July 25, 2011

Political Cartoon: A Bunch of Hot Air

The Sun, Jacksonville, FL, May 26, 1906

The above political cartoon comes from The Sun of Jacksonville, FL, printed May 26, 1906.  In this cartoon, President Theodore Roosevelt is caricatured with his trademark toothy grin.  Also notice on the ground are a big stick ("Speak softly and carry a big stick") and a pitchfork.  Benjamin Tillman, a US Senator, was known as "Pitchfork Ben."  According to Wikipedia, citing Time magazine from March 26, 1956, Tillman earned this nickname because he announced "his determination to go to Washington and plunge a pitchfork into the rump of President Grover Cleveland."

Here is an article from The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, S.C., January 12, 1909, that is just one example of the exchange between Senator Tillman and President Roosevelt.



DONE FOR SPITE

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Roosevelt Links Senator Tillman With Land Grab Deal.

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BATTLE HAS BEGUN.

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President Gives Out Result of Secret Investigation -- Tillman Admits Having Tried to Obtain Land in West--Wanted Sections for Himself, Family, and Secretary. 



Washington, D.C., Jan. 8--President Roosevelt tonight made public the details of an investigation by postoffice inspectors and secret service agents of Senator Tillman's connection with an alleged "land grab" in Oregon.  As he presents the evidence to Senator Hale, in response to the latter's request to the heads of the various exectuive departments for a statement of the operations of the secret service, the President undertakes to show: 

That Mr. Tillman used his influence as a Senator in an effort to force the Government to compel a railroad corporation to relinquish its control of land grants from the United States in order that he and his family and his secretary, J. B. Knight, might profit through the purchase of some of the land: 

That the Senator used his Government franking privilege in numerous instances for the conduct of private business. 

Comparatively few Senators were favored with the opportunity of reading the President's report to Senator Hale, but those who did read the report took a serious view of it, although most of the Senators refused to believe that Mr. Tillman had ever done anything in violation of his oath as Senator.  

Senator Tillman does not permit the fact that the President was giving out the charges against him to alter his determination to make no statement until Monday.  He said that he could not make his reply so complete as he would desire for tomorrow's papers, and that he would therefore withhold whatever remarks he might have to make until Monday, when he would make a statement to the Senate.  No effort was made by him to conceal the fact that when he had learned the facts concerning the railroad grant he had made an effort to obtain portions of the land in the names of himself and members of his family, but declared that as, at most, he could have gotten possession of only a few hundred acres, his efforts were, after all, in behalf of the public and not especially in his own interest. 

Will Reply Monday. 
Immediately after the conclusion of the chaplain's prayer Monday Mr. Tillman will ask the recognition of the Chair on a question of personal privilege.  Departing from his custom of extemporaneous speaking, he will read his statement, thus insuring more careful adherence to what he desires to say that he would be able to give in an offhand speech. 

The communication to Senator Hale is nearly 3,000 words long, and in addition there are appended numerous exhibits including copies of letters written by Senator Tillman and his agent, William E. Lee, showing that they did make an effort to secure several quarter sections of the Oregon land, and the reports of the postoffice inspectors who investigated the transactions of the land agents.  It was through this investigation that the alleged interest of Senator Tillman was brought to light, and fatefully, it appears, that it was at his instigation that the inquiry was begun. 

The President's communication to Senator Hale opens with the statement that he had secured for the Senator information touching the employment of special attorneys, special agents, inspectors, etc., and the report conveying this information he was transmitting.  Then he says that it is "not only the right, but the duty of Congress to investigate the workings of the secret service or detective agents by which alone the Government can effectually safeguard itself against wrong doing, punish crime, and bring to justice criminals." 

The President continues: 
I would like to state here that very frequently accusations have been made to me privately by members of the two houses to the effect that the secret service has been used as a 'police of morals,' or to shadow Senators, Congressmen and other public officials.  Hitherto the effort to discover the basis for such allegations has always been fruitless.  I should be gratefully obliged if any information could be furnished me tending to show any instance where this has been done in times past." 

The President enters upon a discussion of operations of the special agents and inspectors, saying that in the investigation of specific frauds the operators "some times comes across wholly unexpected phases of misconduct."  Often, says the President, the abuse of the franking privilege is unknown to the Congressmen themselves. 

The Tillman Matter. 

Then, leading up to the Tillman matter, he says: 

"But a case has just arisen of a different kind, which it seems to me I should put before you as illustrating in striking fashion the way in which investigations begun by any of these various agents in the strict line of their duty may develop facts of high importance, which the investigators would not in the first instance have sought do discover, which, when discovered, ought not to be hidden or suppressed, but the development of which may tend to create an erroneous impression that the agents in question were being used for purposes not within the line of their lawful duty." 

