Lucifer's Last Laugh

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Chapter 27: The Dynamiter’s Tale

Following Gil’s address in Colorado Springs we drive to Denver International Airport where you become preoccupied in a conversation with the Denver FBI AIC who provides you with a lengthy report on a reported sighting of Teddy Teawater in Silver City.

Instead of reading twenty good books while waiting for you, I telemessage Canda, requesting additional insights into the American psyche.

“I’ve got a good one for you,” he says. “Takes place in that part of the country.”


Bracing against the wind and snow, Frank Steunenberg walks towards his home, a few houses away.

Steunenberg, former Governor of Idaho, is a large man, six feet two and more than two hundred twenty pounds. He is dressed appropriately for the cold weather in a heavy winter jacket, woolen pants and boots.

He reaches the front gate to his house and unlatches it.

A violent explosion blows him ten feet into his yard.

His wife, Belle, and thirteen-year old daughter, Frances, run onto the front porch and stare in horror at Steunenberg’s twisted form on the front lawn.

“Daddy!” Frances screams.

Next-door neighbor C.F. Wayne rushes into his yard.

“What’s happened?”

“Come here, quick!”

Wayne is there in an instant. He bends over the bloody figure.

“Is it Governor Steunenberg?”

Steunenberg groans. “Send for Mama. Take me inside. I’m freezing. Who shot me?”

Wayne tries to lift him but can’t.

“He’s hurt bad, Belle. Best not to move him. I’ll go for help.”

He runs down the street to the Steunenberg’s other next-door neighbor.


Tom Hogan enters the Saratoga Hotel card room and orders a drink from the tired looking bartender. He is a small, wiry man with brown hair and bland features, nattily dressed in a wool overcoat which, when unbuttoned, reveals a blue three-piece suit. In his right hand is a bowler hat. A muffled boom reverberates through the bar.

“Did you hear that?” The bartender is wide-eyed.

“Sure did. Sounded like a shotgun,” says Hogan.

“Bigger’n that.”

Mike King, big and bald, owner of the feed store down the street, rushes into the bar.

“It’s Governor Steunenberg. He’s been shot.”

Hogan glances at the bartender.

“Steunenberg? Wasn’t he governor a few years ago?”

“Yes. Frank Steunenberg. Lives here in Caldwell.” The bartender turns to Mike King. “What happened?”

“Don’t know. Except Frank’s been hurt real bad. The doc’s with him now.” He looks at Tom.

“Hogan, isn’t it?”

Hogan nods.

“You want to come see where it happened?”

“No thanks. Too cold out there for me. I’m staying here and having another drink. Too bad about the governor, though.”

In the spacious upstairs bedroom of the Steunenberg home, Belle Steunenberg is weeping over her dead husband. Two of Steunenberg’s brothers, A.K. and Will have their arms draped around little Frances.

“It’s the Coeur d’Alenes.” Will says.

A.K. looks at him with sad eyes. “Meaning?”

“Those damn miners. They killed him.”

“Maybe. Nobody else I know of had it in for him.”

“Wish this state had never heard of the Coeur d’Alenes.”


In the surprisingly elegant Western Federation of Miners office in Denver Bill Haywood is seated at a desk. He is indeed “Big Bill”, in his early thirties, well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered and burly. George Pettibone hurriedly enters the office. Pettibone is a slender man with a sallow complexion and an air of perennial sadness about him.

“Bill, did you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“Frank Steunenberg. He’s dead. Got blown up last night. Just came over the wire.”

“Serves the strike-breaking son of a bitch right.”

“You know they’ll blame the Western Federation of Miners.”

“Let ’em. Good publicity for us. Make future Steunenbergs think twice.”


The lobby of the Saratoga Hotel in Caldwell is overflowing with men discussing the Steunenberg assassination. Sheriff “Jap” Nichols is talking to hotel desk clerk Clinton Wood. Nichols is a large, rawboned man in his early forties. Wood is young, neatly dressed in a starched white shirt, stiff collar, and bow tie.

“There was a fella,” says Wood in answer to the Sheriff’s question. “At first wouldn’t give me a name. Then said to write down ‘John Smith.’ Later, I learned he’s stayed at the Calvert under the name McIntosh.”

Sheriff Nichols scribbles furiously in his notebook.

“When was this?”

“Couple of weeks back.”

“Anybody else new to town?”

“Well, there’s Tom Hogan. He’s stayed here off and on for the past three months. Nice fella. Thing is he doesn’t seem to do anything for a living. But he’s always got money.”

“Know where Hogan is now?”

“Sure don’t. Just know he’s not in his room. Key’s on the hook.”

“Mind if I take a quick look at his room?”

Wood hands Nichols Hogan’s room key.

“Be my guest, Jap. I’d go with you if it wasn’t so busy right now.”

“I won’t be long.”

The Sheriff enters Hogan’s room. A bath towel is draped over the door, obscuring the keyhole. Jap sees traces of what looks like blasting powder on the floor. He leans over, picks some up with his fingers and smells it. He walks slowly around the room, sees a chamber pot, and, taking a closer look at it, sees traces of plaster of Paris. The Sheriff nods his head and leaves the room, locking the door behind him.


Hundreds of people gather at the cemetery for the burial of Frank Steunenberg. At the forefront of the crowd is Belle Steunenberg and her daughter, Frances, both of whom are weeping quietly.

Also present are Frank’s brothers, A.K. and Will and the Governor of Idaho, Frank Gooding, a small middle-aged man, tending towards corpulence.

At the dais, concluding his eulogy of the former governor is William E. Borah, a strikingly handsome. square-jawed man with the mellifluous voice of the born orator.

