BEN B. LINDSEY

(1869-____)

THE MAN WHO FIGHTS "THE BEAST"

[Judge Lindsey is known all the world over for his work in the Juvenile Court in Denver, Colorado. To his courtroom there come visitors from every State in this nation, investigators from Europe and officials from China and Japan to study his laws and observe his methods. But to himself, his famous Juvenile Court is side issue, a small detail in his career. For years he has been engaged in a fight of which the founding of his Juvenile Court was only a skirmish.

Without money, without powerful friends, without personal popularity, this one man has codified laws, instituted reforms, founded charities, and balked corruption.]


From "The Beast," by Ben B. Lindsey and Harvey J. O'Higgins. Doubleday, Page & Company, 1910.

FINDING THE CAT

I came to Denver in the spring of 1880, at the age of eleven, as mildly inoffensive a small boy as ever left a farm—undersized and weakly, so that at the age of seventeen I commonly passed as twelve, and so unaccustomed to the sight of buildings that I thought the five-story Windsor Hotel a miracle of height and magnificence. I had been living with my maternal grandfather and aunt on a farm in Jackson, Tennessee, where I had been born; and I had come with my younger brother to join my parents, who had finally decided that Denver was to be their permanent home. The conductors on the trains had taken care of us, because my father was a railroad man, at the head of the telegraph system; and we had been entertained on the way by the stories of an old forty-niner with a gray moustache, who told us how he had shot buffalo on those prairies where we now saw only antelope. I was not precocious; his stories interested me more than anything else on the journey; and I stared so hard at the old pioneer that I should recognize him now, I believe, if I saw him on the street.

My schooling was not peculiar; there was nothing "holier than thou" in my bringing up. My father, being a Roman Catholic convert from the Episcopalian Church, sent me to Notre Dame, Indiana, to be educated; and there, to be sure, I read the "Lives of the Saints," aspired to be a saint, and put pebbles in my small shoes to "mortify the flesh," because I was told that a good priest, Father Hudson—whom I all but worshipped—used to do so. But even at Notre Dame, and much more in Denver, I was homesick for the farm; and at last I was allowed to return to Jackson to be cared for by my Protestant relatives. They sent me to a Baptist school till I was seventeen. And when I was recalled to Denver, because of the failure of my father's health, I went to work to help earn for the household, with no strong attachment for any church and with no recognized membership in any.

I suppose there is no one who does not look back upon his past and wonder what he should have become in life if this or that crucial event had not occurred to set his destiny. It seems to me that if it had not been for the sudden death of my father I, too, might have found our jungle beast a domestic tabby, and have fed it its prey without realizing what I was about. I should have been a lawyer, I know; for I had had the ambition from my earliest boyhood, and I had been confirmed in it by my success in debating at school. (Once, at Notre Dame, I spoke for a full hour in successful defence of the proposition that Colorado was the "greatest state in the Union," and proved at least that I had a lawyer's "wind.") But I should probably have been a lawyer who has learned his pleasant theories of life in the colleges. And on the night that my father died, the crushing realities of poverty put out an awful and compelling hand on me, and my struggle with them began.

I was eighteen years old, the eldest of four children. I had been "writing proofs" in the Denver land office, for claimants who had filed on Government land; and I had saved $150 of my salary before my work there ceased. I found, after my father's death, that this $150 was all we had in the world, and $130 of it went for funeral expenses. His life had been insured for $15,000, and we believed that the premiums had all been paid, but we could not find the last receipt; the agent denied having received the payment; the policy had lapsed on the day before my father's death; and we got nothing. Our furniture had been mortgaged; we were allowed only enough of it to furnish a little house on Santa Fé Avenue; and later we moved to a cottage on lower West Colfax Avenue, in which Negroes have since lived.

I went to work at a salary of $10 a month, in a real estate office—as office boy—and carried a "route" of newspapers in the morning before the office opened, and did janitor work at night when it closed. After a month of that, I got a better place, as office boy, with a mining company, at a salary of $25 a month. And finally, my younger brother found work in a law office and I "swapped jobs" with him—because I wished to study law!

It was the office of Mr. R. D. Thompson, who still practises in Denver; and his example as an incorruptibly honest lawyer has been one of the best and strongest influences of my life.

I had that one ambition—to be a lawyer. Associated with it I seem to have had an unusual curiosity about politics. And where I got either the ambition or the curiosity, I have no idea. My father's mother was a Greenleaf,[1] and related to the author of "Greenleaf on Evidence," but my father himself had nothing of the legal mind. As a boy, living in Mississippi, he had joined the Confederate army when he was preparing for the University of Virginia, had attained the rank of captain, had become General Forrest's private secretary, and had written—or largely helped to write—General Forrest's autobiography. He was idealistic, enthusiastic, of an inventive genius, with a really remarkable command of English, and an absorbing love of books. My mother's father was a Barr, from the north of Ireland, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, her mother was a Woodfalk of Jackson County, Tennessee, a Methodist. The members of the family were practical, strong-willed, able men and women, but with no bent, that I know of, toward either law or politics.

