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The Rise of the Billionaires Leaves the Middle Class Stranded

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Friday, June 19, 2015

THE SHOOTER


I admit that the only element of this story that truly surprised me was that the assassin planned to use a church congregation as a cover for his get away. After he had murdered his target, he intended upon blending into the parishioners leaving Wednesday evening services. It was a diabolical and inspired plan. And it was about the last smart thing the would be assassin did. From that moment on, he started to shrink in stature, and intellect..And oddly, the same had been true of his intended victim.
The target lived in a two story Craftsman style home at 4011 Turtle Creek Boulevard, in Dallas Texas. The assassin realized the boulevard was too busy for a safe shot, and the front of the house set back too far from the street to provide a reliable shot. But his reconnaissance revealed there was a dead end alley in the rear which would get him to within a hundred feet of the home's windows. At that range the shooter couldn't miss.
And for an escape, running north through the alley would lead him to the parking lot behind a Presbyterian Church, which fronted on Oak Lawn Avenue. And just past the church, on Oak Lawn, was a bus stop, which would provide an inconspicuous getaway. It was, again, diabolical and inspired. By using the bus, he would not have to borrow a car. And his overcoat would hide the rifle from fellow riders.
The target was Edwin (Ted) Anderson Walker, a man with many enemies, almost all of them of his own choosing. A West Point graduate, he had been a hero in World War Two and Korea, being awarded both the silver and the bronze star, the latter with an oak leaf cluster, as well as the Legion of Merit. He had risen to the rank of Major General. But he remained married only to the Army.
In 1957 the six foot two inch combat veteran had been ordered by President Eisenhower to take command of the 82nd Airborne and the Arkansas National Guard, and to oversee the court ordered desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School. So personally repulsive was this task to Walker that the general had tendered his resignation. The President, and old soldier himself, had refused to accept it, and told Walker to get on with the job. Reluctantly the racist General followed his orders, seeing to it that 9 black teenagers were admitted and attended classes at the Little Rock Public High School.
But Walker remained a racist and a radical. He tried to resign from the Army a second time in 1959, in protest of American participation in the United Nations, and of the “fifth column conspiracy and influence in the United States” of communists. Again his resignation was rejected. Instead the Joint Chiefs transferred him to Augsburg, Germany, where he took command of the 24th Infantry Division. But the General was already beginning to shrink.
It was in Germany, in the spring of 1961,  that Walker delivered a series of lectures to the troops on a program called “Pro-Blue”. As veteran Dick Thornton remembered it over fifty years later, “As Gen Walker addressed us, he pulled down a huge wall map of the world. It was rendered in various shades of red and pink. This was, he said, the degree of communist influence in each country. The United States got off easy with only a medium red color. We all looked at each other…rather mystified and uneasy with this commanding officer who seemed, to all intents and purposes, to be flat out crazy.  Gen Walker stated that it wasn't enough to be anti-red - you must be PRO-BLUE!  He gave us a list of books to be placed in all the day rooms - required reading for everyone.”  The General was now growing too small for his uniform.
The required books included many publications of the John Birch Society. Then, a small civilian newspaper aimed at U.S.Servicemen, the “Overseas Weekly” (colloquially known as the “Oversexed Weekly”) quoted Walker as calling President Harry Truman, ex-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, as being “pink”.  The paper quoted Walker as calling journalist Edward R. Murrow a “confirmed Communist” and adding that 60% of the American press was Communist controlled. Walker counter attacked, calling the paper “immoral, unscrupulous, corrupt and destructive” - three of which it defiantly was. But the two star general then stepped over the line when he published a list of “Pro-Blue” politicians his soldiers should vote for. They were all conservative Republicans, of course. It almost seemed like he was trying to get fired. And he had finally done it.
Walker was relieved of his command and ordered to report for a psychiatric examination. Instead, on 2 November, 1961, Walker resigned from the Army for a third time. And this time the Pentagon accepted. Having resigned, Walker would now receive no pension and no benefits. Walker explained he wanted to be “free from the power of little men who, in the name of my country, punish loyal service to it. It will be my purpose now, as a civilian, to attempt to do what I have found it no longer possible to do in uniform.” Out of uniform for the first time in his adult life, he immediately shrank several sizes.
