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These letters are all some years old. The first one is dated June 6, 1912.
Mr. Francis W. Bird, appraiser of the United States customs service of the port of New York, states in a letter written on June 6, 1912, that
I also call your attention to the fact that it would be impossible to determine the quality of the virgin wool which has gone to make up the cloth. Very different qualities of wool are used in making yarns for cloth which vary very considerably in value. These could not be distinguished one from another with any reasonable accuracy.
In a letter by F. P. Vincent, appraiser of the port of Boston, in the United States customs service, written to the Secretary of the Treasury on June 10, 1912, the following appears:
For purposes of this report, manufactures of wool may be separated into three main divisions, viz: Worsteds, woolens, and felts.
Worsted cloths are easily analyzed, for the reason that the yarns of which they are composed are made from long-staple wool, which has been combed, thereby removing all the short fibers, and if both warp and filling are of such yarns, the weight of the fabric, less the size and dye contained therein, is the net weight of the virgin wool. If the warps are of vegetable fibers, or in part of silk introduced to form figures or stripes, the same are easily removed by chemical processes.
Woolen cloths are much more difficult to analyze on account of the varying length of the fibers, processes of manufacture, and mixture with mungo, shoddy, or flocks. Many of the higher grades of woolen fabrics are entirely of virgin wool, but on account of the fulling process used during their manufacture, the fibers are matted to a certain extent, and the disintegration of the material by mechanical processes would so destroy the condition of the original fibers that much of the resultant product would seem to be shoddy.
Shoddy is the best of the so-called artificial wools, being the wool fiber recovered from worn, but all wool, long-staple materials, and which has never been fulled ; or if so, only slightly. The length of the fiber varies from one-half to 11 inches, according to the original length of the staple in the fabric from which the shoddy is made. Dyed shoddy can be detected from similarly dyed wools for the reason that the color of the former will betray the inferior article compared to wool, since the rags or waste previous to the redyeing has been dyed different colors, and which will consequently influence the final shade of color obtained from the redyeing accordingly.
Mungo is produced by reducing to fiber pure woolen rags, from cloth heavily fulled, and the natural consequence of the strong resistance to disintegration offered by felted fabrics, results in that short fibers, about one-fourth to threefourths of an inch in length are obtained.
Flocks is the resultant product of mechanically grinding woolen materials or fibers, and has practically no length.
If, therefore, woolen fabrics have any of the foregoing shoddy, mungo, or flocks mixed with them, the mechanical separation of the material would not show exactly the proper weight of the virgin wool used, on account of a great many of the original fibers having been broken up.
Felts, from their manner of production, would be impossible to separate into their component materials, and the determination of the virgin wool contained therein would be the merest guesswork.
From the foregoing, it would appear to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to accurately ascertain the weight of virgin wool if ascertained only by inspection, and all our experts are agreed that the results so obtained would differ so widely that no reliance could be placed on them for any practical or dutiable purpose, and would only open the way to endless disputes and litigation.
In a letter dated June 12, 1912, W. T. Hodges, appraiser at the port of Philadelphia, states as follows:
In the case of cloths made of worsted yarn, which is only wool with no admixture of shoddy, mungo, or waste, it might be possible though certainly at a great expenditure of time and labor, in each case, to make a working approximation of the amount and class of wool, but in the case of cloths made of woolen yarns, which may and generally do contain the baser components, any approxi. mation that could be made, even after painstaking examination and analysis, would be nothing but a mere guess in which probably no two experts would agree.
This being true of cloths in the piece, of course holds true, a fortori, for made-up garments and wearing apparel and other articles. Unless a part of the article could be taken for disintegration analysis, which in many cases would involve the practical destruction of the sample selected, the amount and character of the contents could be many fabrics, and it would be absolutely impracticable to determine the wool content of garments, wearing apparel, and made-up articles without destroying the same.
In the report made by Charles Earl, Acting Secretary of Commerce and Labor, dated June 15, 1912, appears the following paragraph:
The determination of shoddy, mungo, and waste components can not as yet be made with accuracy. The present methods available are not entirely satisfactory to the Bureau of Standards, and would require further investigation before the bureau would be in a position to state definitely that such analysis could be depended upon. It is a matter which the Bureau of Standards has had under consideration for some time and upon which work is now in progress.
I would like now to call your attention to some reasons for opposing the French-Capper compulsory textile branding bill.
The present French-Capper compulsory textile branding bill is the culmination of an agitation begun in the early years of this century when the Grosvenor shoddy bill was espoused by the National Livestock Association and advocated in 1902 before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means by the Hon. William M. Springer, then the association's attorney, and introduced into the House of Representatives by Gen. Charles H. Grosvenor, of Ohio.
