Access

You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

The Beast

The Beast

Judge Ben B. Lindsey
Harvey J. O’Higgins
Foreword by Stephen J. Leonard
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 354
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46nt06
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Beast
    Book Description:

    Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey’s exposé of big business’s influence on Colorado and Denver politics, a best seller when it was originally published in 1911, is now back in print. The Beast reveals the plight of working-class Denver citizens—in particular those Denver youths who ended up in Lindsey’s court day after day. These encounters led him to create the juvenile court, one of the first courts in the country set up to deal specifically with young delinquents. In addition, Lindsey exposes the darker side of many well-known figures in Colorado history, including Mayor Robert W. Speer, Governor Henry Augustus Buchtel, Will Evans, and many others. When first published, The Beast was considered every bit the equal Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and sold over 500,000 copies. More than just a fascinating slice of Denver history, this book—and Lindsey’s court— offered widespread social change in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-87081-982-7
    Subjects: History, Political Science
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. ix-x)
  3. FOREWORD BENJAMIN BARR LINDSEY: THE BEAST AND AFTER (pp. xi-xl)

    Denver, a city little more than half a century old in 1909, gave its boosters ample room to brag. They boasted of its population of more than 200,000. They boasted of its nearby mountains, its sunshine, its U.S. Mint, and its new Municipal Auditorium, site of the 1908 Democratic National Convention. When not busy touting their town, the yeasayers flayed the naysayers—reformers such as feisty Benjamin Barr Lindsey. Ben was bad for business. Ben had a “withered soul.”¹ Ben was “illy-balanced, erratic, and emotional.”²

    At five foot five and ninety-eight pounds, Ben Lindsey hardly seemed a threat to anyone....

  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. xli-xlvi)
    H.J.O’H.

    JUDGE LINDSEY IS KNOWN TO THE WORLD at large for his work in the Juvenile Court of Denver; and, to his little courtroom there, come Children Society agents from all parts of the states, visitors from England, officers from Germany, and government officials sent from Sweden, Austria, France and Japan to study his laws and learn his methods. But to himself, to Denver, to his friends, and—most of all—to his enemies, his famous Juvenile Court is only an incident, a side issue, a small detail in the man’s amazing career. For years he has been engaged in a...

  5. THE BEAST (pp. 1-4)

    AMONG THE PICTURE PUZZLES of your childhood, there was one that showed a forest of entangled branches, tree trunks, fallen timber and dense underbrush; and the problem was, in that bewildering jumble of lines, to “find the cat.” You traced the outline of a tail among the branches; you spied a paw in the crook of a tree limb; you picked out the barrel of the animal’s body in the bark of a trunk; an ear pricked up from the underbrush; an eye stared from the bole of a fallen tree. And when, turning the picture on its side, you...

  6. CHAPTER I FINDING THE CAT (pp. 5-16)

    I CAME TO DENVER in the spring of 1880, at the age of eleven, as mildly inoffensive a small boy as ever left a farm—undersized and weakly, so that at the age of seventeen I commonly passed as twelve, and so unaccustomed to the sight of buildings that I thought the five-story Windsor Hotel a miracle of height and magnificence. I had been living with my maternal grandfather and aunt on a farm in Jackson, Tennessee, where I had been born; and I had come with my younger brother to join my parents, who had finally decided that Denver...

  7. CHAPTER II THE CAT PURRS (pp. 17-28)

    DENVER WAS THEN, AS IT IS NOW, a beautiful city, built on a slope, between the prairies and mountains, always sunny, cool and clear-skyed, with the very sparkle of happiness in its air; and on the crown of its hill, facing the romantic prospect of the Rockies, the State Capitol raised its dome—as proud as the ambition of a liberty-loving people—the symbol of an aspiration and the expression of its power. That Capitol, I confess, was to me a sort of granite temple erected by the Commonwealth of Colorado to law, to justice, to the ideals of self-government...

  8. CHAPTER III THE CAT KEEPS ON PURRING (pp. 29-36)

    THE FACT, OF COURSE, was that we had won nothing. Our precious jury law was soon taken to the Supreme Court, on an appeal from a damage suit, and the judges declared it unconstitutional, without any blushing apologies for reversing previous decisions. But this blow did not fall until after an interval of some months; and Gardener and I, resting on our scanty laurels meanwhile, were allowed to reconsider the incidents of the session and count our bruises.