What he did first, in February of 1961, was to run for Governor of his home state of Texas. He managed to draw only 10% of the vote in the Republican Primary, and now many noticed he had never been that large to begin with.  In September of 1962 Walker helped to organize protests to the admittance of James Meredith, a young African-American, to the University of Mississippi.  Walker’s public statement, on 29 September, 1962, called the use of Federal troops in defense of integration  “a disgrace to the nation", adding it was, :" the conspiracy of the crucifixion by anti-Christ conspirators of the Supreme Court in their denial of prayer and their betrayal of the nation.”
A 15 hour riot broke out on campus that night, during which two were killed and six federal marshals were wounded. Walker was arrested and charged with sedition and insurrection, but in January of 1963 a Mississippi grand jury refused to indict him, and he returned to Dallas, hailed as a hero. His supporters seemed unaware at an additional loss in stature. Yet, if anyone had cared to look closely, General Walker was now shrinking more every day.  And it was his hero's welcome to Texas that inspired the would-be assassin, a small man all his life, to order a rifle, using the alias “A. Hidel”.
In early April the the would-be assassin insisted that his wife take his photo with his new rifle. He even told his wife, “If someone had killed Hitler in time, it could have saved many lives.”
After 8:30, on the night of Wednesday 10 April, 1963, the shooter walked down the alley from Avondale Avenue. In sight of the rear of the house on Turtle Creek, he crouched behind a wall, cradling his Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mm bolt action rifle. He balanced the rifle on the top of the chain link fence, and using the telescopic sight, aimed at his target’s head through the french doors, just 100 feet away. It was Nine O’clock when the assassin pulled the trigger.
Walker was sitting at his desk in his dinning room, working on his taxes. The lights were on and the shades were up. He heard a crack and thought it was a firecracker. Then he heard glass break, and he felt a sting in his arm.  He rose and walked around the desk, and saw a hole in the wall behind where he had been sitting. Immediately Walker went upstairs to retrieve a pistol, and so armed and feeling bigger, he went into the back yard.
Seeing nothing, he turned to face his house, and spotted a chip in the window frame. It was only then that Walker was certain that someone had taken a shot at him, and he called the Dallas Police. He did not suspect for a moment that the bullet might have missed him because he had grown so much smaller.
A Dallas Police officer dug the remains of the bullet from General Walker’s dining room wall, but it was too badly deformed to be of much value. However he saved it in an evidence bag. Following the path of the bullet showed that after clipping the window frame, the tumbling slug had missed Walker’s head by less than an inch. It came so close that part of the disintegrating shell's metal jacket had struck Walker in the arm. Had he been in his full size, it would have killed him. But then, had he been full size the shooter might not have shot at him...maybe.
Seven months later the assassin pulled the trigger again. This time he hit his target, twice. This time his target was riding in the back seat of a limousine. This time his target was President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. It was only when the Warren Commission interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife that they stumbled upon the solution to the mysterious rifle shot taken at General Walker. At the time Oswald had admitted to his wife that he was responsible for the attempt, and had also admitted it to George De Mohrenschildt, the husband of his wife’s only friend in Dallas. Fourteen years later, a Neutron Activation Analysis of the bullet recovered from Walker’s wall confirmed its connection with ammunition used on 22 November 1963, in Dallas.
The hatred inside Edwin (Ted) Anderson Walker, mocked by ex-five star general and President Dwight David Eisenhower as a “super patriot”,  had long since consumed so much of his soul that he was now  isolated from his old friends. He made a meager living from speeches to local John Birch Society chapters. Until, that is, the 66 year old was arrested once more, on 23 June, 1976.
On that night, just three blocks from his home, Edwin Walker followed Dallas undercover police officer, R.J. Stevens, into a public restroom in Cole Park. There Walker made a “physical advance” and was arrested on the spot. Officer Stevens had no idea who Walker was. Like another conservative Republican decades later, Walker pleaded no contest, posted $200 bail and later paid a $1,000 fine. He received one year probation. But history repeated itself again, less than a year later, on 16 March 1977,  and this time in Dallas' Reverchon Park. This time the general was charged with public lewdness and making “suggestive overtones.” Now, even the John Birch Society isolated him.