“Frank Steunenberg was the rarest type of man. Open, sincere, modest and unassuming - he was in his purposes and plans as inflexible as honor itself. Rugged in body, resolute in mind, almost massive in the strength of his convictions - he was of the granite hewn.”

In the Sheriff’s office, Jap Nichols and two deputies are seated at a table across from Tom Hogan. On top of the table are various items that have been removed from Hogan’s luggage.

Jap squints at Hogan. “What’s your right name? Thomas Hogan?”

Incongruously, Hogan smiles. “No. sir.”

“What is it?”

“Harry Orchard.”

“All right, Orchard. Why did you use the name Hogan?”

Orchard relaxes in his chair. “Didn’t want anybody to know where I was. I have a private disease. I have been waiting here to get rid of it.”

“What’s your business here?”

“I’ve been looking for a place. Thought I might like to live in this part of the country.”

Jap gives Orchard a wolfish grin that quickly transforms into a sneer. “We found material for explosives on the floor of your room and in the chamber pot.”

“I don’t think I ever used the chamber pot while I was here.”

“What did you do in that room besides sleeping there?”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“What did you make in that room?”

“I don’t know as I made anything except some dice I made once. Or tried to make.”

“What did you make them out of?”

“Plaster of Paris. I was going to load them with shot.”

“You were making loaded dice?”

“Yes, sir.” Orchard is unperturbed.

The Sheriff indicates the revolver and shotgun on the table. “What do you do with all this artillery here?”

“I always carry a six-shooter and a shotgun.”

“You can’t tell us where those dice are? That would be a protection for you.”

Orchard shrugs. “I didn’t finish them up so I threw ’em away. I’ve been doing nothing that isn’t all right.”

Jap leans back in his chair and fixes Orchard with a steady gaze. “Yeah? Well, you’re under the arrest for the murder of Frank Steunenberg.”

Orchard smiles. “Then I guess I need my lawyer.”

“You have one?”

“Not yet. But they’ll be sending me one in a day or two.”

His interest piqued, Jap stares at Orchard. “Who’s they?”

“Western Federation of Miners. I’m a member. They get lawyers for those of us union members that are unjustly accused.”

At the Caldwell cemetery snow begins to fall. As Frank Steunenberg’s casket is lowered into the grave, the crowd sings “Amazing Grace.”


Governor Frank Gooding paces the floor of his office, looking worried. His aide, Joe Sutherland is medium-height, resolutely homely, in his early thirties.

“First off, a reward,” says Gooding. “The state’ll put up five thousand dollars. Check with the Shoshone County mine owners. See if they can come up with ten.” Sutherland nods and writes the instruction in his notebook. “Who’s in charge of the investigation in Caldwell?”

“Jap Nichols, the Sheriff.”

“What do we know about him?”

“He’s a Democrat.”

“The hell with him, then. We need a professional on this. Jesus Christ. A former governor of Idaho gets blown up right in front of his own home. We don’t only need to find the bomber. We need to find who’s behind the bomber.”

“You know who.”

“Yeah. The Western Federation of Miners. Namely Big Bill Haywood and Charlie Moyer. But we need to prove it.”

“Then you better get McParland.”

Gooding nods. “Think the Pinkertons’ll let us have him?”

“Something as big as this? I expect so.”

“Track him down. I need to talk to him. He’s got to get on this before the trail gets any colder.”


In his spacious Denver office, James McParland is on the telephone. He’s a fat man of medium height with pince-nez and a huge walrus moustache. He speaks with a noticeable Irish accent.

“I understand, Governor Gooding. This man Hogan. Oh, now it’s Orchard. Well, the first thing you do is get him transferred to the state prison. That’s right. Keep him in solitary confinement until I get there. Don’t let him talk to anybody. Oh, he’s got a lawyer coming? You know when? All right, I’ll take the first train to Boise. Be there before the lawyer shows up. That’s right, Governor. You’re welcome.”

The next day McParland steps down from the train in Boise. He is met by a group of a half dozen newspaper reporters.

Dart Russell from the Boise Idaho Daily Statesman is first off the block. “Mr. McParland, they say you’re the greatest detective in the world. Any comment?”

McParland smiles. “Who said that?”

“Clarence Darrow, for one,” says Frank Hudson of the Deseret News.

McParland laughs. “He should know. He keeps trying to free the agitators that I get arrested.”

“Do you have a theory about the Steunenberg murder?” Russell asks.

“Assassination, you mean? Well, boys, I’m just starting on the case but I am certain that there were other people in this plot besides Orchard and that Orchard was the tool of the others.”

“Can you name the others?” asks Hudson.

“Not yet. We want to make sure we’ve got an ironclad case against them.”

“Do you think the Western Federation of Miners was involved?” This from Russell.

“I don’t want to say yet, but there’s evidence that Orchard was, for a time in Caldwell, with another man named Simmons. Now this Simmons answers to the description of Jack Simpkins, a labor radical who’s on the Executive Committee of the WFM.”

“Mr. McParland. . .” Hudson begins.

“That’s enough for now, boys. When I get anything new, I’ll tell you.”


Harry Orchard is led into the Idaho State Penitentiary Warden’s office by a deputy. He is handcuffed and shackled. McParland sits behind the conference table, smoking a cigar.

“Deputy, why don’t you take all that stuff off Mr. Orchard here so he and I can have a relaxed kind of chat.”

The deputy nods and unlocks the handcuffs and shackles.

“Who’re you?” asks Orchard.

