2: The killing that rocked the continent A MACLEAN'S FLASHBACK IN TWO PARTS
“Murder ex-governor Steunenberg,” mine-union bosses told Harry Orchard, the Canadian assassin, “and teach our enemies a lesson.” But the crime killed the union, and only the great Clarence Darrow’s courtroom genius saved all their necks
STEWART H. HOLBROOK
Who should Harry Orchard, the dynamiter, the paid assassin, murder next? The high command of the Western Federation of Miners couldn't agree. At the union's headquarters in Denver in the summer of 1905, the president, Charles Moyer, the secretary-treasurer. Big Bill Haywood, and George Pettibone, an evil genius who advised them both and told the union’s hatchet men who to kill and how to kill, wrangled interminably.
The frightening life story of Canada’s most infamous hatchet man
Moyer wanted to get Johnnie Neville, a former saloonkeeper who had helped Orchard escape from posses after Orchard had dynamited a railway station and killed thirteen miners at the town of Independence in Colorado. “Neville knows too much." Moyer argued. “If we don't get him, he'll get us.’’
Neither Haywood nor Pettibone seemed anxious about Neville. Pettibone wanted to do something about Sherman Bell, an adjutantgeneral of Colorado who had commanded militia that rode roughshod over miners in the Cripple Creek strike in Colorado. Haywood decided that Frank Steunenberg, an ex-governor of Idaho, should have preference. Steunenberg had called out federal troops to break a miners' strike in the Coeur d'Alene district of Idaho.
Moyer warmed to this suggestion, saying that if Steunenberg were bumped ofT they could send letters promising similar treatment to any others trying to subdue the miners' federation. Moyer said to go ahead with the Steunenberg job. Haywood peeled three hundred dollars from a roll and gave it to Orchard.
“With his black valise and alarm-clock bomb he went out to kill a man he didn’t know”
Orchard was to go to Steunenberg's home at Caldwell, Idaho, and kill him there. Four other men had failed; he would have to be careful. He should return by way of Seattle and Spokane, Haywood suggested, to look after a matter the Western Federation had been pondering for a long time. This was a hide-away somewhere close to the Canadian border where the federation could send men who w'ere on the lam.
It w'as a time of bitter labor strife, when there w;as ample need for such an escape from the costs of lawlessness. For twenty years the union movement had been fighting for power all over the continent, but nowhere more violently than in the hard-rock mining areas of the U. S. Thousands of employers had fought back to hold their position as dictators, with a fury that matched or exceeded that of the workers.
As bosses of the Western Federation of Miners, Moyer and Haywood had just returned to Denver from Chicago where, with two hundred other delegates, they had prepared a manifesto for the Industrial Workers of the World—the “Wobblies” as they became known. This was dedicated to the uncompromising doctrine: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.”
In the mind of Harry Orchard, the doctrine was even more simple. It was simply: kill the enemies of the Western Federation. Mostly with dynamite, he had killed at least eighteen by the time he received what was to be his final assignment from Moyer and fellow officers in 1905— to kill Frank Steunenberg.
Orchard, a Canadian born in Northumberland County, Ontario, had been a centre of mineunion violence since his arrival in 1897 in the Coeur d'Alene area of Idaho. There, at the town of Wardner, he helped to blow up a mine and fled to the Cripple Creek region in Colorado, where he killed two mine superintendents in one explosion and thirteen nonunion miners in another. He shot down Lvte Gregory, a mine-company detective, and blew up Frederick Bradley, a mine manager. Merritt Walley, an innocent passerby, was killed in Denver wffien he stepped into a dynamite trap Orchard had set for Chief Justice William Gabbert of the Colorado Supreme Court.
This was the remorseless kind of killer the Western Federation officers sent after Frank Steunenberg.
For luggage Orchard took his professional kit —the black valise in w'hich he packed a revolver, repeating shotgun and a couple of quarts of whisky. In his trunk were several changes of clothing for disguise should they be needed and a heavy alarm-clock bomb he had once prepared for Governor James H. Peabody of Colorado but had never used.
Orchard got off the train at Nampa, nine miles east of Caldwell. Knowing from Haywood that Steunenberg was in the sheep business, it occurred to Orchard that he might as well pose as a sheep buyer. In Nampa he became T. S. Hogan, from Denver, Colorado, a man looking for a chance to buy a few thousand sheep. He got the names of several people who had sheep to sell, among them Steunenberg. Then he went on to Caldw'ell where he registered at the Pacific Hotel, and told the proprietor that he had been asked by a friend to see if he could buy some lambs. The proprietor mentioned that right there in Caldwell was one ot the leading sheepmen of the state. Frank Steunenberg. Hogan learned that Steunenberg was just then out of tow'n, either at Mountain Home, where his sheep range was located, or in Boise, the state capital.
