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Celebrating Eugene Debs and Ida Tarbell

November 05, 2020

Americans Who Tell the Truth

Two important birthdays today for members of the AWTT portrait gallery:  Eugene Debs (1855) and Ida Tarbell (1857). 

It was Eugene V. Debs (labor organizer, Presidential candidate and war protestor) who said: “Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” 

Pioneering journalist Ida Tarbell is remembered as the author of The History of the Standard Oil Company. These two volumes, still one of the most thorough investigations ever written of how a business monopoly exploits the public by using unfair tactics, has been called by Daniel Yergin “arguably… the single most influential book on business ever published in the United States.” Its publication led to the company’s break-up in 1911 following prosecutions under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

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