In 1980 the one organization he had served the longest,  the U.S. Army, quietly restored his medical benefits. And in 1982 it even forgave his resignation and restored his pension, in full; $45,120 a year. General Walker died of lung cancer, in his own bed, on 31 October,  1993, still a little man, dwarfed by the inner demons he did battle with, which he externalized as Communists and African-Americans..
I thank General Walker for his service to the nation we share. I am glad they restored his pension in the end. But, I must admit, I also believe the world would have been a better place if Lee Harvey Oswald had not missed General Edwin Walker on that April night in 1963.  Perhaps the notoriety the little assassin would have gained from that murder, would have made Oswald feel big enough, that he would not have felt compelled to pull the trigger again, that November.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FIRST BLOOD Part Two

I suppose you could say one of the places the American Civil War began was Harper's Ferry (above), where the falling waters of the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers powered the machines at the Federal Armory, mass producing muskets and ammunition. But after rebel Colonel Thomas Jackson seized the town and armory in April of 1861, stripping it of muskets and powder stores, and shipping 300 gun making machines to Richmond, the place lost its military significance. Still, it was federal property, and the man 74 year old Winfield Scott picked to restore it was his old rival and subordinate, 68 year old Robert Patterson.
The fickle President James Polk had chosen Patterson (above)  to lead the 1847 invasion of Vera Cruz, Mexico. But then he changed his mind. Winfield Scott collected the glory and Patterson did the paper work. Now, Scott charged his “friendemy” with retaking Harper's Ferry, and keeping the 11,000 rebels in the Shenandoah Valley, now commanded by General Joe Johnston, from reinforcing Beauregard's 22,000 men at Manassas Junction. It wouldn't be easy, of course. But it was made worse by Patterson's lingering resentment over Vera Cruz. He never disobeyed a direct order from Scott, but always parsed those orders carefully, rarely sharing his own thoughts with his “superior”. And while urging Patterson to move on the rebels, General Scott had also reminded his old rival that any reversal could be catastrophic. Patterson put that warning in his pocket, to use later.
By the middle of June, Patterson had assembled 18,000 troops,  mostly 90 day militia,   to retake Harper's Ferry.  In response Joe Johnston (who regarded the place as as “untenable”) ordered Jackson to evacuate the town, blowing up the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge and the armory buildings as he did. The next day, Monday, 17 June, seeing the place abandoned, Patterson took.”formal possession of Harper's Ferry.”
Informed of the bloodless victory, Scott now urged Patterson to at once move against Johnston, who had concentrated his forces on the other side of the Blue Ridge mountains, around Winchester, Virginia.. Patterson did not reply, and neither did he cross the Potomac for another two weeks, in part because because he believed Johnson had 20,000 men at Winchester, making the rebels stronger than himself, and in part because he had to shift his men from around Harper's Ferry, to the west. And that latter point illustrated a truth about the coming war in western Virginia.
The Shenandoah valley, was important for the south because of its food and horses, and because the Blue Ridge Mountains shielded any rebel army heading north (“down” the valley) into Pennsylvania or Maryland. But an invading federal army advancing “up ” the valley, heading south, would be moving away from Richmond and the industrial centers of the Confederacy.  So the Federal government could never win the war in the valley.  But as General Robert Patterson was about to prove, the government could lose the war there.
At about four in the morning, on Monday, 1 July, 1861, a company of ex-firemen from Philadelphia , McMullin's Independent Rangers, wadded across the chest high Potomac River at Watkins Ferry, under the watchful eyes of rebel troopers under Colonel J.E.B. Stuart.  It was quickly evident, as heavy supply trains followed, that Patterson was moving cautiously. Fifteen miles to the south, in Martinsburg, Virginia, Colonel Jackson was awakened with the news about 7:30 that morning.  He immediately aroused his 5th Virginia Regiment of 380 men,   and notified Johnson, 30 miles further south in Winchester. Jackson's standing orders were to slow the federal advance, but avoid any serious engagement. He sent three cannon back to Winchester, and just one forward with his Virginians, certain he need not worry about being overrun by Patterson's slow advance.