Orchard w-ent out to look over Caldwell and to observe the home of the town's first citizen, its yard enclosed by a fence w'ith a picket gate. Then he took an afternoon train to Boise. He was still T. S. Hogan. He stayed at the Idan-ha Hotel, alter learning that Steunenberg was registered. Orchard was given a room ori the same floor where the ex-governor was. He started to investigate matters at once. Being a man who seems always to have devoted some attention to the work and habits of chambermaids and other hotel help, he waited until noon, “when the chambermaids w'ere off the floor,” then tried a skeleton key. It readily opened the door. He went in to look around. This might be the place to use that bomb w'hich lay in his trunk at Nampa.
Orchard took an afternoon train to Nampa, returned to Boise in the evening, and had the trunk moved into his room at the Idan-ha. He unpacked the bomb, w'ound the alarm clock, pushed the bomb under his bed, and sat down to listen to its ticking. In the silence of the hotel room, Orchard's clock seemed to make a terrific lot of noise. It wouldn't do for the present work. Sitting in his chair, he contemplated the next move. He could put the bomb, minus the clock attachment, in Steunenberg's room and hitch it to the door with screw eye and line.
The bomb contained twenty-five pounds of dynamite. It would blow' the hotel to pieces, he reflected, and would kill a lot of people. ”1 really didn't care about that,” he remembered, “so long as Mr. Steunenberg was one of them. What worried me was my own chance of being caught by the explosion.” He knew' the ex-governor would be killed the moment he opened the door. But he could not be sure when he would return to his room. "A chambermaid might go into the room before Steunenberg did,” he ruminated, "and that would spoil everything.”
continued on page 55
The killing that rocked the continent continued from page 26
In the dark the two men planted the bomb at the governor’s gate
No, he would have to go back and start all over again and come up with a better plan.
His mind made up on this point. Orchard seems to have been in no hurry to get on with his assignment. He turned his back on Boise and went to Portland to take in the world’s fair and then to Seattle. From there he turned to the mining town of Wardner in Idaho where he had once worked, and looked up an old mining friend. Jack Simpkins. In
addition to Orchard. Simpkins and Steve Adams, who had helped Orchard blow up the station at Independence where thirteen miners were killed, were hatchet men for the Western Federation. They had recently killed two claim jumpers.
Orchard talked Simpkins into going with him to Caldwell, after explaining his plan to make a new bomb for Steunenberg.
About the first of November, Orchard and Simpkins checked in at the Pacific Hotel, Caldwell, and registered as T. S. Hogan and Jack Simmons. That evening they went out to case the Steunenberg residence. Next day, working together in their hotel room, they made a tenstick bomb. It was one of Orchard’s conventional jobs, set to go off when a string turned a windlass holding a vial of acid, to drop the liquid on detonating caps. It was Saturday night.
Late Sunday afternoon ex-governor Steunenberg was seen in the lobby of Caldwell’s other hotel, the Saratoga, talking with friends. When the two watching men considered the early November night to be dark enough, they got their bomb. Then, as Orchard remembered it: “We went to the street that led to Mr. Steunen berg’s home. We placed the bomb close to the path where he would be most apt to pass, covered it with weeds, and stretched a wire across the pathway, staking the loose end of the wire. Then we hurried back to the Pacific Hotel, so we could prove where we had been, if necessary.”
Sitting in the hotel lobby, waiting for the noise, called — as Orchard philosophically remarked—for patience. Two hours of patience was enough. The two men went over to the Saratoga Hotel. Steunenberg was not there. They walked down the street to where they had left the bomb. The wire across the path was broken. Still in place hidden in the weeds was the bomb. It was probably Steunenberg who unknowingly had broken the wire. On checking the apparatus Orchard found that, although the windlass had turned over, it had turned so fast that no acid had run out of the vial.
Orchard, being the expert, had to take care of the live bomb. At first he thought he'd leave it where it was. come what might. “But finally,” he remembered, ”1 covered the mouth of the vial and took it out. I picked up the bomb and carried it over by the railroad track, and covered it with weeds.”
Jack Simpkins must have found this sort of work depressing, for while the two men were having breakfast next morning it occurred to Jack—quite suddenly, it seemed to Orchard—that it was time he went to Silver City to visit the union there. After all he was a member of the federation’s executive board.
Harry Orchard was now alone. The dreaded time had come. To face alone the job of murder suddenly seemed the most solitary occupation in the world.
As soon as Simpkins left. Orchard checked out of the Pacific Hotel and got a front room in the home of W. H. Schenck, a longtime resident of Caldwell. From his windows he could observe the street used by Steunenberg when coming from and returning to his house.
Frank Steunenberg was a large, rather silent man with the face of a Roman senator. About him was no trace of the pompous or ingratiating manners characteristic of politicians. “Rugged in body,” said his friend, William Borah, “he was also resolute in mind.” Caldwell liked Frank Steunenberg. Her citizens sent him to the constitutional convention and helped to elect him representative to the first legislative assembly after Idaho became a state in 1890. Seven years later he was elected governor. Orchard’s sole interest in the man was in regard to his daily habits.