And yet, one of the most vivid memories of my childhood in Jackson is of attending a political rally with my grandfather and hearing a Civil War veteran declaim against Republicans who "waved the bloody shirt"—a memory so strong that for years afterward I never saw a Republican without expecting to see the gory shirt on his back, and wondering vaguely why he was not in jail. When I came to Denver, where the Republicans were dominant, I felt myself in the land of the enemy. And when I "swapped" myself into Mr. Thompson's office, I was surprised to find that my employer, though a Republican from Pittsburg, was so human that one of the first things he did was to give me a suit of clothes. If there is anything more ridiculously dangerous than to blind a child's mind with such prejudices, I do not know what it is.

However, my own observations of what was going on about me were already opening my eyes. I had read, in the newspapers, of how the Denver Republicans won the elections by fraud—by ballot-box stuffing and what not—and I had followed one "Soapy" Smith on the streets, from precinct to precinct, with his gang of election thieves, and had seen them vote not once but five times openly. I had seen a young man, whom I knew, knocked down and arrested for "raising a disturbance" when he objected to "Soapy" Smith's proceeding; and the policeman who arrested him did it with a smile and a wink.

When I came to Mr. Thompson to ask him how he, a Republican, could countenance such things, he assured me that much of what I had been reading and hearing of election frauds was a lie—the mere "whine" of the defeated party—and I saw that he believed what he said. I knew that he was an honest, upright man; and I was puzzled. What puzzled me still more was this: although the ministers in the churches and "prominent citizens" in all walks of life denounced the "election crooks" with the most laudable fervor, the election returns showed that the best people in the churches joined the worst people in the dives to vote the same ticket, and vote it "straight." And I was most of all puzzled to find that when the elections were over, the opposition newspaper ceased its scolding, the voice of ministerial denunciation died away, and the crimes of the election thieves were condoned and forgotten.

I was puzzled. I saw the jungle of vice and party prejudice, but I did not yet see "the Cat." I saw its ears and its eyes there in the underbrush, but I did not know what they were. I thought they were connected with the Republican party.

And then I came upon some more of the brute's anatomy. Members of the Legislature in Denver were accused of fraud in the purchase of state supplies, and—some months later—members of the city government were accused of committing similar frauds with the aid of civic officials and prominent business men. It was proved in court, for example, that bills for $3 had been raised to $300, that $200 had been paid for a bundle of hay worth $2, and $50 for a yard of cheesecloth worth five cents; barrels of ink had been bought for each legislator, though a pint would have sufficed; and an official of the Police Department was found guilty of conniving with a gambler named "Jim" Marshall to rob an express train. I watched the cases in court. I applauded at the meetings of leading citizens who denounced the grafters and passed resolutions in support of the candidates of the opposition party. I waited to see the criminals punished. And they were not punished. Their crimes were not denied. They were publicly denounced by the courts and by the investigating committees, but somehow, for reasons not clear, they all went scot-free, on appeals. Some mysterious power protected them, and I, in the boyish ardor of my ignorance, concluded that they were protected by the Republican "bloody shirt"—and I rushed into that (to me) great confederation of righteousness and all-decent government, the Democratic party.

It would be laughable to me now, if it were not so "sort of sad."

Meanwhile, I was busy about the office, copying letters, running errands, carrying books to and from the court rooms, reading law in the intervals, and at night scrubbing the floors. I was pale, thin, big-headed, with the body of an underfed child, and an ambition that kept me up half the night with Von Holst's "Constitutional Law," Walker's "American Law," or a sheepskin volume of Lawson's "Leading Cases in Equity." I was so mad to save every penny I could earn that instead of buying myself food for luncheon, I ate molasses and gingerbread that all but turned my stomach; and I was so eager to learn my law that I did not take my sleep when I could get it. The result was that I was stupid at my tasks, moody, melancholy, and so sensitive that my employer's natural dissatisfaction with my work put me into agonies of shame and despair of myself. I became, as the boys say, "dopy." I remember that one night, after I had scrubbed the floors of our offices, I took off the old trousers in which I had been working, hung them in a closet, and started home; and it was not until the cold wind struck my bare knees that I realized I was on the street in my shirt. Often, when I was given a brief to work up for Mr. Thompson, I would slave over it until the small hours of the morning and then, to his disgust—and my unspeakable mortification—find that my work was valueless, that I had not seized the fundamental points of the case, or that I had built all my arguments on some misapprehension of the law.

Worse than that, I was unhappy at home. Poverty was fraying us all out. If it was not exactly brutalizing us, it was warping us, breaking our healths, and ruining our dispositions. My good mother—married out of a beautiful Southern home where she had lived a life that (as I remembered it) was all horseback rides and Negro servants—had started out bravely in this debasing existence in a shanty, but it was wearing her out. She was passing through a critical period of her life, and she had no care, no comforts. I have often since been ashamed of myself that I did not sympathize with her and understand her, but I was too young to understand, and too miserable myself to sympathize. It seemed to me that my life was not worth living—that every one had lost faith in me—that I should never succeed in the law or anything else—that I had no brains—that I should never do anything but scrub floors and run messages. And after a day that had been more than usually discouraging in the office and an evening of exasperated misery at home, I got a revolver and some cartridges, locked myself in my room, confronted myself desperately in the mirror, put the muzzle of the loaded pistol to my temple, and pulled the trigger.

