Abstract: The Interlocking Director Question: Lobbying for Wall Street in the Taft and Wilson Administrations

Atiba Pertilla


This paper examines the political activities of New York City's financial institutions during the Taft and Wilson administrations with respect to proposals to curb or eliminate interlocking directorates, a social network of board memberships prevalent among financiers in New York and other major cities that was perceived as a potential threat to industrial and commercial enterprise. During a brief but important period from 1911 to 1914, financial institutions experienced a shift from a tradition of using face-to-face lobbying to accomplish their goals to coping with media relations, interest-group strategies, and the movement of intellectuals into the public square to aid in setting policy. The paper begins with an examination of the private lobbying of the Taft administration in 1911 by National City Bank (the forerunner of Citibank), continues with an examination of J. P. Morgan & Co.'s "propaganda" strategy in the money trust hearings of 1912-1913, and ends with a discussion of Louis Brandeis' role in the passage of the Clayton Act in 1914.