-Caveat Lector-

an excerpt from:
The Treason of the Senate
David Graham Phillips
Intruoduction by
George E. Mowry & Judson A Grenier©1964 All Rights Reserved
Quadrangle Books
180 North Wacker Drive
LCCN 64-21838

PUBLICATION of David Graham Phillips's "The Treason of the Senate" by the
Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1906 was, in many respects, the climax of the
muckraking movement in American journalism. The bold, outspoken, often
intemperate language of an author dedicated to "the search for truth"
captures the essence of both the best and worst aspects of muckraking. In
addition, the political dialogue stirred by publication of these articles
constitutes a chapter in the history of the progressive movement and provides
insight into the careers of two major public figures, Theodore Roosevelt and
William Randolph Hearst.

The "era of the muckrakers" is generally assumed by historians to have begun
with the publication by McClure's Magazine of Lincoln Steffens' "Tweed Days
in St. Louis" in October, 1902, and to have ended in the Progressive party's
Gotterddmmerung with the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912. The muckraking
movement thus coincides in time with progressive domination of the Republican
party, rising to fame with Roosevelt and, though castigated by him,
supporting the Colonel as history swept by at Armageddon. Progressivism as a
social force received its impetus from the journalistic technique of exposing
to public view the malpractices of nineteenth-century society. Like
journalism, progressivism relied upon the moral and ethical efficacy of
democracy to correct social evils once they were exposed. In most social
upheavals, a vanguard usually brings old institutions into disrepute, paving
the way for new ones. The muckrakers played this role. From 1902 to 1912,
they led the nation in the systematic uncovering of the strands of a giant
web of control, linking politics, education, the press, religion, health, and
high finance. Their names-Lincoln Steffens, Ida M. Tarbell, Ray Stannard
Baker, Charles Edward Russell, Thomas W. Lawson, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Upton
Sinclair, David Graham Phillips-were household words. The magazines that
published their articles—McClure's, Collier's, Everybody's, the American, and
the Cosmopolitan—acbieved circulations in the hundreds of thousands and won
an unprecedented mass readership across America for the "literature of
exposure." Trained in the Christian ethic and devoted to the people's right
to know, the muckrakers revealed the corruption of public men and
corporations in the name of morality, a heightened public awareness, and the
common good. Their crusade was consecrated to the precept of St. John
viii:32: "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

Many muckrakers conformed almost to a pattern. They were born in the 1860's
to middle-class parents and grew up in Midwestern towns which their families
bad, a generation or two earlier, helped to establish. Their fathers,
landowners or editors, ministers or bankers, but seldom factoryowners, were
influential in the business-professional society of the town. Usually
thoroughly Protestant oriented, these young men were trained in the public
schools to have deep reverence for American historical tradition,
particularly the individualistic and equalitarian romance of the frontier,
and an intimate knowledge of the forms and moral messages of English
literature and classic parable. Small Midwest colleges sharpened their
talents for expression and stimulated their desire to give their lives
meaning by becoming creative writers. The necessity of earning a living,
however, diverted their talents into journalistic channels, and they became
newspaper reporters in some nearby city. Within a few years, they migrated to
New York or Chicago and were caught up in the glamor and excitement of the
golden age of American journalism, with reporter Richard Harding Davis its
symbol and Park Row his throne.

Steadily, these newsmen became conscious of the changes in American society
produced by the industrial revolution, particularly "our serious public
corruption ... of a kind unknown to the people of two generations ago."
Images were seared into their minds-extremes of wealth and poverty shattering
their comfortable illusion that America was composed of communities of
neighborly homesteaders who uplifted the community by uplifting themselves.
Sometimes their eyes were opened by reading Henry George's Progress and
Poverty, but more often by what they observed: in Chicago a dynamic World's
Fair providing a glittering backdrop for a dirty slum; in New York a
fashionable Fifth Avenue within walking distance of long rows of tenements
stuffed with penniless immigrants and owned by a wealthy Wall Street church.
They pondered ethical questions: What has happened to American morality? How
have we gone astray? Who has betrayed us? And, as reporters exploring the
labyrinth of debased city politics, they came to pin responsibility on the
businessman ("predatory wealth"), because the money used by the corrupters
originated with him.

Yet it was their writing ability, not their social philosophy, that won them
the respect of the metropolitan press, and when the new mass-circulation
magazines in the late 1890's infused interviews and investigative articles
into the potpourri of verse, essay, and short fiction which was the
nineteenth-century formula, it was natural that they should tap Park Row for
original and responsible talent. The reporters, still harboring a desire to
be creative artists, but far wiser in their knowledge of how both halves of
society lived, became magazine writers and, eventually, "muckrakers." Their
articles and stories were peopled with wise Ohio mothers, old-timers with
salty speech, farmboys and cow hands, kindly preachers and public school
teachers, ethical corner grocers and blacksmiths, villainous Eastern lawyers,
crooked politicians, crude and self-centered factory owners with hopelessly
spoiled children. They would speak wistfully of the country and the old home
town and sometimes pay hurried trips to the Midwest, to return (they said)
rejuvenated. But the city was their "beat" now, and it gave them comfort and
doubt, stimulation and shame. So long as readership was high and fame opened
most doors, New York remained their home.

