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THE state of Colorado ceased under the administration of James H. Peabody, to be republican in its form of government, and became a military oligarchy. The expressed will of the people was ignored by their chosen representatives; thus bringing upon the state a series of calamities, the magnitude of which may now readily be seen.
It is deplorable that the state, at that time, was dominated by public officials who conceived that they were the masters and not the servants of the people; of a coterie of men who cast law, decency and that innate fairness which distinguishes the statesman of capacity from the truckling politician, to one side, and dropping to the level of a Machiavelli, pursued those policies which obtain for success, regardless of the principles upon which the American Republic is founded — in short, that "the end justifies the means."
Again, the instrumentalities employed in that crisis in this state were not such as would be employed by a statesman, and were such as would rather be used by one whose hands are stained with questionable commerce. The writer used to think it singular that the merchant prince, A. T. Stewart, was denied a position in Grant's cabinet, because, as was asserted at the time, his hands were stained with commerce, but the brilliant galaxy of statesmen in control of the government knew well their business; knew that statesmen are not made of the calibre of men who are accustomed to hiding the world from their vision with that small coin, the nickle.
The commonwealth of Colorado experimented with such an one. The experiment was costly. The people of the state elevated to the highest position within their gift one who dared not deny that he was a Shylock, a money monger, such an one as Jesus Christ scourged from the temple with thongs — James H. Peabody — cheap (except when spending public funds on eastern junketing trips), and, as Macauley said of a certain potentate, "little in war, little in government, little in everything but the art of simulating sturdiness of purpose." Such is Peabody. All that is lacking to make him as contemptible as James II or Charles I is a Judge Jeffries or Judge Impeys.
This man was the mere puppet, the chiefest instrumentality, of that coterie of men who, while they shouted law and order, throttled liberty and subverted courts of justice. His proclamation, like those bulls launched against distant empires by the mediaeval [sic] church of Rome startled the country and brought discredit on the state; but those who live amidst the scenes of his anathemas; to those who were on the ground and are familiar with the mechanism that moved the puppets of his wretched devices; to all such his fearful maledictions were a source of amusement and contempt.
General John C. Chase was, for a time, a very potent and "fierce" factor in what the governor ascribes as that "rebellious territory of Teller county;" but the fierce extractor of old ladies' teeth was tool strenuous even for his Excellency and Bell, and, consequently, the doughty general was disgraced and retired to the sanctity of his dental parlors in the capitol, where he might practice without let or hindrance the "fierce" art of wrestling with decayed teeth.
John C. Chase, in some mysterious manner, had the title of soldier thrust upon him; but there is much diversity of opinion as to the justness of the thrust. If, with a couple of hundred rookies, to chase ladies and gentlemen up and down the street who are out for a Sunday afternoon's stroll, is a characteristic of a soldier, then he is worthy of the title; if to place sharpshooters on the roofs of buildings, command the approaches to the district court of Teller county with Gatling guns, invade the aforesaid court with an armed force in order that he might have the courage to defy its decrees; if, from any possible viewpoint, these acts can be construed into those qualities which go to make up the soldier, then must the writer admit that Chase is a soldier; if with a troop of cavalry and a company of infantry, to invade a printing office, seize its inmates at a late hour of night (one would suppose that only thieves and burglars choose midnight hour for acts of outrage), and thrust them into a foul tent out of which to make room a number of drunken members of the guard had been removed; and it must be remembered that these men were not even provided with blankets. If to these acts can be ascribed the character of a man of honor, the just citizen, the humane general, then, indeed, is John C. Chase a soldier.
John C. Chase (the writer will not call him general, for, having resided for many years at one of the greatest military posts in the United States, and having been partially educated at aforesaid fort, she knows those qualities which constitute, first, the gentlemanly officer; second, the man who is always a gentleman; third, the soldier; fourth, those fine qualities which distinguish an officer of the United States Army from one whose military career has been confined within the limits of a mere tin soldier on state occasions), will not deny that he headed the aforesaid predatory expeditions.
