To the People of Colorado:
Force has triumphed. A brutal majority placed in the governor's chair a man the people repudiated. Ninety-five per cent of Colorado citizens know that Peabody was not elected. All of those connected with the crime know it.
Defeated at the polls, the conspirators started in November 9 to seat the beaten candidate. Every conscienceless engine of corruption and pressure has been used. Foiled in their attempt to override the constitution and hold Peabody in his seat, a fake contest was inaugurated. This failed of its purpose, as enough Republican members would not forfeit their manhood by voting for a man that the testimony, as well as the election returns, said was not elected. The revolt was dangerous; it was clear that Peabody could not be seated. A new scheme must be devised, so that coterie of Christian utility statesmen, Hearne, Sheedy, Chappell and Evans, met in the Majestic building Wednesday evening and gave birth to the last plan in the ignoble conspiracy of stealing the governorship.
Representatives of the anti-Peabody Republicans were invited. A resignation of Peabody was offered and the voucher of the political purity quartet was given that it was genuine and that he would abide by it. A man who had held the great office of governor so debased himself as to promise to resign at command if they would seat him but for a day. This resignation is a confession that he was not elected and one that an honest man honestly elected would rather die than give. Peabody is entitled to the position for two years or he is not entitled to it for one hour. We are given the spectacle of a man not elected being placed in office for a day that he may resign in favor of a man who was never a candidate.
The McDonald promotion scheme appealed to a few who would not vote for Peabody, but were reluctant to aid a Democrat. Most participants admit the absurdity and wrong of the situation, but for pardon depend upon the tolerance and indifference of their constituents. One of the main conspirators said, "The people will forget." Will they? Is public opinion dead, or is it but a party annex? Is free government a delusion? Is civic virtue nothing but a phrase?
The vital principle of republics is obedience to the will of the majority. In this faith we relied in the contest upon the honest individual judgment of every legislator, and have been met by partisanship. We expected fair play; instead the majority of the legislature has bowed to the dictates of corporations who had selfish need of the governorship. It has been declared to the world that Colorado is a province of the Fuel company, the smelter trust, the Tramway and allied corporations. These companies and their agents and tools have carried the burden of the Peabody campaign from the time they forced him upon a reluctant party at the state convention until through the last disreputable deal he has been given a twenty-four-hour tenancy of the statehouse.
In this long campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars have been contributed by the corporations. The cost may not be enough to stagger humanity, but it would certainly stagger the stockholders of these contributing and conspiring companies if they knew the amount and use made of the funds.
In the eyes of the nation Colorado has been disgraced. We have won the contempt of free men everywhere. By command of the corporations a usurper has been placed in the executive chair—a new record in political infamy has been made.
It is legitimate for a citizen or a company to support any ticket it pleases and as vigorously as each pleases up to the close of the polls. But after that to set aside the people's verdict is a crime. Certain corporate officials pretend fear of anarchy, yet pursue methods that make them masters of lawlessness. Anarchy is not practiced alone by those with the torch and knife.
The greatest anarchists, and the most dangerous, are often the no-party, no-conscience heads of great corporations, who use the money and influence coming from the franchises and privileges that are the gifts of the people to control legislation, to dictate the personnel of courts and officials, to corrupt the ballot.
They stand high in church and society; they drone their prayers with regularity; they are the "holy Willies"—the "holier than thou" politicians—no publican of old more pious and self-satisfied. They are full of homilies on political virtue; they preach morality and practice treason; their purse is open to the church and to the political corruptionist and lobbyist with equal liberality. For their disregard of the law there seems to be no relief, as they would have the laws so made, interpreted and executed as to exempt them from penalty.
The investigation proved that, where under control of corporate influences, the outrages against the franchise and the election law were so gross as to make Denver repeating and fraud seem almost respectable. They preferred even the disgrace of an empty ballot box to the shameless story that the falsified books and ballots would reveal. Bosses and corporate officials dictated votes and manipulated returns.
Under God's law, if not man's, the workman who, to save his job and earn bread for his family, obeys the command to pollute the ballot is not half so guilty and criminal as the employer who coerces him. Tenfold more wicked is the priest who violates the commandments than is his lowly follower who forgets.