The life of David Graham Phillips essentially corresponds to this pattern. He
was born on October 31, 1867, in Madison, Indiana, a town of ten thousand
population lying fifty miles above Louisville on the Ohio river. Madison was
founded in 1806, and its days of commercial glory were the two decades prior
to the Civil War, when for a time it was the largest and wealthiest city in
Indiana, a port for steamboat traffic. By the 1870's, however, the railroad
had replaced the river as a carrier of commerce; Madison's prosperity had
begun to wane, its shipyards to decline, its meatpacking industry to lose
business to Chicago and St. Louis. Stately homes, a fixed society, and
patterns of living established in the time of Jackson were the heritage of
the town's pre-war business vitality. Phillips's father, an Indiana farm boy,
lived in Madison from the time he was sixteen years of age, attended Indiana
Asbury University, served as sheriff and clerk of court, and for thirty-one
years was cashier of the National Branch Bank of Madison. Phillips grew up in
an atmosphere compounded of banking, Republican politics, Bible-reading,
Methodist morality, and love of learning. His father owned one of the best
private libraries in southern Indiana, and Phillips was encouraged to read
widely, particularly in American history. In later years be attributed his
omnivorous reading and tenacious writing habits to that encouragement.

Graham, as he was called at home, gained his early education in the Madison
public schools, which, according to Arena editor B. 0. Flower, were staffed
in the seventies by enthusiastic New England teachers who created a
thoroughly democratic environment and were famous for efficiency and a high
standard of ethical conduct. Phillips told Flower, "I went to the
public-scbools ... and I do not know of anything I am more thankful for. If I
bad my way, there should not be any other kind of schools, high or low."
Although his principal interests were history, politics, and government,
Phillips was an avid reader of novels and verse; his biographer, Issac F.
Marcosson, reported that Graham had read all of Dickens, Hugo, and Scott
before he was twelve and knew thousands of lines of poetry, including the
whole of Gray's "Elegy." In 1882, at the age of fifteen, he enrolled at
Asbury, his father's college, a Methodist institution in the rural atmosphere
of Greencastle, Indiana (Which changed its name to DePauw University about
the time Phillips departed). Among his college interests were languages,
French realistic literature, debate, football, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon
fraternity, where he met the man who would become his closest and life-long
friend, Albert Beveridge. Beveridge, a self-made man, impressed Phillips with
his integrity, magnetism, and commanding voice. He was Phillips's roommate,
and the writer in later years used him as model for his politician-hero,
Hampden Scarborough, in a series of novels. Phillips admired Beveridge's
determination to be a success, and the experience may have altered his own
ambitions. By 1885, when Phillips left Indiana for Princeton University, he
bad decided not to follow his father's banking profession. At Princeton for
two years, be won reputation as a brilliant conversationalist and a
fastidious dresser, and there he resolved to become a writer.

Phillips graduated from Princeton in 1887 and began his journalistic career
in Cincinnati, Ohio, ninety miles upriver from Madison. A college friend,
Marshal Halstead, helped him get a position as reporter for the Times-Star,
and, after Phillips had demonstrated his ability, offered him a similar job
with the Halstead family's Commercial-Gazette. His three years in Cincinnati
were an apprenticeship spent reporting disaster, crime, politics, government,
and recreation-the standard city assignments-and were spiced with frequent
feature articles and a gossip column. In 1890, he left Cincinnati for New
York City, where he joined the staff of Charles A. Dana's Sun, the best
written and edited newspaper of its day. Dana insisted that reporters be able
to recognize truth when they saw it, and then to express that truth in
pungent, concise English. Phillips could have attended no better school of
journalism. Many of his social ideas were shaped by the three years he
covered the streets, homes, and offices of New York for the Sun. His mode of
living was established during these years: he dressed well, in high fashion
and high collar; he dined well, at Mouquin's, Delmonico's, and, after 1899,
at Rector's; he roomed in tasteful bachelor quarters at, for example, The
Players, a private club for actors and writers on Gramercy Park. Phillips
never married, perhaps because his intense dedication to work allowed little
time for feminine companionship. He usually left the Sun office at midnight
and returned to his rooms to write until dawn. He wrote standing at a high,
portable drafting desk, smoking cigarettes continuously, covering reams of
lined copypaper with pencil in a fine, cramped script. For the rest of his
life, the major part of Phillips's writing would be done while the city
slept, a habit originating in his years with a morning newspaper.

While be was in college, Phillips determined that his newspaper career would
be but a stepping stone to becoming a novelist. As a reporter be would be at
school in society; he would learn the truth about the American people and
their institutions, and then he would tell them that truth. Not newspapers,
but magazines and books would be his outlet. In 1891, Harper's Weekly
published the first of a stream of his articles, all written in off-duty
time. But the nature of the goals Phillips had set for himself demanded that
his experience be broad and varied, and after three years on the Sun, he
joined the staff of the World, largest and most energetic newspaper in New
York. From 1893 to 1902, he served the World as reporter, foreign
correspondent, editorial writer, and sometime traveling companion for Joseph
Pulitzer, its publisher.

For the United States, these years were crucial in preparing the way for the
Progressive Era. They were years of violence and change: bloody strikes at
Homestead, Pennsylvania, and Chicago; financial panic and depression; the
march on Washington of Coxey's army; President Cleveland's desperate attempts
to borrow gold from Wall Street; increasing concentration of corporate wealth
and the growth of trusts; drought, bankruptcy, and tenancy on the farms of
the West and South, culminating in the Populist revolt; the revelations of
poverty and squalor in tenement and tenderloin, by Jacob Riis and Rev.
Charles Parkhurst; Bryan's emotion-charged campaign for free silver and the
Presidency; the rise of the American navy, jingoism, and delusions of
imperialist grandeur; yellow journalism and its war with Spain in the
Caribbean; sanguinary fighting with Philippino insurrectionists; anarchism
and the collective national shock at the assassination of William McKinley;
the accession to the Presidency of a younger, vigorous generation in the
person of Theodore Roosevelt. Such were the raw materials of Phillips's World
years. Some he gathered first hand, on assignment from city editor Charles
Edward Russell; much he analyzed editorially under the guidance of Pulitzer
himself, high in the World tower.