Another "soldier" who was conspicuous in the "proscribed area" is Adjutant General Bell, brigadier general, adjutant general, state of Colorado — "It" of the iron jaw, and let it not be forgotten that it takes a heavy head to support an iron jaw. Bell rose to fame from the humble position of a deputy United States marshal — professional thief taker and adept in the art of unraveling and creating dark and bloody plots. Too valuable was he to remain in the field, and after the shelving of the warrior Chase, he was returned to the capitol, for, be it remembered, squawking geese saved the capitol of Rome, and might not Bell be used in a like manner to save Peabody and the credit of his administration. At any rate shortly after his return to the capitol, according to the public press, numberless mines in the district were to be dynamited, miners were in danger of being lynched and men fell over themselves in their efforts to make confessions of grave crimes. That was a stroke of policy worthy of a Richelieu. As a matter of fact, the original policy of intimidation and violence outlined by the cabal had utterly failed. The press and public sentiment throughout the state, it was seen, was decidedly against the policy of ruffianism instituted. Hence, Bell's recall to the capitol, where his peerless art as a fictionist — his superior abilities as a manufacturer of mountains out of mole hills — was given free rein. Then were mines to be dynamited; then were men to be lynched; then had men made fearful confessions — all phantoms of Bell's imagination.
These fictions were given wide publicity for the purpose of preparing the public mind for a new policy, about to be introduced—that of martial law.
Thomas McClelland, major, was another "aggressive" factor of the war of extermination. The position assigned McClelland seems to have been the real "dirty work," such as breaking into halls and printing offices and seizing the inmates thereof; thrusting civil officers out of hallways in their efforts to serve papers upon officials — in short to perform all those menial offices which an officer of the regular army would spurn with contempt.
But the meanest, lowest, most vile of the instrumentalities employed by this honorable cabal in the accomplishment of its purposes was one Frank Vannick, ex-convict, No. ; a man of whom it is said, that to shield himself from prison walls, turned states' evidence and sent his own brother to the institution which he thereby avoided for a time only. Peabody, the chiefest; Vannick the least; both of Canon City, Colo., one, a banker, a resident of the town, the other, an inmate of a prison. Fit instrumentalities to subvert courts, suppress free speech, censor the press, thrust citizens into bull pens without warrant of law, invade public halls, break into dwellings and rifling them of their contents during the absence of the owners thereof.
Such are the atrocities that the people of this district have suffered, and yet maintained a calm dignity that gives the living lie to Peabody, Bell and the Mine Owners' Association.
So far as the writer has been able to observe, organized labor of the Cripple Creek district sought to maintain law. Organized labor sought to enforce the laws against gambling, and when convictions were secured James H. Peabody, governor of Colorado, intervened with executive pardon — probably on the principle that gambling and Shylocking are not widely different occupations. Organized labor has sought to close those scourges of civilization — the dance halls — wherein more disorder and brawls originate than in any other institution in the mining camp. It was not observed that James H. Peabody or the military closed them. Presumably this commerce in woman's virtue did not appeal strongly to the governor's fine sense as an evil that should be suppressed, for, according to Judge Owers, one may rise from the position of a dance hall proprietor to be even a banker; yea, even as James H. Peabody.
"This work received the unanimous endorsement of the Colorado State Federation of Labor by 350 delegates representing 50,000 union men and women of the state of Colorado in convention assembled at Denver, Colo., January 11 to 14, 1904.
J.C. Sullivan, President."
"H.B. Waters, Secretary.
[Webmaster's note: I have corrected some spelling errors and archaic spellings from the original work (primarily for web search purposes), and designated some unusual or archaic word usages. Original meaning and intent have been carefully preserved, in all cases. I have added a couple of index entries for existing headings, which probably should have been in the original. Please bring any trascription errors to my attention, richardmyers [at] q.com.]