I am calm and moderate in my statements, but do not deny a feeling of intense resentment at being robbed. From my soul I feel outraged at being the victim of a conspiracy that has brought ill fame and discredit to Colorado.
I am but an incident in this contest. For me it is no hardship to go back to my home and my own affairs, but it is a serious matter to the state when canvassing boards are permitted by arbitrary and illegal methods to change the political character of a state senate and a partisan legislature so created uses its power to force into office a man who was defeated at the polls. Character is as great an asset for a state as for an individual, and when the will of the people is set aside and the constitution becomes the plaything of faction the character of the state is tainted. Broken laws and discordant politics do not attract the investor or the emigrant.
The legislature's governor is welcome to all the joy that can come to the occupant of a tainted seat. Welcome to all the glory he can find as receiver of stolen property. Office is not an elixir of life. It is neither a path of pleasure nor a conservator of fortune, and unless attained with honor can add no leaf of fame, no satisfaction to an honest man. To say that merit or right guided the vote in this contest is to impeach the intelligence of the legislature. They simply followed the destructive moral and political heresy of their attorney, who advised, when he found that no case had been made, that it was not a question of moral right or wrong, but of power, of duty to the Republican party. The doctrine of might makes right has won.
No fair man who heard the evidence, whether upon the committee of twenty-seven or elsewhere, but knows that the case of the contestor was a complete and humiliating failure. Most of them have admitted it, but party fealty and other influences smothered their consciences and secured the verdict making good the boast so often made prior to the election that Peabody would be seated, no matter whether he got the most votes or not. Money was offered in wager by inspired Republicans in different parts of the state upon the tricky proposition that Peabody would be governor—not that he would receive a majority of the votes.
The Republican organ time and again intimated that, as the party had the state officers and the canvassing board, Peabody would remain in office without regard to the verdict of the ballots. Friends who were with the Peabody management or in their confidence told me again and again that I was up against an invincible combination—that the deal was to elect Peabody without regard to circumstances or cost. The climax of this political drama, or tragedy, throws light over many events of the long campaign. Their victory is one of the kind where to win is to lose, as no party ever long flourished on rascality.
All honor to the patriotic Republicans who had the courage to stand for the right. Their oath to support the laws and the constitution was held sacred as against the command of the corrupt lobbyist or the party boss. Principle was preferred to party. All good citizens owe to them a debt of gratitude. Upon such independent citizenship rests the destiny of the republic. All honor to the thirty-one Democrats who stood as a single man for justice. Amid all the charges and insinuations of venality no suspicion ever touched the garment of a single Democrat. There was never a moment of anxiety as to where they stood; no guardian watched them; no briber came near.
To the world I would say that the majority of the legislature does not represent the people of Colorado any more than falsehood represents truth; than Lucifer speaks for the angels. Fearing to offend the great companies who in this campaign furnished their party with the largest corruption fund ever used in the West, the majority of the legislature basely surrendered. It was an act of political and moral cowardice in which the people had no part.
The 600,000 Democrats and Republicans in Colorado are honest. They stand amazed at the crime committed by their representatives and they ardently wait the hour and the day when they can rebuke the crime and those responsible for it.
Those who have been moved to wrong and injustice by avarice or the party lash must make peace with their own conscience as best they can. Facts and truth can make no plea for them.
Is the prize worth the cost? Is it worth a scar upon self-respect, a blemish upon manhood? Is it worth the suspicion and contempt of constituents and an entire state? Power is but a temporary lease. From the people we came and back to them and their scrutiny we must return.
A legislature cannot repeal the decalogue. A majority cannot make stealing respectable. Where things are even we may give our party the benefit of the doubt, but loyalty to party is no apology or defense for larceny. Our party has no right to be flagrantly wrong, and when wrong it has no right to claim the allegiance of any honest man. "Many a noble neck that has bowed itself to party has found that yoke a guillotine."
Thou shalt not steal;
Thou shalt not bear false witness;
Are commandments that have never been amended or repealed, and apply to parties as well as to men.
