mr. Bird, the commissioner of the State of
MR. MOSS: Did Mr. Bird receive
the support of the Department of Agriculture?
DR. ROBISON: He did not.
MR. MOSS: So far as you know,
then, did you appear in opposition to the
Department of Agriculture in any other
manner except casting your personal vote
for the president of the association?
DR. ROBISON: I did not.
MR. MOSS: At whose request
did you appear at Indianapolis to give testimony
at that trial?
DR. ROBISON: At the request
of the Board of Health of the State of Indiana.
MR. MOSS: Were you paid any
DR. ROBISON: I received no
MR. MOSS: In your testimony,
did you give your original work as a chemist?
DR. ROBISON: I testified
according to the truth as, I understood it to be and
had found it from my own investigations,
and according to my oath, and without
any regard in any capacity to any other
MR. MOSS: Were you warned
in any way by the Department of Agriculture not to
DR. ROBISON: I was not.
EXTRACTS FROM THE DENVER PRESS, AUGUST
WILSON'S HOT REPLY
Replying to President
Emery, Secretary Wilson said:
"I came out here
to listen, and I glean from the address of your president
that the Department of Agriculture,
which I thought had been doing much, has
been doing nothing. Now let me
tell you some of the things that it has done
within the last year.or so."
then enumerated some of the achievements of the department.
"Now with regard
to a few preservatives, there is, a difference of opinion
among the chemists of the world.
One of these questions is benzoate of soda.
of the United States went to the President when the use
of this was prohibited and asked
for fair play. Finally he concluded to ask
the presidents of the great universities
to appoint some men to conduct an
investigation who were competent
to do the work. Under his authority I
appointed five such gentlemen,
who, I believe, are the best chemists in the
United States, if not in the whole
has attacked their report. Now I have but one request. You
have arranged a place upon your
program to have the Referee Board here on
Thursday to be heard. All I ask
is that the hearing be a full and fair one."
of interests aggregating more than $500,000,000
present to enter protest against
a tentative "model" food law bill, which will
probably be presented to the pure
food convention for endorsement, the
committee which drafted.the bill
met last night at the Brown and gave the
manufacturers' side a hearing.
(The Daily News, Denver, Colo., Aug. 25, 1909.)
The morning session
was quite as pungent, although in another way. The
convention was called to order
at 10 o'clock and Gov. John F. Shafroth made an
address of welcome. He complimented
both Secretary Wilson and Dr. H. W. Wiley,
Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry
at Washington, upon the work they have done
for the country. He termed Secretary
Wilson "the greatest Secretary of
Agriculture the country has ever
known," and the remark was greeted with
enthusiastic cheers. He favored
a uniformity in the state and national food
laws and finished with an eulogy
of Colorado's growth and development.
"We held that
if the National Government should indorse benzoic acid it
would thus license one of the preservatives
which encourages the same
conditions in fruit and vegetable
manufacture as were abolished in the
meat-packing establishments by
the national meat inspection law.
In view of this
position we appealed to President Roosevelt in the latter
part of his term to appoint another
committee to investigate the findings of
the Remsen Board. This request
was referred by President Roosevelt to
Secretary of Agriculture Wilson,
who reported back to the President against
granting that request.
remarks were greeted with cheers, yet before he had
stepped from the platform President
Emery angrily said: "This Referee Board
was asked to come to this convention
by the executive committee, and the
insinuation that it is not to be
given fair play comes with poor grace. The
report went to the Secretary of
Agriculture and he sent it back without
comment. We took it that it did
not meet his approval.
asked a moment to answer, and said dryly:
up Mackinac way took it upon yourselves to condemn us down
at Washington unheard, and so we
figured you were not the material from which
judges of the Supreme Court can
R. W. Dunlap,
of Ohio, is the only commissioner in the United States who is
elected by the people instead of
being, appointed. Commissioner Dunlap was
elected by 12,000 majority, and
is one of the most popular officials in Ohio.
(From Denver Republican, Aug. 25, 1909.)
having been whipped upon every question brought up during
the pure food convention until
there was no further fight left in them, the
opposers of Secretary of Agriculture
James Wilson's policies developed a
remarkable strength in the battle
for the electiort of the association's
officers and put up one of the
hottest contests ever seen during a convention
meeting in this city. George L.
