Women and Crime

Nellie Bly

The New York World/June 28, 1889


Inspector Byrnes Tells Nellie Bly Some Remarkable Things

He Says There’s a Female in Every Crime.

And that She’s “the Finest Tag that Can Be Put on a Criminal’s Shoulders.”

There are very few persons in the world who haven’t imagined they were especially fitted to fill one of three positions. If they did not want to be actors they longed to be writers, and if they did not want to be writers they hungered to be detectives. Do you not know among your acquaintance several who are positive that they possess great dramatic ability, which the world would recognize if they could only secure an opening? And don’t you know several more who are positive they would startle the literary world by their genius if editors were not so mean and would only print their productions? And haven’t you other acquaintances who could have solved the Whitechapel mystery and cleared up the Cronin case in twenty-four hours if they had only the chance?

I have known many such persons, and I think the less chance for an opening they get the greater happiness they have. I know one woman, short, fat, ugly, black, forty-five and gray, who imagines herself a second Charlotte Cushman. Every Summer she inserts an advertisement in the newspapers to the effect that “a beautiful, prepossessing young star, of great dramatic ability, wants a manager with $5,000: can make $20,000 in six months.” And there is another woman who never reads of anything, from a bank robbery or murder down to a lost pug dog, who does not think she could solve the mystery if someone would only recommend her to some detective bureau.

I decided to consult Inspector Byrnes, who has more experience with would-be detectives than anyone else in New York, as to what chance there is on his force for women.

“Tell me,” I said, “have you many applications from women who wish to become detectives?”

“I average two or three a week,” he said, as he rested his elbow on the desk and toyed with a penholder. “How do I get them? In person and by letter. The strangest part of it is that not one woman out of fifty is a New Yorker.”

“What class of women are they?”

“That I cannot say positively. There are two classes to which they do not belong—the very rich and the bad. They are always dressed well and seem educated. I think they are mostly women who live at some distance from New York, and who have nothing to do but read fictitious stories in which some wonderful female detective figures or police stories of some capture, and they dream over them until they become possessed with the idea that they are cunning and they want a chance to show it.”

“Do they expect to make money by it?”

“I don’t think they do. They offer to work for nothing or anything, jf I will only give them a trial. They all think they have the natural intuition and ability to accomplish a great deal.”

Women Cannot Keep Secrets

“Do you ever give any of them any work?”

“I never do. I never want to offend the ladles, of course,” said the Inspector, as he idly twirled my parasol like a top, “so when they urge me to give them ‘just one trial, now do,’ I always say there are reasons why I cannot. That’s all you have to do, just touch a woman’s curious chord and you get no peace until she is satisfied on that score. Women can’t keep a secret. There was a clever woman in here the other day—a well-dressed, handsome woman—and she said, ‘Now, Inspector, why won’t you employ a woman?’ ‘Because,’ I told her, ‘no woman with a husband or sweetheart can keep a secret.’ ‘Then I am just the one you want,’ she said, springing to her feet; ‘my husband is dead and my heart is in the grave,’” and the Inspector laughed heartily at the recollection.

“But that Is true.” he continued gravely; “no woman can keep a secret. If she has a husband or sweetheart she wants to show how much she trusts him by sharing the secret. When I do employ a woman, if possible, I put her to work without telling her anything about the case, or if that is impossible, and she must be told, I always put someone on to shadow the woman while she is working. I never knew a woman I could trust in such affairs. We don’t need women in this office. There never was a case in which it was positively necessary to have the aid of a woman, and yet we never have a case that a woman does not figure in and help us to a very large extent.”

“I don’t understand,” I said, as the inspector watched to see the effect of his words.

“You know the old saying that in every case there is a woman at the bottom of it? Well, if a woman isn’t at the bottom of it she is always in it. The first thing we do when we want to find a criminal is to find the woman. We search out his wife or sweetheart and devote our attention to her. They are the finest tag that can be on a criminal’s shoulders. Unknowingly they give us all the pointers for our work. There isn’t a man who gets into trouble but has some woman he loves, and if he makes his escape, sure enough the longing to communicate with the one he loves is a thing he cannot conquer. In some way he sends her a message, and then we have him. If she’s his wife she will stick to him till death and sacrifice everything to aid him. But her devotion only brings him nearer to the clutches of the law, for we know every move she makes. If she is his sweetheart she has tenderness enough in her to remember how he has cared for her and offers him the consolation he seeks, so in either case the woman unknowingly helps us capture our man.

Betraying Their Lovers

“A woman is a mill-stone around a thief’s neck,” said the Inspector. “Why? Because he will take longer chances to see the woman he loves than he will to gamble or drink.”

“Then women are of great service to you after all,” I said.

“Knowingly, no; unknowingly, yes,” replied the Inspector.

“Have you never, in all your experience, known a woman to do good detective work?”

“Well, the woman who helped in the McGlein case did good work, but she did it unknowingly. She was a girl who had gone into an unhappy life and she wished to reform. I heard her story and sent her back to her old mother in the country. Well, the neighbors were very uncharitable, she told me afterwards, and her mother died of a broken heart, and there was nothing left for that girl to do but to drift back to New York, and into her old life. One night I saw three women fighting on the street and I found the one who came off worst was the girl I had sent to the country. I took her up again and got her to meet McGlein. She did not know what for. She told me after he was convicted that if she had known what the result was to be she would not have done it for any consideration. She thought that McGlein knew a thief that I wanted and that I expected to learn his whereabouts through McGlein.”

“Why shouldn’t a woman make a good detective?”

Never Successful As Detectives

“A truthful, self-respecting woman can never make a detective,” said the Inspector slowly. “Detectives are called upon to do disreputable things which a refined woman could never do. I never knew, as I told you, a woman who was a successful detective. They may be of benefit in society cases which are run by small private concerns but then only to destroy a man’s or woman’s domestic happiness.”

“What class of women do you think belong to detective agencies?”

“Well, now,” he said. “I think it would be very difficult for a woman to be a good woman and be a professional detective. No good woman will pry into the domestic secrets of others to betray them. I think good women have a gentle, sweet honesty that would prevent them from doing such things. Some of these private agencies are blots on the city. They watch the newspapers and when they see any notices of articles lost or stolen or persons missing, they write to the persons advertising that by calling upon them they can give some information. When the interested persons call they are persuaded to employ the agents, who work, with no result, as Iong as the victims will pay. I have known of their sending anonymous letters to married people to arouse suspicion and jealousy of each other, and then slip into a paying position of watching the suspected one. I had a woman complain to me once about her jealousy being worked upon till she employed a man to watch her husband. She had no grievances aginst her husband, only her suspicions were aroused. I sent for the husband, and he confided in me a like story only that he had employed a woman to watch his wife. I got the two detectives, and found they were husband and wife, and had been working to keep the other couple apart so as to give them plenty of money. That is only one case. There are many like it.”

Inspector Byrnes is a rather handsome, well-built man. He is 5 feet 10 inches in height, and weighs 180 pounds. His closely cut brown hair is slightly threaded with gray, and his drooping brown mustache fails to hide the ever-happy and pleasing smile which aids the bluish-gray frank eyes to cheat one into the idea that this man has never known or gazed on the misery and wlckedness of the world.

Inspector Byrnes has for twenty-six years been tussling with crime and criminals. He began first as a policeman, “just because he thought it was nice to wear a blue uniform and brass buttons” and get the best of law-breakers, so he says. He was faithful and did good work, and one after another he mounted the rungs of the ladder, for in his business no position can be skipped for one in advance. Eleven years ago he became inspector.

“And l am more green to-day than the day I started,” said the Inspector, which means the business has not grown to be an old story to him. “I live in my business. I have no pleasures or vacations; I do not attend places of amusement. I attend to business during every moment of my waking hours, and when I am asleep I dream of it.”

The Inspector’s Busy Life

Inspector Byrnes has lived at 59 West Ninth street since 1875. He has a pleasant wife and a lovely group of five daughters, bright, interesting and clever children. There is no son to bear the father’s name. The Inspector will be forty-seven years old on June 15, but he looks much younger.

Some of the Inspector’s most interesting cases have found their way into print. Several years ago he compiled a book entitled “Professional Criminals of America.” The book was the most complete thing of its kind ever published. It contained the photographs and history of most well-known criminals in America and has been the means of identifying many of them. After Inspector Byrnes sold the rights of his book to his publisher an effort was made to have a copy of “Professional Criminals of America” given to every American Consul. The Inspector says that American Consuls are frequently victimized by professional criminals, who happen to be away from this country. In some way the movement fell through.

Besides this book Mr. Byrnes, in connection with Mr. Julian Hawthorne, has published five books, among which are “The Great Bank Robbery,” “A Tragic Mystery,” “The American Penman” and “Another’s Crime.” The latest work, just published in serial form, is “Sergeant Von,” a story of a unique series of crimes committed in this country and Europe. This is solely Inspector Byrnes’s work.