Integrity is the polar star in the moral firmament, and the state, party or individual that does not sail by it will come to wreck.
Had this contest been tried upon merit and evidence it would have been dismissed at the end of the contestor's phantom testimony. Faith in a two-thirds partisan majority was all that kept it alive. No honest cause should require the means employed. Their overwhelming political majority was a guarantee that had their case been half way fair and decent there would have been no need to employ money, coercion, lobbyists. No occasion to threaten Republican members with social ostracism, business ruin, political oblivion, or to present tricky resignations.
It was a dishonorable victory, dishonorably won. Let those responsible look over the cost in cash and in deed and see if they dare give the account to the public eye.
I want to stand an honest man before the people of Colorado. Better a hundred times a private citizen than hold the highest office by such a title. The stolen presidency added no luster to Rutherford B. Hayes. A stolen governorship will bring only reproach and disaster to Colorado and Republicanism.
"The theft is to the thief and comes back most to him."
March 17, 1905.
SUMMARY OF CONTEST
Cost of contest to taxpayers, $100,000.
Election November 8, 1904. Adams' plurality on face of returns, 10,511.
November 10, Peabody men charge fraud.
November 13, Peabody announces contest.
Actual length of contest before legislature, two months and six days.
November 30, corporations ask the supreme court to throw out all votes in precincts where frauds are alleged.
December 14, supreme court throws out precincts 8, ward 7.
December 18, four more precincts are thrown out, giving legislature to Republicans.
December 27, Adams demands that all ballot boxes be opened.
December 30, supreme court orders a recount of all Denver ballots.
January 1, Richard Broad, Simon Guggenheim's manager, says: "Peabody will be counted in."
January 6, Peabody protests against publishing the vote of Denver and a committee of fifteen is appointed to probe Peabody's fraud charge.
January 7, Adams declared elected by the legislature on face of returns.
January 8, Adams inaugurated.
January 16, a committee rescinded by joint session.
January 17, Committee of twenty-seven appointed by joint Assembly to hear contest. Peabody demands that Denver's entire vote be thrown out.
January 18, first evidence taken.
January 20, handwriting experts begin their false claims.
January 21, Governor Adams makes specific charges of fraud in outside counties.
January 25, Peabody issued personal appeal for money to aid in contest.
January 30, handwriting experts end evidence.
February 1, 2, and 3, hundreds of citizens identify their votes, which experts called fraudulent.
Adams' plurality increased 2,730 by throwing out fraudulent ballots in outside counties.
February 19, testimony ends.
February 26, briefs filed.
March 1, four reports filed, one favoring Peabody, one Adams, third insufficient evidence to unseat Adams, and the fourth recommending seating of Lieutenant Governor McDonald.
March 1, Peabody's counsel, J. M. Waldron, tells legislature ''Might makes right.''
March 13, supreme court says contest is between Adams and Peabody, McDonald not to figure.
March 14, test vote showed equal strength, 48 to 48. Lieutenant Governor McDonald, contrary to rules, casts the deciding vote and enforces recess.
March 16, final vote shows Peabody 55, Adams 41. Adams unseated, Peabody declared governor.
March 17, Peabody resigns and Jesse McDonald seated as governor. Peabody goes for a trip east.
March 19, Governor Adams returns to his home, Pueblo, and is greeted by 15,000 enthusiastic citizens. Hundreds of well-known citizens draw his carriage through the streets to his residence.
RESUME OF THE CONSPIRACY.
The history of the time that elapsed from election day to the end of the contest may be stated very briefly about as follows:
Peabody's Bullpen for Striking Miners
The political complexion of the legislature and the personnel of the governor was changed by other than the will of the people as expressed at the polls election day. The supreme court was the power used to bring about the first change, when, in a contempt proceeding, it declared it possessed the power to throw out entire precincts when it was shown that fraud had been committed in the precinct. The court did not unseal the number on the ballots, nor did it summon the voters and distinguish between the good ballots and those alleged to be bad. The court held that it could not unseal the ballots because the proceeding was not a contest, it could not, under the law, unseal the ballots and reveal who cast them. It could not violate the secrecy and sacredness of the ballot.