McParland smiles. “Soon to be your best friend.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Harry, they’ve pretty much got you dead to rights. All that evidence in your room. And you turn out to be a miner and a radical who was in the Coeur d’Alenes when Governor Steunenberg declared martial law and brought in federal troops. They’ve got it all. Means, motive, and opportunity. You don’t watch out, son, you’re gonna hang.”

“And what’re you gonna do for me?”

“If you cooperate with the state and name the higher-ups in the Western Federation, I’ll guarantee you won’t hang.”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at. I haven’t committed any crime. I’ve heard and read at least forty times talk like you’re making. It ends up with innocent men confessing to crimes they didn’t do and implicating others who’re also innocent. Cooperating with the state? I never heard tell of anyone who did that but what he paid with his life.”

“Not true, son. You’ve heard of the Molly Maguires?”

“Sure. So what?”

“Well, a bunch of Mollies turned state’s evidence and didn’t get hanged along with the others.”

“I know you. You’re McParland.”

“That I am, son.”

“Your whole life is bustin’ unions, ain’t it?”

McParland takes a deep puff on his stogy. “Harry, I’m goin’ to tell you a little story. It’s about one Daniel Kelly, alias ‘Kelly the Bum.’ Now this Kelly fella was a bad’un. Served three years for bitin’ off a man’s nose. Then he goes to prison with a ten-year sentence for highway robbery. I knew he’d been mixed up with the Mollies so I talked to him, told him the same thing I just told you. And lo and behold, he gave me information on a ten-year old murder case. Mollies, includin’ Kelly, robbed and shot a mining superintendent. Kelly testified and three Mollies got hanged. And what happened to Kelly the Bum? Violent man, notorious liar, confessed killer. What do you suppose happened to him, Harry?”

“I’ve got no idea.”

“Well, I’ll tell you. He got off scot-free.”

“No,” Orchard whispers.

“Yes, sir. And not only that, the people of Columbia County Pennsylvania were so thankful to Danny Boy Kelly that they raised a thousand dollars and spirited him out of the country away from the reach of those that would do him harm. Now that’s the kind of power wielded by one James T. McParland.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Oh it’s all in the public record. I’ll have the state library send you an account of the case. Now, I’m not saying you’ll go free like Kelly but I do say that I can keep you from being hanged.”

“I could tell you some things that’d surprise you.”

McParland smiles expansively. “Your testimony would reach the very head of those cut-throats in the inner circle of the Western Federation of Miners. This being the case, the state would accept your assistance as a state witness and see that you’re properly taken care of afterwards.”

“You’ll pardon me, Mr. McParland, if I don’t jump up and down believing you. You don’t exactly have a reputation as the friend of the working man. Any working man, especially one who’s in prison for murder.”

“Tell you what, Harry. Just to prove my bona fides, I’m gonna get you better treatment. Good food, chance to take a bath, some exercise under God’s blue sky. Then I’ll come back in a couple of days and we’ll talk.”

“Suits me.”


In the Governor’s office Governor Gooding and McParland relax over brandy and Havanas.

“So you think Orchard’s going to sing?” asks Gooding.

“No question in my mind, Governor.”

“Will he tell the truth?”

“I’m sure some of it will be true.”

“I mean about Haywood and the others.”

“Do you care so long as he implicates them?”

Gooding grins. “I suppose not. Besides, he could be telling the truth.”

“Exactly. There’s no sure way to ever know. But I’ll bet you that little weasel has been up to a lot of violent things. And I ask myself, Where would he get the wherewithal to pull off these kind of jobs? He hung around Caldwell for weeks at a time, never seeming short of money. Now who does Harry Orchard know that’s got that kind of money?”

“You’re right, McParland. The union’s gotta be in on this.”

“So now all I’m gonna do for the next few days is not only listen to the words of the song Harry sings but paying real close attention to the tune.”


Big Bill Haywood, George Pettibone, and Charles Moyer walk briskly down one of Denver’s downtown streets. Moyer, the president of the Western Federation of Miners, is a slightly balding, slender man with a well-clipped moustache.

Haywood nudges Moyer and speaks in a loud whisper. “There’s somebody been following us.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him,” replies Moyer. “Red-headed fella.”

“Pinkerton, I’ll bet,” says Pettibone.

“Let’s get on that streetcar,” Haywood says.

The three men jump on a passing streetcar. The redheaded man gets on at the same time. Moyer, Haywood, and Pettibone exchange glances. The streetcar continues for several blocks. The three men get off at the stockyards. The redhead follows them. Suddenly Haywood turns around, runs a few yards to the astonished redheaded man, grabs him by the coat collar with one hand and lifts him off the ground.

“I don’t like to be followed, Pinkerton man.”

The redhead is terrified. “Don’t hurt me, Mr. Haywood. Please don’t hurt me. I got my orders. If I don’t follow you fellas, I get fired.”

Haywood sets the man down.

“Hell, son, sounds like you need a union.”


A guard leads Harry Orchard into the Warden’s office. Harry looks much better. He’s wearing new prison clothes and is freshly bathed and shaved. McParland is waiting for him.

“Harry, it’s good to see you. They treatin’ you all right?”

Orchard sits down across from McParland who hands him a cigar and lights it for him. Orchard takes a long, satisfying drag.

“Much better since you was here last, Mr. McParland.”

“You been thinking about what I said?”

“That I have, Mr. McParland. That I have.”

“And?”

“Well, sir, I’ve got some mighty powerful, mighty terrible things to tell you. Mighty terrible. I just want to make sure of one or two things.”

“Of course, Harry. What do you need to know?”

“You sure you can keep me from getting hung?”

“If you take my advice you will not be hung. If you do not, you will be hung real quick.”

Orchard nods slowly. “Well, sir, then I have a real tale to tell you.”