Late in 1896, Phillips became an editorial writer, and his promotion to this
position coincided with the start of the intense rivalry between Pulitzer and
Hearst's New York Journal, the so-called "war of the yellows." To express
Pulitzer attitudes toward politics, imperialism, civic corruption, and
monopoly became second nature to Phillips during these years. As Russell
recalled: "At Mr. Pulitzer's direction David Graham Phillips wrote a series
of articles reciting the misdeeds of trust after trust, sternly demanding
thereto the immediate attention of ... [Cleveland's Attorney General] Richard
Olney, and notifying the citizenry that it had been betrayed." The Presidency
and both houses of Congress came in for their share of Phillips's attention,
and the World frequently scolded the Senate and Senator Chauncey M. Depew in
particular. It may be that "The Treason of the Senate" was born in the
editorial offices of the World; surely Phillips's antipathy for Congressional
spokesmen for corporate wealth was an attitude shared by Pulitzer and his
editors in the crusading nineties. The aging, nearly blind publisher
frequently requested the companionship of the tall, handsome Hoosier, and in
long conversations attempted to shape his outlook much as a father would
advise a son.

But Phillips's days as a newspaperman were numbered. His output of magazine
articles increased; his first novel, The Great God Success, was published in
1901 under the pseudonym John Graham (because its rather bitter depiction of
newspaper life was thinly disguised). The book was read by the young editor
of the Saturday Evening Post, George Horace Lorimer, who convinced Phillips
to resign from the World in 1902 to become a free-lance writer. His old
friend, Beveridge, now Senator from Indiana, was a frequent Post contributor.
In the ensuing three years, Phillips wrote some fifty signed articles and
numerous editorials for Lorimer, and perhaps conditioned himself for the
"Treason" articles by penning political portraits of Roosevelt, Cleveland,
Root, Rockefeller, and J. P. Morgan. He also contributed articles and short
stories to Everybody's, the Cosmopolitan, Harper's, McClure's, the Arena, and
Collier's, and published one or two successful novels each year.

David Graham Phillips's reputation as a muckraker rests largely upon his
"Treason" series, but be probably contributed more to the seedbed of
progressivism as a novelist than as a writer of nonfiction. Hundreds of
thousands of middle-class Americans shared Phillips's attitudes and
prejudices and found them reflected in his novels: The Master-Rogue (1903)
and The Cost (1904), scathing critiques of Wall Street; The Deluge (1905), a
fictional version of the financial revelations of Thomas W. Lawson; The
Social Secretary (1905), a depiction of the deterioration of Washington,
D.C., and the Federal government because of the self-promoting standards of
the rich; The Plum Tree (1905), a description of the rise to power of a
United States Senator whose standards and convictions were a blend of those
held by Marcus Hanna and Boies Penrose; and The Second Generation (1907), a
portrayal of the idle, degenerate children of the wealthy. These novels and
others, many published by the Indiana firm of Bobbs-Merrill, constituted an
effective counterpoint to the exposes of Baker, Steffens, Tarbell, and
Russell, and, together with Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, remain the standard
examples of muckraking fiction.

In his Post articles and novels, Phillips examined the problems of
industrialization and urbanization from a nostalgic, Jeffersonian
perspective. His heroes display small-town virtues: they are honest,
neighborly, independent, moral, observe the Golden Rule, respect their wives,
take their mothers' advice, have "a Covenanter fiber tough as ironwood," and
resist temptation. His villains are Easterners, city-bred or exhibiting
acquired city manners: they are money-crazed and power-seeking; they practice
bribery and fraud to pervert the democratic process and destroy honest
government; their worship of luxury and wanton display increases the
cleavages between classes; their marriages fail, and often their own
conniving brings about their doom. They are essentially weak men, and their
intelligence is "of the kind that goes with weakness—shrewd and sly,
preferring to slink along the byways of craft even when the highway of
courage lies straight and easy." The villains constitute "Privilege," the
heroes are "the People," and Phillips's novels are essentially a dialogue
between these forces of good and evil, with "the People" triumphant only
after constant vigilance and a long struggle. Phillips's plea was for a
return to the old moral standards, for the hard-beaded integrity of the
frontier farmer, for the revival of democratic methods of selecting public
officials in place of the boss-ridden, moneydominated political practices of
his day.

Phillips's greatest weakness, shared by most of his fellow muckrakers, was
the inadequacy of his specific proposals for ending the corruption. For
example, the fictional Senator Scarborough, upon winning the Presidential
nomination, promised only to obey the Constitution and enforce the laws,
leaving his intent to the reader's imagination. Phillips was vague and
uncertain as to the methods by which corporate skullduggery might be
restrained. Some of his contemporaries turned to socialism, but for Phillips
socialism, like charity, was an aristocratic scheme to destroy self-reliance
and individuality; it meant "withering and denuding paternalism" which would
coddle incompetents. Phillips's solutions, being ethical, nostalgic, and
deficient, enhanced his dilemma, but, insofar as they reflected the
insecurity of an industrialized society nurtured upon Jeffersonian ideals,
probably contributed to his popularity. It may be that his success as a
writer was due, as critic Kenneth S. Lynn charges, to his ability to pander
to the private hopes and dreams of the middle class. Though hopelessly
anachronistic, Lynn writes, what makes Phillips important is that be ". . .
actually did for a time become the secretary of American society."