Orchard kept his lodgings in the Schenck home for nearly two weeks, during much of which Steunenberg was out of town. Orchard passed the time drinking and gambling at the Saratoga Hotel, and talking about sheep. He easily made the acquaintance of many townspeople. With these he adopted the pose of a genial man of the world. He seems also to have taken pains to make an impression on a young waitress in the Saratoga’s dining room.
One day he saw a newspaper item saying that Frank Steunenberg had been appointed by Governor Frank Gooding to serve on some state committee in Boise. Orchard shook off his inertia. He got the bomb he had hidden in the weeds, and told the Schencks he had business in Boise. He went there, too. but never unlimbered the bomb in three days. Not once did he catch sight of Steunenberg.
It seems possible that the delay, and the two futile attempts to get his man, had begun to tell on Orchard’s all but nerveless system. "I was lonesome.’’ he said, "and disgusted." Orchard went oft to Salt Lake City.
It was mid-December when he returned to Caldwell. This time he registered at the Saratoga Hotel, where the pretty waitress worked. During the coming two weeks they were to see a good deal of each other. But Orchard knew that his time was running out. A letter from Simpkins reported that no more blood money, which Haywood liked to call "remittances for assessment work.” would be forthcoming from federation sources except through Haywood himself. That was clear enough: Orchard could look for more cash only when he had got Steunenberg.
Christmas Day was a Monday, bright and cold in Caldwell. The watching Orchard saw Frank Steunenberg leave his home and go to the house of his brother. Orchard returned to the Saratoga. He got the shotgun from his trunk. With a stout cord around his neck, he hung the barrel down one side of his body, the stock down the other. Putting on his overcoat, he went forth to watch and wait until his victim should return home. He might as well shoot him there in the dark and be done with it.
After a long wait he heard someone coming in the gathering night. It was the ex-governor. Orchard went after his shotgun. The cord somehow got tangled with the stock. Before he could put the weapon together, the unsuspecting man opened the gate to the yard, entered and closed it, then went into the house.
Two days passed with no sight of Steunenberg. But on Thursday Orchard saw him board the morning eastbound passenger train. He had no idea where the man was going. Later in the day, however', while walking aimlessly around Caldwell, Orchard met Julian Steunenberg. the ex-governor’s older son, on the street. He queried the young man. and was told that Mr. Steunenberg had gone to his sheep ranch. He could be reached there by telephoning the exchange at Bliss. "He will be home tomorrow. anyhow,” the young man said.
Bliss was a hundred and twenty-five miles east of Caldwell. His quarry would likely return from Bliss on the train due in Caldwell in late afternoon. The train would stop at Nampa fifteen minutes on the way to Caldwell. Nampa was nine miles east of Caldwell. A new plan was taking shape in Orchard’s mind. It was going to be a bomb after all. He felt better at once. This was the stuff. He went out again into those weeds, now brushed with snow along the railroad track, and took the ten sticks of No. 1 gelatine from the wooden box. Distributing them in his pockets, he returned to his room in the Saratoga, to spend the rest of the day working happily on a new bomb.
Somewhere along the line Orchard had bought a small, light sheet-metal lockbox. the sort of container that many trusting people used as a home safe. Into this he put the dynamite. At one end of the' box’s top he fastened an alarm clock, at the other end a vial to hold acid. He stuck both in place with plaster of Paris. This was to be a dualpurpose bomb, either time or contact.
Next morning was Friday. Putting the small but powerful bomb into his valise. Orchard took the morning train to Nampa, and there he spent much of the day waiting for the next westbound, known in Caldwell for no particular reason as the Cannonball. She would stop in Nampa for fifteen minutes. Orchard planned to get aboard the smoker, then go back through the train looking for Steunenberg. Having spotted him. he would set the valise under or near Steunenberg’s seat, then leave the car. If by this time the train had not already started. Orchard would leave the train. In either case, he would not be in the same car with Steunenberg when the valise let go.
Did the boys at Western Federation headquarters appreciate the kind of nerve required to hook No. I gelatine to sulphuric acid in a railroad depot, with bells ringing, people rushing about, and trainmen urging everybody to step lively? Orchard didn't know, but that was what he was doing when the Cannonball pulled into Nampa on Friday afternoon. Not only did he connect wire, he also set the clock.
The train was crowded. Orchard went through it once. No Steunenberg. Orchard heard the call for all aboard. The train jerked, then moved slowly through the yards and picked up speed. Orchard worked his way up through the coaches, the clock ticking busily away in the valise in his hand. Still no Steunenberg. The Cannonball whistled for Caldwell. Whether Orchard managed to get into a train lavatory to stop the clock’s alarm mechanism or how otherwise he handled it, he was ready to get off the train, valise in hand, when it stopped at the Caldwell depot. Frank Steunenberg got off the train too. Orchard saw him with astonishment.