    Gardener had had one hard knock, scarcely noticed in the fury and heat of the fight, but now sorely painful. Boss Graham...

  9. CHAPTER IV THE BEAST IN THE DEMOCRACY (pp. 37-50)

    MEANWHILE I HAD THOUGHT I SAW that new birth coming in the rejuvenation of the Democratic party under Bryan, in 1900. I really had thought so. I had learned that the Republican machine represented nothing but the rich corporations of the city and the state; and I naturally concluded that the Democracy, being opposed to that machine, was opposed also to the owners of it. I knew that “Tom” Maloney, then the Democratic boss, was reputed to be in the pay of the gas company, but there was an attempt being made to oust Maloney, and I believed that if...

  10. CHAPTER V THE BEAST IN THE COUNTY COURT (pp. 51-64)

    WELL, THE DEMOCRATS CARRIED THE COUNTRY and the state in November, 1900, and our “people’s party” was put in power; but I no longer had any of the illusions with which I had volunteered in the battle. I had found that most of my companions in the struggle were not patriots but hired mercenaries, fighting—as our opponents fought—under the black flag of corporation pirates. I had as much hope of getting my reform laws passed by the machine “bosses” as a man might have of getting a city charter for a South American town from a party of...

  11. CHAPTER VI THE BEAST AND THE CHILDREN (pp. 65-76)

    MY WORK WAS CERTAINLY WAITING FOR ME. I had found our Colorado probate law in a muddle. The sections conflicted, and the conflict led to litigation. The cost of administering the estates in the hands of the court was excessive, because the politicians had taken advantage of the conditions to create “jobs” for their henchmen. There was so much red tape that if we wished to sell “real estate” for a ward of the court it took us six months. In short, it was imperative that the law should be codified; and I organized a county judge’s association and went...

  12. CHAPTER VII THE BEAST, GRAFT AND BUSINESS (pp. 77-90)

    ONE SATURDAY MORNING in the early part of May, 1902—while we were still in the midst of our fight against the wine rooms and against the jail—I saw a package of ledger sheets lying on a chair in the office of Mr. Thos. L. Bonfils, who was then Clerk of my court, and on top of the package there was a bill. I picked it up, absent-mindedly. It was from the Smith-Brooks Printing Company, who held the county contract for such supplies. It read: “To 1,000 sheets of paper, $280.”

    Twenty-eight cents a sheet!

    “What?” I asked the...

  13. CHAPTER VIII AT WORK WITH THE CHILDREN (pp. 91-104)

    THROUGH THESE TWO YEARS of quarrelling and crusading, our court work for the children was going on very happily. It was a recreation for us all, and it kept me full of hope—for it was successful. We were getting the most unexpected results. We were learning something new every day. We were deducing, from what we learned, theories to be tested in daily practice, and then devising court methods by which to apply the theories that proved correct. It had all the fascination of scientific research, of practical invention, and of a work of charity combined. It was a...

  14. CHAPTER IX THE BEAST AND THE BALLOT (pp. 105-116)

    THESE DAYS OF 1902, 1903 and 1904 were the heydays of our Juvenile Court, and I should like to dwell upon them fondly—as the song says—because of what ensued. Our campaigns against the wine rooms, the jails, and the grafting Commissioners had made the court as popular as a prizefighter, and the newspapers kept it constantly in the public eye. The Denver Chamber of Commerce—(let me boast of it!)—invited me to luncheon, gave a reception in my honour, and praised me to the last blush. (This is the same Chamber that has since branded me an...

  15. CHAPTER X THE BEAST AND THE BALLOT (CONTINUED) (pp. 117-126)

    A NEW ENGLAND PHILOSOPHER HAS SAID that the great virtue of a college education is to teach a man how unavailing it is. I have never been taught that. I have always had an envy of those men who have been able to live four years of their youth among the ideals of a university, protected from the disillusionments of the world, novitiates of culture and the liberal mind, happy among the boyish comradeships of the lecture room and campus. It had always seemed to me that my life had been spiritually orphaned by this loss of an alma mater....