Governor Gooding, Borah, and McParland are standing in the front yard outside the Governor’s mansion.

“So he’s finally come clean,” says Gooding

“Yes, sir,” says McParland. “And it’s unbelievable.”

“I hope not. It better damn well be believable,” Borah observes.

“No, I mean unbelievably good. Harry implicates the whole Western Federation leadership, especially Haywood and Moyer.”

“But is what he says true?”

“My guess is, yes. He provides lots of details. And not only about the Steunenberg assassination.”

“So let’s extradite the sons of bitches,” says Gooding.

Borah’s expression turns sour. “Can’t do it.”

“And why the hell not?” Gooding is indignant.

“Because they haven’t committed any crime that we know about in Colorado. You try to arrest them and their lawyers’ll have a writ of habeas corpus so fast.”

“Well, hell.”

“I’ve got an idea should solve the problem,” interjects McParland.

“Yeah?” The Governor’s expression brightens.

“Arrest ’em late at night in Denver. Have a special train ready to whisk ’em out of the state. No chance for ’em to get lawyers or a judge.”

“In other words, kidnap them,” Borah says unhappily.

“Right.”

“Is that legal?” Gooding asks.

“No, it’s not.”

“But,” says McParland enthusiastically, “once we got ’em in Idaho, we charge ’em with murder. Don’t make no difference how we got ’em here. They’re guilty of murder and conspiracy in Idaho.”

Gooding addresses Borah. “What do you think?”

“It might work,” says Borah, thinking hard. “Their lawyers will challenge it, of course. Probably go all the way to the Supreme Court. The point is we’ll have them. I doubt that the Court’s going to care too much how we got them.”

“Governor McDonald in Colorado will sign the extradition papers.”

“Still doesn’t make it legal.”

“Good enough for our purposes. Don’t you want to get these bastards, Bill?”

“What do you think? Frank Steunenberg was a damn good friend of mine.”

“What about the Senate race?” asks McParland.

“If I’m elected, I won’t take my seat until I see Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone convicted and sentenced to Hell.”

“McParland, get it started.” directs Gooding.

McParland nods his assent. “Yessir.”


Haywood is naked. A dark-haired prostitute, also naked, is wrapped around his legs. There is a loud knock at the door.

“Who the hell is it?”

Outside Haywood’s door, Deputy Sheriff Jim Blaiser, answers. “Sorry about this, Bill, but I got orders to take you in.”

Haywood pushes himself out of bed and opens the door. Blaiser, in full sheriff’s uniform, enters. He’s a short, stout man in his late thirties. Clearly no physical match for Big Bill.

“Do you know what for, Jim?” Haywood asks.

Blaiser shakes his head. “Sure don’t.”

“OK, Jim. No need for handcuffs, is there?”

“Oh, heck no, Bill.” Blaiser is visibly relieved by Haywood’s agreeable attitude.

Out on a street in Denver’s red light district, Charles Moyer is grabbed from behind by a deputy, shoved against the wall and handcuffed.

Outside Red O’Hara’s Tavern, Pettibone is accosted by a deputy sheriff and led off, unhandcuffed, to a horse-drawn patrol wagon.

An hour and a half later, Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone are ushered into the solitary Pullman car attached to a powerful locomotive. McParland watches from nearby and then boards the train. Within moments, the locomotive steams rapidly into the night.

Inside the Pullman, Haywood and Pettibone, handcuffed, with their hands out in front of them are playing cards with three of the guards. Moyer is sitting by himself, seemingly sulking. McParland strolls back to watch. Haywood looks up at McParland. “All this your idea, union buster?”

McParland shrugs.” I’ve gotten better men than you hung.”

“Doubt that,” says Pettibone.

“You wanna uncuff me and say that?” Haywood smiles.

McParland laughs. “No hard feelings, Bill. It’s just a job.”

“I know jobs, Pinkerton man,” says Haywood. “Honest ones. This ain’t honest.”

“Oh, it’s honest. Not legal, maybe, but honest.”

“Where’s this train going?” asks Pettibone.

McParland feigns surprise. “You don’t know? Straight to Boise where you’ll be put down like a dog for Frank Steunenberg.”

“Can’t tie us to that one, McParland,” says Haywood

“No? We’ll see about that.”

Haywood grins at his companions. “You know, boys, when a Pinkerton dies, he goes so low that he has to climb a ladder to get into Hell – and he is not a welcome guest there. When his Satanic Majesty sees him coming he says to his imps, “go get a bucket of pitch and a lot of sulphur, give them to that fellow and put him outside. Let him start a Hell of his own. We don’t want him in here, starting trouble.’”

McParland stomps away to the sound of mocking laughter from the union men.

The locomotive goes full bore through the flatlands of Wyoming, slows down as it begins going uphill, eventually crossing the Continental Divide.

The next morning everyone in the Pullman is asleep except for McParland, who stares unceasingly at Haywood with a small, unpleasant smile at the corner of his lips.


Reporters crowd the main platform of the Boise train station as Haywood and the other Western Federation of Miners men are transferred to carriages bound for the state penitentiary.

“What’s going on, Jim?” shouts John Sullivan, a reporter from Daily Statesman.

Thumbs stuck in his vest pockets, hands splayed over his considerable belly, McParland smilingly holds court.

“Boys, I have proof positive that Haywood, Pettibone, and Moyer are behind the atrocious murder of Governor Steunenberg.”

“Has Orchard confessed?” asks one reporter. “How did you get these men here from Colorado?” asks another.

“All in good time boys, but I will say if we’d taken the regular train from Denver to Boise the train would likely have been blown up and innocent passengers endangered. As for Harry Orchard, you will hear what he has to say at the trial.”