The communication then recited that Senator Tillman on February 19, last, called the attention of the Senate to the circular of the Oregon land syndicate, which alleged that Senator Tillman was among those who had spoken for a part of the land to be disposed of and quotes Senator Tillman's deal as follows:  
"I have not bought any land anywhere in the West, nor undertaken to buy any.  I have made some inquiries as one naturally would, in roaming through the West.  I simply want the people of the country to be put on notice that this swindler at Portland had no warrant whatever for endeavoring to inveigle others into his game." 

Enclosed, the President says, Mr. hale would find photographic facsimilies of letters and envelopes from Senator Tillman and his agent, Mr. E. Lee, bearing on the matter.  A letter of Senator Tillman to Oregon attorneys is quoted as follows: 

"I wired from Wausau, Wis., as follows, and write to confirm it: 

"William E. Lee, my agent, will see you about land.  I want nine quarters reserved.  Will forward signed applications and money at once.  Members of my family are entrymen.  Letter follows. ("Signed)  B.R.T." 

"I write now to say that I wired Mr. Lee, who resides at Moscow, Idaho, to go at once to Marshfield and see you about the land, to locate quarters for the seven members of my family, who are of age and one for my private secretary J. B. Knight, whom I desire to let into the deal, and, of course, he wants a quarter for himself." 

"A Good Gamble." 

"The letter continued," writes the President, "in stating in detail what was to be done in order to enable the Senator to get the land.  The William E. Lee, to whom Senator Tillman thus referred as his agent, wrote to Reeder and Watkins, under date of December 7, a letter, photographic copy of which is herewith submitted, marked "Exhibit D 4."  In this letter Mr. Lee explains that he had written Senator Tillman fully as to the status of the land matter, advising him it was a good gamble, but that the Senator was lecturing, so that he did not get Mr. lee's letter until a week and a half previously.  The letter continues: 

"In case Senator Tillman gets in on this deal with some good land in the eight quarters we want.  I am satisfied that he can be of great help in getting matters started from Washington and cause the Government to get busy and do something along th eline you desire.  He will set up such a howl that it will be impossible to do otherwise.  It will be very important for your whole scheme to have a man of his influence here to aid you at this end of the line.  By all means save a lot of good land for us, as we intend to be of more value than any one of the others in this matter.'" 

Then is quoted Senator Tillman's resolutions providing for the institution of th eland suits, after which the President quotes from the Senator's letter of February 15 to Messrs Reeder and Watkins.  Says the President: 

"He states that what he has done in stirring up the question of the Oregon land grant to railroads has been done entirely apart from any personal interest he has in the matter, and adds" 'Although I never would have had my attention called to it but for the investigation as set on foot in connection with the proposed purchase by me of some of the timber land in question.  Of course if I decide to make the tender and go inter the lawsuit.  I will bear your proposition in mind, but I would have you understand that nothing I do here in the Senate will be done because of my personal purchase of any of the land. 

Wanted Eight Sections. 

"If I can succeed in causing the Government to institute suit for the recovery of the land and make it easier for others as well as myself (the italics are mine) to obtain some of it.  I shall do it without regard to the dealings with your firm.  I still want to get some of the timber land if it is possible, and as it is probable that Mr. Lee or some other representative of mine will be in your country in the next two months.  We will leave the matter of payment for the initiatory steps and subsequent proceedings in abeyance for the present.  Any contract we might make will be entirely apart from, and independent of, my work here in the Senate.  I would be glad for you to hold in reserve eight of the best quarter sections of which you have definite information, and I will in the meantime press the investigation and other work here which will facilitate the final purchase, and in effect obviate the necessity of your taking any case in the courts at all.' 

"This letter, purely pertaining to Mr. Tillman's personal and private business, was sent in a franking envelope, of which I attach photographic copy, marked 'Exhibit D 5.' 

"I call your attention to the letter of Mr. Dorr to the Postmaster General under date of November 22, 1908, ('Exhibit E.') in which he asks for relief from the cases which Senator Tillman had brought against him, saying that he had no knowledge that Senator Tillman desired his operations to be kept hidden and secret from general public knowledge. The report of the inspectors seems to indicate that this young man, Mr. Door, acted in good faith, but that he used Senator Tillman's application for land as an advertisement."

Click to enlarge

From The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C., January 12, 1909.

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