Douglas Benedict (1855? - 1926) was the third President of Kramer Associates, the Mexican supercorporation, serving from 1904 to June 1926. Benedict oversaw the company's growth into the largest corporation in the world. Benedict was the grandson of Monte Benedict, founder of the Petroleum of Mexico Corporation, and the cousin of Monte's nephew and successor Andrew Benedict.
Benedict's predecessor, Diego Cortez y Catalán, had been grooming him as the next president of K.A. since 1899. Like other members of his family, Benedict was withdrawn, a good manager, and a person who avoided publicity. In a rare interview given after becoming head of K.A., Benedict simply said, "I will do my best."
Benedict began his administration of K.A. by decentralizing the firm, creating twenty operating units with their own vice-presidents (four of them Mexicanos). K.A. financed Jefferson Motors, the Carminales Lighting Company, and other new firms that were founded in this era. Of the U.S.M.'s $20.4 billion gross national product in 1910, K.A. accounted for $10.9 billion, with total worldwide sales of $16.1 billion, making it four times larger than the next biggest firm in the world.
The Hundred Day War with France in 1914 ended in a Mexican victory, but touched off a national debate on slavery in the U.S.M. Neither Benedict nor President Victoriano Consalus could find a way to deal with an institution that had become a burden, but could not be abolished. It was not until Consalus' defeat by General Emiliano Calles in 1920 that slavery was finally abolished. By then, Benedict had come to recognize that the institution had to end, and he used K.A.'s influence in Congress to ensure its abolition. However, this put K.A. at odds with Assemblyman Pedro Fuentes, a rising power in the United Mexican Party. Benedict failed to understand the strength of the anti-manumission forces, and also underestimated the resentment many Mexicans felt towards the giant corporation.
On 22 March 1922, President Calles announced a proposal to allow the nations conquered by Benito Hermión to vote to join the U.S.M. Although his health was deteriorating at this point, Benedict openly opposed Calles, since K.A. controlled these territories, and he preferred to leave them as Mexican client states. By April K.A. representatives were busy working to block Calles' plan. Benedict succeeded in preventing Siberia and New Granada from holding plebiscites, and he was able to prevent Guatemala from joining the U.S.M., but he failed to prevent Hawaii and Alaska from doing so. Despite his growing illness, Benedict continued to head K.A. until after Fuentes was elected president in 1926. Benedict retired in June of that year, and was succeeded by John Jackson.
Sobel's source for the life of Douglas Benedict is Stanley Tulin's The Kramer Assocates: The Benedict Years (London, 1971).
|Presidents of Kramer Associates|
|Bernard Kramer • Diego Cortez y Catalán • Douglas Benedict • John Jackson • Carl Salazar|