When the Cosmopolitan Magazine selected Phillips to write the series of
articles collectively entitled "The Treason of the Senate," its editors must
have anticipated both the nature of his material and the manner of his
presentation. Phillips had made his predispositions abundantly clear in his
novels. In The Cost, monopolies managed the state legislatures which chose
Senators. In The Social Secretary, rich men bought their way into the Senate.
The Plum Tree muckraked the Senate itself. Its chief figure, Senator Harvey
Sayler, custodian of "the plum tree" (an allusion to a telegram attributed to
Senator Matthew Quay, political boss of Pennsylvania), manipulated both
parties and controlled legislation in league with a syndicate of wealthy
businessmen. Sayler's career as a political boss began when he realized

. . . that graft was the backbone, the whole skeleton of legislative
business, and that its fleshly cover of pretended public service could be
seen only by the blind. I saw, also, that no one in the machine of either
party had any real power. The state boss of our party, United States Senator
Dunkirk, was a creature and servant of corporations. Silliman, the state boss
of the opposition party, was the same, but got less for his services because
his party was hopelessly in the minority and its machine could be useful only
as a sort of supplement and scapegoat.

This characterization is suggestive of the Aldrich-Gorman relationship
depicted by Phillips in "Treason." Six months prior to the commencement of
the "Treason" articles, Phillips published a book of essays, The Reign of
Gilt, in which he bitterly castigated the political spokesmen for the rich.
He predicted their ultimate doom. Representatives of a financial aristocracy,
they would not exist beyond the time that "the People" became educated.
Nothing could prevent the ultimate triumph of democracy—"the inevitable
sequence of widespread intelligence"and that, in turn, would rid America of
the rascals. Democracy, for Phillips, was "not a theory that may someday be
discovered false"; its progress was human history itself, with "a force as
irresistible as that which keeps stars swinging" to sustain it. The role of
the writer in the cause of democracy, be be essayist or novelist, was that of
educator. The literature of exposure (even "yellow journalism") played a part
in the process, for, as Phillips wrote in The Cost, "There is an abysmal
difference between everybody knowing a thing privately and everybody knowing
precisely the same thing publicly ... the tremendous blare of publicity
act[s] like Joshua's horns at Jericho." The image of himself as a latter-day
Joshua, supported by historical inevitability and challenging a citadel of
entrenched privilege, would have appealed to Phillips.

Though David Graham Phillips was the author of "The Treason of the Senate,"
he was not accountable for its genesis nor for its ultimate publication. That
was the responsibility of Publisher William Randolph Hearst and his editors,
Charles Edward Russell and Bailey Millard. Perhaps the publication of the
"Treason" series was just a calculated step in Hearst's political ambitions.
>From February 5, 1899, a major editorial policy of the Hearst newspapers was
the direct election of United States Senators. Attacks upon the Senate were a
standard feature of Hearst's political campaigns. For example, when accepting
the Democratic party nomination for Congress from New York on October 6,
1902, he noted that "the people will never be protected against the trusts by
a Senate in which the trusts occupy many seats and control a majority," and
vowed to support direct election as "a first step." Elected to Congress,
Hearst introduced such a resolution into the House and continued to agitate
for the reform in his press. During his unsuccessful 1904 campaign for the
Democratic Presidential nomination, he repeatedly supported direct election.
Then, in the spring of 1905, Hearst purchased his first magazine, the
Cosmopolitan, founded in 1886 and owned since 1888 by John Brisben Walker.
Under Walker, Cosmopolitan was a general family magazine, nonpartisan and not
inclined toward muckraking, though it published six articles by Phillips.
Under Hearst, the magazine was sensationalized, long-time Examiner
editor-reporter Bailey Millard was made editor, and such standard Hearst
writers as Arthur Brisbane, Russell, Alfred Henry Lewis, Edwin Markham, and
Ambrose Bierce became regular contributors.

Russell claimed at a later date to have originated the "Treason" series. As
he recalled, the idea came to him in 1905 while be was in the press gallery
of the Senate listening to a debate in which the great majority of "well-fed
and portly gentlemen" below represented not the people but an array of
predatory interests. Upon returning to New York, Russell suggested to Hearst
a series of articles for Cosmopolitan "on the fact that strictly speaking we
had no Senate; we bad only a chamber of butlers for industrialists and
financiers." According to Russell, Hearst approved the idea; "I had begun to
accumulate the facts when I received an assignment from Everybody's

... My task for Mr. Hearst was passed along to David Graham Phillips."

When Editor Millard first suggested to Phillips that he undertake the Senate
series, the writer pleaded that he was occupied with his novels and proposed
that William Allen White be given the job. But White was busy, and Millard
again turned to Phillips, offering to pay any price named by the author. He
also promised Phillips research assistance in amassing the facts and
statistics upon which the articles would be based. A final appeal to the
author's social conscience brought consent, and Graham's brother, Harrison, a
Colorado newsman, and Gustavus Myers, a brilliant and dogged researcher, were
hired as assistants. Myers had written The History of Tammany Hall in 1901;
his socialist inclinations gave him an almost instinctive sense of the
pitfalls and temptations in the path of businessmen, and with the
determination of a detective, he pored over old books, newspapers, and
magazines, on the trail of corruption. Myers used some of this data in his
classic History of the Great American Fortunes (1909). His research gave him
a sense of the continuity of the American past which eluded Phillips; he did
not share the Indianan's reverence for pre-Civil War days and believed that
the roots of political corruption lay in the landed wealth of colonial times.
Aware of the methods by which companies gained real estate in the eighteenth
century and bank charters and railroad land grants in the nineteenth century,
Myers concluded that graft always had been prevalent, that the level of
politics in the 1900's was better, not worse, than it had been in the past,
and that progressive "reformers" were simply members of a self-satisfied
class that wished to maintain its traditional social dominance. Myers
believed himself to be more objective, more historical-minded than the
muckrakers; yet, to the extent that his class consciousness determined the
nature of the information he furnished Phillips, the "Treason" may have been
given, as President Roosevelt charged, socialistic overtones.