  16. CHAPTER XI THE BEAST AT BAY (pp. 127-138)

    THE ELECTIONS THAT FOLLOWED, in the autumn of 1904, were marked by the most lawless and far-reaching contrivances of power on the part of the corporations in Colorado. In that huge turmoil of injustice, of subsidized treason and legal anarchy, my own small struggle was the merest flurry. But I am not trying to compose a history of the gigantic activities of the plutocracy, out of the conflicting testimony of various witnesses and the disputable interpretation of incidents of which there may be more than one sense. I am only seeking to make plain to you what I saw with...

  17. CHAPTER XII THE BEAST AND THE SUPREME COURT (pp. 139-150)

    IN A REPUBLIC, SUCH AS OURS, where the law is the only king, “there is a divinity doth hedge” the courts; and it is right that it should be so. If our democracy is to endure, we must obey the law and respect its agents. The man who wilfully tries to impair the public credit of our courts, when those courts are just, is the greatest traitor that our country has. But what if a court is not just? What if it does not impartially administer the law, but does the bidding of a ruling faction of the community, and...

  18. CHAPTER XIII THE BEAST AND REFORM (pp. 151-162)

    SO ENDED THE GREAT CONSPIRACY of the corporations of Colorado in the elections of 1904. And with the triumph of that conspiracy, the government of Colorado changed from a democracy to a plutocratic oligarchy. I saw it then; I have seen it more clearly since. I saw that the people of Colorado were not free citizens, but enfranchised serfs. They could be killed by their masters with impunity, and the jury would “hang.” As a rule, they could elect no man to a political office unless he served their masters—and my own election was merely “the exception that proved...

  19. CHAPTER XIV A CITY PILLAGED (pp. 163-176)

    HAVE I CONVINCED YOU YET? Do you still think I am crying “Wolf! Wolf!” when there is no wolf, or do you believe that we indeed do have our fabled dragon, to which some of us are daily sacrificed—that lives upon us—that the daughters of the poor are fed to, no less than the sons of the rich? Or do you think that it is, after all, a rather harmless brute whom some of us in Colorado have goaded to a natural rage—a domestic animal properly—a milch cow, perhaps, that has to have its fodder but...

  20. CHAPTER XV THE BEAST, THE CHURCH AND THE GOVERNORSHIP (pp. 177-192)

    THE INVESTIGATION OF THE FRANCHISE VOTE had had one hopeful issue: it proved that the corporation ballot-box stuffers were afraid of the teeth of our new registration law. Behind every vote that we counted there was a voter—although it was evident that at least a thousand of these had been “qualified” by fraud. The Supreme Court writ arrived in time to prevent us from investigating the fraud; and, by one of those suspicious strokes of luck that seem to happen only to the corporations, our very proof that the votes were not “phony” by wholesale, only redounded in the...

  21. CHAPTER XVI HUNTING THE BEAST (pp. 193-204)

    DID YOU EVER HUNT THE SACRED MONKEY among the Hindoos? Have you been a revolutionist in Russia? Or were you an Abolitionist near the Mason and Dixon line before the war? Well, did you ever make an anti-corporation campaign in a corporation-ridden community? It is an experience without which no man’s public life can be said to be complete. No politician, till he has tried it, can truly boast, “I have lived!” My memories of my tour of Colorado in the autumn of 1906 I would not exchange for a copy of the best novel ever written, a seat for...

  22. CHAPTER XVII A VICTORY AT LAST (pp. 205-220)

    I COME, NOW, TO THE LAST CHAPTER of this story of the Beast; but I come to it, in the reminiscence—thank heaven!—with a lighter heart than any of us had when we faced it in the fact. As the result of seven years of almost frantic agitation for legislative reform, we had gained—an effective registration law! Nothing more! In all our fights to obtain an honest charter for Denver, to prevent dishonest elections, to protect the city from the theft of its franchises, to defend the poor from exploitation and to check the corporations in their abuse...

  23. CHAPTER XVIII CONCLUSION (pp. 221-232)

    I HAVE BEEN ASKED A HUNDRED TIMES: “Has the fight been worth while? Wouldn’t it have been better to let the corporations alone and just devote yourself to the children? You have made enemies who have hampered you in your work. You can’t get the contributions you used to get. The court has suffered because of the attacks upon it. And the corporations are just as powerful as they ever were.” Let me answer that. Let me give a little summary of what we have gained, for the people, in this struggle. And let me first try to express a...

  24. INDEX (pp. 233-240)