“If one built a wall around Now York,” said the Inspector, when speaking about keeping trace of criminals, “one could know the city perfectly and be able to fight with what work came beneath one’s note, but if the search had to be made outside of the walls for an escaped criminal or an accomplice the searchers would be the worst, as one could well imagine. There is never a crime in any town or city that I do not take an interest in and work out mentally to see how, why and when the crime was committed. Thus I know what is going on, and if by any chance any part of the work should fall on me I know immediately what to do, for I have studied the case until I know as much as if I had been working on the ground. People get the idea that detecting is an easy thing and that anyone can do it; but in this, as in other walks in life, one must be able.to conceive original ideas and be able to work them out. If they try to follow in the footsteps of another they will fail just as sure as death. But it is a great business and my heart is wrapped up in it, ” concluded the Inspector.

The Little Chance for Ex-Convicts

Probably no man of the same income gives more to charity than does Inspector Byrnes. I suppose most people would think it was not charity to give aid to criminals, but criminals are the ones who receive aid from Byrnes’s pocketbook. Why does he give them money? To help keep them out of jail as long as possible. As he explained to me, after a thief has served his sentence he is cast out on a world that has no mercy for him. He is branded and no one will employ him. What is he to do? Steal, of course. So when Inspector Byrnes meets these men he say:

“Now I will help you stay out of jail as long as possible. I cannot get you work without giving your history, then no one will employ you, so if you can get work do so by all means, for I am always on your track, and your first misstep sends you back to prison. If you can get no, work and are hungry come to me. I will aid you.”

And they do come. One man, with the bearing of a gentleman, was, some time ago on his release from jail, brought before the Inspector.

“What are you going to do? asked the Inspector.

“I don’t know,” responded the man despondently. “I don’t want to steal, but I can’t get work and I won’t beg.”

“And you think as you haven’t many more years to live that you might as well spend them in jail,” added the Inspector. The man assented. “Don’t steal, because I am on your track and will have to send you up, and it’s hard that you should die in prison. You should be spending your remaining days, which are few, in preparing for death.”

The tears rolled down the old thief’s cheeks. He went out with enough money to keep him for a few days, with instructions to come back for more when that was gone. He did come back. Not for more money, but to beg the Inspector to get him into some hospital where he might die. The Inspector made all arrangements at a hospital, and when I saw him he had an engagement to meet the thief to take him to the place he sought.

The thief belonged to a good family years ago. He was a reckless, dissipated young man, and gambling caused his downfall. He served his sentence and never regained what he lost. For forty years he has been a thief, and in that time has stolen two or three million dollars. No one in New York knows his real name. Today he is old, ill, friendless and penniless, and at this time may be lying on a white cot in a hospital, waiting for death to relieve him of this life, with little hopes of a better one.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/78653275/?terms=by%2BNellie%2BBly)


Three Killed in Bar Room

The Call Leader (Elwood, IN)

April 21, 1930


Chicago Police Declare Slain Gangsters Were Shot as Rebuke to Al Capone

Place Had Been Padlocked


The Easter morning massacre of three gangsters in the notorious Blue Hour saloon here was a rival underworld faction’s warning against the ambitious expansion methods of Scarface Al Capone, police said today after a thorough investigation.

A lone executioner strode into the First Ward barroom and shot three Capone henchmen dead in less than two minutes. The police learned the triple killing followed directly on the heels of the gang leader’s attempt to seize control of the bread, crackers, yeast and pie wagon drivers’ union here.

Walter Wakefield, one of the slain men and a general in the Capone organization, carried his master’s persuasive bid to the meeting of the union Saturday night, it was learned. Frank Delray and Joseph Special, also Capone lieutenants, were slain as a warning to Capone’s methods, the police agreed.

The killings were viewed as a direct violation of the gang peace pact agreed upon last week. “It is a direct warning against the Capone gang” was the verdict of Lieutenant Al Booth, who is in charge of the homicide squad, probing the triple murder.


Chicago, April 21—Three men were put to death yesterday morning in the Blue Hour saloon on the turbulent south side by a lone executioner. Police theories as to the motive for the murders ranged from a beer gang feud to hostilities engendered last primary day. The saloon is in the First ward. The dead were Walter L. Wakefield, 29, one of the proprietors of the place and a worker for Dan Serritella, who was elected Republican committeeman of the First ward and nominated for state senator at the primary on April 8.

Frank Delray, alias Dire, 33, partner of Wakefield and once arrested as a hijacker.

Joseph Special, 28, a waiter and a cousin of Phil Special, one of the Capone gang for whom the Specialville was named.

The Blue Hour saloon was reopened a week ago Saturday night after an enforced closing of several years due mainly to the duel to the death that took place there in 1925 between Jimmy Vinel and Machine Gun Joe Granata.

Genaro Shooting Recalled

The place had been reopened once since then by Delary and John Genaro, who was shot four times near the saloon on Jan. 29 and who violated the ethics of his kind by naming James Beleastro, Angelo Lucci and Loais Bealea as the men who tried to kill him.

Police Captain William Stapleton refused to give his approval to the granting of a soft drink license for the place but a few days after the primary Wakefield displayed a newly issued license, and this was credited by the police to the influence of Seritella, who is a city hall cabinet member with the office of city sealer.

The grand opening was held on April 12 and that night two bricks were thrown through the front window. Wakefield told one of his five brothers then “Somebody doesn’t want us here.” Business was dull all week, but Saturday night the back room was filled with customers and the bar was lined all night.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/86656460/?terms=Chicago%2BMurder%2BGang)


The Voice That Breathed O’er Eden

Damon Runyon

Buffalo Times/October 3, 1909


SOMEONE was singing off in the distance.

The voice, a healthy baritone, came floating through the heavy night air full and strong. It was something from lI Travatore, sung in the Italian, and Corporal Monahan, commanding the little outpost, raised himself on his elbow to listen.

“Darn that Englisher,” he muttered. “I wish the niggers would take him away somewhere with ’em so’s I’d never hear his voice again.”

“Who is it?” asked Carney, who had recently transferred from the Ninth.

“Brett—a bandman,” replied Monahan. “He’s an Englisher, and mostly he’s crazy.”

“Wonder they don’t knock his block off,” said Carney sleepily.

“They like him,” said Monahan. “That is, they like his singing. You’ll hear him nearly every night in some of them barrios warbling like a chipmunk.”

The voice rose and fell in dreamy fashion, like a gentle wind, until finally it died away slowly and softly, and the men on the outpost heard the laughing and hand clapping, and delighted exclamations in Spanish as the natives applauded the vocal efforts of Algernon Swingingham Ambrose-Brett.

Algernon Swingingham Ambrose-Brett!

We shall never see his like again. And we don’t want to. He flitted through a term of service in the United States army like the passing of a dream, and while we shall cherish his memory, if not sacredly, at least vividly, we do not care for encores.

Algernon Swingingham Ambrose-Brett!

Can you imagine that name panoplied in the regalia of a private of the United States army? Can you conjure up a picture of six feet of British roast beef brawn, shoe-horned into a tight fitting olive drab uniform, betokening one of Uncle Sam’s first class fighting men?

Can you, in your wildest flights of imagination, think of an English light opera singer with a baritone voice like liquid gold—a voice that was as moonbeams strung on platinum wires—whatever that means—a voice attuned to a soft conversational tone redolent of drawing rooms, dress suits and monocles, even when answering “heah” to the staccato accents of a brisk first sergeant as he called the roll?

Probably you cannot. It’s a hard task, at best, but if you can picture such a man and such a voice, you have Algernon Swingingham Ambrose-Brett, private of the band.—Infantry, United States Army.

We shall never see his like again.

Ah, that voice of Algernon’s! I am no musician, myself, and am mostly tone deaf. The average piece of classical melody is no sweeter to my ears than the sound you can make by rubbing your hand along a barb wire fence, or throwing rocks on a tin roof, but I know that there have been few voices worth speaking of before or since the time of Algernon.

He came to this country singing a minor role in a light opera company of considerable note. He was the action of a distinguished family in the tight little isle, but it was said he had been profligate, and they had cast him off.

Ordinarily Algernon was the mildest person imaginable, but he had a carefully nurtured appetite for Scotch whiskey fraught with deep possibilities.

Anyhow, Algernon was cast off, and so he took his six feet of brawn, and his moonbeam baritone, along with his innocent blue eyes and fresh complexion, to say nothing of his immaculate dress, into the ranks of light opera. His proudest and most carefully treasured possession was his voice, and he sang because he loved to raise those tinkling notes in song. So he went into light opera, and from there he graduated into the United States Army.

The light opera company disbanded, and left Algernon with little money, but a whole lot of pride. He would not send home for funds, and he didn’t know how to work. Somehow he ran into a soldier, who suggested the army to him. Unlike the average Englishman, Algernon knew nothing at all about soldiering. His idea of enlisting was to find a temporary refuge. It never occurred to him that he could not leave any time he wanted to. It never occurred to him that there was such a thing as class distinction between men and officers in the army. He had been reared in a musical atmosphere, far removed from worldly things.

Algernon enlisted in Kansas City, where the opera company went to pieces. I can well imagine the scene when he entered the recruiting office, because he told me something of his experiences and I know Sergeant Mack, the gruff old fellow who is the presiding genius of the Kansas City office.

“I said: ‘Aw, me good fellow, I should like to secure employment in your awmy,’ ” is what Algernon told me he said to Mack in stating his mission.