Phillips prepared himself for his assignment by traveling to Washington,
where newspapermen and Congressmen gave him confidential tips and leads which
he used in the series. He then returned to New York and, white-hot with
enthusiasm, indignation, and prejudice, began to turn out copy at his usual
pace. Staff members and lawyers pored over his articles for libelous
material. It was a painstaking task. Though the series at one time was
scheduled to begin in the February, 1906, issue of Cosmopolitan, it was
delayed until the March number. A Hearst biographer reports that the
publisher took a personal interest in the series, stopping the press run of
the first article in order to insert more facts and rewrite the conclusion.

The process of selection to the Senate in 1906 was what it had been in the
early days of the republic, when state legislatures were designated by the
Constitutional Convention to select United States Senators. Thus was election
made indirect, less democratic, and supposedly less subject to political
wrangling. And as Madison's Journal clearly indicates, many members of the
Constitutional Convention hoped that a Senate so fashioned would represent
wealth as well as the individual states, At the convention, only James Wilson
of Pennsylvania suggested direct election of Senators by vote of the people;
selection of legislatures to do the job eventually was adopted unanimously.
Congress was given the right to regulate the time and manner of holding
elections, but it did not exercise this right until July 25, 1866, and many
states were not represented in the Senate at times for lack of agreement upon
a candidate. In 1866, a law was enacted providing that each house of a state
legislature would choose its Senatorial candidate on the second Tuesday
following organization. The next day a joint session would be held. If both
houses selected the same man he would be declared elected; if not, a joint
ballot would be taken on that and every day the legislature remained in
session until a Senator was chosen. Yet this 1866 law did little to prevent
Senate vacancies. For example, Delaware failed, after daily balloting, to
elect a Senator in 1895, 1899, 1901, and 1905. Even when one man gained a
clear majority, delaying tactics—such as preventing a quorum—could be
employed by the opposition. From 1890 to 1906, eight states had Senate
vacancies for portions of a term.

Moreover, in the post-Civil War period, state legislatures seemed
increasingly subject to bribery and intimidation in their selection of
Senators. Though only one case of alleged bribery came before the Senate
prior to 1866, nine such cases were tried from 1866 to 1906. As early as the
1870's, charges were made in the press that the Senatorial selection process
was colored by corruption and subservience to corporate interests seeking
such privileges as franchises, land grants, and protective tariffs. That some
politicians sold their favors was evident, as was the late nineteenth-century
tendency of lawyers representing corporations and, later, wealthy businessmen
themselves, to seek election to the Senate. Gustavus Myers suggested that the
movement of millionaires toward the Senate was "led by the mine magnates of
the far West"—William Sharon and James G. Fair of Nevada (1875, 1881), and
Leland Stanford and George Hearst of California (1885, 1886). The World
Almanac of 1902 listed eighteen Senators as millionaires, including Aldrich,
Depew, Elkins, Fairbanks, Kean, Lodge, and Hanna. In 1906, Phillips listed
twenty-five, though Senator George Perkins considered this number to be an
exaggeration. A moot question sometimes debated in the press, prior to the
appearance of "Treason," was whether it was less harmful to have millionaires
elected to the Senate than to have Senators use their office to make
millions. In either case, the Senate was known in the popular vernacular as
the "Millionaires' club."

In 1906, the political scientist George H. Haynes summarized the public
standing of the body:

Judged by the fruits which it has produced in recent years, in the estimation
of the public, the Senate has fallen from its high estate ... Never before in
its history has the Senate been the target of such scathing criticism as
during the past fifteen years. On all sides is heard the charge that the
Senate . . . is now the stronghold of the trusts and of corporate interests.

In examining the 58th Congress (1903-1905), Haynes was appalled. to discover
that one-tenth of the Senators had had serious charges of dereliction from
duty brought against them. Other statistics compiled by Haynes showed that
Republicans comprised 64.4 percent of Senate membership, that the average age
of members was 59.8 years, that about two-thirds of the Senators were lawyers
by profession, and that only two members of the present Senate had "written a
book in stiff covers." (That is, men of letters were not well represented.)
He then submitted a list of the Senators in the 58th Congress to "five
impartial observers of the Washington scene" (including two Washington
correspondents and one magazine writer), and asked that the Senators be
classified according to what or whom each represented in Congress. One out of
three Senators owed his election to "wealth" or "manipulation"—qualities
which 11 make their usefulness as members of the dominant branch of Congress
decidedly open to question." Yet, many of the Senators attacked by Phillips
were given a clean bill of health by Haynes's panel. Its classifications

I. "Statesmanship": Allison, Bailey, Fairbanks, Foraker, Frye, Hale, Hoar,

II. "Rank and File": Nelson

Either I or II: Cullom

III. "Wealth": Kean, Depew, Elkins

IV. "Political Manipulation": Gorman, Penrose, Platt, Stone

Either III or IV: Aldrich

V. Unclassified: Burton

Following this introduction are capsule biographies of twenty-one Senators
muckraked by Phillips in his "Treason" articles. These men had certain
characteristics in common: eighteen were Republicans, half of whom were
committee chairmen; sixteen were lawyers by profession, a higher percentage
than the Senate average; seniority was characteristic even of Northern
senators—eight of the twenty-one established longevity records for serving
their states in the Senate. Eleven won election to the House of
Representatives prior to their selection as Senators (for a higher average
than the Senate's overall 35.9 percent), and all had won some popular
election, suggesting that their success and influence were partially due to
preliminary political experience. Sixteen represented states lying east of
the Mississippi and north of the Potomac and, with the exception of Bailey of
Texas, none was from the deep South or far West, indicating that political
control of the Senate in 1906 differed from that of today.