The hammer snapped sharply on the cartridge; a great wave of horror and revulsion swept over me in a rush of blood to my head, and I dropped the revolver on the floor and threw myself on my bed.

By some miracle the cartridge had not exploded; but the nervous shock of that instant when I felt the trigger yield and the muzzle rap against my forehead with the impact of the hammer—that shock was almost as great as a very bullet in the brain. I realized my folly, my weakness; and I went back to my life with something of a man's determination to crush the circumstances that had almost crushed me.

Why do I tell that? Because there are so many people in the world who believe that poverty is not sensitive, that the ill-fed, overworked boy of the slums is as callous as he seems dull. Because so many people believe that the weak and desperate boy can never be anything but a weak and vicious man. Because I came out of that morbid period of adolescence with a sympathy for children that helped to make possible one of the first courts established in America for the protection as well as the correction of children. Because I was never afterward as afraid of anything as of my own weakness, my own cowardice—so that when the agents of the Beast in the courts and in politics threatened me with all the abominations of their rage if I did not commit moral suicide for them, my fear of yielding to them was so great that I attacked them more desperately than ever.

It was about this time, too, that I first saw the teeth and the claws of our metaphorical man-eater. That was during the conflict between Governor Waite and the Fire and Police Board of Denver. He had the appointment and removal of the members of this Board, under the law, and when they refused to close the public gambling houses and otherwise enforce the laws against vice in Denver, he read them out of office. They refused to go, and defied him, with the police at their backs. He threatened to call out the militia and drive them from the City Hall. The whole town was in an uproar.

One night, in the previous summer, I had followed the excited crowds to Coliseum Hall to hear the Governor speak, and I had seen him rise like some old Hebrew prophet, with his long white beard and patriarchal head of hair, and denounce iniquity and political injustice and the oppressions of the predatory rich. He appealed to the Bible in a calm prediction that, if the reign of lawlessness did not cease, in time to come "blood would flow in the land even unto the horses' bridles." (And he earned for himself, thereby, the nickname of "Bloody Bridles" Waite.)

Now it began to appear that his prediction was about to come true; for he called out the militia, and the Board armed the police. My brother was a militiaman, and I kept pace with him as his regiment marched from the Armouries to attack the City Hall. There were riflemen on the towers and in the windows of that building; and on the roofs of the houses for blocks around were sharpshooters and armed gamblers and the defiant agents of the powers who were behind the Police Board in their fight. Gatling guns were rushed through the streets; cannon were trained on the City Hall; the long lines of militia were drawn up before the building; and amid the excited tumult of the mob and the eleventh-hour conferences of the Committee of Public Safety, and the hurry of mounted officers and the marching of troops, we all waited with our hearts in our mouths for the report of the first shot. Suddenly, in the silence that expected the storm, we heard the sound of bugles from the direction of the railroad station, and at the head of another army—a body of Federal soldiers ordered from Fort Logan by President Cleveland, at the frantic call of the Committee of Public Safety—a mounted officer rode between the lines of militia and police, and in the name of the President commanded peace.

The militia withdrew. The crowds dispersed. The police and their partisans put up their guns, and the Beast, still defiant, went back sullenly to cover. Not until the Supreme Court had decided that Governor Waite had the right and the power to unseat the Board—not till then was the City Hall surrendered; and even so, at the next election (the Beast turning polecat), "Bloody Bridles" Waite was defeated after a campaign of lies, ridicule, and abuse, and the men whom he had opposed were returned to office.

I had eyes, but I did not see. I thought the whole quarrel was a personal matter between the Police Board and Governor Waite, who seemed determined merely to show them that he was master; and if my young brother had been shot down by a policeman that night, I suppose I should have joined in the curses upon poor old "Bloody Bridles."

However, my prospects in the office had begun to improve. I had had my salary raised, and I had ceased doing janitor work. I had become more of a clerk and less of an office boy. A number of us "kids" had got up a moot court, rented a room to meet in, and finally obtained the use of another room in the old Denver University building, where, in the gaslight, we used to hold "quiz classes" and defend imaginary cases. (That, by the way, was the beginning of the Denver University Law School.) I read my Blackstone, Kent, Parsons—working night and day—and I began really to get some sort of "grasp of the law." Long before I had passed my examinations and been called to the bar, Mr. Thompson would give me demurrers to argue in court; and, having been told that I had only a pretty poor sort of legal mind, I worked twice as hard to make up for my deficiencies. I argued my first case, a damage suit, when I was nineteen. And at last there happened one of those lucky turns common in jury cases, and it set me on my feet.

