CHAPTER XVIII

FIFTEEN YEARS OF OBJECTING

     "Senator Penrose makes an authoritative and very useful exposure of conditions thoroughly wrong in American politics. He exposes to the thinking people of the nation the vicious mechanism of our party government, its alliances with organized money, its vital relations to privilege. What reformers and the unpurchased press have been saying with more or less evidence, this arch-politician now verifies without shame, without apology, without any conception of the light it throws upon himself, his kind and the forces behind his candidate and his faction." (Chicago Tribune, August 24, 1912.)

     From my first experience with the power of money to buy in the halls of Congress and in the courts, the right to slug, unmolested, American business and American business men, I have found that freedom from their attacks can only be purchased by enormous court cost that few could stand, and then only after a wait of years, as in my case and in the case of the Guardian Trust Company. I have had to wait from the time I was in the prime of manhood until now the snow is creeping on my hair, waiting, waiting, waiting. As I breathed that pure Western air where men hardly know how to combat the power of evil, waiting for justice, seeing my stockholder friends pass to the great Unknown, still waiting, waiting for the scales of justice to move, and in the case of the Guardian Trust Company I am still waiting.

     When I saw President McKinley desirous of helping me in the Port Arthur fight, but so helpless, hedged in as he was by the special interests that had bought immunity by helping to elect him, and expected him to deliver the goods, as he had accepted the help their money gave, I was appalled when I thought of that extra cost, of the price that I had to pay because I lived in a land where the right to do evil could be purchased by contributions to political parties, a power I did not have and which no power on earth could ever make me accept. I was happy that I could say: Never have I with knowledge done any man wrong. Never have I written any letter which would make anyone's burden greater. I always have, and do now, consider that all men are my brothers.

     I have fought with this idea in view and shall until the end. Profit any other way I do not want. All this mad rush for millions is a mistake. The desire of a few to control and make slaves of the men who attempt big things is a crime. They never on earth would have been allowed to go as far as they have, had it not been that people and parties that desire power were willing to bow at the feet of evil, which they think is a station on the road that leads to their desired goal. Then these great interests have so long been able to pay millions for the privilege of being personally unmolested in thwarting and defeating men like Moffat, myself, and others, that they really now think it a sacred duty of the people to bow to their wishes. I do not at all doubt that these people really think it was great impudence for Mr. Dickinson and myself to dare to build the Orient road.

     Do you people of the West, do you people who love liberty, you whose ancestors fought for freedom from England, you who fought---or your ancestors did--to free the slaves, think I was right in believing this was the Land of the Free? Did I do right in thinking that U.S. stood for the United States, and not us, as these power protected people think? For fifteen years I have protested with tongue and pen against this power, protested that it was criminal, that it was unjust, that we should be forced by unnatural conditions to see our work cost millions it would not have cost had it not been for this unrelenting power of destruction that made us frequently build forts to protect us from this power of evil, forts of protection that would be needless had we only natural conditions to meet. We were just men. We wanted just our dues, to give our stockholders just what they expected. But there is small show for the just when the unjust are so powerful.

     What sleepless night, thinking of the attack from some new source, to return to Kansas City to attend to pressing matters down the road and receive telegrams the first day calling you back East to repair some damage done by this power of evil---all a needless expense, all needless worry, sapping your very life in the effort to do well what you understand how to do, but so thwarted and harassed that you can hardly do anything well, and must suffer criticism where there was no need, had not your hours and days been so taken up in endeavoring to protect your property from these financial cannibals that you had no time to do well the work you understood. All the time you have hopes that these merciless trackers will stop. You think perhaps the road will soon reach a stage where they will give up and let you alone, but it does not come. Their Ruin Department works night and day, and like the western cowboys who walk the wild horse down, they keep at it until you are tired out. Either they succeed in taking your enterprise from you by an unnecessary receivership brought on by their methods, or you give up life rather than see the work of your mind and hands taken from you.

     I herewith give you part of an article, "Hunting the Wild Horse of the West," from August number of the Wide World:

"Many strategies have been practiced in attempts to capture outlaw horses. One of the most novel methods---and almost ludicrous, at first thought---is to 'walk them down.' The scoffer would think it a joke of the season to say that a wild horse can be walked down by a slow, plodding man, when it cannot be run down by half-a-dozen of the swiftest saddle-horses of the country. It is the same paradox that the gold-hunters in Alaska testify to when they state that a man can carry a bigger pack than a horse, through long marches over the rough, hard trails.

     "Two or more men work together in the walking-down game. Doubtless the wild horses consider it more or less of a joke at first, when they are startled by the approach of a strange-looking two-legged creature. They snort and throw up their heads, race a half-mile or more over the ridge and then settle down to feeding. But the strange figure soon appears again, always headed directly toward them, and always advancing, always slowly approaching. They snort and sniff, trot or gallop again over the ridge and again begin to feed. The black speck once more comes into sight, and grows distinct, and approaches, and threatens, and scares. This time the wild horses, with a growing sense of uneasiness, may dash out and race for several miles with all the energy they would display if "jumped" by half-a-dozen wildly-whooping horsemen.

"It may be two hours by this time before the always-advancing foot-man comes in sight, he having been forced, perhaps, to follow the tracks of the animals for the last few miles through the thick, low junipers of the desert, where the horses feel themselves safe from every pursuit. If instinct did not keep the herd to a fairly compact and definite range, there might be complications in the plans of the 'walkers.' But even the wild horse cannot deny or get away from the domesticity in his blood. He loves his old haunts, the familiar trails, the fathomed watering-holes. Drive him away a hundred miles, two hundred miles, and he will always return. And he will, unlike the cow, come back by the straightest line, even through he may have been driven away by a circuitous road that would have bewildered a human being.

"So, when the short summer night comes, the walker who is on duty merely builds the last of a string of signal fires, and in an hour or so at the most his partner has caught him up with the pack-horse and the water-bottles. With a few hours' sleep the walker is again after the wild horses, surprising them almost before daylight and hours before they will have had all the grass and rest that they want. Of Course, the two men can interchange duties at any time, for it may be weeks before the leaders are tired out. After a time the eternally-following, pestering, tormenting walker will become to the wild-horse herd a haunting apparition. They will try by every means to shake off the spell, to hide themselves, to lose themselves in the trail-less rock-piles or the ragged, deep canyons. But always the strange, hated, plodding walker finds them, and they must trot wearily on, though tired almost to death through loss of sleep and lack of food and water."

     This is a good illustration of my case. They have been at it since I refused to do Kountz's bidding. They have pursued it year by year. But I still expect to live; I still expect to breathe the free air, unmolested in honest endeavors.

 

Arthur Edward Stilwell, Visionary

The Trial of Jesse James, Jr.

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