Ignoring the reporters’ continuing questions, McParland jumps in a carriage and heads for the Governor’s mansion.


That evening Harry Orchard sits at a prison table across from McParland who has a tablet and pen front of him.

“What I want you to do, Harry, is tell me again all about the whole business, beginning with the Coeur d’Alenes and ending with Frank Steunenberg. Just tell me in your own words and I will take it all down in shorthand.”

Orchard clears his throat.

“Maybe it wouldn’t have got so bad if it hadn’t been for the niggers.”

“What niggers?”

“The soldier niggers. When Steunenberg declared martial law they sent in a whole regiment of colored soldiers from Salt Lake.”

“Yeah, but why did the Governor call for martial law in the first place?”

“The mine owners was being plum unreasonable so me and a bunch of boys blew up the Bunker Hill concentrator.”

“Haywood ask you to do that?”

“No, we did that one on our own.”

“Be better for you if you say Haywood asked for it.”

“I’ll think on that. Anyway, after blowing up the mill we headed on back to Wallace. Later on, I watched them nigger soldiers arrest every man in Burke so I hightailed it to Montana and later to Colorado, endin’ up in Cripple Creek. Then Big Davis and Sherman Parker who was top union men there and knew I was a good man with dynamite give me five hundred dollars to blow up the Vindicator mine. Kilt a couple of people. Got another five hundred to do the Independence depot. That one killed thirteen. It was after that I met Haywood and Pettibone. They wanted me to kill Governor Peabody, a couple of Colorado Supreme Court judges. . .”

“Their names, Harry. You got to be specific.”

“Goddard and Gabbert. Also Fred Bradley, the president of Bunker Hill and Sullivan. But none of these worked out. Then they told me to get Steunenberg. Said he’d lived seven years too long. Promised me seven hundred dollars and a ranch.”

“Let’s back up a little, Harry. And I want you to tell me exactly how you got your orders from Haywood and Pettibone and if you want a little advice, I’d throw in Moyer’s name, too.”


The most beautiful woman in America is having breakfast alone in the dining room of the Idanha Hotel. Petite, with a classic profile, luxuriantly wavy black hair, she looks at once mischievous and desirable. A huge, shaggy looking man of about fifty enters the dining room and ambles over to her table. His hair is brown with streaks of gray, a forelock hanging over his broad forehead.

“Miss Barrymore,” he says in a pleasant, rumbling voice, “I’m delighted to see you.”

Ethel Barrymore looks up with a dazzling smile. “Why Mr. Darrow. Won’t you join me?”

Clarence Darrow sits across from her, shaking his head and grinning. “These road companies take you all over creation for sure.”

“Next stop, Carson City,” she says, still smiling. “But you’re here for the big trial. You must tell me all about it.”

“Not a lot to tell.” Darrow pauses to ask the waitress for a cup of coffee before returning his full attention to the beautiful actress. “Good union men unjustly accused by a lying witness.”

“Are you sure Mr. Orchard is a liar?”

“Either that or the best imitation of one I’ve ever seen.”

“You’ve talked to him, then?”

“Oh no. The prosecution won’t let me anywhere near him but I know Jim McParland is spending all his time coaching Orchard to sound convincing.”

Ethel takes a sip of her coffee and gives Darrow a contemplative look. “There is very little in the way of entertainment here in Boise, you know. Do you think I might be able to have a chat with the notorious Harry Orchard?”

Darrow grins broadly. “I’ve never known McParland to turn down a request from a beautiful woman.”

“And just possibly we could meet for a drink after I have my interview with him?”

“Just possibly.”

“If I do this for you and it works out, will you give me the stone?”

Darrow looks surprised. “How did you know that I had it?”

“Family legend. Only one person in each generation possesses the stone. Aside from that, I have seen it dangling from your watch fob.”

“Very well. Tell me what you find out from Orchard and then we’ll see how the trial comes out.”

“I really do want to stop all this traveling around, Mr. Darrow,” Ethel says with a sigh.

“With the stone, my dear, you will never have to venture from the New York stage again. That I promise.”


The trial has been underway for days now. Orchard is on the stand looking well-fed, composed, even confident. He has just completed his direct testimony. Darrow rises from the defense table, dressed in shirtsleeves and vest, suit coat draped untidily at an angle from his chair. He eyes Orchard with contempt.

“Your name isn’t Harry Orchard, now is it?”

“No, sir.”

“And it isn’t Paul Hogan either, or Robert Washburn, or Frank Moore?”

“No, sir.”

“Then what is your true name?”

Orchard smiles. “Albert E. Horsley.”

“And where were you born?”

“Northumberland County, Ontario.”

“Are you an American citizen?”

“No, sir.”

“But you got work in this country as a mucker in the Tiger-Poorman mine in the Coeur d’Alenes and then one day you blew up the Bunker Hill mine concentrator?”

“Yes, sir. Me and some others.”

“Who lit the fuse?”

“I lit one of them. I don’t know who lit the rest.”

“You expected to kill fifty or sixty men that night?”

“I didn’t know how many we would kill.”

“The more the merrier?”

“I didn’t think about that.”

“And you didn’t care?”

“I don’t know as I did.”

“Now you say you tried to kill Governor Steunenberg once before when he staying at the Idanha here in Boise?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But then you chickened out because you had gotten a room next to him and if you went away that night and the bomb went off, you might be suspected?”

“I decided it was too risky.”

“That bomb would have blown the hotel all to pieces, would it not?”

“Yes.”

“And you were willing to do this?”

“Yes.”

“Did you expect to stay at the hotel that night?”