Harry Orchard spent an evening of "dark despair,” much of it with the Saratoga’s waitress. She noticed how downcast he was, and how bitter. When she gently chided him as being "too fine and wonderful a man for such moods" he told her he was really "no better than a monster," and gave the impressionable girl to understand his life and works had been filled with "horrible deeds and loathsome sins.” She could not quite believe him. yet that night, alone in her room, she prayed for her beloved Tom Hogan.
Saturday, December 30, 1905. The last day but one of the year dawned windy and cold in Caldwell. By noon a small blizzard had taken over the town.
Time in the Saratoga dragged on. Orchard paused for midday dinner, and got a smile and a few tender words from the waitress. Then he came out into the lobby to find Steunenberg there.
Noting that the governor had removed neither hat nor overcoat in the warm lobby. Orchard made up his mind. He went up to his room. He wrapped the sheet-metal box in a newspaper, and with the package under his arm returned to the lobby. The clock on the wall showed the hour to be six-fifteen. Steunenberg was a prompt man. He was certain to start for home almost immediately. Orchard went out of the hotel and started down the long snowy street that led to the Steunenberg residence.
The great hush brought by the new snow blanketed everything as Harry Orchard went to work laying his last bomb. It took but a moment. "I put the box down close to the gatepost.” he remembered. ‘I tied a piece of fishline into the screw eye in the cork. I tied the other end around a picket of the gate. Opening the gate would jerk the cork from the vial and let the acid run out. To make sure the bomb would go even if he did not open the gate wide enough to pull the cork. I arranged the cord so the governor would strike it with his feet as he passed in. I covered the box with snow, and went away.”
House bombed to splinters
Orchard headed back downtown. Steunenberg had already left the hotel and was walking briskly toward home. The two men passed in the night without a word. Then Orchard started to run. He hoped to be inside the Saratoga when the noise came. He didn’t quite make it. but he was pretty close to the hotel when the quiet dark of the village was shattered by the tremendous explosion. and Orchard spoke aloud to himself. "There she goes,” he said, and a moment later walked into the Saratoga.
The blast seemed to shake the night. The entire west side of the Steunenberg house was in splinters. A big clock toppled from its shelf and landed fair on young Frank Steunenberg, aged five, who was lying on a couch beneath the mantel. Mother and children were stunned a moment from the shock.
Thirteen-year-old Frances was the first to recover. She ran into the yard to find her father a heap in the snow. He was still breathing. The girl ran to neighbors for help. Frank Steunenberg was carried into the house, where he died twenty minute.? later, still unconscious.
By the time Orchard finished his bleak supper, the news about the ex-governor of Idaho had been sent far afield. When it reached Frank Gooding, the governor. at Boise, he asked the Union Pacific for a special train to take him and officials and friends to Caldwell.
Now, in Room Nineteen of the Saratoga Hotel, Orchard committed a fatal error.
"1 was going.” he said, "to take some things out of my room and throw them away. There were some bits of dynamite. some pieces of fuse, several giant caps, and a bottle or two of acid. 1 emptied the acid into the washbowl and put the bottle into my side pocket, planning to take it downstairs and throw it away. It wasn't two seconds after 1 put that bottle in my pocket when a flash like a pistol shot rang out in the room and the coat was nearly torn off my back."
1 ittle wonder. Familiarity with explosives had made Orchard careless. When he came into his room that night he was carrying in a pocket a spare detonator or two. The bottle he had just put into the same pocket was not quite empty. A few drops of sulphuric acid remained. It dribbled out, reached the caps, and the coat of the Western Federation’s dynamite man hung in smoldering shreds. Orchard had another coat in his room. He slipped it on and went downstairs to the hotel lobby. Talk was all on the murder of Steunenberg. No one had heard this second explosion.
In Number Nineteen was still a smell of burning cloth. Orchard opened a window. He sat down on the bed. "Something. I cannot tell what, came across me,” he remembered. "I got to thinking of the many incriminating things in my room. Besides the fuse and caps. I recalled that I had some sugar and some chloride of potash in my things. 1 also had a small amount of plaster of Paris, a batch of screw eyes, and an electric flashlight. I had a gun in my valise.” He knew' well enough that these would he hard to explain if his room were searched. "But still 1 sat there.” said he. “and didn’t do anything about them. After that cap went off in my pocket, I seemed to lose my reasoning power.” He remembered that his trunk had been lying for two days in the baggage room of the Caldwell railroad depot. It was too late to do anything about that, either.