I wish to call especial attention to the fact that the same law which provides that the ballots cannot be unsealed except in a contest also provides that the ballot boxes shall not be opened except in a contest. But the court did open the ballot boxes and permitted the ballots to be scrutinized by so-called hand-writing experts whose testimony later given in the contest was so wild and foolish that it proved worthless. Yet their testimony, proved to be of no value, must have had some weight with the court as it ordered the exclusion of a number of precincts from the count and this exclusion had the effect of electing three Republican senators and the fifteen representatives who had been candidates for the legislature from Denver and the counties floated with it.
The next page in the history should be devoted to the jobbery executed under order of the corporations. A strange change took place in the returns from a precinct in Pueblo. The change was not questioned by the Peabody canvassing board composed of the state administration. This defeated Senator Martin and elected Senator McCarthy, a Republican. Next the Peabody canvassing board deliberately stole the seats of Senator Ward of Boulder and Beshoar of Las Animas and gave them to Milard and Sarela.
The next act of this tragic performance was the illegal expulsion of Democratic Senators Born and Healy on the shameful pretext that the senate two years ago unseated—in a legal manner —two Republican senators. They failed to consider that the house two years ago had first unseated six Democratic members in the effort to create a majority to elect a Republican United States Senator.
By the foregoing methods there was established a strong partisan majority in the legislature, then it was that the Peabodyites lodged a contest against Governor Alva Adams. The evidence which was submitted during the hearing of the contest clearly proved that Peabody had no case and he never thought he had a case but relied solely upon the partisan majority. It proved that Governor Alva Adams, under an honest count, had a larger instead of a smaller plurality than he received on the face of the returns.
This tragedy had many acts and the next was the long struggle. Corporation money in unlimited sums was put into circulation. Corporation influence was used, the influence of party bosses and of ''boodle,'' whipped enough members into line to steal the governorship for Peabody by a vote of fifty-five (55) to forty-one, (41) ten honest Republicans vindicating their manhood by voting for Mr. Adams on the final ballot.
The last act was the working out of the disgraceful deal by which Peabody, the recipient of the stolen office passed it along to Lieutenant Governor McDonald and retired, repudiated and discredited.
POLITICAL OBLIVION FOR PEABODY.
Now that Peabody has passed into political oblivion, forever, we hope for brighter days. He was nominated by corporate power after making personal pledges to do their bidding, he was elected by the lavish use of corporation funds. Under his reign the entire United States has stood simply appalled at his violations of law. The beautiful state of Colorado has been an object of pity to the other states in the Union, pointed to with scorn as proof of the decadence of independence of our citizens.
Striking Members of Western Federation of Miners
Deported from Cripple Creek
Ex-Governor Peabody represented one class—the mine owners and corporations—to the lasting detriment of the farmer, the business man and the laborer.
He, in time of peace, hired out the militia of the state to do the bidding of the Mine Owners' Association and corporations.
He created a million dollar deficit which the farmers and business men of the state will be compelled to pay.
He sanctioned the seizure and deportation of unoffending citizens [striking miners, members of the Western Federation of Miners] of Colorado by the state militia.
He approved the acts of the military in casting citizens of the state—untried by any court of law—on the deserts of Kansas and New Mexico without food or drink.
He authorized, without the consent of the legislature, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Teller, San Miguel and Las Animas counties.
He sanctioned the payment of the troops of the state by the mine owners to the extent of nearly a million dollars, all of which is to be made an interest bearing debt on the state of Colorado.
He depleted the contingent fund of the state by paying it out for personal expenses of Eastern jaunts.
He squandered the revenue of the state by unauthorized warrants, such as depleting the educational fund $40,000 to give himself and his World's Fair commissioners a chance to live in luxury at St. Louis.
He hired an entire floor of the Planters Hotel in St. Louis at an expense of $1,577 for six persons for one week, or at the rate of $225 a day of the hard earned money paid in taxes by the farmer and business man.