“No, sir.”

“You were willing to kill everybody but yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Now you never even met Mr. Haywood or Mr. Pettibone or Mr. Moyer, did you?”

“I sure did.”

“You killed Governor Steunenberg all on your own and thought you could make your peace with the future by having them hanged, didn’t you?”

“No, sir. No, sir. I had no thought of getting out of it, by laying it on anybody else. I began to think of my past life and the unnatural monster I had been. It was after a I received a Bible from a missionary society in Chicago that I came to the conclusion that I would be forgiven if I truly repented and I decided to make a clean breast of it all.”

“Have you had the history of your life written up in narrative form?”

“Yes, sir, I have.”

“And was it at Mr. McParland’s suggestion that you prepared it?”

“No, sir.”

“Did you ever hand one of your narratives to him that you had prepared?”

“I think I did.”

“And didn’t he edit your narrative – go over it and suggest that some things be stricken and others put in?”

“No, sir.”

“And haven’t a good many of those changes which you have made at Mr. McParland’s urging lies that connect Haywood and Pettibone and Moyer with different vicious murders that you have committed all on your own?”

“No, sir.”

“Mr. McParland has been the mentor of your testimony all along, hasn’t he?”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“The man who has been guiding you and directing you as to how you should testify.”

“He has not been directing me.”

Darrow turns to the jury and smiles grimly. “And of course the gentlemen of the jury are supposed to believe you, a notorious liar and brutal murderer?

“No further questions, Your Honor,” he says before Orchard has a chance to answer.


A few days later Haywood is on the stand. He calmly answers Darrow’s questions.

“Did you ever make any critical comments about Frank Steunenberg?”

“Hardly a miner in Silver City but had some criticism to make.”

“What about Jim Bartlett’s testimony that you said Mr. Steunenberg should be exterminated?”

“I think the expression I probably used was that the governor should be ‘relegated.’”

“And you helped relegate him?”

“Yes, sir. I did. I took an active part. For the next term the Democrats nominated Frank W. Hunt for Governor and Hunt was elected.”

“Did you ever have a hostile feeling for Steunenberg?”

“No, sir. I regarded him the same as any politician who could be swayed by capitalistic influences.”

“Did you know him personally?”

“No, sir.”

“Now when did you first meet the man calling himself Harry Orchard?”

“At a labor meeting in Denver in 1904. January. He was a delegate from the Altman union.”

“Did he tell you he’d blown up the Vindicator mine and ask to be paid for it?”

“No.”

“You heard his testimony.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And was it the truth?”

“It was not the truth.”

“What was the first information you got in reference to Steunenberg’s assassination?”

“I read it in the newspapers the next day.”

“No further questions, Your Honor.”

As Darrow sits down at the defense table, William E. Borah rises. Haywood turns to the judge. “If Your Honor please, may the shutters be closed on those windows. I cannot see the Senator’s eyes with the shutters open.” The shutters are closed and Haywood glares at Borah with his solitary, unflinching, terrifying eye.

“Mr. Haywood, a lot of bad things were written about Governor Steunenberg in the Miners’ Magazine which you edit, Isn’t that right?”

“Bad or not, they were true.”

“Did these attacks represent your views?”

“Yes. I was opposed to herding our men into bullpens. I was opposed to the outrages perpetrated against the women by the Negro soldiers.”

“The last line of one of these articles says of Governor Steunenberg, ‘Here lies a hireling and a traitor.’ Now is that the way in which the prominent members of the Western Federation of Miners looked upon Governor Steunenberg at the time he retired to private life in 1901?”

“As to the governor’s official acts, it did.”

“Did you ever talk to Harry Orchard about Governor Steunenberg in any way?”

“I don’t think so.”

Borah peppers Haywood with questions for the next several hours but fails to make even the slightest dent in the composure of the man next day’s Idaho Statesman dubs the “Smiling Buddha.”


It is time for closing arguments. Borah faces the jury, his leonine handsomeness and grave dignity on full display.

“The days pass, my friends and the Christmas season comes with all its thoughts – of peace and good will – the season when men live with their families, when people of the Christian faith rejoice, and if there is ever a time when all thought of fear should be laid aside this is the time. It is the season when men should feel most safe from harm.

“Just as the old year was fading – just as the new year was about to make its appearance – when all seems safe and peaceful, Harry Orchard lays his bomb in front of Frank Steunenberg’s gate, and that night as the governor hastens home through the dusk to his family, in his mind the happy thoughts of the loving greeting in store for him, he is sent to face his God without a moment’s warning and within the sight of his wife and children.

“Harry Orchard has confessed fully to this dastardly crime and he has told you that Haywood, Pettibone, and Moyer put him up to it. I believe there is a powerful and mysterious force behind Orchard’s confession and I’ll tell you what I think it was: it was the saving power of the divine grace working upon his soul and through him to bring justice to one of the worst criminal bands that ever operated in this country. Orchard’s faith is now in God. He is a Christian. He told you with tears in his eyes, with voice hushed, that he told his story because he knew it was a duty he owed God, himself and humanity.”

Borah continues, laying out the case against the union officials. He speaks for nearly eight hours. And then comes his peroration.

“There can be no doubt that Haywood, Pettibone and Moyer are just as guilty of this awful crime as Harry Orchard is. They have used the Western Federation of Miners to perpetrate evil upon our land and, gentlemen, it is time that this stench in the nostrils of all decent persons in the West is buried. It is time to forever put an end to this high handed method of wholesale crime. It is the time when Idaho should show the world that within her borders no such crime can be committed and that those who do so must pay with their lives.