He had been coached by whoever it was recommended the army to him, and he also told Mack that he was an American citizen. Whatever doubts his appearance and manner may have aroused in Mack’s mind, Brett got his employment all right, and I expect he also received an experience at the hands of Mack that he will never forget. He intimated that the old sergeant was “rude,” and I don’t doubt it.

Anyhow, Algernon came to the army, and from the moment he first made his appearance with the awkward squad until he received his final papers, he was the wonder of all beholders.

They put him in the band. He could play almost any instrument, excepting the bass drum, and was a pretty valuable man, outside of his total disregard for discipline.

It didn’t do any good to punish him for infractions of the rules, because he would fracture them over again in the same place, and in such, a simple minded manner that led one to doubt his responsibility. Finally they let him alone, and much better results were attained. He dropped into a position similar to that of the regimental dog—he wandered almost at will.

When the regiment struck the Philippines, Algernon was in his glory. He at last found an appreciative audience for his voice. The Filipino is a great lover of music, and Algernon could sing in half a dozen languages, so they went wild over him. Night after night while we were in Manila, Algernon was the guest of honor at the home of some Filipino swell, singing away for dear life.

That was all right while we were in Manila, but when the regiment went to one of the southern islands, Algernon continued his visits with-the natives, and got himself in trouble with the captain. He was warned to keep away from them, but the call of music was too strong, and he would sneak away frequently to spend an evening in some hovel, raising his voice in glandsome song, to an admiring audience of dirty natives.

There were no actual hostilities in the islands, but a vicious ladrone, or robber, named Lonez had a band of native outlaws devastating the particuIar island where we were stationed, and we used to have an occasional mix-up with his crowd. The government at Manila was very anxious to capture Lonez, and had put a big price on his head, dead or alive, but we were never able to get closer to him than rifle shot. He had a retreat somewhere up in the mountains, and it was regarded as inaccessible for troops. So Lonez had a pretty easy thing, dropping down upon the peaceful natives from time to time and levying tribute upon them.

We called the isand where we were located Eden; mostly because no white man could pronounce the right name, and because it was so different from what Eden is popularly supposed to have been. Our Eden was mostly jungle, and generally it was raining.

This man Carney, that I have mentioned as coming from the Ninth, began taking quite an interest in Algernon after he had heard him singing. There was nothing musical about Carney, either. He was a short, squat built fellow, with a Tipperary mug, and the physical aspect of a gorilla, but he was an old and good soldier.

His interest in Algernon was not reciprocated. Frankly, the Englishman was a little afraid of him. Someone told Algernon that Carney was “queer.” And Algernon promptly construed it to mean that Carney was crazy.

And Carney somehow gathered that this was Algernon’s idea, too, although we didn’t know that for some time afterwards.

Carney began making a sort of study of Algernon and Algernon’s movements, The musical bandman continued his visits to the natives, and kept going farther away from camp in his search for audiences, and his fame was bounded only by the limits of the island. The natives used to point him out and take off their hats when they spoke to him, which shows what a voice will do if it is properly worked. Any other soldier in the army would have been waylaid and murdered half a mile from camp, but Algernon, alone and unarmed, used to go ten miles and return loaded with presents. And you couldn’t tell him there was any danger.

One day Carney went to Captain Brooks, commanding his company, and said:

“Sir, I would like to have the captain’s permission to capture Lonez.”

“Humh,” he said. “I guess you can have the captain’s permission, all right, but I’d like to know how you mean to do it.”

“I’ve got a tip he’s going to be at a doings in a small barrio eight miles from here tonight,” said Carney. “A nigger from out in the woods told me. I would like to have permission to get him.”

Lonez had been closer than that to us many a time and we had tried to trap him, too, but the natives always got word to him and he would be gone hours before we reached the place where he had been reported. The country was full of his friends, and even the people he imposed on helped him out every time.

“I want to take one man with me,” said Carney. “I’ve got a little scheme of my own to land Lonez, and I’d like to try it out.”

“You couldn’t get within a mile of him before he’d be gone,” said the captain.

“Well, I’ve got a plan that I think will work,” insisted Carney. “Let me have one man and take a chance.”

“What one man?” asked the captain.

“Brett, of the band,” replied Carney.

The captain eyed him as though doubting his sanity. “Why, that fellow would be a dead weight on you if you got into trouble,” he said, laughing loudly.

“I’d like to take Brett,” repeated Carney. “I need him in my business.”

“Well, Carney, you can try it, but I must insist on a squad of men following you as a measure or safety. If you get Lonez there are several hundred pesos in sight for you, but I’m not particularly impressed with your chances.”

Carney saluted and went out, hurrying over to his quarters where he got his rifle and two belts of ammunition. Then without a by-your-leave, he appropriated a sergeant’s revolver and went over to the band quarters.

It was along toward evening and dusk was coming on.

“Brett,” said Carney, briskly, “you’re under arrest.”

“Why, Carney, old chap, what’s the row?” asked Algernon vaguely; not exactly perturbed, because arrest was nothing new to him, but wondering just what he had done.

“Come with me,” said Carney gruffly,

“Here’s a deuced go,” commented Brett.

The attitude of Carney puzzled him. but he supposed from the fact that the soldier had his rifle and side arms that Carney was on guard and had simply been detailed to escort him to the guard house.

Someone saw them vanishing toward the edge of town, Brett out in front, talking back over his shoulder, and Carney behind, walking stiffly with his rifle at a “ready,” and bayonet fixed. After retreat the captain of Carney’s company sent for him to discuss the proposed capture again, and also to arrange for the squad which was to follow after, but Carney had disappeared and none could say where they went.

“Now,” said Carney, the moment they got into the brush out of sight of the camp, and beyond the furthest outposts. “Now you English son-of-a-gun, you sing!”

“Sing?” asked the astonished Algernon. “Why should I sing, Carney, me boy?”

“Sing! Sing—damn you, sing!” roared Carney, with menace in his tones, “Sing!”

With a cruel bayonet perilously near his rear, and a fearsome looking Irishman behind the bayonet, Algernon had scant choice. Whatever thought of remonstrance he had died away at the sight of Carney’s face.

And Algernon sang.

He sang as he never did before—or since.

If he could lift that baritone voice of his upon the stage and sing as he sang through the Eden jungles that night he would be famous in a jiffy.

Straight into the forest they marched. Algernon’s voice rolling ahead like a mellow wave. He chose something soft and sad, and Carney didn’t like it. As soon as the last note fell, he ordered:

“Something lively now! Sing, damn you, sing!”

Algernon had not the least doubt in the world now but that he was in the hands of a crazy man. He recalled the gossip about Carney being queer, and commenced to sweat. But he sang! My, how he sang!

He turned loose on a rollicking air that carried through the forest like a peal of deep toned bells.

Lights sprang up left and right between the trees, and there was a distant sound of hand clapping. Occasionally they saw a white clad figure and heard an exclamation of “Bueno!” but the natives did not come close enough to note the grim soldier marching behind the singer.

Mile after mile they traveled, passing lighted barrios by the score, and every foot of the way was strewn with the golden notes of Algernon’s voice.

Finally they came to a village even more brilliantly lighted than any of the others, where a great deal of merry-making seemed to be in progress. Laughter and song floated through the air, and the tinkling of harps and guitars gave notice of an event out of the ordinary.

The approach of Algernon’s voice, now somewhat husky as the result of eight miles of strenuous travel, brought silence over the village, but it was the silence of appreciation.

“Bravo! Americano!” yelled a hundred voices when the song was ended, and the applause was terrific.

Algernon and his escort came to a halt behind a big hedge of trees right on the edge of the village. The natives had a big fire on the little plaza in front of the inevitable chapel. They seemed to be having a very good time indeed. Carney and Algernon now commanded a full view of proceedings but were not visible to the villagers themselves.

“Sing, damn you, sing!” hissed Carney, the instant the applause lessened. He shot the gleaming bayonet toward Algernon’s stomach with a truly frightening gesture, and he was plainly excited.

Algernon, badly scared, began on a new song, and the natives listened intently. They thought they were being serenaded.

“Which one is Lonez?” muttered Carney in Algernon’s ear. “Sing it.”

Algernon probably divined Carney’s purpose at that moment. He came to a part of the song which required a repetition of a line several times, and without losing a note, Algernon substituted for the song word:

“The fat man; the fat man; the fat man,” and sang it like one possessed.

Now I have every reason to believe that Carney intended shooting Lonez from ambush. He never said so, but we have Algernon’s word for it that he saw, out of the corner of his eye, a bayonet come to shoulder level, and then remain steadily for a full minute, as though it were being carefully aimed. There was only one fat man in the party around the fire, and what would have happened to that fat man in a few seconds more is disagreeable to contemplate. But the fat man, who was Lonez, all right, suddenly arose, and started toward the hedge. It was quite evident that he intended welcoming the singer.

Carney jumped behind a tree with the admonition:

“Sing, damn you, sing!”

The natives saw the fat bandit disappear behind the hedge in smiling anticipation. They did not see him advance, hand out-stretched to Algernon, who stood transfixed, but singing soulfully. They did not see the dark form that slipped from behind a tree, and they did not see the rifle butt drop heavily on Lonez’ head. The heavy fall of the bandit chief was lost in the sudden roar of melody that sprang from Algernon’s throat at a point in the song where his voice should have been very soft.