The next afternoon, an explosives expert. Joe Hutchinson, showed a length ol fishline to Charles Steunenberg, brother of the murdered man. "This string." he said, "was what your brother kicked to touch off the bomb." Within an hour, as Charles and a friend. George Froman. were passing the Saratoga. Froman pointed out a man silting in the lobby behind the large window. "That’s the man who did it,” he said. Hogan (Orchard) had "been hanging around here for months doing nothing," he seemed to have no means of support, and a number of times he had enquired of people "when Governor Steunenberg would be home again.”
If anything more were needed to direct suspicion, Harvey K. Brown, the high sheriff of Baker County, Oregon, who just happened to he in Caldwell on other matters, supplied it. Brown was an oldtime miner. Catching sight of Orchard in front of the Saratoga, and being told that he was a sheep man. name of Hogan. Brown spoke to his colleague, Idaho Sheriff Moseley of Ada County. "I know that feller." said Brown. “He isn’t Hogan. He is Harry Orchard, who used to he active in the miners' union.”
Joe Hutchinson and Sheriff Moseley got busy. Orchard was out wandering the streets, and going again to view the splintered gate at the Steunenberg residence. With a passkey, the two men entered Room Nineteen of the Saratoga. On the inside doorknob they found two towels tied together and hung to cover the keyhole. On the commode was a short piece of fishline that matched the quality of that found on the gate. Scattered about were bits of plaster of Paris. In Orchard’s grip was a badly torn coat, and also a trunk check.
Hutchinson and Moseley hastened to the Caldwell depot to open Orchard’s trunk. In it was enough stuff to have gone far toward convicting a saint—-a few sticks of dynamite, a sawed-off repeating shotgun, several changes of clothing.
Orchard was held eighteen days in the Caldwell jail. Newspapers must have been kept from him, or he would have read in the Boise paper that Idaho had engaged a celebrated private detective to investigate the Steunenberg affair. This was James McParlan. Three days after McParlan arrived in Caldwell, Orchard was taken to the state penitentiary in Boise.
For ten days Orchard was permitted to see no one. His meals were handed to him in silence. He was given no reading material. Then, a guard came to take him to the warden’s office. In the office were Warden Whitney and a man Orchard had never seen. The warden remarked that the stranger would like to talk with the prisoner.
McParlan’s voice was low, musical, soothing. Orchard didn’t know it yet, but he was being worked on by the master of all undercover men—a protean fellow of high intelligence and a native charm of fatal fascination. Back in the mid-Seventies, at least ten members of the Molly Maguires, a secret society of Irish Catholic coal miners, were hanged because they could not resist McParlan’s charming ways.
As McParlan talked on. it occurred to Orchard that this “gentle old man’’ was the notorious detective about whom Bill Haywood had spoken so bitterly. “Are you James McParlan?” Orchard asked. “I am.” said the detective, “and I am here to give you some sound advice, if you will take it.” Orchard replied that he did not need advice.
This was merely the first of several discussions between McParlan and Orchard. During early evening after the first interview, the terrible silence in Orchard’s cell block was broken by the sweetly melancholy chords of a melodeon, moved there at the request of Detective McParlan. There was no Ira D. Sankey to sing the words, and none were necessary. The plaintive melody was familiar:
Where is my wandering boy tonight,
The boy of my tenderest care?
Two days later, McParlan and Orchard met again. "My boy,” said the detective, "it is bad to live a sinful life. There is no sin that God will not forgive you —if you repent.” Then, as if it had just occurred to him, McParlan mentioned there had been cases where men had turned state’s evidence and given witness for the prosecution. In such cases, he said, the state did not and could not prosecute them.
That night the melodeon resumed its pleading. There was another meeting with McParlan, and another night when the organ throbbed. One morning, after an eternity of night during which Orchard sat on the edge of his little cot, there suddenly came "something which seemed to say to me there was still hope.” He told McParlan he was ready to confess, not only about the murder of Frank Steunenberg, but “of my awful life of crime from the beginning.”
Much of three days was needed for the clerk in the warden's office to take down the extraordinary confession of Albert E. Horsley, a name that appeared in the first paragraph and was not again mentioned in the entire document. The confession was to stamp him indelibly as Harry Orchard, the Dynamite Man.
If Orchard told the truth, he was merely the hatchet man for the Western Federation, and for Moyer, Haywood. Pettibone, and to a lesser extent Jack Simpkins. If he was guilty of Steunenberg's murder, then so were they. At the time of Orchard's confession, the whereabouts of Simpkins was unknown. Apparently he had gone into hiding. The other men were in Colorado. To be tried they must be extradited.
With Orchard’s confession held in secret, Idaho Governor Gooding sent deputies to Denver to apply for extradition of Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone. Governor McDonald of Colorado granted it. The three were arrested and put on a special train to Boise, then escorted to separate cells in the penitentiary. Next day Orchard’s confession was released.