Although criticism of the Senate antedated the muckraking movement,
investigation of that body increased noticeably after the turn of the
century. Articles analyzing the Senate, some critically, appeared in the
North American Review in 1902; the Atlantic Monthly and Century in 1903; the
Nation, the Independent, and World's Work in 1905, to name a few. The press
abounded in statements linking Senators and trusts. For example, the New York
Post in March, 1904, caustically commenting upon the investigation of Senator
Reed Smoot of Utah, wondered if it wouldn't be as proper to expel a Senator
who took orders from the beef or sugar trust as one who took orders from the
Mormon church. Or the Chicago Record Herald of one year later: "Caesar had a
listening senate at his chariot wheels. He must have been the forerunner of
the railroad magnate." In McClure's, Ray Stannard Baker branded the Elkins
committee railroad investigations a farce, charging Elkins, Kean, Aldrich,
and Foraker with collusion to whitewash the railroads. In 1905, a public
uproar resulted over the arrests and trials of Senator John H. Mitchell
(Oregon) and Joseph Burton (Kansas) on charges of land and postal frauds;
both men were fined and sentenced to prison. Under the heading, "The Senate's
Roll of Dishonor," the Nation, on December 7, 1905, claimed that the Senate's
prestige "has suffered a terrible blow" because of the convictions. Included
in the Nation's roll of "disgraced Senators" were Thomas C. Platt and
Chauncey Depew of New York and Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, largely because
of their implication in New York insurance scandals. The Armstrong
investigating committee, led by its chief counsel, Charles Evans Hughes,
clearly indicated the privileges accorded insurance companies because of
political pressures brought by these men, and produced a clamor for their
resignations. Even so business-minded a paper as The Journal of Commerce
suggested that neither Platt nor Depew "has been, is or can be a good and
faithful servant of this great State, and their presence in the Senate covers
it with confusion and humiliation."

Probably the most significant muckraking series to reflect upon the dignity
of the Senate prior to "Treason" was Thomas W. Lawson's "Frenzied Finance"
published in Everybody's. Financier Lawson's exposes of the operating methods
of insurance companies helped trigger the Armstrong investigation. Then, in
the November, 1905, issue of Everybody's, Lawson charged that Senator Clark
of Montana purchased his election. After the election, according to Lawson,
Henry Rogers of the Standard Oil Company requested a Senatorial investigation
because Clark was an industrial competitor. When Clark resigned his seat and
was then re-elected to the Senate, again under questionable circumstances,
Rogers warned him be would be expelled unless he co-operated with Standard
Oil. To back up his threat, Rogers supposedly produced a list containing the
names of two more Senators than the majority needed for expulsion. Popular
reaction to the Lawson charges was widespread; the Arena, in its January,
1906, issue, specifically asked the following men if their names were on the
Rogers list: Lodge, Aldrich, Depew, Platt, Gorman, Bailey, Penrose, Spooner,
and Elkins. It also demanded a Senate investigation of the Lawson exposures
and suggested that the Senate ". . . is becoming more and more a machine for
registering the will of Wall-street campaign contributors and the puppet of
privileged wealth."

    Lincoln Steffens' series of articles on statewide corruption for
McClure's in 1904-1905, titled "Enemies of the Republic," may be considered a
forerunner of "Treason." Steffens' investigations led him repeatedly to the
Senate, and though his language was more restrained than that of Phillips,
his conclusions were similar. For example, in "New Jersey: A Traitor State"
(April, 1905), Steffens wrote: ". . . it has seemed that the United States
Senate must be made up of the representatives from each state, not of the
people, not even of the state, but of the corrupt system of each state. This
would account for much that happens in the Senate." He added, "We have been
in at the birth of several United States Senators, so we can begin, if we are
honest, to realize that that august chamber is the earthly heaven of
traitors." Steffens' article on Rhode Island centered upon Nelson Aldrich,
"the arch-representative of protected, privileged business," who had become
the "boss of the United States." Steffens believed Senator Spooner to be
representing the railroad interests of Wisconsin, and Senator Stone the
baking powder interests of Missouri. Finally, Steffens visited Washington
itself and, in a series of articles for a newspaper syndicate in 1906,
charged that "the chamber of bosses" bad sabotaged the President's
legislative program.