Neither did they see the dark form bend and pick up the fat man, swinging his limp body across a brawny shoulder like a sack of oats, and they did not hear the guttural injunction:

“Sing, damn you, sing!”

And, of course, they could not see the black nosed revolver pointed at the throat of Algernon Swingingham Ambrose-Brett.

But they did note that the singing seemed to somehow be receding, and getting farther and farther away, and they sat as though entranced by this circumstance, until the voice suddenly died out altogether. Then there came crashing through the thickets couriers from other villages with word that an armed party had left the American camp and was headed that way.

En masse the villagers rushed behind the hedge. The found an American rifle, and a few drops of blood on the dry leaves.

Headlong they hurried through the forest, only to be met by still more villagers with word that the American party was advancing rapidly. So the natives dispersed to their homes, as became peaceful villagers, puzzling over the fate of the ladrone chief.

A strong moon lighted up the road along which Captain Brooks and a large squad was hastening, when the advance came in contact with a strange calvacade.

Ahead marched Algernon Swingingham Ambrose-Brett, bearing the head and shoulders of a burly native; behind came Private Carney, tugging at the feet of the same native, who gurgled and groaned in soporific unconsciousness. Upon the native’s stomach, in convenient reach of Private Carney’s hand, reposed a heavy six-shooter.

While Carney made brief, but lucid explanation, Algernon stood by in silence. Spoken to, he made wondrous noise in his throats, but no words of understanding came therefrom.

“What’s the matter with Brett?” demanded the captain, noting this condition.

“Oh, he’s a little hoarse,” said Carney. Then he made a threatening gesture toward Algernon.

“Sing, damn you, sing!”

But Algernon did not sing, and it was a long time after that before he did, too.


(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/442023902)


The Woman Boss of Denver

Damon Runyon

Harper’s Weekly/December 26, 1908

Mrs. Anna Margaret Scott, Who Garners Votes and Crops with Equal Ability


THE slate-makers of the Republican party in Denver sat one night with their heads close together framing up the city ticket. The big boss was reclining in a chair just outside the group, smoking innumerable cigarettes, and occasionally replying gruffly to requests for suggestions.

The Fourteenth ward was reached.

“Bill Skeezicks for alderman there,” said a committeeman. “There’s a swell Republican Ward for you. If all the others in town were like that—”

“Wait a minute,” interrupted the big boss. “Who’s that dub you’ve got for alderman?”

“Bill Skeezicks,” said the committeeman. “He’s Anna Scott’s man.”

“Anna Scott be dished!” roared the big boss, impolitely. “We want Sam Smiler up there. Who’s this Bill Skeezicks, anyway?”

“We don’t know,” replied everybody in alarmed chorus. “He’s Anna Scott’s man.”

“Well, we won’t have him,” was the boss’s ultimatum. “Put down Sam Smiler and have him nominated for alderman from the Fourteenth.”

They put down Sam Smiler. Then someone telephoned York 2011.

“The big fellow says you can’t have that Skeezicks party, Mrs. Scott,” breathed the some one into the ‘phone. “He says he wants Smiler nominated up there.”

“Oh, he does, does he?” came a soft voice from the other end of the wire. “Well, you tell him I’m going to nominate Bill Skeezicks for alderman from the Fourteenth, just the same.”

They carried the news to the big boss.

“Of course you can talk her into having Smiler,” they suggested, soothingly.

The boss snorted in derision and anger.

“I’ll not try to talk any woman into anything,” he bellowed. “Give her a good beating and she’ll quit. I’ve been hearing about that Scott woman for quite a while now, and she’s been getting away with things up there because she never ran afoul of us, and I didn’t pay much attention to her. Now she’s getting high and mighty, and we’ll just take her down. Go after that ward!” he ordered, imperiously.

They did. They sent the primitive steam-roller of that day into the startled precincts of the classic Fourteenth, to the astonishment of the residents, and to the apparent destruction of all opposition. “Sam Smiler, and get out of the way!” whined the wheels of the big roller as it rumbled through the peaceful streets like a Juggernaut.

It roared past 527 Corona, and a stout-set woman with a placid, motherly countenance hurried to the window and watched it. Then she put on her hat and went to call on the neighbors.

“Nothing to it in the Fourteenth Ward,” reported the roller drivers. “We’ve flattened her out,” and the boss grunted with satisfaction and said something hateful about a “fool woman.”

They tiptoed into the headquarters when they bore the primary returns to the big boss, and they stood back in fear and trembling while he looked them over. Bill Skeezicks had been nominated, and Sam Smiler was lost in the ruck. The big man eyed the result without a word and then glanced scornfully at his shaking satellites.

“Mrs. Scott did this?” he finally demanded. They nodded dismally. “Send her to me,” he ordered, and the next day the stout-set woman with the placid, motherly face appeared before the boss and they looked each other over eye to eye.

“I want you to take charge of the fight in the Fourteenth,” said the boss, noting the square-cut chin and the wide-open, fearless eyes. “Anybody who can whip me that way in a preliminary must go into the main event. We need you.”

The woman demurred. “I don’t want to do that,” she said. “I wouldn’t have fought you if you hadn’t fought me first. I’ve won. Now you can go ahead and elect my man. I’m not capable of carrying on the fight in the field.”

“Anybody who can trim me the way you did is capable of anything. You must take charge of the election,” declared the boss.

“Well, I’ll do it if I can do it my way,” she finally agreed.

“Do anything you want—just elect your man,” the boss replied.

Bill Skeezicks was elected by so large a majority that they haven’t finished counting it yet. To this day they recite the election in the Fourteenth as a striking example in Colorado politics of the difference in the use of money with men and women.

“I hired only women workers,” reported Mrs. Scott, in her expense account. “I believe them to be more effective than men. It cost me just $400 to carry my ward.”

The big-boss heard the report in amazement. “What do you think o’ that?” he shouted. “Here’s the cheapest ward in Denver. Every one of the others cost us from $2000 to $5000. I’m for Anna Scott and her women workers.”

That wasn’t the creation of Anna M. Scott as the boss of the Fourteenth Ward, by any means. It was merely an assertion of her authority, and an incident in the political career of the only woman in Colorado who, entering politics as a result of woman suffrage, has played politics exactly as a man plays it and developed into a minor boss and a powerful factor in the political affairs of Denver.

The Fourteenth Ward sprawls in a peculiar outline over most of the aristocratic portion of the city. It comprises many acres of magnificent homes. As the “Seeing Denver” cars chug smoothly over the macademized streets, the announcer bawls lustily that the young palace on the right is the $500,000 home of Mr. William Smith, the mining king, or that the small edition of the White House on the left harbors Mr. John Jones, the merchant prince.

The big car swings into a quiet street slightly shaded by infrequent cottonwoods, and passes a modest two-story brick which looks like a dozen other brick houses around it. A woman of broad physical outline and middle age stands on the porch pulling on her gloves, and the announcer removes the megaphone from his lips long enough to jerk the peak of his cap and say, “Mornin’, Mrs. Scott!”

The woman glances up abstractedly and nods. The car goes on and the announcer resumes his megaphone to call attention to the house on the next corner. He says nothing about the woman on the porch, but he has passed up with a brief personal salutation the most interesting sight the car has yet encountered. He knows Mrs. Scott well, perhaps, but he doesn’t know that she is the boss of the Fourteenth Ward, which accounts for his negligence.

Not all who know Mrs. Scott personally realize her political importance. They know her as a neighborly, pleasant-spoken woman, and they recollect that she always seems active in politics, and that they voted for certain things or certain men she had asked them to vote for, because they like her, but as for being boss of the Fourteenth–no, they never heard that.

Mayor R. W. Speer lives in our ward. Perhaps he is the boss. Horace Phelps, who was defeated for mayor by Mr. Speer at the last city election also lives here. Maybe he has something to say. United States District-Attorney Tom Ward is our neighbor. He may know something about the boss business. We vote for things Mrs. Scott asks us to because we like her, but we never heard she is a boss.

Opulence sits fat and smiling in the heart of the Fourteenth, and money holds animated conversation on every corner. Then there are other parts where Poverty has a considerable say-so, but Opulence and Poverty rub elbows at the voting-booth on election day and have an equal vote, and all votes are grist in the political mill of Anna M. Scott. She nods a brief morning salute at Opulence wending its way townward in a touring-car, and she stops to hold converse with Poverty carrying the dinner-pail. And on election day Opulence and Poverty race each other to the polls to vote for something Mrs. Scott has indicated she wants.

So Anna Scott runs the ward primaries and the ward conventions and dictates who shall be the alderman from her ward, and who shall go to the county and state conventions, and generally conducts political affairs in the four miles of the Fourteenth Ward and her own precinct, territorialy the largest in the city, after the manner of the rulers of the downtown wards. Her ward casts 3000 votes and her precinct 759.

In times of Republican administration if James Jackson, a voter of the Fourteenth Ward, wants a job on the street-cleaning department, he doesn’t go to his ward alderman or the head of the department. He goes to Anna M. Scott. If Mrs. Jackson wants a job as canvasser, or election clerk, or in some public office, she doesn’t go anywhere else but to 527 Corona, and if the place is gettable, and Mrs. Scott thinks Mrs. Jackson deserves it, Mrs. Jackson gets the job.