A man had been held by the law on several counts of obtaining goods under false pretences. He had been tried on the first count by an assistant district attorney, and the jury had acquitted him. He had been tried on the second count by another assistant, who was one of our great criminal lawyers, and the jury had disagreed. There was a debate as to whether it was worth while to try him for a third time, and I proposed that I should take the case, since I had been working on it and thought there was still a chance of convicting him. They let me have my way, and though the evidence in the third charge was the same as before—except as to the person defrauded—the jury, by good luck, found against him. It was the turning point in my struggle. It gave me confidence in myself; and it taught me never to give up.

And now I began to come upon "the Cat" again.

I knew a lad named Smith, whom I considered a victim of malpractice at the hands of a Denver surgeon whose brother was at the head of one of the great smelter companies of Colorado. The boy had suffered a fracture of the thigh-bone, and the surgeon—because of a hasty and ill-considered diagnosis, I believed—had treated him for a bruised hip. The surgeon, when I told him that the boy was entitled to damages, called me a blackmailer—and that was enough. I forced the case to trial.

I had resigned my clerkship and gone into partnership with a fine young fellow whom I shall call Charles Gardener[2]—though that was not his name—and this was to be our first case. We were opposed by Charles J. Hughes, Jr., the ablest corporation lawyer in the state; and I was puzzled to find the officers of the gas company and a crowd of prominent business men in court when the case was argued on a motion to dismiss it. The judge refused the motion, and for so doing—as he afterward told me himself—he was "cut" in his Club by the men whose presence in the court had puzzled me. After a three weeks' trial, in which we worked night and day for the plaintiff—with X-ray photographs and medical testimony and fractured bones boiled out over night in the medical school where I prepared them—the jury stood eleven to one in our favour, and the case had to be begun all over again. The second time, after another trial of three weeks, the jury "hung" again, but we did not give up. It had been all fun for us—and for the town. The word had gone about the streets: "Go up and see those two kids fighting the corporation heavyweights. It's more fun than a circus." And we were confident that we could win; we knew that we were right.

One evening after dinner, when we were sitting in the dingy little back room on Champa Street that served us as an office, A. M. Stevenson—"Big Steve"—politician and attorney for the Denver City Tramway Company, came shouldering in to see us—a heavy-jowled, heavy-waisted, red-faced bulk of good-humour—looking as if he had just walked out of a political cartoon. "Hello, boys," he said jovially. "How's she going? Making a record for yourselves up in court, eh? Making a record for yourselves. Well!"

He sat down and threw a foot up on the desk and smiled at us, with his inevitable cigarette in his mouth—his ridiculously inadequate cigarette. (When he puffed it, he looked like a fat boy blowing bubbles.) "Wearing yourselves out, eh? Working night and day? Ain't you getting about tired of it?"

"We got eleven to one each time," I said. "We'll win yet."

"Uh-huh. You will, eh?" He laughed amusedly. "One man stood out against you each time, wasn't there?"

There was.

"Well," he said, "there always will be. You ain't going to get a verdict in this case. You can't. Now I'm a friend of you boys, ain't I? Well, my advice to you is you'd better settle that case. Get something for your work. Don't be a pair of fools. Settle it."

"Why can't we get a verdict?" we asked.

He winked a fat eye. "Jury'll hang. Every time. I'm here to tell you so. Better settle it." [3]

We refused to. What was the use of courts if we could not get justice for this crippled boy? What was the use of practising law if we could not get a verdict on evidence that would convince a blind man? Settle it? Never!

So they went to our client and persuaded the boy to give up.

"Big Steve," attorney for the tramway company! The gas company's officers in court! The business men insulting the judge in his Club! The defendant's brother at the head of one of the smelter companies! I began to "connect up" "the Cat."

Gardener and I held a council of war. If it was possible for these men to "hang" juries whenever they chose, there was need of a law to make something less than a unanimous decision by a jury sufficient to give a verdict in civil cases. Colorado needed a "three-fourths jury law." Gardener was a popular young man, a good "mixer," a member of several fraternal orders, a hail-fellow-well-met, and as interested as I was in politics. He had been in the insurance business before he took up law, and he had friends everywhere. Why should he not go into politics?—as he had often spoken of doing.

In the intervals of the Smith suit, we had had a case in which a mother, whose child had been killed by a street car, had been unable to recover damages from the tramway company, because the company claimed, under the law, that her child was worthless alive or dead; and there was need of a statute permitting such as she to recover damages for distress and anguish of mind. We had had another case in which a young factory worker had been injured by the bursting of an emery wheel; and the law held that the boy was guilty of "contributory negligence" because he had continued to work at the wheel after he had found a flaw in it—although he had had no choice except to work at it or leave the factory and find employment elsewhere. There was need of a law giving workmen better protection in such circumstances. Why should not Gardener enter the Legislature and introduce these bills?—which I was eager to draft. Why not, indeed! The state needed them; the people wanted them; the courts were crippled and justice was balked because of the lack of them. Here was an opportunity for worthy ambition to serve the community and help his fellow-man.

