The Treason of the Senate

By David Graham Phillips | Go to book overview
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The Rise of Foraker

IN the Republican-Democratic "merger" for protecting and aiding the big exploiters of the American people, there is, physically and oratorically, no more attractive figure than Senator Foraker of Ohio. In intellect he is not the equal of Knox, hardly the equal of Spooner or Bailey; he lacks the cold audacity which has got Aldrich and Elkins their enormous riches, though he has made the service to which he has devoted the last twenty-five years pay well enough to net him a large fortune and to keep him in the millionaire class, despite his extravagance. His chief usefulness to "the interests" and to his private fortunes has been his oratory. He is about the best stump speaker at the command of the backers of the merged political machines.

Foraker's beginnings were away back in the late seventies, when the domestic enemies of the people, enriched by the spoils of Civil-War contracts and bond jobbings, were covering their huge grabs of franchises and privileges in the nation and in the states by having their political agents wave the "bloody shirt" and call on the people to "vote as they shot." Nowadays, Foraker, like Aldrich, Bailey, Cannon, Williams, Spooner, and all the "merged," is an ardent advocate of states' rights, flares fiercely at any suggestion of repelling the national foes by national enactments, demands in the name of God and Constitution that the states be left to deal with "the interests"--it being, of course, impossible for the states singly to do so. But in the days when the "bloody- shirt racket" was as good for fooling the people as "the interests" think "Beware of socialism!" is now, Foraker was a wild and winning waver of the "bloody shirt."

Thus Foraker became the protégé of the respectable traders of campaign contributions for licenses to loot, became the pet of his own Cincinnati's notorious George Cox gang. They made him a judge; they and their pals throughout the state ran him for governor, finally elected him, reëlected him--and gay and rich was the carnival he presided over. But when, in 1889, he ran for another term, he was beaten. The people had had enough of him and his gang; stump oratory as a cover for public plundering ceased to charm. The people revolted against the rule of the "boys" calling themselves Republicans, and turned to the so-called Democratic "boys"--who were equally "boyish," and hungrier and clumsier about stuffing themselves. The Republican "boys" soon got back, but not "Fire Alarm" Foraker; his public career, in office for which the people vote, was at an end. While waiting for a senatorship to be vacant so that the "boys" could reënter him in the "service of the people" without their consent and all but beyond their reach, he became a lobbyist and the chief negotiator between the "boys" in control of the state legislature and "the interests" feeding upon Ohio's rich resources and industrious population. We find him in 1892 installed, not in a Columbus hotel like a common lobbyist, but in the state Capitol itself, using its library and committee-rooms as his offices. The legislature was called "the Foraker legislature"; the supreme court of the state was known as "the Foraker court."

An Immensely Profitable Job

To relate his doings in detail would serve no useful purpose. There was the law permitting parallel railways to consolidate


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