A trivial incident some fifteen years ago, at the very inception of woman’s suffrage in Colorado, gave Mrs. Scott a fleeting glimpse into ward politics, but it was enough to arouse her curiosity. She took a small part in a ward-campaign at the urging of her neighbors, became interested, and commenced a study of the game.

She made up her mind at once that the way to understand politics was to begin at the very beginning, and she made ward and primary politics her especial study. She also concluded that, since the law made men and women equal in politics, and politics was primarily a man’s game, the way to play politics was on a basis with the men. And that is the way she plays it.

In fifteen years she has lost her ward but twice, and she never lost a primary fight since she entered the game.

As a boss she doesn’t look the part. A comfortable looking woman of mature years, who dresses quietly, and has a reserved manner, she bears more the appearance of a home-body, whose greatest activity might centre about the Helping-Hand Guild, rather than the most astute woman politician in Colorado. It is not until one talks to her on the subject of politics, and hears her briskly rattling off the slang phrases of politics in her quick, incisive voice, when she wants to express her thought succinctly, and displaying a marvelous knowledge of the great American game, and of men who engage in it, that one realizes that beneath her staid exterior there is a masterly personality.

Ask any woman what women are the most prominent in Colorado politics, and, if she knows anything at all about the matter, there will come naturally to her lips the names of Sarah Platt Decker, Helen M. Grenfell, Katherine Craig, Ellis Meredith, Mary C. C. Bradford, and a dozen others, but not the name of Anna M. Scott. Ask any man who deals in politics the same question, and he will likely say right off the bat:

“Well, Anna Scott is probably the shrewdest politician.”

Anna M. Scott is distinctly not representative of the Colorado woman suffragist, as the suffragist is now constituted. Her creation is due to woman’s suffrage, all right, and she declares that whatever power she possesses is maintained through her women friends, but she is a pioneer—the pioneer, in fact—of a type of woman in politics, which, it would seem, must eventually become numerous if the women hope to deal on an equality with the men.

The women leaders profess a dislike for Anna Scott’s political methods, although their understanding of these methods seems somewhat vague. They know that her methods are not their methods, but they admit that her methods have been decidedly successful in most instances.

The leaders are inclined to draw their political skirts at the mention of her name, but over and beyond the leaders there is a big army of women voters who, quite evidently, follow the lead of Anna Scott—quite evidently, or she couldn’t be boss of the Fourteenth Ward Her petticoated army is heavily reinforced now by large detachments of men who also follow her banners perforce.

Some of the women have been very bitter against Mrs. Scott in times past. One of them in particular used to give out “stories” to a political reporter on a Denver paper which was opposed to Mrs. Scott’s political affiliations, these stories reflecting no little discredit on the lady from the Fourteenth. One day a woman called the reporter on the telephone and asked:

“Have you ever met Mrs. Scott?”

The reporter admitted that it had never been his pleasure. “She wants to talk to you,” said the woman. “I wish you would go out to her house and see her.”

The reporter, who had been picturing Mrs. Scott as a veritable dragon, was disposed to decline, and then he reflected that perhaps Mrs. Scott might make it a point to call on him during office hours, so he got on a street-car and went out to Corona Street, feeling rather cramped about the diaphragm, and shaky in the knees.

He was received very kindly by Mrs. Scott, who said:

“Now I know where you get your stories, all right. They come from some of these women who don’t like me because I play politics in a way that is different from theirs. They don’t understand my methods, and I don’t blame them, but I don’t like to be continually misrepresented. Supposing you and I have a square deal all around.”

And then she talked with him for several hours, and he went away vowing to himself and to everyone he met that Mrs. Scott was the greatest woman he had ever met. Thereafter, some of the biggest political “beats” in the town were executed by that reporter, and they came through Anna Scott. Today he is managing editor and a political force in the Democratic party, but he still avers that he has never met a better politician, man or woman, than Anna Scott. The incident shows Mrs. Scott’s direct method. She goes at once to the source of things, and usually goes in person.

As she grew in political stature in her own ward, Mrs. Scott was gradually drawn into state politics, in which the women of Colorado are perhaps more active than they are in municipal affairs. The politicians appreciated her political importance and paid her deference, but if the women felt that she had any power at all they would not admit it, and some of them decided that it was time to cut her down. One of them in particular, a woman of considerable prominence, whom we shall call Mrs. Smith, felt it incumbent upon herself to take up the cudgel against Mrs. Scott and eliminate her from Republican politics.

Mrs. Smith figured that the best way to accomplish her purpose was to organize a new club of Republican women, which was to be very exclusive, and principally exclusive of Mrs. Scott. She told the State chairman about the idea, and the state chairman, being a man and acquainted with Mrs. Scott, told Mrs. Smith to go ahead.

So Mrs. Smith issued sixty typewritten invitations, calling her meeting for a certain day and a certain hour, at the Women’s Club. Mrs. Scott did not receive an invitation, but a friend did. The friend showed her invitation to Mrs. Scott. Mrs. Scott promptly borrowed the typewritten document. Then she had 400 facsimiles of the invitation struck off, with the word “copy” in tiny letters at the top. She mailed these copies around to her friends.

On the day set for the meeting Mrs. Scott’s friends were on hand, not one of the 400 sending regrets. Mrs. Smith and the select sixty were also there, and Mrs. Smith had them assembled in a room ready for business when the clamor of the Scott 400 was heard at the door. There was a great to-do. Mrs. Smith suspected a job at once and pulled a table across the doorway, seating herself upon the table and excluding the unexpected guests. When Mrs. Scott arrived on the scene Mrs. Smith was certain of the job, and charged it through a crack in the door.

“Why,” said Mrs. Scott in apparent amazement, producing an invitation, “I came in response to this. Are you folks going to organize a club? Isn’t that nice!”

“You go away!” commanded Mrs. Smith.

Mrs. Scott’s amazement gave place to vast indignation.

“Well, we’re all here, and we all came to organize a club. If we can’t do it in here, we’ll go somewhere else and organize a club ourselves,” she declared, and thereupon she rented a room in the same building, took her 400 faithfuls with her, and proceeded to organize her own club. Incidentally she duplicated the other organization formed by Mrs. Smith, in name and everything else, so closely that it is suspected it was something more than coincidence. The result was very confusing indeed, and the State chairman roared with laughter when he heard about it.

Mrs. Scott has attended as a delegate every city, county, and state convention held by the Republican party since the women were granted equal suffrage.

It is claimed by the politicians of Colorado that the women are steadily losing interest in politics, but the wish is probably father to the thought. Mrs. Scott charges that this apparent falling off in interest is due to a systematic effort of the politicians to push the women into the background. For a long time she has been vigorously fighting a rule of the Republican party in Denver, which she regards as particularly unfair to the women, and to which she attributes whatever failures there may be charged to the women of her party. It is that a male member of the central committee shall be elected from each precinct and he shall appoint a woman member, with power to remove her at any time for cause.

The rule at one time read that the “committee-man” should be elected, and this meant either a man or woman, and gave the women a chance to fight for place on the committee. They got about forty members, and, under the leadership of Mrs. Scott and several others, were planning to keep on growing until they had control, or at least half of the committee. The men then changed the rule in the manner mentioned.

In all parts of the state, except Denver, the women are still elected as members of the state central committee, but the men charge that the women do not take the proper interest in the matter, and cite that out of fifty-nine counties only half a dozen women took enough interest at the last meeting of the State committee to attend.

“Oh yes,” says Mrs. Scott, “but these men have a system of preventing the woman member from getting railroad passes to come to Denver, where the meetings are held, as they do. In addition to paying her fare she would have the expense of remaining here several days, and it is pretty easy to see why she is prevailed upon by the man to give her proxy.”

The state rules were changed to give two male members of the committee to each county, but at the last state convention Mrs. Scott succeeded in having them read that the member may be a man or woman.

Mrs. Scott entertains no visionary notions regarding politics, and few illusions. A strong woman suffragist, she attributes all her success to the women.

“I believe in universal suffrage,” she says, “but I believe that the property-owners, male and female, should be the voters. The poll-books should be made up from the treasurer’s books. A woman is held responsible for her debts, so she should certainly be allowed to assist in making the laws which govern her interests. There is no doubt in my mind that many politicians would like to see the women eliminated from politics. In the beginning they were very generous, but they have commenced to find it somewhat burdensome. They would relegate women to the background; but I suppose if the women held the power they would feel disposed the same way toward the men.

“Fifteen years have convinced the practical politician that the only certain thing about the woman vote is its uncertainty; wherefore he is reduced to the extremity of making guesses, and guessing is not practical politics. So the practical politician says suffrage is a failure because it is a nuisance to him: because he cannot control the woman vote. The truth of the whole matter is, female suffrage has not failed—and perhaps not succeeded—in any greater degree than male suffrage. The women have become identified with and a part of the political game.