That night, with all the high hopes and generous ideals and merciful ignorance of youth, we decided—without knowing what we were about—to go into the jungle and attack the Beast!


THE CAT PURRS

Denver was then, as it is now, a beautiful city, built on a slope, between the prairies and mountains, always sunny, cool, and clear-skyed with the very sparkle of happiness in its air; and on the crown of its hill, facing the romantic prospect of the Rockies, the State Capitol raised its dome—as proud as the ambition of a liberty-loving people—the symbol of an aspiration and the expression of its power. That Capitol, I confess, was to me a sort of granite temple erected by the Commonwealth of Colorado to law, to justice, to the ideals of self-government that have made our republic the promised land of all the oppressed of Europe; and I could conceive of no nobler work than to serve those ideals in the assembly halls of that building, with those eternal mountains on the horizon and that sun of freedom overhead. Surely a man may confess so much, without shame, of his youth and his inexperience.… It is not merely the gold on the dome of the Capitol that has given it another look to me now.

It was the year 1897. I was about twenty-eight years old, and my partner, Gardener, was three years younger. He was more worldly-wise than I was, even then; for while I had been busy with briefs and court-work, he had been the "business head" of the firm, out among business friends and acquaintances—"mixing," as they say—and through his innumerable connections, here and there, with this man and that fraternity, bringing in the cases that kept us employed. He was a "Silver Republican"; I, a Democrat. But we both knew that if he was to get into politics it must be with the backing of the party "organization" and the endorsement of the party "boss."

The "Silver Republican" boss of the day was a man whom we both admired—George Graham. Everybody admired him. Everybody was fond of him. "Why," they would tell you, "there isn't a man in town who is kinder to his family. He's such a good man in his home! And he's so charitable!" At Christmas time, when free baskets of food were distributed to the poor, George Graham was chairman of the committee for their distribution. He was prominent in the fraternal orders and used his political power to help the needy, the widow, and the orphan. He had an engaging manner of fellowship, a personal magnetism, a kindly interest in aspiring young men, a pleasant appearance—smooth and dark in complexion, with a gentle way of smiling. I liked him; and he seemed to discover an affection for both Gardener and me, as we became more intimate with him, in the course of Gardener's progress toward his coveted nomination by the party.

That progress was so rapid and easy that it surprised us. We knew, of course, that we had attracted some public attention and much newspaper notice by our legal battles with "the corporation heavyweights" in our three big cases against the surgeon, the tramway company, and the factory owner. But this did not account to us for the ease with which Gardener penetrated to the inner circles of the Boss's court. It did not explain why Graham should come to see us in our office, and call us by our first names. The explanation that we tacitly accepted was one more personal and flattering to us. And when Gardener would come back from a chat with Graham, full of "inside information" about the party's plans—about who was to be nominated for this office at the coming convention, and what chance So-and-so had for that one—the sure proofs (to us) that he was being admitted to the intimate secrets of the party and found worthy of the confidence of those in power—I was as proud of Gardener as only a young man can be of a friend who has all the brilliant qualities that he himself lacks. Gardener was a handsome fellow, well built, always well dressed, self-assured and ambitious; I did not wonder that the politicians admired him and made much of him. I accepted his success as a tribute to those qualities in him that had already attached me to him with an affection rather more than brotherly.

We said nothing to the politicians about our projected bills. Indeed, from the first, my interest in our measures of reform was greater than Gardener's. His desire to be in the Legislature Was due to a natural ambition to "get on" in life, to acquire power in the community as well as the wealth and distinction that come with power. Such ambitions were, of course, beyond me; I had none of the qualities that would make them possible; and I could only enjoy them, as it were, by proxy, in Gardener's person. I enjoyed, in the same way, his gradual penetration behind the scenes in politics. I saw, with him, that the party convention, to which we had at first looked as the source of honours, was really only a sort of puppet show of which the Boss held the wires. All the candidates for nomination were selected by Graham in advance—in secret caucus with his ward leaders, executive committeemen, and such other "practical" politicians as "Big Steve"—and the convention, with more or less show of independence, did nothing but ratify his choice. When I spoke of canvassing some of the chosen delegates of the convention, Gardener said: "What's the use of talking to those small fry? If we can get the big fellows, we've got the rest. They do what the big ones tell them—and won't do anything they aren't told. You leave it to me." I had only hoped to see him in the Lower House, but he, with his wiser audacity, soon proclaimed himself a candidate for the Senate. "We can get the big thing as easy as the little one," he said. "I'm going to tell Graham it's the Senate or nothing for me." And he got his promise. And when we knew, at last, that his name was really on "the slate" of candidates to be presented to the convention, we were ready to throw up our hats and cheer for ourselves—and for the Boss.

The convention met in September, 1898. There had been a fusion of Silver Republicans, Democrats, and Populists, that year, and the political offices had been apportioned out among the faithful machine-men of these parties. Gardener was nominated by "Big Steve," in a eulogistic speech that was part of the farce; and the convention ratified the nomination with the unanimity of a stage mob. We knew that his election was as sure as sunrise, and I set to work looking up models for my bills with all the enthusiasm of the first reformer.

