The Department of Commerce and Labor was established by Chapter 552 of the Acts of the Fifty-seventh Congress, approved February 14, 1903. The act provides that there shall be at the seat of government an executive department to be known as the Department of Commerce and Labor, headed by a Secretary of Commerce and Labor, appointed by the President at a salary of $8,000 per annum. An assistant secretary at $5,000 a year, a chief clerk, a disbursing clerk, and other clerical assistants as authorized shall be appointed.
The duty of this department shall be to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce, the mining, manufacturing, and shipping and fishing industries, the labor interests, and the transportation facilities of the United States. To this end there shall be transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor from the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department, the Light-House Board and Establishment, the Steamboat-Inspection Service, the Bureau of Navigation, the United States Shipping Commissioners, the National Bureau of Standards, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Commissioner-General and Commissioners of Immigration and the Immigration Bureau and service at large and the Bureau of Statistics. From the Department of Interior the Census Office is transferred to the new department. The Department of Labor, the Fish Commission. The Bureau of Foreign Commerce of the Department of State shall also be transferred and made a part of the Bureau of Statistics before mentioned.
There shall also be created a Bureau of Manufactures to foster and promote that industry by compiling and publishing information concerning it at home and abroad, consular offices and agents to assist in gathering the material.
A Bureau of Corporations is also created to investigate the organization, conduct, and management of the business of any corporation, joint stock company, or corporate combination engaged in commerce among the several states and with foreign nations, except certain common carriers. The commissioner shall have for this purpose the powers conferred upon the Interstate Commerce Commission. It is also the duty of this bureau to gather, compile, publish, and supply useful information concerning corporations doing business in the United States, including insurance companies.
The heads of the new bureaus shall be appointed by the President at salaries of $4,000 a year for the Bureau of Manufacture, and $5,000 for the Bureau of Corporations, the latter to have a deputy at a salary of $3,500.
The control of the salmon, seal, and other fisheries in Alaska and of the immigration of aliens into the United States is also to be transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Commerce and Labor.
The secretary of the department shall report in writing to Congress at the close of each fiscal year, enumerating receipts and disbursements, describing the work accomplished, and making recommendations. The President is authorized to transfer to the Department of Commerce and Labor at any time the whole or any part of any office or bureau engaged in scientific or statistical work in any of the other departments of the Government. The secretary of the new department shall also make special investigations and reports when requested by Congress or the President or which he himself may deem necessary and urgent.