It is improbable that many confessions have been read with greater interest in so many different places. The owners of the Vindicator mine in the Rockies learned who set the infernal machine that killed two of their superintendents. The people of Independence, Colorado, learned who blew up their railroad station and thirteen men; and the survivors, several amputees among them, would never forget the names of Harry Orchard and Steve Adams. In Denver, the list of unsolved crimes was reduced by two. for Orchard cleared the mystery of Marritt W. Walley’s death and that of Lyte Gregory, mine detective.
Darrow versus Borah in court
Even faced with these black crimes, however, the Western Federation unions rallied to defend the men whom Orchard said had ordered them. The Silverton, Colorado, miners sent five thousand dollars to the executive board. The Telluride union matched that sum. The miners around Goldfield, Nevada, sent six thousand.
The ranks of counsel took form almost at once. That for Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone was headed by E. F. Richardson. of Denver, whose associates were to be Edgar Wilson and John Nugent, of Boise, Fred Miller, of Spokane, and Clarence Darrow, of Chicago. The prosecution was in charge of Owen M. Van Duyn, district attorney, and James Hawley and William E. Borah, the same Borah, who, as a U. S. senator, was to speak so forcefully in favor of U. S. isolation and against the League of Nations.
William Dudley Haywood was selected to be tried first. The trials were to be in Boise, the state capital. Judge Fremont Wood was to preside. The court calendar set the Haywood case to begin May 9, 1907, some fifteen months after the men were arrested.
Few trials have had more advance advertising. Haywood had no more than landed in the jail than he prepared a startling poster which was printed and distributed by the thousands from West-* ern Federation headquarters. It displayed a picture of a train of passenger coaches streaking through the Rockies and labeled "The Kidnapers’ Train.” With it were photographs of Moyer, Pettibone and Haywood, fairly loaded with handcuffs. In large type across the top was a slogan from the U. S. Socialist Party leader, Eugene Debs:
AROUSE, YE SLAVES! THEIR ONLY CRIME IS LOYALTY TO THE WORKING CLASS!
Labor unions staged parades of protest in many cities. There was to be no sitting on the fence. Either you were for Haywood. Moyer and Pettibone, or you were against them. Even the president of the United States was not immune to the hysteria. In a private letter Theodore Roosevelt wrote that, whether or not these three men were guilty of the Steunenberg murder, they were “undesirable citizens.” Within a week union men the country over were wearing buttons which were inscribed, “1 am An Undesirable Citizen.”
Just after Haywood’s trial got under way, Ethel Barrymore came to town with her touring company to present a levival of Captain Jinks of the Horse Vlarines. She found the Idan-ha Hotel “full of extraordinary people.” Most everybody seemed to be armed, and she was shown a bedroom where the mattress was raised to reveal Winchester rides. When she asked what was happening in Boise, she was told simply, “This is the Haywood trial. The whole town is a fort.”
Miss Barrymore obviously had never heard of Haywood or the other prisoners, nor of “a man named Clarence Darrow and a man named William Borah.” but she eagerly accepted an invitation to attend the trial. She saw Harry Orchard on the stand, and this “great killer.” she thought, looked like a respectable grocer, “a little like Mr. Hobbs in Little Lord Fauntleroy.”
The defense hoped to prove that Orchard had killed Steunenberg not at behest of Haywood and the Western Federation but because of a personal matter. “No. sir,” said Orchard, “I had no feeling about Governor Steunenberg one way or the other. But the ‘Inner Circle’ of the federation had it in for him.”
Before Haywood’s trial began, the defense agreed among themselves that Richardson should handle most of the cross-examination and that Darrow should make the final appeal. Richardson sought to show what an inhuman monster Harry Orchard was. Orchard did not mind.
Q. Why did you shoot I.yte Gregory three times with a sawed-off shotgun?
A. He didn’t go down until the third shot.
Q. You kept pumping until he did go down?
A. Yes, sir, I kept pumping until he went down dead.
Richardson made a long statement in regard to Orchard’s depravity and dishonesty, then asked:
Q. It was your habit to lie about everything, wasn’t it?
A. Yes, sir, whenever it suited my purpose.
Richardson brought the witness to the time when Orchard had toted a bomb into the Idan-ha Hotel. Boise, with the idea of planting it in Governor Steunenberg’s bedroom there.
Q. This bomb would have blown the hotel to pieces, wouldn't it?
A. Yes. sir.
Q. And you were willing to do this?
A. Yes, sir.
0Did you expect to stay in the hotel that night?
A. No. sir.
Q. You were willing to kill everyone but yourself?
A. Yes, sir.
Not once did Orchard seek to mitigate the long series of horrors he had perpetrated. He was merely a professional killer.
Darrow thought it worth while to bring eighty-odd witnesses to the stand to show Orchard was lying in one or more details. Five of these claimed to have heard him make threats against the life of Steunenberg. On cross-examination Hawley showed all five witnesses were members of a miners’ union.