Meanwhile there was the question of the campaign and of the campaign expenses. Gardener had been assessed $500 by the committee as his share of the legitimate costs of the election, and Boss Graham generously offered to get the money for him "from friends." We were rather inclined to let Graham do so, feeling a certain delicacy about refusing his generosity and being aware, too, that we were not millionaires. But Graham was not the only one who made the offer; for example, Ed. Chase, since head of the gambler's syndicate in Denver, made similar proposals of kindly aid; and we decided, at last, that perhaps it would be well to be quite independent. Our law practice was improving. Doubtless, it would continue to improve now that we were "in right" with the political powers. We put up $250 each and paid the assessment.

The usual business of political rallies, mass-meetings, and campaign speeches followed in due course, and in November, 1898, Gardener was elected a State Senator on the fusion ticket. I had been busy with my "three-fourths jury" bill, studying the constitution of the State of Colorado, comparing it with those of the other states, and making myself certain that such a law as we proposed was possible. Unlike most of the state constitutions, Colorado's preserved inviolate the right of jury trial in criminal cases only, and therefore it seemed to me that the Legislature had plenary power to regulate it in civil suits. I found that the Supreme Court of the state had so decided in two cases, and I felt very properly elated; there seemed to be nothing to prevent us having a law that should make "hung" juries practically impossible in Colorado and relieve the courts of an abuse that thwarted justice in scores of cases. At the same time I prepared a bill allowing parents to recover damages for "anguish of mind" when a child of theirs was killed in an accident; and, after much study, I worked up an "employer's liability" bill to protect men who were compelled by necessity to work under needlessly dangerous conditions. With these three bills in his pocket, Senator Gardener went up to the Capitol, like another David, and I went joyfully with him to aid and abet.

Happy? I was as happy as if Gardener had been elected President and I was to be his Secretary of State. I was as happy as a man who has found his proper work and knows that it is for the good of his fellows. I would not have changed places that day with any genius of the fine arts who had three masterpieces to unveil to an admiring world.

I did not know, of course—but I was soon to learn—that the Legislature's time was almost wholly taken up with the routine work of government, that most of the bills passed were concerned with appropriations and such necessary details of administration, and that only twenty or thirty bills such as ours—dealing with other matters—could possibly be passed, among the hundreds offered. It was Boss Graham who warned us that we had better concentrate on one measure, if we wished to succeed with any at all, and we decided to put all our strength behind the "three-fourths jury" bill. Since Graham seemed to doubt its constitutionality, I went to the Attorney General for his opinion, and he referred me to his assistant—whom I convinced. I came back with the assistant's decision that the Legislature had power to pass such a law, and Gardener promptly introduced it in the Senate.

It proved at once mildly unpopular, and after a preliminary debate, in which the senators rather laughed at it as visionary and unconstitutional, it was referred to the Attorney General for his opinion. We waited, confidently. To our amazement he reported it unconstitutional, and the very assistant who had given me a favourable opinion before, now conducted the case against it. Nothing daunted, Gardener fought to get it referred to the Supreme Court, under the law; and the Senate sent it there. I got up an elaborate brief, had it printed at our expense, and spent a day in arguing it before the Supreme Court judges. They held that the Court had already twice found the Legislature possessed of plenary powers in such matters, and Gardener brought the bill back into the Senate triumphantly, and got a favourable report from the Judiciary Committee.

By this time, Boss Graham was seriously alarmed. He had warned Gardener that the bill was distasteful to him and to those whom he called his "friends." It was particularly distasteful, it seemed, to the Denver City Tramway Company. And he could promise, he said, that if we dropped the bill, the railway company would see that we got at least four thousand dollars' worth of litigation a year to handle. To both Gardener and myself, flushed with success and roused to the battle, this offer seemed an amusing confession of defeat on the part of the opposition; and we went ahead more gaily than ever.

We were enjoying ourselves. If we had been a pair of chums in college, we could not have had a better time. Whenever I could get away from my court cases and my office work, I rushed up to watch the fight in the Senate, as eagerly as a Freshman hurrying from his studies to see his athletic room-mate carry everything before him in a football game. The whole atmosphere of the Capitol—with its corridors of coloured marble, its vistas of arch and pillar, its burnished metal balustrades, its great staircases—all its majesty of rich grandeur and solidity of power—affected me with an increased respect for the functions of government that were discharged there and for the men who had them to discharge. I felt the reflection of that importance beaming upon myself when I was introduced as "Senator Gardener's law partner, sir"; and I accepted the bows and greetings of lobbyists and legislators with all the pleasure in the world.

When Gardener got our bill up for its final reading in the Senate, I was there to watch, and it tickled me to the heart to see him. He made a fine figure of an orator, the handsomest man in the Senate; and he was not afraid to raise his voice and look as independent and determined as his words. He had given the senators to understand that any one who opposed his bill would have him as an obstinate opponent on every other measure; and the Senate evidently realized that it would be wise to let him have his way. The bill was passed. But it had to go through the Lower House, too, and it was sent there, to be taken care of by its opponents—with the tongue in the cheek, no doubt.