He sanctioned the surrounding of courts of law of the state while in peaceful session, with the state troops. He sanctioned their entrance into the halls of justice with triggers set and bayonets fixed.
He sanctioned the payments to officers of the national guard of vast sums run up by them in the bar rooms of Cripple Creek and Denver.
He stands arraigned for violation of the constitution of the United States by men of all parties, including such Republicans as Elihu Root, former secretary of war; Judge Dixon of Pueblo, former Senator Thurston of Nebraska, and the best Republican papers of the land.
He sanctioned the arrest and imprisonment of citizens of the state without warrant of law.
He sanctioned the destruction of the property of unoffending citizens of Colorado.
He sanctioned the refusal of a body of lawless citizens to permit the distribution of money and food to the wives and children of men who had been deported.
Political and industrial peace in Colorado will be a boon to all classes—rich, poor, organized labor and organized capital.
With Peabody in the gubernatorial chair, peace could not obtain. We want liberty more than we want peace—without liberty there can be little peace. We do not want Peabody's brand of peace and we don't want his brand of corporation "law and order.''
Peabody is a stranger to both liberty and justice. We don't ask for what our forefathers sacrificed their lives to gain for us, as charity from a half dozen corporations with Peabody as their servant—we demand liberty as our birthright and heritage; not to be given or withheld as it suits C. C. Hamlin, Craig, Carlton or some of the operators in the coal fields. Labor has struggled for over one hundred years to establish the improved conditions that exist in many parts of the United States. The workers have accomplished much, it is true, but in the past two years they have learned a great lesson—to not alone organize industrially but politically as well. Peabody has helped to teach us this lesson.
Mr. Peabody claims he stood for "law and order" and the punishment of crime, but the punishment of crime that omits the perpetrators and reaches only the innocent, or when a body of individuals resolve themselves into a mob and act as accusers and judges and inflict penalties that are unlawful, then the procedure is neither conducive of "law and order" nor peace but savors strongly of anarchy.
Never was a truer warning uttered than by Spinosa, the Dutch philosopher, who had occasion to know the results of unwarranted and illegal persecutions. He said:
Men are so made as to resent nothing more bitterly than to be treated, without trial, as criminals and cutthroats on account of opinions which they deem true. And what can be more fatal to a state than to exile as malcontents citizens on a wholesale plan? What more baneful than that men should be taken for enemies and led off to death, and that the torture pen should become, to the signal shame of authority, the finest stage for the public spectacle of endurance and virtue?
This was written more than 250 years ago, yet it will fit these times and scenes in Colorado as well as it did the scenes and times that gave Spinosa the inspiration to write it.
The people of Colorado have had enough of strife and we want peace, but not on Peabody's terms, we want it along lawful and constitutional lines. To expect it through the lawless violence resorted to by the henchmen of the corporations and a military battalion will be in vain; that is, unless it is the peace at Warsaw which came when the Poles had all been slain.
When the people of Colorado had an opportunity to register their disapproval of Peabodyism, at the ballot box, they repudiated him, notwithstanding the fact that he had a huge corruption fund at his back, the largest ever known to be used in a state election. After he found the people had rendered a verdict that was not to his liking he and his backers, a few corporations, sought in vain by bribery and trickery to reverse the fiat of the people. As soon as his usefulness as a tool was ended, the men he had served so well were ready to toss him in the political junk heap where he may reflect that notoriety, bought by a sacrifice of personal honor and integrity, is not worth the cost.
Peabody's example will be held up for avoidance and loathing and in the years to come decent people will draw aside their garments as he passes by...
He served the corporations well, but brought misery, suffering and discredit to the state.
I do not know of one act during Peabody's administration that had a tendency to improve the conditions of the people of the state. His "business administration" has been a dismal failure; his policy ruined thousands of business men and cost the state millions of dollars, to say nothing of the undesirable notoriety to the state on account of his unprecedented actions.
Peabody's policy if followed to its logical conclusion would end in no one's life or property being safe.
For humanity sweeps onward: where today the martyr stands,
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;
Far in front the cross stands ready and the crackling fagots burn,
While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn.
[Paragraph breaks and photographs added.]