After seventy-eight days of legal action, during which Darrow and Hawley displayed great energy and some of the finest invective the press had been privileged to hear, the reservoirs of witnesses were exhausted. It was time for Darrow to make his final plea for Haywood, after which Borah was to give the closing argument for the state.
Darrow’s argument occupied almost eleven hours. Boise was jammed with people, only a small number of whom could get into the courtroom; but the weather was blistering and all the courthouse windows and doors were open. The lawn and virtually all space around the building was filled with the hopeful, the worried, and the merely curious. Whichever they were, they heard a master of spoken prose, and some caught glimpses of him through the windows.
Dressed in a slouchy grey suit, a wisp of hair falling across his forehead, he liked to walk up and down before the jury, his left hand in a coat pocket, right hand holding his glasses and making gestures of attack, of appeal, astonishment, contempt.
First. Darrow wanted the jury to know what the Western Federation of Miners was. It was the federation, not Haywood, he said, that was on trial. It had come into being to protect the wage slaves from their masters, the greedy and grossly brutal mine operators’ associations. Darrow proceeded to instruct the jury —and the United States—in regard to the plight of the workers in the mines, the mills and smelters of the Rocky Mountain region.
Before the unions came, these men had worked twelve hours a day in the gloomy bowels of the earth, where the haste and carelessness of hard-pressed overseers had resulted in fires, explosions and cave-ins beyond knowing. Injury or death always accompanied the meager wages. Conditions were no better above ground. The dreadful fumes of arsenic arose from the ores being treated to paralyze the arms and legs of the workers. Their teeth loosened anti fell out. Five years, Darrow estimated, was the average life of men under such conditions.
I'he local unions had tried to improve matters and had, Darrow said, to some extent succeeded in doing so: yet they quickly discovered they were no match for the mine owners, who banded together in districts to crush the local unions. The need was clear. A few farsighted and courageous miners had formed the Western Federation, which most of the unions had joined, and the federation had spread its protective wings to the helpless, almost hopeless workers.
"Labor unions,” Darrow admitted, “are often brutal, they are often cruel, they are often unjust ... I don’t care how many brutalities they are guilty of. I know that their cause is just.”
Attorney William E. Borah was not asleep, and he arose to object. “This is merely a murder trial,” he said. "We are not fighting organized labor.”
Darrow shifted to Harry Orchard, to wonder aloud whether in Idaho or anywhere else “a man can be placed on trial and lawyers seriously ask to take the life of a human being upon the testimony of Harry Orchard.” He paused to contemplate for a moment the object of his loathing, who remained placidly cheerful. Then Darrow fairly exploded. “For God’s sake,” he cried, "what sort of a community exists up here in the state of Idaho that sane men should ask it? Need I come here from Chicago to defend the honor of your state? If twelve jurors could take away the life of a human being because a man like Orchard pointed his finger at him to save his own life, then I would say that human life would be safer in the hands of Harry Orchard than in the hands of a jury that would do it. A man who would believe Orchard would strike a blow against his own manhood and the manhood of all men.”
No matter that Borah called this a murder trial, Darrow returned to the “class war.”
"I speak for the poor,” he told them. (The voice came up from the depths of misery.) “I speak for the weak, for the weary, for that long line of men who, in darkness and despair, have borne the labors of the human race. Their eyes are upon you twelve men of Idaho. If you kill Haywood your act will be applauded by many. In the railroad offices of our great cities men will applaud your names. II you decree his death, amongst the spiders of Wall Street will go up paeans of praise for these twelve good men and true. In every bank in the world, where men hate Haywood because he fights for the poor against the accursed system upon which the favored live and grow rich—from all those you will receive blessings and unstinted praise.”
Railroads. Banks. Wall Street. In 1907 these things were symbolic words. They conjured up automatically what in many minds were the most sinister forces in the United States. Darrow knew his jury. They were all or had been farmers. Eleven of them were over fifty. Among them, it seemed likely, must be the leftwingers of the Nineties. That residue of antagonism toward railroads, banks and Wall Street might turn the trick.
"But,” said Darrow in closing, “if your verdict should be "not guilty’ there are still those who will reverently bow their heads and thank these twelve men for the life and reputation you have saved. Out on our broad prairies where men toil with their hands, out on the wide ocean where men are tossed and buffeted on the waves, through our mills and factories and deep under the earth, thousands of men and of women and children —men who labor, men who suffer, women and children weary with care and toil —these men and these women and these children will kneel tonight and ask their God to guide your hearts.”
In his closing address Borah was pretty effective too. There was possibly less poetry in him than in Darrow. yet he marshaled the evidence with skill and dramatic power. He moved to attack Darrow almost at once.
"Gentlemen,” he said to the jury, “if Orchard had not turned state’s evidence, he would now be on trial and the eminent counsel from Chicago would be defending him with all the eloquence he possessed instead of denouncing him as the most despicable monster on earth.”