“The women have not yet awakened to the fact that it is the preliminaries they should look after. They are the vote-getters, and they cast a big percentage of the vote, but the men never pay any attention to the women until after the ticket is made up. The women should begin at the primaries. That the day will come when the women will be on absolute equality with the men I firmly believe, but I don’t look for it in my time. If the women would go into the primaries and get into the conventions they would be a power. They seem inclined too much toward taking things for granted.”

Mrs. Scott invariably gets on the apportionment committee, which consists of a member from each ward. The importance of this committee is usually overlooked to a great extent, but Mrs. Scott thoroughly appreciates it. It is always read to a convention about the last thing when everybody is reaching for his hat, and the average delegate doesn’t know and doesn’t care what it means. The delegates to the conventions, and Mrs. Scott, as the committee member from her ward, names the delegates from that ward—and she is usually one of them.

“Never pick politicians for delegates; they’ll want to have something to say,” she observes.

Mrs. Scott declares emphatically that the women are more loyal to one another than the men. “I attribute all my success to the support of women,” she says, and adds, thoughtfully, “and to doing things in time.

“The woman in politics has brought about a reformation to the extent that there are no more rough-and tumble primaries,” she continues. “We hold them in our homes now, instead of some barn or saloon. We have purified politics to that degree, anyhow; although I regard politics as a good deal like a game of cards—there isn’t much to be purified. Our election laws are far from perfect. A foreigner can come to this country, be naturalized, and in a comparatively short time cast his vote; but our boys and girls must wait until they are twenty-one years old before they can do the same.

“The women do all the work in a political fight, and get the least. Our women may have failed to develop any great number of big politicians, but it is because of lack of opportunity as much as anything else.

“You must always remember that politics has not taken the Colorado woman out of the home. She is just as womanly now as she ever was. One good reason why they do not mix in politics to any great extent is that they are wrapped up in their homes, and in other feminine interests which occupy their time the same as women the world over. One of the very greatest accomplishments of woman suffrage is the entirely changed attitude of men toward women in all matters pertaining to questions of public interest. They now regard them as constituents and as human beings.”

While deploring the changed rule which makes the woman member of the central committee appointive at the hands of the male member, Mrs. Scott has evolved a bit of strategy which she preaches to the women.

“Exercise enough diplomacy to have the committee-man in accord with you,” she says. She exemplifies her idea in her own precinct. Her husband, who is a businessman, and takes little interest in politics, is the committee-man from the precinct. Mrs. Scott is the committee-woman.

“One of the stock arguments against equal rights is that women have been used in fraudulent voting.” says Mrs. Scott.

“That may be true, but, if it is, it is true only of certain localities. The thing to do is to cut out that class of men who make use of unfortunate women in a fraudulent manner at election-time.

“The assertion that the woman votes as does the man is an old, old argument. I presume it is true that many women will vote as their husbands do, but then people who are married rarely differ greatly upon points of view, such as religion and politics. I believe, however, that the average woman will vote according to her beliefs, and cases where the woman’s vote is influenced by the husband, father, brother, or perhaps sweetheart are an exception rather than the rule. Politics, like religion, is largely inherited, and if the woman does not vote the precepts of her ancestry she is pretty likely to vote as her interests, demand. Mutual interests may quite naturally combine a family vote.

“That the woman is more susceptible to the use of money than the man is absurd. However, you will find that when a woman does take money she will take money from just one interest, while the man will take it from everyone who will pay him. The woman will spend it as directed, too, while the man will use it as he sees fit. If a woman is bought she stays bought.”

Mrs. Scott has not hesitated to defy even the state leaders on occasions. She was once chosen vice-chairman of the central committee by the women, but the men refused to confirm her. Whereupon she bolted and opened up headquarters of her own, from which she conducted the campaign on her own part.

On still another occasion, when the Republican boss had decreed that a certain woman should be the vice chairman of the central committee, but that another woman desired by Mrs. Scott as secretary could not have that place, Mrs. Scott took a band of women to headquarters while the boss was absent, elected the chairman he desired, and, by a rider to the motion electing her, also elected the woman they wanted as secretary. The boss howled in anger when he discovered the trick, and finally made the state chairman depose the newly elected secretary. Mrs. Scott again bolted, and opened up other headquarters. She has never bolted the party, however; merely the organization, always remaining Republican.

“Politics for politicians” is one of the ideas of this woman politician. “You’ve got to have women politicians, and you’ve got to have men politicians. You can’t get business men, or aristocratic men into local politicians.” And then she frankly owns that she is in the game because it amuses her. She has a comfortable home, and is in good circumstances, but devotes herself to politics just as other women devote themselves to society or the church.

“The strength of the woman vote is largely determined by the character of the struggle,” she says. “There are occasions when the women will vote much more heavily than on others, especially in local affairs. The only method used by practical politicians in attempting to control the woman vote is to hire them as political workers, and this system does not work out in controlling the female vote to any greater extent than it does in handling the men. They cannot be handled as a class—and let me say that we object to being classed as a ‘class’; that is, considered in the same light as the ‘negro vote’ or the ‘Polack vote.’” The women we have had in office made good records, and, speaking of the use of money, I call your attention to the fact that no man ever dared approach a woman legislator with a bribe offer.

“We have been instrumental in keeping the political parties clean. It would be fatal for a party to nominate a notorious drunkard or a libertine. Woman’s suffrage has not purified politics any more than sending a boy to school makes him moral, but we have eliminated a great many objectionable features. Drunkenness, profanity, and the old slam bang order of things are no longer known. In the lowest hole in this state, if a polling-place were opened there it would be as much as a man’s life is worth to use a rough word or indulge in an uncouth action toward a woman who went there to vote. The moral impress of the woman is felt perceptibly.”

Time and again the men politicians of the Fourteenth Ward have rebelled against Mrs. Scott’s petticoated rule. They don’t relish it a little bit, but every time an insurrection has started, Mrs. Scott has taken the field in person and put it down. The idea of a woman bossing his political bailiwick has kept many a man awake nights trying to figure out a method of besting Mrs. Scott, but they usually overslept themselves the next morning and awoke to find Mrs. Scott walking away with the spoils.

She has never aimed at obtaining any elective office. She is president of the Woman’s State Republican Club, and is chairwoman of the general committee of all the Republican clubs of women in Colorado, but she has been content to let others seek official posts. Mrs. Scott owns a big stock-ranch near Glenwood Springs. Not long ago an incompetent tenant impelled Mrs. Scott to take over the management of the ranch in person, and as it is 345 miles from Denver she is kept pretty busy maintaining her political domain in the Fourteenth Ward and running the ranch at the same time.

(Source: Hathitrust.org, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015033848089&view=1up&seq=943&size=150)


A Word About Mike Donlin

Damon Runyon

Salt Lake Tribune/February 4, 1917

Is Now Memphis Manager

IT WAS announced the other day that Mike Donlin, the former Giant, has signed up to manage the Memphis club, of the Southern Association, in 1917. We hope it is true. Memphis is one of the best minor league baseball towns in America, and it will give Mike a chance to display his qualifications as a team leader.

We have always been of the opinion that the slugger would make a good manager, and have often wondered why some magnate did not give him the opportunity. Maybe it is because Mike could not see the terms that most magnates—minor and major—generally tender a new leader. One thing about Mike, he never held himself cheap, and there was never anything cheap about him.

He was that way in the big league. He nearly always got a good salary, and he always earned a good salary. He was a real big leaguer at heart daring his playing days, and he is a big leaguer at heart today.

Never a more picturesque character walked the ball field than Michael J. Donlin. He had color and personality through all the years that he followed the game. He was the beau ideal of the big league ball player with the fans on down to the very day that he turned in his uniform for the last time.

He Always Hustled.

IT IS to be regretted that more Donlins do not come along in baseball. There was a period in his diamond career when he was a little too stormy even for one of the stormiest periods of the pastime; when his room was regarded by baseball as better than his company, but the fact that he lived all that down, and came to be one of the heroes of the field, shows his real caliber.

In late years Mike suffered some few vicissitudes of fortune, one way and another, but he never lost the old fighting spirit that was characteristic of his baseball days. He always kept his head up, and was always hustling, just as he was on the field.

For some weeks past Mike has been acting as matchmaker for Hugh Grant Browne, who is booking a fight carnival for his new racetrack in Havana. Moreover, Michael is assembling a ballclub to take to Cuba to play a series of games in Browne’s park.

These matters will keep him busy until spring, when he will go to Memphis to take up baseball. This winter Mike was in vaudeville with his old stage partner, Marty McHalo, formerly of the Yanks, so it will be seen that Donlin is a fairly active citizen.

A Yarn on Mike.

WE NEVER think of Mike but what we think of a little story on him. He was a great dresser in his baseball days, with a weakness for all the fancy sartorial doo-dads of the hour. One day when he was with the Boston club he ran into Sid Mercer, the New York baseball writer, in the lobby of a Philadelphia hotel, and Sid noted that Michael was a plate of fashion and a mold of form, as the poet says.

He wore a carefully tailored suit of gray; his haberdashery was just so: his hair was combed back in a long sweep from his alabaster brow in the latest college boy fashion, and in one hand he twirled a nifty little bamboo stick.

“Say, Mike,”‘ said Sid, who remembered the slugger from Michael’s rough-house era, “What would you have done a few years ago if you had met me up the way you are?”