The immediate political background for the "Treason" series lay in the 59th
Congress, which opened in December, 1905, in an atmosphere of criticism,
scandal, and doubt. Public and newspaper attention was focused on the
President's request for railroad rate reform; cartoonists depicted Aldrich,
Elkins, and Foraker as a trio of determined opponents of Roosevelt's
proposals. Current Literature told its readers that the fate of the railroad
measure, as well as other legislation, treaties, and appointments, rested in
the hands of an unofficial "'steering committee' chosen at a caucus of the
dominant party." This steering committee consisted of Senators Allison
(chairman), Hale, Aldrich, Cullom, Lodge, Perkins, Clark (Wyoming), Elkins,
Spooner, Kean, and Beveridge; eight of the eleven would be attacked by
Phillips. A prolonged debate at the outset of the session indicated
Senatorial sensitivity to rising public criticism. On December 18, Senator
Bailey remarked that ". . we have fallen to the point that even when in the
common playhouses of the country where cheap playwriters stage cheap plays,
the audience applauds when Senators are described as grafters." His remark
was immediately challenged, and a debate raged as to whether the Senate ought
to expel a Senator accused of graft while the courts were in the process of
trying him. Theodore Roosevelt characterized the mood of Washington on
January 10, 1906: "Just at the moment the people at large, and therefore
Congress too, seem to be Lawson-ized, so to speak. They are so jumpy, even
about reform, that it is difficult to get coherent-that is, effective-action
from them."

Within days after Roosevelt's edgy letter on the emotional state of Congress,
street-corner placards appeared throughout Washington, proclaiming in giant
type the coming publication of "The Treason of the Senate!" The promotional
campaign for the major muckraking series of 1906 was intense, thorough, and
highly sensational—a page out of Hearst canon. The Hearst metropolitan press
and small-town newspapers throughout the nation printed anticipatory news
releases supplied by the magazine's circulation department. Reaching the news
stands on January 15, the February issue of Cosmopolitan, with its editorial
introduction to the series, promised stirring revelations and hinted that
Chauncey M. Depew, target of the March issue, would resign. He did not, but
the March number of the magazine sold out. So did the April Cosmopolitan
containing the article on Senator Nelson W. Aldrich. Subscriptions poured in
and, if publisher's figures are to be trusted, circulation in May stood at
450,000, or about 50 percent higher than the magazine's 1905 average.
Measured in terms of profit, circulation, letters to the editor, and by the
extent to which the articles were reprinted in the country's smaller dailies
and weeklies, "Treason" was a smashing success.

    The nine articles comprising "Treason" appeared monthly from  March
through November and dealt at length with the private and public careers of
twenty-one Senators, selected apparently because of their private wealth and
their power  in the Senate and party organizations. Stone of Missouri, Gorman
of Maryland, and Bailey of Texas were Democrats, the remainder Republicans.
All were either immensely wealthy, like Depew of New York, or like  Spooner
of Wisconsin and Lodge of Massachusetts were influential because of their
Senatorial committee
assignments. Some, such as Aldrich of Rhode Island and Elkins of West
Virginia, were both multi-millionaires and wielders of power in the Senate.
They by no means represented a typical cross-section of that body; on the
other hand, their political sins were apparently no greater than those of
most of their colleagues. Phillips probably could have written double the
number of articles had be and Hearst cared to continue muckraking the lesser
lights of the Senate in a similar vein.

Phillips's technique was to present a short biography of his subject that
stressed a triangulation between his public success, his willingness to serve
private business interests, and his accumulation of a sizable fortune. The
remainder of the article was devoted to his subject's political career, with
emphasis upon a number of legislative incidents in which the Senator had
invariably cast his influence and vote in a way befriending his corporate
allies at the expense of the general public. The articles usually concluded
with a short homily on the man and his public ethics.

The "Treason" articles presented very little factual information about the
Senators and the Senate that had not appeared previously on the public record
in one form or another. How then is one to explain the series' impact upon
the public, the indignation it caused in conservative circles, and the wrath
it stirred in the President? Part of the answer lies in its aggregate
weight—the accumulated effect of piling charge upon charge, article after
article—which, in totality, implied that most Senators were guilty of great
public wrongdoing. Part lies in the fact that the articles appeared in a
supposedly reputable national magazine owned indeed by a member of Congress.
Additionally, the effect of Phillips's articles was heightened by his use of
sentences which implied more than they actually said, a technique which his
contemporary, Norman Hapgood, termed "adroit insinuation."

For example, in his article on Lodge, Phillips claimed that the Massachusetts
legislature was characterized by public plunder and betrayal, and then
concluded that "this is notoriously typical of the body which has three times
elected Lodge. A stream can rise no higher than its source—that is not an
axiom of physics only." As an axiom applied to Lodge, it was nonsense. The
articles were replete with such outlandish suggestions—that John Spooner's
seat in the Senate chamber was designed to give him a "coigne of vantage as
the mouthpiece of special privilege," or that because Hemenway of Indiana and
Brandegee of Connecticut favored Fairbanks's Presidential ambitions, that
"is, of itself, enough to locate them." The reader was to use his imagination.

But perhaps the major reason for "Treason's" impact is to be found in the
unrestrained language Phillips used to describe his subjects, in the
intensity of his adjectives and adverbs rather than in the gravity of his
rather well-known facts. Bailey, for example, was compared unfavorably to
Judas Iscariot, Gorman described as "a grafter," Elkins accused of "sneak
thievery," and Aldrich of "three acts of treason" that had brought him wealth
and rank. Collectively, the Senate was depicted as "stealthy," "treacherous,"
and "traitorous," made up of "bribers" and "perjurers" and "change-pocket
thieves." During heated political campaigns, especially in Populist days,
personal charges of such intensity had not been unknown. But rarely outside
of campaigns had such blunt words been used so coolly about august public
servants by a respected journalist writing for a reputable national magazine.
Little wonder that Theodore Roosevelt feared a general public discrediting of
his party, the national legislature, and indeed the administration if the
effects of such charges were not somehow dissipated.