"I saw that night.” he cried, "that bleak winter night with the blood of my dear friend marking the white earth. I saw Idaho dishonored and disgraced. 1 saw murder—no. a thousand times worse— I saw Anarchy unfold its red menace . . .”
Borah continued: "What a scene we have passed through in these days of trial! Twenty-odd murders proven and not a single man punished. Many blown to pieces. Think of it—laboring men trying to earn their daily bread, trying to plant the dimple of joy upon the faces of prattling babes, trying to drive the shadows from the simple hearth—blown to an unrecognizable mass because they were not union men!” Yet, the prosecution was not fighting union labor. “This trial has no other purpose or implication than conviction and punishment of the assassins of Governor Steunenberg.”
Borah told the jury what they were facing and asked them a question. "Right here at home.” he said, "we see Anarchy, that pale, restless hungry demon from the crypts of hell, fighting for a foothold in Idaho! Should we compromise with it? Or should we crush it?” Then he brought the jury back again to the tragic and bereaved home in Caldwell. “I only want,” Borah told the jurors, "what you want—-the gates to our homes—the gate whose inward swing tells of the returning husband and father, shielded by the courage and manhood of Idaho juries.”
If there were lumps in throats when Darrow had finished, there were eyes misty when Borah was done.
It was now late Saturday afternoon. July 27. The jury retired. Early Sunday morning guards took Haywood to the courtroom to hear the verdict. Not guilty!
Much of Boise was stunned. The usual Sabbath morning quiet of a small city seemed intensified. As one citizen recalled it. "the community was so confident of conviction that the shock was all but paralyzing.”
Pettibone’s trial was something of an anticlimax. Though the courtroom was filled to capacity every day, nothing like the tense excitement that attended Haywood's trial developed. Harry Orchard took the stand to repeat his confession. Instead of abusing him, this time Darrow treated him with pseudo kindness, even pity, seeking to have the by-now-sophisticated witness elaborate on his more horrible deeds.
Darrow was suffering from an ear infection. Even Pettibone urged him to quit. He returned to the courtroom once more. Then he told the court he was compelled to leave the case. He went to Los Angeles, where he entered the California Hospital. He was not surprised, seven days later, when a telegram informed him that Pettibone had been acquitted. The latter was freed and the case against Moyer was dropped.
It was now March. The year was 1908. More than two years had passed since Orchard's arrest and confession. Of those I who had been indicted in the murder of Frank Steunenberg, only Jack Simpkins and Orchard remained to be tried. Simpkins was still in hiding and was never caught. Orchard was arraigned before Judge Fremont Wood, who had presided at the Haywood and Pettibone trials. Orchard changed his plea to guilty. Judge Wood sentenced him to death by hanging and set May 15 for the time of execution. Having done as much, the judge made recommendation to the Idaho Board of Pardons for commutation from death to life imprisonment. It was granted with the jury’s approval.
In passing judgment upon Orchard Judge Wood made it clear he believed the man had spoken nothing but the truth, and that he considered Haywood and Pettibone guilty. No statement did more to clarify an affair which for more than two years had bewildered honest people and left them to wonder if western United States had been taken over by dynamite-laden thugs wearing the false face of Labor, or by cynical and greedy mine operators posing as the Law.
"1 want,” said he, “to take the opportunity to say to the associates in crime of this defendant that they cannot by such acts terrorize American executives and prevent them from performing their plain duties, and they cannot prevent American courts from declaring the law exactly as they find it.” It left little doubt as to Judge Wood’s opinion in regard to the high command of the Western Federation of Miners.
When the judge was done, Harry Orchard was returned to the penitentiary where he had already spent more than two years. This time, however, he was in for life, and life for Orchard turned out to be quite a span—forty-eight years.
When he died at last on April 13, 1954, he had survived all the figures whom his crimes had brought into eminence. Big Bill Haywood switched allegiance from the Western Federation to the Wobblies, w'hich for almost a decade fought union battles in mine and logging camps throughout the western U. S. Arrested in the Palmer Raids on Wobbly halls in 1917, he was sentenced to penitentiary; but, released on bail, he fled to Russia, where he died. Moyer died too. in disillusionment. his Western Federation weakened by strife with both mine owners and the ambitious Wobblies.
McParlan went too. the most famous detective of his day; then Borah, after battering away in the senate against the Treaty of Versailles, the League of Nations; finally Darrow, after leaving a history of famous court cases.
The story of Harry Orchard will be included in the book, The Rocky Mountain Revolution, to be published later by Henry Holt, New York, and George J. McLeod, Toronto.
The wardens came, the wardens went. Orchard saw in the papers where the Western Federation had changed its name to become the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. Of more significance was the fact that the federation also changed its preamble. Since 1907 the preamble had been specifically based on the class struggle. The union’s new objectives were merely better wages, shorter hours and improved working conditions. Tame enough. Not a stick of dynamite in any of it. if