“I remembered again the awful thing of December 30, 1905, a night which has taken ten years off the life of some who are in this courtroom now. I felt again its cold and icy chill, faced the drifting snow and peered at last into the darkness for the sacred spot where last lay the body of my dead friend, and saw true, only too true, the stain of his life’s blood upon the whitened earth. I saw Idaho dishonored and disgraced. I saw murder--no, not murder, a thousand times worse than murder--I saw anarchy wave its first bloody triumph in Idaho. And as I thought again I said, ‘Thou living God, can the talents or the arts of counsel unteach the lessons of that hour?’ No, no. Let us be brave, let us be faithful in this supreme test of trial and duty. If the defendants are entitled to their liberty, let them have it. But, on the other hand, if the evidence in this case discloses the authors of this crime, then there is no higher duty to be imposed upon citizens than the faithful discharge of that particular duty. Some of you men have stood the test and trial in the protection of the American flag. But you never had a duty imposed upon you which required more intelligence, more manhood, more courage than that which the people of Idaho assign to you this night in the final discharge of your duty.”


Darrow rises quickly, intending to dispel as quickly as possible the powerful impression Borah has made.

“Your Honor, gentlemen of the jury. This has been a Pinkerton case from start to finish. Pinkertons infiltrated the Western Federation of Miners in Colorado and probably in Idaho. The Independence Mine explosion that Harry Orchard claimed for his own was, we have shown, really the work of K.C. Sterling, a detective for the mine owners, working hand in glove with the Pinkertons.

“And who has been spoon feeding Harry Orchard his testimony? Why, the Great Detective himself, the most famous Pinkerton of all, Mr. J.P. McParland.

“I can’t prove it but you know it’s more than likely that Harry Orchard is a Pinkerton agent. Now why, you ask yourselves, would the Pinkertons blow up mines and have Frank Steuenenberg assassinated? You know why. Because their masters, the mine owners, want nothing more in this world than to destroy this union, the Western Federation of Miners.

“Are you going to convict Bill Haywood for the work of these vermin?

“I don’t mean to tell this jury that labor organizations do no wrong. I know them too well for that. They do wrong often, and sometimes brutally; they are sometimes cruel; they are often unjust; they are frequently corrupt. But I am here to say that in a great cause these labor organizations, despised and weak and outlawed as they generally are, have stood for the poor, they have stood for the weak, they have stood for every human law that was ever placed upon the statute books. They stood for human life, they stood for the father who was bound down by his task, they stood for the wife, threatened to be taken from the home to work by his side, and they have stood for the little child who was also taken to work in their places--that the rich could grow richer still, and they have fought for the right of the little one, to give him a little of life, a little comfort while he is young. I don’t care how many wrongs they committed, I don’t care how many crimes these weak, rough, rugged, unlettered men who often know no other power but the brute force of their strong right arm, who find themselves bound and confined and impaired whichever way they turn, who look up and worship the god of might as the only god that they know--I don’t care how often they fail, how many brutalities they are guilty of. I know their cause is just.

“I want to say to you, gentlemen of the jury, you Idaho farmers, removed from the trade unions, removed from the men who work in industrial affairs, I want to say that had it not been for the trade unions of the world you today would be serfs instead of free men.

“Gentlemen, I sometimes think I am dreaming in this case. I sometimes wonder whether this is a case, whether here in Idaho or anywhere in the country, broad and free, a man can be placed on trial and lawyers seriously ask to take away the life of a human being upon the testimony of Harry Orchard. We have the lawyers come here and ask you upon the word of that sort of a man to send this man to the gallows, to make his wife a widow, and his children orphans--on his word. For God’s sake, what sort of an honesty 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? A juror who would take away the life of a human being upon testimony like that would place a stain upon the state of his nativity--a stain that all the waters of the great seas could never wash away. And yet they ask it. You had better let a thousand men go unwhipped of justice, you had better let all the criminals that come to Idaho escape scot free than to have it said that twelve men of Idaho would take away the life of a human being upon testimony like that.

“Why, gentlemen, if Harry Orchard were George Washington who had come into a court of justice with his great name behind him, and if he was impeached and contradicted by as many as Harry Orchard has been, George Washington would go out of it disgraced and counted the Ananias of the age.

“I am sorry to say it, but it is true, because religious men have killed now and then, they have lied now and then. Of all the miserable claptrap that has been thrown into a jury for the sake of getting it to give some excuse for taking the life of a man, this is the worst. Orchard saves his soul by throwing the burden on Jesus, and he saves his life by dumping it onto Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone. And you twelve men are asked to set your seal of approval on it.

“I don’t believe that Orchard ever had any allegiance to the Western Federation of Miners, to his family, to his kindred, to his God, or to anything human or divine. I don’t believe he bears any relation to anything that a mysterious and inscrutable Providence has ever created. He was a soldier of fortune, ready to pick up a penny or a dollar or any other sum in any way that was easy to serve the mine owners, to serve the devil if he got his price, and his price was cheap.

“Gentlemen, Senator Borah doesn’t know half as much about religion as I do. If he knew anything whatever about religion he would never tell twelve men that something could be sprinkled upon the head of Harry Orchard and his nature would change in the twinkling of an eye. He is as crazy on religion as he is on other things. You can’t do it. He might get a glimpse, he might get an insight, and he may struggle on and on for something higher and better and fall while he reaches, and reach while he falls, and in this way men get religion like they get other things that are good. Let us see what he has got, and then we will see whether it is religion. There are certain qualities which are primal with religion. I undertake to say, gentlemen, that if Harry Orchard has religion now, that I hope I never get it. I want to say to this jury that before Harry Orchard got religion he was bad enough, but it remained to religion to make him totally depraved.