Mike blushed slightly, then went over to a mirror and carefully surveyed himself. Then he came back to report.

“Sid,”‘ he said, earnestly. “I’d a busted him right in the nose.”

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/289720474)


A Social Nuisance

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/January 18, 1903

The devil is a citizen of every country, but only in our own are we in constant peril of an introduction to him. That is democracy. All men are equal; the devil is a man; therefore, the devil is equal. If that is not a good and sufficient syllogism I should be pleased to know what is the matter with it.

To write in riddles when one is not prophesying is too much trouble; what I am … is the horror of the characteristic American custom of promiscuous, unsought and unauthorized introductions.

You incauitously meet your friend Smith in the street; if you had been prudent you would have remained indoors. Your helplessness makes you desperate and you plunge into conversation with him, knowing entirely well the disaster that is in cold storage for you.

The expected occurs; another man comes along and is promptly halted by Smith and you are introduced! Now, you have not given to Smith the right to enlarge your circle of acquaintance and select the addition himself; why did he do this thing? The person whom he has condemned you to shake hands with may be an admirable person, though there is a strong numerical presumption against it; but for all Smith knows he may be your bitterest enemy. Smith has never thought of that. Or you may have evidence (independent of the fact of the introduction) that he is some kind of a thief—there are one thousand and fifty kinds of thieves. But Smith has never thought of that. In short, Smith has never thought. In a Smithocracy all men, as aforesaid, being equal, all are equally agreeable to one another.

That is a logical extension of the Declaration of American Independence. If it is erroneous the assumption that a man will be pleasing to me because he is pleasing to another is erroneous too, and to introduce me to one that I have not asked, nor consented, to know, is an impudent evasion of my rights—a hideous denial and limitation of my liberty to a voice in my own affairs. It is like determining what kind of clothing I shall wear, what books I shall read, or what my dinner shall be.

In calling promiscuous introducing an American custom I am not unaware that it obtains in other countries than ours. The difference is that in those it is mostly confined to persons of no consequence and no pretensions to respectability; here it is so nearly universal that there is no escaping it. Democracies are naturally and necessarily gregarious.

Even the French of today are becoming so, and the time is apparently not distant when they will lose that fine distinctive social sense that has made them the most punctilious, because the most considerate, of all nations. By those who have lived in Paris since I did I am told that the chance introduction is beginning to devastate the social situation, and men of sense who wish to know as few persons as possible can no longer depend on the discretion of their friends.

To say so is not the same thing as to say “Down with the republic!” The republic has its advantages. Among them is the liberty to say “Down with the empire and the monarchy!” and to be a stockholder in a Panama canal company.

It is to be wished that some great social force, say a billionaire, would set up a system of disintroductlons. It should work somewhat like this:

Mr. White—Mr. Black, knowing the low esteem in which you hold each other, I have the honor to disintroduce you from Mr. Green.

Mr. Black (bowing) Sir, I have long desired the advantage of your unacquaintance.

Mr. Green (bowing)—Charmed to unmeet you, sir. Our acquaintance (the work of a most inconsiderate and unworthy person) has distressed me beyond expression. We are greatly indebted to our good friend here for his tact in repairing the mischance.

Mr. White—Thank you. I’m sure you will become very good strangers.

This is only the ghost of a suggestion; of course the plan is capable of an infinite elaboration. Its capital defect is that the persons who are now so liberal with their unwelcome introductions will be equally lavish with their disintroductions, and will part the best of friends with as little ceremony as they now observe in their more fiendish work.


(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/457310862/?terms=Ambrose%2BBierce)


Fighting the War is Not Exclusive Job of New Dealers, Unionists

Westbrook Pegler

Kentucky News-Bulletin/April 5, 1942

NEW YORK, April 4.—What I have been trying to say is that this war is not the exclusive task of the New Deal wing of the Democratic Party end the factory hand and the union bosses. This war is everybody’s and that group of professionals who are persistently and falsely referred to as labor, meaning the political bosses of the two big groups of unions, deserve no special consideration or credit for refraining from sabotage in the form of conspiratorial strikes.

The commuter on the 5:15 whose kid is at the war and who faces the loss of his job or business, his home and all his possessions and savings represents a much finer type of patriotism than the swollen frauds who presume to speak for American labor. If this war had to be fought and worked and paid for only by those who are kiver-to-kiver New Dealers and voluntary members of the unions as distinguished from the poor devils who have been driven into the unions in the great man-hunt of the last eight years, you wouldn’t have two divisions of soldiers nor enough equipment for those few. Your corps of officers would be a lot of lazy, stupid, political bums and the war would be repudiated by the majority of the people.

Truce Vanished Quickly

THE whole nation, with no exceptions worth bothering about, accepted the war as a fight for life after Pearl Harbor and the assumption was that in the face of the common enemy we would suspend for the duration the domestic social and political program of the national government. The country was stunned for a few silent hours and then rallied around the President as Americans.

But the truce didn’t last long. We soon heard recriminations against business and big industry, but all counter-criticism of the unions for strikes which retarded and tied up production was denounced in Washington. Mrs. R had to put in her two cents’ worth with the observation which she had heard somewhere else that we had lost more manpower through illness and accidents than by strikes, which was a silly irrelevancy and just what was to be expected of her. Accidents and illness aren’t preventable. Strikes are intentional. Unions boasted of lending money to the Government out of their enormous ill-gotten usuries, but they were not giving Old Sam the money or even giving him the use of it. They were renting it to Old Sam on the soundest security on earth at interest, but if the stockholders of a big company ask a reasonable return for turning their plant to a war task they in their aggregate artificial person as a soulless corporation are named as profiteers and even fifth columnists.

But, although the Administration has had few good words to say for business and industry, which are the life of this country, not one word has been said against the unions’ attitude in this. The unions could do no wrong, and the fact has constantly been suppressed that hundreds of thousands of workers would repudiate their membership if they could do so and recapture the millions of dollars stolen from them by the professional man-hunters with the connivance of their government.

Unions Not Loyal to Leaders

MOST of American labor is not unionized and a majority of those who are would quit their unions today if they could. Given a chance, they would have smashed those leaders who jerked them out of the plants on strikes before and even after Pearl Harbor, and the President has no need to kowtow to the unioneers to get the best out of them. He need only appeal direct to the American workers, who would annihilate any boss unioneer who tried to use them as his political power.

The workers in the American Federation of Labor are not loyal to Bill Green as against their relatives and friends at the war, and Lewis and Murray, on the CIO side, are only impersonal meaningless figures to most of the workers in their group; otherwise the unions would not require the checkoff and the closed shop to compel the payment of dues and observance of discipline.

Henry Ford is one of the greatest industrialists the world has ever seen. Walter Reuther of the CIO Auto Workers is a young retired workman of fighting age turned to union politics and gang action, but Reuther has the respect of the Government while Ford who put this nation and others on wheels is still called an enemy of labor, although he has granted the closed shop and the checkoff in a deliberate design to make the people sick of unionism.

The bitter fact is that the whole American people in all economic grades, in fighting an array of terrible foreign military foes who threaten to enslave and partition this country, are never allowed to forget that they are being used to create a new internal force governed by a few personalities who are contributing to the war, which plans to inherit the government after the war is won.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/594992578/)


Conscription of All Would Throw Nation Into Hands of Unions

Westbrook Pegler

Knoxville News-Sentinel/April 3, 1942


NEW YORK April 3 — Every now and again Mrs. Roosevelt flies a kite to test the wind or get us ready for something new. A few weeks ago, Mrs Roosevelt dropped a hint in her column which has been on my mind ever since.

“We had some very interesting discussions Sunday afternoon in the White House on the subject of what the general attitude of the people should be during this war period,” Mrs. Roosevelt wrote. “I’ve come to one very clear decision, namely that all of us men and women in the services and men and women at home should be drafted and told what is the job we are to do. The only way I can see to get the maximum service out of our citizens is to draft us all and to tell us Mr. Pegler where we can be most useful and where our work is needed.”

Now surely this is not mere irresponsible babble like that of a child who drinks in the dinner chat of the family and then goes next door to blab to the neighbors what mamma and papa said about them. So I take this to be a preliminary presentation of a serious proposal.

President Has Bungled

BUT assuming that such conscription of civilians does come, will each of us so drafted be compelled to join one or more of the unions and, in the jurisdiction of the AFL, pay initiation fees of from $19 to $3000 for the privilege of serving under compulsion plus special assessments, dues and other fees?

There is no reason to think otherwise, because the Government for which Mrs. Roosevelt speaks with the feed-box authority of one who sells for personal profit very interesting discussions which take place in the privacy of the national palace, has bitterly fought those elected representatives of the people who have tried to adopt laws to protect the people from the bosses of the unions.

On the day of Pearl Harbor, an arbiter appointed by the president delivered a decision which compelled a minority of coal miners in a certain area to join John L. Lewis’ union, thus denying these men the right to be represented by bargaining agents selected by their own free choice. This is the same union from which Mr. Roosevelt’s Administration eagerly accepted a great contribution or loan of money in the 1930 campaign, well knowing that rank and file members had not been consulted.