I met Boss Graham in the corridor. "Hello, Ben," he greeted me. "What's the matter with that partner of yours?" I laughed; he looked worried. "Come in here," he said. "I'd like to have a talk with you." He led me into a quiet side room and shut the door. "Now look here," he said. "Did you boys ever stop to think what a boat you'll be in with this law that you're trying to get, if you ever have to defend a corporation in a jury suit? Now they tell me down at the tramway offices"—the offices of the Denver City Tramway Company—"that they're going to need a lot more legal help. There's every prospect that they'll appoint you boys assistant counsel. But they can't expect to do much, even with you bright boys as counsel, if they have this law against them. You know that all the money there is in law is in corporation business. I don't see what you're fighting for."

I explained, as well as I could, that we were fighting for the bill because we thought it was right—that it was needed. He did not seem to believe me; he objected that this sort of talk was not "practical."

"Well," I ended, "we've made up our minds to put it through. And we're going to try."

"You'll find you're making a mistake, boy," he warned me. "You'll find you're making a mistake."

We laughed over it together—Gardener and I. It was another proof to us that we had our opponents on their knees. We thought we understood Graham's position in the matter; he had made no disguise of the fact that he was intimate and friendly with Mr. William G. Evans—the great "Bill" Evans—head of the tramway company and an acknowledged power in politics. And it was natural to us that Graham should do what he could to induce us to spare his friends. That was all very well, but we had made no pledges; we were under no obligations to any one except the public whom we served. Gardener was making himself felt. He did not intend to stultify himself, even for Graham's good "friends." I, of course, went along with him, rejoicing.

He had another bill in hand (House Bill 235) to raise the tax on large foreign insurance companies so as to help replenish the depleted treasury of the state. Governor Thomas had been appealing for money; the increased tax was conceded to be just, and it would add at least $100,000 in revenue to the public coffers. Gardener handled it well in the Senate, and—though we were indirectly offered a bribe of $2,500 to drop it—he got it passed and returned it to the Lower House. He had two other bills—one our "anguish of mind" provision and the second a bill regulating the telephone companies; but he was not able to move them out of committee. The opposition was silent but solid.

It became my duty to watch the two bills that we had been able to get as far as the House calendar on final passage—to see that they were given their turn for consideration. The jury bill came to the top very soon, but it was passed over, and next day it was on the bottom of the list. This happened more than once. And once it disappeared from the calendar altogether. The Clerk of the House, when I demanded an explanation, said that it was an oversight—a clerical error—and put it back at the foot. I began to suspect jugglery, but I was not yet sure of it.

One day while I was on this sentry duty, a lobbyist who was a member of a fraternal order to which I belonged, came to me with the fraternal greeting and a thousand dollars in bills. "Lindsey," he said, "this is a legal fee for an argument we want you to make before the committee, as a lawyer, against that insurance bill. It's perfectly legitimate. We don't want you to do anything except in a legal way. You know our other lawyer has made an able argument, showing how the extra tax will come out of the people in increased premiums"—and so on. I refused the money and continued trying to push along the bill. In a few days he came back to me, with a grin. "Too bad you didn't take that money," he said. "There's lots of it going round. But the joke of it is, I got the whole thing fixed up for $250. Watch Cannon." I watched Cannon—Wilbur F. Cannon, a member of the House and a "floor leader" there. He had already voted in favour of the bill. But—to anticipate somewhat the sequence of events—I saw Wilbur F. Cannon, in the confusion and excitement of the closing moments of the session, rush down the aisle toward the Speaker's chair and make a motion concerning the insurance bill—to what effect I could not hear. The motion was put, in the midst of the uproar, and declared carried; and the bill was killed. It was killed so neatly that there is to-day no record of its decease in the official account of the proceedings of the House! Expert treason, bold and skilful! [4]

Meanwhile, I had been standing by our jury bill. It went up and it went down on the calendar, and at last when it arrived at a hearing it was referred back to the Judiciary Committee with two other anti-corporation bills. The session was drawing toward the day provided by the constitution for its closing, and we could no longer doubt that we were being juggled out of our last chance by the Clerk and the Speaker—who was Mr. William G. Smith, since known as "Tramway Bill." [5]

"All right," Gardener said. "Not one of Speaker Smith's House bills will get through the Senate until he lets our jury bill get to a vote." He told Speaker Smith what he intended to do and next day he began to do it.

That afternoon, tired out, I was resting, during a recess of the House, in a chair that stood in a shadowed corner, when the Speaker hurried by heavily, evidently unaware of me, and rang a telephone. I heard him mention the name of "Mr. Evans," in a low, husky voice. I heard, sleepily, not consciously listening; and I did note at first connect "Mr. Evans" with William G. Evans of the tramway company. But a little later I heard the Speaker say: "Well, unless Gardener can be pulled off, we'll have to let that 'three-fourths' bill out. He's raising hell with a lot of our measures over in the Senate…  What?… Yes.… Well, get at it pretty quick."