Flanders, of New York, was elected president.
New Orleans was chosen as the next
place of meeting.
annual convention of the National Association of State Food
and Dairy Departments developed
at its termination yesterday afternoon into a
political struggle for the officers
for next year, in which the Wilson, or
administration, crowd won the presidency
by three votes and lost all but one
of the other officers. Had not
Secretary Wilson been in Denver on the spot the
administration would have been
badly defeated not only on the election of the
president but on many other questions
as well. It was his political power and
prestige as a member of the President's
Cabinet and his experience in
political campaigns that won the
support of the convention for the
administration. He seconded the
nomination of Flanders. Supporters of
President J. Q. Emery and Dr. Charles
Reed, of Cincinnati, the opponents of
benzoate of soda and of the administration,
were quite free to call Secretary
Wilson's crowd apolitical "ring"
and a "clique." Certainlyitwas largely by a
political trick that. the election
of George L. Flanders, of New York, was
secured and the defeat of A. C.
Bird, of Michigan, was encompassed. George P.
McCabe, Solicitor of the Department
of Agriculture, and director of the battle
for Secretary Wilson, was very
busy just before the vote was taken and the
votes upon the other officers looked
as if he had made some advantageous
trades for Flanders. This did not
prevent Mr. McCabe's defeat for the office
of executive committeeman, A. N.
Cook, of South Dakota, winning against him.
GROUP AT SECOND DENVER CONVENTION IN 1925
Left to right: Dr. W. D. Bigelow, my first
assistant in the Bureau of Chemistry;
Dr. Harry E. Barnard, formerly Food Commissioner
of Indiana; Dr. Harvey W.
Wiley, former Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry;
Mr. I. L. Miller, present Food
Commissioner of Indiana; Dr. Robert M.
Allen, former Food Commissioner of Ken.
tucky; Mr. W. C. Geagley, Sec.-Treas.
Association of Dairy, Food and Drug
Officials of the United States
McCabe became busy in his travels about the convention room,
and when the vote was finally taken
it was 57 to 54 in favor of Flanders, or
the Wilson administration had only
one state the best of the argument. The
fact that the Secretary took the
floor to second Flanders' nomination
personally operated greatly for
the latter's benefit, it is said.
When the vote
was taken on the other officers the Wilson slate was broken
so badly that the pieces could
not be found.
(Denver Republican, Aug. 28, 1909.)
After one of
the stormiest sessions any convention of any kind ever had in
Colorado, in which a great national
organization at times took the aspect of a
bitter political ward meeting,
and in which politics was played every moment
of the time, Dr. George L. Flanders,
of New York, Secretary Wilson's
candidate, yesterday was elected
president of the Association of State and
National Food and Dairy Departments,
adding another point to the Secretary's
sweeping victory in the benzoate
of soda battle.
A. C. BIRD
State Dairy and Food Commissioner of Michigan
of Agriculture led the fray in person. Flanders defeated A.
C. Bird, State Dairy and Food Commissioner
of Michigan, Wiley's candidate, by
a vote of 57 to 54. Thirty-six
states voted, each state having three votes.
The vote by states was: Flanders
18, Bird 18, but the Department of
Agriculture had three votes, and
these three votes went to Flanders.
The votes by
states on the presidency was as follows: Flanders--Arizona,
California, Colorado, District
of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa,
Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri,
Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma,
Department of Agriculture, Utah,
Washington and Wyoming, three votes each,
total 19; total votes, 57.
Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan,
Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina,
North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas,
Virginia, Wisconsin, total 18; total votes,
(The Daily News, Denver, Colo., Aug. 28, 1909.)
J. S. ABBOTT
Food Commissioner of Texas, in attendance
at Denver Convention
Thus ended that most turbulent
exhibition of disreputable politics ever
witnessed in a so-called scientific convention
in any country. It was the vote
of the Department of Agriculture that
elected Mr. Flanders. The Bureau of
Chemistry took no part in this discreditable
affair. The Health Office of the
District of Columbia through Dr. Woodward
cast its three votes in favor of the
candidate of the food adulterators. The
eminent members of the Referee Board
must have been amazed at the character
of their enthusiastic admirers. It was an
astounding apotheosis of the Unholy.