Now, I realize that the president has made a mess of union relations and that an abrupt reform which took the form of a hostile repudiation of his leadership in this field would harm us all and hearten the enemy. But obviously we cannot drift into total conscription without adopting guarantees that such conscripts would be subject to no authority but that of our lawful Government. In the lack of such guarantees a man drafted to drive a truck, for example, and refusing to join the Teamsters’ union would be a slacker and a candidate for a concentration camp or prison.

Draft Is Needed

THE need of such reforms was great before the war began for the right of the people to work at lawful civilian occupations in time of peace was being flouted by the unions and with the encouragement of the Government, including the Supreme Court. But the whole people were not aware of the situation and it took some time to educate them and Congress. Now, however, they know and Mrs. Roosevelt had better realize that they will never accept conscription for work as a patriotic duty subject to union taxing powers and the intrusion of union bosses, most of them ignorant, cruel men and women into their private affairs.

I too but with some reluctance am inclining to the idea that this will be a very long war, that it will be necessary to draft or anyway to compel labor eventually, and that it were better to anticipate this situation than to be too late, as our side has been so many times in this war. Way back in January New Zealand, ordinarily a very free country, authorized the minister of national service to draft any person for work in defense industries, and our danger is no less than hers in the presence of the same enemies, although hers is closer geographically.

But I doubt that in New Zealand the government permits racketeers and political padrones to bully and actually rob the workers of millions of dollars and throw their money into the political funds of candidates whom the individuals may oppose.  Unioneers from the British countries who visit the United States are amazed and incredulous when they read and hear of the corruption of the union racket here, but Mrs. Roosevelt’s Government is responsible for that corruption and the political exploitation of captive workers because it has fought every reform and the reformers too.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/image/594992316/)


Supreme Court Mocks Arnold and People in Teamster Case Ruling

Westbrook Pegler

Knoxville Times-Sentinel/April 2, 1942

NEW YORK April 2 — We can gain nothing by ignoring the leering cynicism of the majority decision of the Supreme Court in the so-called Teamsters Case, one of those foredoomed Thurman Arnold prosecutions, wherein it was held again that no criminal act of a union or its members, acting as such, is beyond the privilege of such predatory bands provided that they are pursuing a legitimate aim of a bona fide union.

The fact must be faced that this court is now strongly committed in sympathy with criminality by unioneers and grants them the right to assault, rob and otherwise abuse law-abiding citizens. This attitude was expressed in the Carpenters’ case in an opinion by Felix Frankfurter and has now been affirmed but with bolder emphasis in a majority with bolder opinion by Jimmy Byrnes who always seemed a rather decent citizen when he was in the Senate. The Carpenters’ opinion was just what might have been expected of Frankfurter, but Byrnes had given no previous indication that he might ever hand down from the Supreme Court any such brutal dictum as he put his name to in vindicating thuggery and highway robbery as permissible methods of compelling honest citizens to submit.

The decisions of themselves are bad enough but they are so much the worse when it is realized that the policy which they express, the recognition of vice as a weapon of ostensible virtue, will now be accepted by judges in the lower courts who go by the theory that, whatever their own abhorrence, they must follow the Supreme Court.

Arnold Does His Best

IT is tragic that in such a time as this, indeed in any time, the American people should receive from their highest court the shocking news that any group has the right to slug and rob, threaten, and possibly kill unoffending citizens in the furtherance of its own special aims, however noble those aims might be. But the fact must be faced that this is the policy of the Government and the Supreme Court. It is written and rewritten in two important decisions which challenge Congress now to repudiate these dangerous men with legislation disavowing the evil intent which the court has read into the supplementary anti-trust and anti-racketeering laws. Probably most Americans would prefer to believe that these decisions do not mean what they plainly say and thus to retain an artificial confidence in the Supreme Court. That would be a fool’s confidence, however. The decisions and opinions are plain and the court is unmistakably and defiantly on the side of the thug and imputes this intent to Congress.

It becomes plainer day by day that Thurman Arnold was put up to his job of prosecuting union racketeers as a fake gesture by the Administration. He selects strong and outrageous cases, prepares them carefully and tries them well but is licked before he starts because even though he wins all the way up to the Supreme Court, he doesn’t stand a Chinaman’s chance there. Thus the Administration, pal and patron of the brutal goon, thief and extortioner, may say for the political record that it fairly tried these cases and is not responsible for the failure of Congress to correct evils which no Congress could have intended to write into any law but which the Supreme Court finds there nevertheless. By election time it will be seen whether the present Congress intends to submit to this insulting and degrading declaration of the court.

Affront to the People

IN this Teamsters’ case it was shown, and Chief Justice Stone in his dissenting opinion observed, that members of the Teamsters’ Union waylaid trucks approaching New York from New Jersey and Connecticut and, by beating or by threats, compelled the operators to pay them a toll of $942 for a large truck or $841 for a small one for permission to enter the city. It was shown and Justice Stone held that such payments were made “only to secure immunity from violence” and, to the fading honor of the court, he added his disbelief that any member of Congress had the temerity to say that payment so made could be regarded as wages by an employer or that the compulsion of such payments is a legitimate object of a labor union.

Byrnes and his concurring colleagues, on the other hand, had the cynical gall to say that in such circumstances the extortioner becomes a bona fide employee of a bona fide employer and even granted immunity under the racketeering act to “an outsider,” meaning one not employed by the victim, “who attempts unsuccessfully, by violent means, to achieve the status of an employee.”

That is, in this time of war, the most dangerous of all the mocking decisions which the new court has flung in the face of Congress and the patriotic, law-abiding people of the country. It is indecent, immoral and an affront to Congress and the people.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/45078428/the_knoxville_newssentinel/)


40-Hour Week Row Only a Sideshow To Cover Up for Unions

Westbrook Pegler

Knoxville News-Sentinel/April 1, 1942

TUCSON, Ariz., April 1–Somebody named L.Metcalfe Walling, described as administrator of the wages and hours division of the Department of Labor, recently said that Nazi propaganda was responsible for the movement to abolish the 40-hour week. I don’t believe he had any ground for this charge because he offered no proof and furthermore this agitation over the 40-hour week is a diversion which has temporarily switched public attention from the corruption of the union racket which the Administration and the professional man-hunters of the unions have been trying to conceal. By kicking that gong around they have raised a great clatter in the manner of those old-time house-prowlers who would start a fight in the alley while the man around front went through the place.

The real issues are not the 40-hour week but the compulsory closed shop, the criminal practices of unions and the rising power of the union brownshirts to gang up on honest patriotic citizens and persecute and rob them with the sanction of the packed Supreme Court. The boss-fakers of this great criminal union power obviously must be glad of any such distraction, so there is as much reason to suspect them of fomenting this row as there is to suspect the Nazis on the word of an obscure recent appointee in the Labor Department who doesn’t support his statements and whose official background creates suspicion.

Arnold Speaks Truth

EVERY word that Thurman Arnold said to the House Judiciary Committee about the predatory brutality and thievery of unions was absolutely true and proven, but he was not talking about the 40-hour week, which is quite another matter We can retain the 40-hour week by paying for it in higher prices for war materials and other goods This might bankrupt the nation but we probably are going through the wringer anyway, so what the hell.

If we realize that business firms and stockholders big and little are not philanthropists or governments with taxing powers and must take in at one box office what they pay out in wages, taxes, and all, we can maintain the 40-hour week by hoisting the ceilings on prices of war goods and civilian commodities and services. To be sure this would mean higher costs of living and the beneficiaries of the overtime pay provided by the 40-hour week would be no better off than they would be on straight pay.

But there is something deliberately deceitful and dark in this persistent and stubborn avoidance by our government of the sorry facts of union operations as they have been revealed in these dispatches hundreds of times and stated by Thurman Arnold several times in his pathetic, futile testimony to Congress.

These unions are infested with dirty thieves and exploiters and betrayers of labor and they do hi-jack the farmer, the consumer and the employer and they do beat up, rob and-horribly persecute common Americans citizens whose government ought to defend their right to work on war tasks free of any obligation to pay tribute to any extortioner.

A Promise Is Kept

I PROMISED Will Green two years ago that I would show up a whole rogues gallery of crooks in positions of power in unions and don’t let any of the miserable frauds of the corrupt union press tell you that I cited only a few or that the proportion of crooks in union leadership has been no greater than in the clergy or finance or commerce. It is the crookedest calling in the whole United States, and the unions, far from exposing their vermin and pulling them off the backs of the workers and the whole community, have fronted for them and refused to cooperate with the prosecuting officers when they could have done so.

I cited a hundred and there are countless more vicious parasites who can’t be called criminals only because local prosecutors have been too lazy or too much in political fear of the unions to convict them. Do you think I would call Mike Boyle, the boss of the Chicago electricians, a low crook and a traitor to labor if I couldn’t prove it by court records, but do you think Green has done anything about him? I wouldn’t and Green hasn’t and Boyle is only a specimen out of the whole evil horde.

Yes I am an American too and so are millions of others who are determined not to permit anyone, the Government or any gang of corruptioneers, to exploit our sacrifices so as to substitute criminal gang rule and compulsion for the free institutions which the nation is fighting to maintain.

(Source: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/45070121/the_knoxville_newssentinel/)