Those hoarse, significant words wakened like the thrill of an electric shock—wakened to an understanding of the strength of "special interests" that were opposed to us—and wakened in me, too, the anger of a determination to fight to a finish. The Powers that had "fixed" our juries, were now fixing Legislature. They had laughed at us in the courts; they were going to laugh at us in the Capitol!

Speaker Smith came lumbering out. He was a heavily built man, with a big jaw. And when he saw me there, confronting him, his face changed from a look of displeased surprise to one of angry contempt—lowering his head like a bull—as if he were saying to himself: "What! That d—— little devil! I'll bet he heard me!" But he did not speak. And neither did I. He went off about whatever business he had in hand, and I caught up my hat and hastened to Gardener to tell him what I had heard.

When the House met again, in committee of the whole, the Speaker, of course, was not in the Chair, and Gardener found him in the lobby. Gardener had agreed with me to say nothing of the telephone conversation but he threatened Smith that unless our jury bill was "reported out" by the Judiciary Committee and allowed to come to a vote, he would oppose every House bill in the Senate and talk the session to death. Smith fumed and blustered, but Gardener, with the blood in his face, out-blustered and out-fumed him. The Speaker, later in the day, vented some of his spleen by publicly threatening to eject me from the floor of the House as a lobbyist. But he had to allow the bill to come up, and it was finally passed, with very little opposition—for reasons which I was afterward to understand.

It had yet to be signed by the Speaker; and it had to be signed before the close of the session or it could not become a law. I heard rumours that some anti-corporation bills were going to be "lost" by the Chief Clerk, so that they might not be signed; and I kept my eye on him. He was a fat-faced, stupid-looking, flabby creature—by name D. H. Dickason—who did not appear capable of doing anything very daring. I saw the chairman of the Enrolling Committee place our bill on Dickason's desk, among those waiting for the Speaker's signature; and—while the House was busy—I withdrew it from the pile and placed it to one side, conspicuously, so that I could see it from a distance.

When the time came for signing—sure enough! the Clerk was missing, and some bills were missing with him. The House was crowded—floor and galleries—and the whole place went into an uproar at once. Nobody seemed to know which bills were gone; every member who had an anti-corporation bill thought it was his that had been stolen; and they all together broke out into denunciations of the Speaker, the Clerk, and everybody else whom they thought concerned in the outrage. One man jumped up on his chair and tried to dominate the pandemonium, shouting and waving his hands. The galleries went wild with noisy excitement. Men threatened each other with violence on the floor of the House, cursing and shaking their fists. Others rushed here and there trying to find some trace of the Clerk. The Speaker, breathless from calling for order and pounding with his gavel, had to sit down and let them rage.

At last, from my place by the wall, on the outskirts of the hubbub, I saw the Clerk dragged down the aisle by the collar, bleeding, with a blackened eye, apparently half drunk and evidently frightened into an abject terror. He had stolen a bill introduced by Senator Bucklin, providing that cities could own their own water works and gas works; but the Senator's wife had been watching him; she had followed him to the basement and stopped him as he tried to escape to the street; and it was the Senator now who had him by the neck.

They thrust him back into his chair, got the confusion quieted, and with muttered threats of the penitentiary for him and everybody concerned in the affair, they got back to business again with the desperate haste of men working against time. And our jury bill was signed!

It was signed; and we had won! (At least we thought so.) And I walked out of the crowded glare of the session's close, into an April midnight that was as wide as all eternity and as quiet. It seemed to me that the stars, even in Colorado, had never been brighter; they sparkled in the clear blackness of the sky with a joyful brilliancy. A cool breeze drew down from the mountains as peacefully as the breath in sleep. It was a night to make a man take on his hat and breathe out his last vexation in a sigh.

We had won. What did it matter that the Boss, the Speaker, the Clerk and so many more of these miserable creatures were bought and sold in selfishness? That spring night seemed to answer for it that the truth and beauty of the world were as big above them as the heavens that arched so high above the puny dome-light, of the Capitol. Had not even we, two "boys"—as they called us—put a just law before them and made them take up the pen and sign it? If we had done so much without even a whisper from the people and scarcely a line from the public press to aid and back us, what would the future not do when we found the help that an aroused community would surely give us? Hope? The whole night was hushed and peaceful with hope. The very houses that I passed—walking home up the tree-lined streets—seemed to me in some way so quiet because they were so sure. All was right with the world. We had won.


[1] A New England family, to which the poet Whittier was related.

[2] This is one of the few fictitious names used in the story. Judge Lindsey wishes it disguised "for old sake's sake."

[3] Many of the conversations reported in this volume are given from memory, and they are liable to errors of memory in the use of a word or a turn of expression. But they are not liable to error in substance. They are the unadorned truth, clearly recollected.—B. B. L.

[4] Wilbur F. Cannon is now Pure Food Commissioner in Colorado.

[5] Smith is now tax agent in the tramway offices.