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With the organization of the Prairie Oil staring at 70 cents a barrel. Since that and Gas Company, the Standard Oil time the price has dropped to 68 cents a Company began stirring itself. It was barrel. desirable that the full extent of the Kan- If the Kansas producer was ignorant sas field should be known. The induce- of what had happened, experienced ment that most quickly would bring this operators from Pennsylvania were there result without risk to the company would to tell him. They knew that the Standbe to increase the price of crude oil. ard had acquired all the information it The prices were alluring, and clerks, mer- desired concerning the extent and value chants, farmers, and laborers invested in of the Kansas field, and that the man stock companies promoted by specula- on the outside had been decoyed into tors, and derricks went skyward all over doing the work at his own expense. southeastern Kansas. The relative in- Moreover, the Standard had gained concrease in production and prices was com- trol of a larger and richer oil field in

plementary. The production of crude Indian Territory and Oklahoma, from oil in 1900 was 74,714 barrels ; in 1901, which its pipe line passed through Kan179,151 ; in 1902, 331,749; in 1903, sas to a big refinery at Sugar Creek, 1,071,015; in 1904, 5,599,054. The near Kansas City, Missouri. This pipe maximum prices were : 1899, 75 cents a line was connected with the Standard's barrel ; 1900, 80 cents; 1901,80 cents; inter-State line now building to Whiting, 1902, 90 cents. In 1903 the price ad- Indiana. Kansas oil no longer was vanced from $1.15 on January 1 to $1.38 essential to the Standard's immediate on December 9. This last was a turn- prosperity. ing point from which the market never The Standard grew prodigalin schemes rallied. On February 12, 1904, the to harass and discourage the Kansas price had declined to $1.31, and it fell producer. With the completion of its slowly but regularly to $1.03 on June 17. pipe line to Kansas City, freight rates on On December 31 the price reached crude oil suddenly were almost doubled, 80 cents, and on the last day of January, and producers were confronted with the 1905, the independent producers were alternative of selling at a low price to


the Standard or paying prohibitive freight Association was organized, and H. E.
rates. An arbitrary differential of twenty West elected President, and J. M. Parker,
cents a barrel was made in favor of the of Independence, Secretary. A

field south of Neodesha, though formerly mittee was chosen to remain at Topeka

there had been no dis-

crimination in price.

This differential affect-

ed adversely a large

percentage of Kansas

oil. Another gouge was

a pipeage discount of

three per cent. for im-

purities, which produ-

cers declared did not

exist, and a charge of

from one-half to one per

cent. for "steaming

the oil, to move it more

easily through the pipe

lines. The only inde-

pendent refinery in Kan-

sas was at Humboldt.

To drive this small re-

finery out of business,

the Standard lowered

the retail price of kero-
sene to nine cents a
gallon in towns where
the Humboldt refinery
had a market, while
elsewhere the price of
kerosene was fifteen to
twenty cents a gallon.

The Standard's cam-

paign affected about

four hundred compa-

nies, six thousand farm-

ers whose lands were

leased, and a total of

twenty-five thousand

persons interested di-

rectly or indirectly in


the oil business. The

The depth of the oil in a tank is measured by means of a weighted

independent producers

steel tape line before the oil is drawn off into the pipe line

the disaster confronting them. and formulate plans for legislation. The

When the average Kansan gets into building of a State refinery was proposed,

trouble, he tries to get out by “organiz- but at first met with opposition among

ing.” This is what the producers did. business men and politicians who doubt-

The initial step was taken by H. E. West, ed the wisdom of State ownership, and
an oil producer living at Peru. He called

He called feared that the experiment would fail
a local meeting, and declared that relief and saddle a heavy indebtedness upon
could come only from the Legislature, the State. Governor E. W. Hoch and
then in session at Topeka. A largely W. R. Stubbs, his political lieutenant
attended State convention of oil pro- and Speaker of the House of Represent-
ducers was held at Topeka on January atives, were among the doubters, but
19, 1905. The Kansas Oil Producers' unfriendly to the Standard Oil Company.


As the demand for a refinery grew more ered, and in a week the committee had
vehement, Governor Hoch yielded to the laid a foundation for its campaign, which
wishes of his people.

was conducted with the strategy of prac-
How the producers' committee won tical politics. Its members kept away

from the Legislature,

and appealed directly to

the people. A list of

every township trustee

in the State, and the

name of


farmer on

file in the State Depart-

ment of Agriculture, was

obtained, and to each

was mailed a letter tell-

ing of the rapacious con-

duct of the Standard Oil

Company, and the evil

that menaced both the

consumer and the inde-

pendent producer of oil,

and asking for advice.

Thousands of copies of

friendly newspapers con-

taining special articles

and cartoons denounc-

ing the Standard Oil



everywhere in the State,

the rural mail delivery

service permitting the

rapid dissemination of

this literature. The

headquarters of the com-

mittee grew to be the

busiest place in Topeka.

Clerks and stenogra-

phers worked night and

day in this campaign of

publicity, the watchword

of which was “ So the

People May Know."


The committee and its
In small tanks the depth of the oil is measured by means of a graduated
rod, and the quantity of oil in the tank is computed from the depth

attorney prepared and

approved a State oil re-
its fight is a story that should be known finery bill, a maximum freight rate bill,
in every State. The Standard sent its an anti-discrimination bill, etc., which
most trusted lobbyists and attorneys enthusiastic champions quickly intro-
to block adverse legislation, and the duced in the Legislature.
Standard's reputed success in manipu- A blizzard had blanketed Kansas with
lating legislatures gave little encourage- snow, and the rural citizen had leisure
ment to the hope that the lawmakers of to read the “trust-busting” literature
Kansas would escape its seductive influ- left at his door every day by his mail-
ence. The producers employed a com- carrier. An avalanche of letters and
petent lawyer and opened headquarters. petitions fell daily into the State House
Their plans at first were indefinite, but at Topeka from constituents demanding
every suggestion was carefully consid- that their representative should break

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