The next morning, Tuesday, 2 July, a brigade of federal regulars and militia under 63 year old Colonel John Joseph Abercrombie (above, the oldest line officer in either army ) and a second brigade under 45 year old Colonel George H. Thomas, began the march south on the Martinsburg and Potomac Turnpike. Both federal commanders were West Point graduates, and both were from slave states. Abercrombie's choice to fight for the union was made easier because his home state, Maryland, and not seceded, and because he was the son-in-law of his commander, General Patterson.  
George Thomas (above) was from Virginia, and when his slave owning family learned he was leading troops against Virginia, they literally turned his picture to the wall, and never spoke his name again.  J.E.B. Stuart, whose cavalry which was snipping at Thomas' brigade this day, wrote bitterly, “I would like to hang, hang him as a traitor to his native state.”
Shortly after noon, as the 3,500 federals were passing though the village of Hainsville, they began receiving fire. This was the 300 Virginians of the 5th regiment, thrown out in a skirmish line near the 10 mile marker, where the pike crossed a stream called Hoke's Run and climbed a low hill splitting William Porterfield's farm in two. Both federal brigades drew up in a battle line, and advanced slowly. Jackson's rebels held them up for about 45 minutes, until a federal battery of artillery began throwing explosive shells into Mr.Porterfield's barn. Jackson then skillfully withdrew his men.
The federals called it “The Battle of Hoke's Run”, or “The Battle Falling Waters” after two nearby streams. The rebels called it the “Battle of Hainsville”. It left 2 federals dead, 30 wounded and 35 captured when a company of unsuspecting Pennsylvania militia were caught by Stuart's cavalry, who were  dressed in blue. The Confederate dead and wounded were about the same numbers as the federals. By later standards it would be called a skirmish, but both sides were still learning how to fight this war.
The next morning, Wednesday, 3 July, Patterson's invasion showed its clumsy side. As most of the two brigades advanced on Martinsburg,  Private Charles Leonard and his regiment of Maryland militia, “The Park Grays”, were ordered back to Watkins Ferry, to escort supply wagons forward. “We started about 8 a.m., double quick...and slept on the banks of the old Potomac....The next day (4 July) (we) convoyed the supply train to Martinsburg”. Patterson now dug in, and began to build up his supplies.
On Friday, 12 July General Winfield Scott (above)  telegraphed Patterson that McDowell would begin his advance on the 16th,   and ordered Patterson to also move on that date. The next day Scott repeated the order and added, “If not strong enough to beat the enemy...make a demonstration so as to detain him in the valley or at Winchester.” Patterson responded that his intelligence suggested Johnson could quickly double his strength, bringing him to 40,000 men. If so, should Patterson attack anyway? General Scott did not bother to reply to this fantasy.
In fact, Patterson moved a day early, on Monday, 15 July.  But he got only 5 miles. As the Winchester Road crossed Mill Creek, in the shadow of a rise called Bunker Hill, the federal advance again came under long range musket fire from 600 of J.E.B.Stuart's troopers. Not a single federal soldier was hit, while one rebel was killed and five captured, before the rest withdrew. But it was enough to spark a rebellion in the federal ranks. Several regiments simply refused to march any further. They were two weeks from the end of their service, and they refused to move further from their muster points. General Patterson was forced to call a “council of war”, and the consensus among his officers was the mutiny might infect the entire force. The federal force of 20,000 marched straight back to Martinsburg..
Robert Patterson did his best to put a good light on things. He telegraphed Washington about his problems, and asked permission to sidestep to the east, to Charles Town. It was better than nothing, and Scott approved the move, which Patterson completed on 17 July.  But most of the soldiers on both sides, knew it was a retreat.  A member of the 4th Alabama regiment noted,  "The best generals of the age say it requires more tact and military learning to conduct a good retreat than to fight and win a battle. Therefore I assert that Patterson is the best general they have."  The members of Patterson's own army, even those who had refused to advance, were even more cruel. As he rode past a unit, waiting beside the road to Charles Town, he was greeted with cries of, Go home, you old coward!, ”” “He's an old secessionist. Shoot him.” Patterson said nothing, but he was steaming with indignation. On Thursday Patterson telegraphed his mea culpa to Scott:. “The enemy has stolen no march on me. I have kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnaissance in force caused him to be reinforced.” 