This bill, for which there was no demand worth noting, except from wool growers who were members of the National Livestock Association, was so ill-devised and constructed that it never got beyond hearings before the committee. Its impossible provisions were explained to representatives of the National Wool Growers' Association by a committee representing the National Association of Wool Manufacturers at a conference held in Washington on December 9, 1903, and the representatives of the wool growers were convinced that the reasons advanced against the measure (about which they confessed they themselves knew little and were advocating because their membership felt something might be done that would help the wool industry in any way ") were sound, and they were satisfied not to push for its enactment.
Later, numerous representatives seeking to gain some standing with the wool growers of their districts, introduced similar bills, but they too, lacking in merit and a vigorous organized propaganda, got no further than the Grosvenor bill and never were reported by the committee to which they had been referred. It is but fair to add that at the Washington conference above referred to, the representatives of this association then advocated the enactment of a law based upon the lines of the British merchandise marks act which it had favored in resolutions adopted at the annual meeting on January 8, 1902; and to that position they have consistently adhered from that day to this, favoring at this time the passage of the Rogers-Lodge bill, pending in Congress, which would punish misbranding or misrepresentation of any and all kinds.
Enactment of this French-Capper bill has been urged for two broad general reasons:
1. To help the wool-growing industry by creating an additional demand for wool, thereby increasing its price for their benefit. That the real purpose of the bill, carefully kept out of the title when introduced into Congress, is to raise the price of wool, and consequently the cost of fabrics and clothing to the consumer, is shown conclusively by the testimony of wool growers, who were out in force at hearings held on the French-Capper bill by congressional committees. Some of these admissions were:
Mr. Frank W. Mish, a rich gentleman farmer from Hagerstown, Md., based his request for the enactment of the bill on the condition of the farmers, saying that “the wool growers are in bad financial condition."
Mr. Dwight Lincoln, secretary of the American Rambuoillet Sheep Breeders' Association, testified that “the conditions in the sheep industry in the West are very bad,” and expressed the opinion, as he had done to the House committee the previous year, that the bill, if enacted, would stimulate, in fact, stabilize the sheep industry.
Mr. J. N. McDowell, a wool grower from Washington County, Pa., gave as the basis for his demand for the Capper bill that “the price is gone not only on the sheep but on the wool, and they have their wool yet (June 1, 1921). They were looking for 90 cents a pound for their wool and they have their wool on hand and they can not get anything for it, and so it has placed them in a bad situation with all these buildings and equipment not paid for. And so we think we have been somewhat wronged. We feel that there was an attempt at the time of the war to hurry up production of cloth and there was a big demand and a raising in the price of rags, while wool could be had, but the rags were used and the wool was kept back.” Mr. McDowell thought that " while all the manufacturers may not be profiteers they saw a good chance to make more money by working up rags than to work up the raw wool, and the wool grower suffered." This condition, he thought, would continue, “ that they would work the rags in and leave the wool with us people.
It is also shown to be the purpose by the admissions made by editors of journals published in the interest of woolgrowers. Two of the many are:
Dr. W. J. Spillman, associate editor of the Farm Journal, of Philadelphia, a witness before the Senate committee, admitted that the reason he was taking the trouble to go to Washington was because "I want to see the price of wool increased to the farmer."
In an editorial printed on page 17 of the September, 1921, number of the Sheep and Goat Raisers Magazine, published in San Angelo, Tex., the real purpose is so bluntly stated that it can not be misunderstood or denied. It is there said:
The elimination of “shoddy” in the manufacture of clothing and the use of virgin wool in its place will strengthen the market and increase the sale of wool to an enormous extent. This opening up large avenues for the sale of virgin wool, thereby causing an ever-increasing demand for this commodity, and basing our estimate on the rule pertaining to supply and demand, causin;: prices of wool to advance in an ever-increasing active market.
The same purpose appears in another editorial entitled “ Truth in fabrics on page 36 of the August, 1922, number of the same journal. It puts the case just as boldly as the former and should sweep away all doubts, if any still exist, of the real and moving purpose of this effort. The extract from the editorial is as follows:
In our judgment there is not to-day a matter of more importance for the sheep and goat raiser than the question of truth in fabrics. We have the word of our able and distinguished Congressman, C. B. Hudspeth, for it that the possibility of the passage of the French-Capper truth in fabric bill is getting brighter every day and that its adoption into a law will certainly advance the price of wool and mohair at least 5 cents per pound.