Roosevelt had reasons for being indignant about the "Treason" series. In them
his personal friend Lodge was characterized as a "product of petty grafters"
and his former cabinet member Knox described as a man who had made his
millions through fees "from armor-plate and rebate rascals." Roosevelt also
feared that his legislative program for the regulation of railroads,
stockyards, and food manufactures would be endangered by the controversy, and
possibly as a result his party might lose the Congressional elections of 1906
and thus mar his incredibly popular record with a sign of public displeasure.

Even before the articles appeared in print, the President was apprehensive
about them; he had good reason to be. The writer had linked him with
plutocracy and ridiculed his ostentatious "ceremonial of a king" in The Reign
of Gilt. The publisher was perhaps his major political enemy. It seems
probable, therefore, that the President had made up his mind about the series
before he read it. At any rate, he had been growing disenchanted with the
"literature of exposure" for nearly a year. Lawson's articles, followed by
Boss Platt's subsequent testimony that he recognized a moral obligation to
care for the interests of corporations that contributed to campaigns, upset
Roosevelt because he was, by implication, involved. The investigations by Ray
Stannard Baker of railroad corruption and by Lincoln Steffens of state
politics for McClure's in 1905 had troubled him in their cumulative effect.
As McClure's biographer suggests, ". . . these articles constituted a
devastating report on the State of the Union, so graphic and so telling that
they had wrested from the President his political leadership. He was no
longer summoning, he was being dragged." Roosevelt wrote McClure on October
4, 1905:

I think Steffens ought to put more sky in his landscape. I do not have to say
to you that a man may say what is absolutely true and yet give an impression
so one-sided as not to represent the whole truth. It is an unfortunate thing
to encourage people to believe that all crimes are connected with business,
and that the crime of graft is the only crime.

He warned writer Ray Stannard Baker on November 28, 1905: "In social and
economic, as in political, reforms, the violent revolutionary extremist is
the worst friend of liberty, just as the arrogant and intense reactionary is
the worst friend of order." To his friend, editor Lyman Abbott of the
Outlook, he wrote on October 14, 1905, that an author who lies by
overexaggerating graft ". . . occupies a position in my judgment not one whit
better than the real grafter, and infinitely below the very worst of the men
whom he accuses; for most of the latter are not guilty of any shortcomings

But of all the sensational writers and publishers, Hearst had annoyed him
most. A potential political rival since Spanish-American War days (when TR
refused to give "a certificate of character to the New York Journal"), Hearst
had long borne the brunt of his invective. In his first speech to Congress,
for example, the President spoke of his predecessor's assassin as probably
having been inflamed ". . . by the reckless utterances of those who, on the
stump and in the public press, appeal to the dark and evil spirits of malice
and greed, envy and sullen hate. The wind is sowed by the men who preach such
doctrines, and they cannot escape their share of responsibility for the
whirlwind that is reaped." He was by implication blaming Hearst for the death
of McKinley, and when Hearst ran for governor of New York in 1906, Roosevelt
authorized his Secretary of State, Elihu Root, to state publicly that when
uttering those words he "had Mr. Hearst specifically in mind. And . . . what
he thought of Mr. Hearst then he thinks of Mr. Hearst now."

Roosevelt's apprehensions about expose increased when Poultney Bigelow
muckraked the Panama canal situation in the Independent and the charges were
repeated in other magazines. The President and his Secretary of War were
incensed and called in the press in January, 1906, to answer each charge with
facts and figures. (Later in the year Bigelow was after Panama again, for the
Cosmopolitan.) Shortly thereafter, the provocative billboards advertising
"Treason" appeared, followed by the February number of Cosmopolitan with its
announcement that Chauncey M. Depew would be the first target. The attack on
Depew was a final straw for the President. Depew, though a frontman for the
railroads, was considered by Roosevelt to be a harmless good-fellow, and at
the state Republican convention of 1898 he bad made the speech nominating TR
for governor of New York, reciting his accomplishments in glowing terms.
Roosevelt's reaction to the "Treason" announcement was, at first, indirect.
His close associate, Postmaster General George B. Cortelyou, dispenser of
all-important mailing privileges, warned in a Lincoln's Birthday speech at
Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Of late years there has developed a style of journalism, happily as yet
limited in its scope, whose teachings are a curse and whose influence is a
blight upon the land. Pandering to unholy passions, making the commonplace to
appear sensational, fanning the fires of sectionalism and class hatred,
invading the privacy of our firesides, it presents one of the most important
of our present-day problems.

When the March Cosmopolitan containing the Depew article reached him on
February 17, the President wrote an associate, "I need hardly tell you what I
feel about Hearst and about the papers and magazines he controls and their
influence for evil upon the public and social life of this country . . ."
That same day he suggested that Alfred Henry Lewis, head of the Washington
bureau of the New York Journal, and himself a Cosmopolitan contributor, drop
in for conversation:

I have just been reading the Cosmopolitan. There is no need for me to say
that so far as in one article or another corruption and fraud are attacked,
the attack has my heartiest sympathy and commendation; but hysteria and
sensationalism never do any permanent good, and in addition I firmly believe
that to the public, as well as to private individuals, the liar is in the
long run as noxious as the thief.

In a letter written to William Howard Taft on March 15, two days before he
addressed the Gridiron Club, Roosevelt named Phillips, Lawson, and Upton
Sinclair as a trio of lurid sensationalists who were building up a
revolutionary feeling in the country.
Aloha, He'Ping,
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
Omnia Bona Bonis,
All My Relations.
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
Roads End

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