It was a fantasy, again. Not only was Joe Johnson (above) not begin reinforced. On, Friday evening, 18 July, he began marching his 18,000 men, beginning with Jackson's  Brigade,  south to the Mananas Gap Railroad, and then transferring them by train to reinforce General Beauregard’s 22,000 men at Mananas Junction. The north had lost its advantage on the field of Mananas,  by its ineptitude in the Shenandoah valley.
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

A DESIRE FOR SUCCESS

I have no doubt that when Stephen Puter put two $1,000 bills on the Senator's desk, John Mitchell promptly picked them up. At his trial John denied he took the bribe, but nothing in his previous life even hints at the possibility that the Oregon scoundrel would have left that much cash unattended so close to his own pocket even for an instant. He was a garden variety sociopath, raised to high office by his ambition. Noted one Oregon newspaper, “His political methods are indeed pitched on a sufficiently low scale, but not below his methods as a lawyer.” That did not make him unusual for a gilded age politician. It was the reliability of his depravity that made him a star.
Senator John H. Mitchell grew up John M. Hupple about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1855, when he was twenty, John was fired from his teaching job after impregnating his 15 year old student Sarah Hoon. Forced to marry the unfortunate girl, John switched professions, and two years later he passed the state bar exam. However, the new lawyer beat his Sarah in public so often that a patrilineal grand jury was convened. John escaped being indicted by convincing his naive now 19 year old wife into dropping the charges. Whereupon John stole $4,000 from his legal clients, abandoned Sarah and his three children and fled to California with his mistress, teacher Maria Brinker. A few years later, when Maria's medical expenses threatened to consume John's ill gotten grubstake, he abandoned her as well.
Arriving in Portland, Oregon in 1860 (above) with his new mistress, Mattie Price, John switched his moniker to John Hupple Mitchell and hung out his shingle. In a matter of weeks John was named the city attorney to the 1,000 inhabitants of what the locals appropriately called, “mud city”. His skills as a lawyer could be attested by the unfortunate Marcus Neff, an ambitious illiterate seeking help in expediting his 10 year old homestead filing. Neff had paid $2.50 an acre for his 160 acre property, occupied and worked it, and in May of 1862 Neff paid John Mitchell $6.50 to file an affidavit reaffirming his bonafidies. Then, in November of 1863, John Mitchell sued his own client for what he claimed were $253.14 in unpaid fees.
In court, the amoral attorney Mitchell (above) swore under oath that Neff could not be found, even tho in July of 1863 the Oregon land office successfully delivered the final homestead deed to Neff in California. In February of 1864 Neff's homestead was sold at sheriff's auction, where it was purchased by future governor and Portland mayor, Sylvester Pennoyer, aka “His Eccentricity”, AKA “Sylpester Annoyer”. John got the $294. 98 paid by Sylvester, and Sylvester got the 160 acre homestead. It would take a decade and require the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court, before poor Mr. Neff's stolen property would be returned.
As this episode demonstrated, John Mitchell was always willing to help the Oregon power structure get richer, to his own benefit of course. In particular there was his toadying with the “stagecoach king” Ben Holladay (above), who had just sold his California mail routes to Wells Fargo for $1.5 million ($24 million today). Beginning in August of 1868, and financed largely by distant German investors, Holladay began building a railroad along the Willamette river valley, from the capital of Salem north to Portland, and then south over Grant's Pass to California. It was Holladay who, in 1864, financed John's divisive election as President of the Oregon State Senate – it took 53 days and 27 ballots. And in 1872, Holladay supplied $15,000 in bribes to secure John's election by that same legislature as a U.S. Senator. So obvious was Mitchell's toadying for his patron, ( "Whatever is Ben Holladay's politics is my politics, and whatever Ben Holladay wants I want") that both offices were one term endeavors. But it remains a testament to John's grit and greed that when Ben Holladay went bankrupt in the “Panic” of 1873, John simply switched his loyalty to the next richest man on his horizon.
The 18 year old Friedrich Weyerhauser (above) arrived in America in 1852. He so hated working on his cousins' Pennsylvania farm that he drifted west and landed a job on the Rock Island Railroad in Illinois, which led him to a job in a saw mill, making railroad ties. He ended up owning the mill, and started buying lumber mills until the Weyerhaeuser Syndicate controlled every tree processed on the upper Mississippi River. The only thing standing between Friedrich and total domination of the lumber industry was that he did not own the land on which the trees grew. Oregon offered him a remedy to that little problem.
