Cylinder of the Month

See also the Cylinders of the Month Archive.

For December 1999 . . .

This month:   Monopoly talk from 1908: William H. Taft speaks on Unlawful Trusts.

Here, at the final month of the nineteen-hundreds, we leave behind one more link to the wax cylinder era: No longer will we live in the same century as when wax records were in their heyday. As our perception of the 20th Century shifts into the past, and wax records seem perhaps even more distant, I'm thankful that the recordings they contain will continue to live on.

Unlawful Trusts
Company Edison's National Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 10000
Category Talking
Title Unlawful Trusts
Performed by William H. Taft
Circa November 1908
Announcement "Unlawful Trusts, by William H. Taft.  Edison record."

This recording by William H. Taft was part of a series of records sold by Edison during the 1908 Presidential campaign between Taft and William Jennings Bryan. (See the April 1998 Cylinder of the Month to hear one of Bryan's cylinders).

At the time of this recording, Taft was the Secretary of War under Theodore Roosevelt, and as you will hear, had strong feelings about trusts. After defeating Bryan in the election, President Taft continued Roosevelt's vigorous "trust-busting" policies.

About two-thirds into the recording you will notice a damaged section, about 2 seconds long, garbling Taft saying, "becomes an unlawful monopoly". The damage appears to have been caused by a recording stylus at one time being used, probably accidentally, instead of a reproducing stylus (. . . an ominous precursor to the 18-minute Nixon tape erasure?!?).

To hear Unlawful Trusts  —

To hear an excerpt   —  
For help playing these sounds, click here.


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

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