Boss Platt and His New York Machine: A Study of the Political Leadership of Thomas C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Others

By Harold F. Gosnell | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER X
"THE CORRUPT ALLIANCE"

In a campaign statement published on July 22, 1914, Roosevelt charged William Barnes with working through a corrupt alliance between crooked business and crooked politics.1 On the basis of this statement, Barnes sued Roosevelt for libel. Roosevelt won the suit which indicated that the jury regarded his charges as true. Barnes was one of the successors to the system which Platt built up during the nineties. While Roosevelt was governor of the state, this system was in a particularly flourishing condition. The origin and development of the system came long before Roosevelt's official career. During the seventies and eighties, when the tone of the state legislature was rather low, many prominent business men grew especially fearful of "strike" bills. A "strike" bill was a bill introduced for the purpose of extorting money from those whose interests would be injuriously affected by the passage of the bill. "Strike" bills were made use of most frequently by the "Black Horse Cavalry," the "gang" or combination of legislators, Republicans and Democrats, which was ready to take money whenever it could. The "Black Horse Cavalry" found the giant public utility corporations and the great fiduciary institutions particularly vulnerable. To protect and further their interests these corporations maintained expensive lobbies at the state capitol.2 In the early nineties when the Democrats

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1
Barnes v. Roosevelt, complaint.
2
City Reform Club, Annual Record of the Assemblymen and Senators from the City of New York, ( 1891).

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