This demand has been pressed vigorously since 1920, during years when the woolgrowers were suffering, in common with other classes from the effects of an extraordinarily severe price deflation, prices obtainable for wool being not infrequently below the cost of production. It was a time, too, when owing to the maladjustment of prices, consumers were obliged to pay what seemed to be inordinately high charges for clothes made out of materials purchased at very extravagant cost and made by operatives receiving the highest wages ever paid in this country. It was a time, also, when taxes, both State and National, were burdensome, and added greatly to the heavy costs of manufacture. These two causes: low prices for wool and high prices for clothing made from materials doled out by the Government to the manufacturers, the quality of which was inferior, and made woolgrowers and wearers of clothing willing to believe and accept any propaganda for legislation holding out hope of relief from what was a galling, and for many a burdensome situation. Not concerned about convincing evidence of the accuracy of a propaganda with a popular appeal, they eagerly accepted as true the most glaringly inaccurate, grossly exaggerated, and unsupported assertions about the greatly increased use of shoddy in the wool manufacture, the truth being that all official figures for the 1920 census prove it has been steadily decreasing for 20 years or more and not increasing, and that shoddy was the arch enemy of the woolgrower, which has killed more sheep than any other cause, and was altogether responsible for the low prices of wool, the high prices of clothing, and for the country's dwindling flocks. These were wild assertions made by men who could do nothing but quote figures, talk of depressed prices, and say therefore shoddy is the cause of all our woes, and the cure for them is the enactment of the French-Capper bill.
If that were true two or three years ago, and it was not, it certainly • is not applicable to the situation now, when within a year prices for
some wools have doubled and have reached figures at which manufacturers hesitate to purchase, knowing full well that the buying capacity of the public has been nearly reached. Prices for all grades of wool have advanced sharply within the year, the spread between the fine wools and crossbreds having been lessened and even in the low quarter bloods, of which there was a great plethora after the armistice, they have risen in sympathy with the other grades. Woolgrowers are optimistic over the relief brought them by the enactment of the tariff law and the rising markets for wool, lambs, and sheep.
The June Sheep and Goat Raisers' Magazine stated that, Another big factor for optimism is the higher prices being paid for wool and mohair, with every indication that the long 12 months wool this spring will command 60 per cent more, if not an even greater per cent, than it did in 1921.
Writing of the optimistic tone which characterized all the proceedings of the May meeting of the executive committee of the Sheep and Goat Raisers' Association of Texas, its official magazine said:
Nearly all goats in the west Texas country to the south and west extending to the Rio Grande, have been clipped and the bulk of the mohair has been sold at an average of 40 cents a pound, which is about 15 cents a pound higher than last year.
Conditions being as they are do not justify additional legislation to boost wool prices for the benefit of a class already benefited more than any other, and to the detriment of the great wool consuming classes.
2. The second reason advanced for the bill is that it will protect the public from deceit and profiteering that result from the unrevealed presence of shoddy in woolen fabrics.
This is based on a wholly erroneous view of the trade situation. Manufacturers do not deceive the men for whom the fabrics are made and to whom they are sold. The goods are made upon orders at prices agreed upon which are a sure test of the general character and quality of the materials used in them. The responsibility of the manufacturer begins and ends when he has made and delivered to his customer the precise fabric called for by the contract. He deceives nobody and he receives for such goods only what they are actually worth and nothing more-notwithstanding the reckless assertions made by the proponents of this legislation. Wool manufacturers are not profiteers and those who assert that they get the same prices for fabrics containing large proportions of shoddy as are received for fabrics made entirely of new, unused wool, assert what is false and what has never been proven true by the production at any hearing of any fabrics with the prices obtained for them to sustain the contention of the bill's advocates.
Having shown that there is no justification for the enactment of a bill whose inescapable effect will be to increase the price of wool, and wool manufacturers are not profiteers and do not charge the same prices for fabrics containing considerable quantities of reworked wool as are charged for those made of wool never before used, let us now turn to the objections to the enactment of the proposed bill.
Some of the many reasons may be summarized as follows:
1. The law would be a direct injury and handicap to the manufacturers of woven wool fabrics, who are largely to be found in New England, the Middle Atlantic States, and those east of the Mississippi River; and it would directly help the makers of knitted fabrics, sweaters, and skirts, which are coming into the keenest competition with woven woolen fabrics. It would compel the woven wool manufacturer to mark all his fabrics, thereby adding to the cost of production and their cost to purchasers, while it would permit his competitor, the maker of knitted fabrics, to avoid that expense, and to use without marking, materials, which if used by the maker of woven wool fabrics, must be marked to show their approximate propor