“Borah pictures him as a cherubim with wings growing out from his shoulders and with a halo just above his head, and singing songs with a detective on one side of him and McParland on the other. This is how Borah pictures him, but everybody will picture him according to how they see him. My picture is not these, none of these. I see what to me is the crowning act of infamy in Harry Orchard’s life, an act which throws into darkness every other deed that he ever committed as long as he has lived. And he didn’t do this until he had got Christianity or McParlandism, whatever that is. Until he had confessed and been forgiven by Father McParland, he had some spark of manhood still in his breast.

“I have known Haywood. I have known him well and I believe in him. I do believe in him. God knows it would be a sore day to me if he should ascend the scaffold; the sun would not shine or the birds would not sing on that day for me. It would be a sad day indeed if any calamity should befall him. I would think of him, I would think of his mother, I would think of his babes, I would think of the great cause that he represents. It would be a sore day for me.

“But, gentlemen, he and his mother, his wife and his children are not my chief concern in this case. If you should decree that he must die, ten thousand men will work down in the mines to send a portion of the proceeds of their labor to take care of that widow and those orphan children, and a million people throughout the length and the breadth of the civilized world will send their messages of kindness and good cheer to comfort them in their bereavement. It is not for them I plead.

“Other men have died, other men have died in the same cause in which Bill Haywood has risked his life, men strong with devotion, men who love liberty, men who love their fellow men have raised their voices in defense of the poor, in defense of justice, have made their good fight and have met death on the scaffold, on the rack, in the flame and they will meet it again until the world grows old and gray. Bill Haywood is no better than the rest. He can die if die he needs, he can die if this jury decrees it; but, oh, gentlemen, don’t think for a moment that if you hang him you will crucify the labor movement of the world.

“Don’t think that you will kill the hopes and the aspirations and the desires of the weak and the poor, you men, unless you people who are anxious for this blood--are you so blind as to believe that liberty will die when he is dead? Do you think there are no brave hearts and no other strong arms, no other devoted souls who will risk their life in that great cause which has demanded martyrs in every age of this world? There are others, and these others will come to take his place, will come to carry the banner where he could not carry it.

“Gentlemen, it is not for him alone that I speak. I speak for the poor, 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. The eyes of the world are upon you, upon you twelve men of Idaho tonight. Wherever the English language is spoken, or wherever any foreign tongue known to the civilized world is spoken, men are talking and wondering and dreaming about the verdict of these twelve men that I see before me now. If you kill him your act will be applauded by many. If you should decree Bill Haywood’s death, in the great railroad offices of our great cities men will applaud your names. If you decree his death, amongst the spiders of Wall Street will go up paeans of praise for those twelve good men and true who killed Bill Haywood. In every bank in the world, where men hate Haywood because he fights for the poor and against the accursed system upon which the favored live and grow rich and fat--from all those you will receive blessings and unstinted praise.

“But 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 the character they have saved. Out on the 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 down 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 judgment. These men and these women and these little children, the poor, the weak, and the suffering of the world will stretch out their hands to this jury, and implore you to save Haywood’s life.”

Twenty-six hours later, the jury members, red eyed and weary from lack of sleep, file into the jury box.

Darrow wraps his arm around Haywood. “Bill, old man, you’d better prepare for the worst. I’m afraid it’s against us, so keep up your nerve.”

“I will,” says Haywood firmly.

“Gentleman of the jury,” Judge Fremont Wood says in a solemn voice. “have you agreed upon a verdict?”

“We have,” replies jury foreman Thomas B. Gess, who hands the bailiff an envelope.

Judge Wood opens it and looks confused. “There’s nothing here!”

Gess slaps at his coat and finds another envelope. “I got ’em mixed,” he says red-faced and gives the bailiff the new envelope. Wood glances at it and gives it back to the bailiff to read:

“State of Idaho against William D. Haywood: We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, William D. Haywood, not guilty.”

The courtroom erupts in pandemonium that Judge Wood vainly tries to control.


Looking less than his jovial self, J.T. McParland prepares to board the train to Salt Lake. A lone newspaperman, Dart Russell from The Idaho Daily Statesman, is there to see him off.

“Didn’t quite go as you planned, did it Jim?”

“There will be other fights ahead and we will win them.”

“What about Orchard?”

“You know the deal. He gets life in prison.”

“No, I mean was he telling the truth?”

McParland gives a half-hearted imitation of his usual jaunty grin. “Russell, me boy, there’s some truth in every human being.”

As Clarence Darrow emerges from the Idanha Hotel, Gladstone bag in hand, he encounters Ethel Barrymore. Darrow sets the bag down and fingers his watch fob.

“Miss Barrymore. I was hoping to see you before I left.”

“I see you put the information I gave you to good use.”

“I did. And here is your reward, as promised.” He detaches a small black engraved stone from his watch fob and hands it to her. She carefully places the stone in her clutch purse and gives Darrow a dazzling smile.

“You know, Mr. Darrow, I thought Orchard told me the truth about everything. And he did say that Haywood ordered Steunenberg killed.”

Darrow smiles back. “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. We will never know for sure. But I do know this. Bill Haywood is a ten thousand times better man than Harry Orchard or James T. McParland.”

“But was justice served?”

Darrow smiles wider. “Of course justice was served. Maybe the law wasn’t but justice was. When you get to be my age, Miss Barrymore, you will understand the difference.”

“Oh, Mr. Darrow,” Ethel says in a coquettish voice, “I hope I never get to be your age.”

Laughing, Clarence Darrow looks on with undisguised pleasure as the Most Beautiful Woman in America walks away.


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