Out on the Great Plains, railroads could be financed by awarding them a 20 mile wide swath of government land on either side of the rails. The builders could then sell this land to homesteaders who then became the completed railroad's customers. That was how Holladay financed his Willamette Valley line. But everywhere else in Oregon’s mostly vertical terrain, money grew on trees. The state has been selling lumber to China since 1833. By 1870 there were 173 sawmills in Oregon. And it was the combination of the well intentioned homesteader program and Weyerhaeuser's ambition which remade Oregon politics for the next hundred years.
The middle man between Oregon's past and its future was one time surveyor Stephen A. Douglas Puter.     In his book, “ Looters of the Public Domain” Stephen described a process which began on board foreign vessels tied up at Portland's docks. “I have known agents of the company to take at one time as many as twenty-five men...to the county courthouse”, he wrote, “where they would...declare their intention to become citizens...(then) they would proceed direct to the land office and make their filings, all the location papers having previously been made out. Then they would appear before Fred W. Bell, a notary public, and execute an acknowledgment of a blank deed (transferring the land to the lumber company), receive the stipulated price of $50, and return to their ships...As fast as this land came into the market, the (Weyerhaeuser) company gobbled it all up.”
All told, it cost "entryman" like Puter about $320 for each 160 acre homestead. Then, instead of land hungry farmers, Puter sold the parcels to Weyhausser through his railroad or lumber companies for a hundred dollar profit. The Oregonian newspaper estimated that between 1870 and 1904 75% of all land transferred in Oregon was sold in this fraudulent way. The great scam only came to an end because in 1903 Stephen Puter was convicted of fraud, and after serving 18 months was pardon by President Teddy Roosevelt after agreeing to turn state's evidence. With Puter's testimony,  Federal grand juries indicted more than 100 people, and convicted 33 of them. But no where on any legal papers did the name of Friedrich Weyerhauser appear, and his corporation's titles to the land were never questioned. However, John H. Mitchell's name did show up.
When John had first arrived in Washington, D.C. back in 1874, he found the capital abuzz with stories about his abandoned Sarah, back in Pennsylvania. Since John had married Mattie Price in 1862, without divorcing Sarah, he was now a bigamist. But the Senate decided morality was a matter for the voters back in Oregon, and allowed John Mitchel to sit on the Senate Railroad Committee, which is just where Ben Holladay wanted him. After his defeat for re-election in 1879,  John tried for the state legislature, but lost. In 1885 he was campaigning for a return to the Senate when, four days before the election, "The Oregonian" published love letters John had written to Mattie's sister. What kind of a man carries on a five year sexual liaison with his wife's sister? Evidently, in Oregon, a re-elected United States Senator. An opponent called his election “a disgrace to the state and a reproach to humanity.”  But it stuck.
And yet John was easily re-elected yet again in 1890, and tirelessly maneuvered to legally steal land from Indian reservations to benefit Weyerhauser's syndicate.  In 1896 John ran yet again, but the opposition finally adopted John's own “political ethics (which) justified any means that would win the battle” The legislature was deadlocked for two years, leaving the state without a second Senator. Then, in 1901 the 65 year old Mitchell won his last campaign. And it was in Senator John Mitchel’s Washington office on Sunday, March 9, 1902, where Stephen Puter laid down those two $1,000 bills. And John picked them up.
The newly named Chairman of the Committee on Inter-oceanic Canals, now grown old and fat, responded to his indictment with a carefully worded press release. “I defy any man to charge me successfully with any conduct that is otherwise than honorable” he wrote, adding “I am sure I cannot be connected in any way with any land frauds”. No where did John claim innocence. He merely dared others to prove his guilt. So they did.
This first trial of the century for the 20th century was held in June of 1905 in the newly expanded Court House on Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. It had to compete for the public's attention with the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition out on Guild's Lake. While the fair, whose federal funding Senator Mitchell had pushed, attracted over 11,000 visitors a day, the courtroom could hold less than a hundred spectators. But it was the tribunal which attracted far more newspaper coverage. Testifying against Senator Mitchell was  Stephen Puter, and John’s law partner, Judge Albert H. Tanner, and even John's personal secretary. The defense tried reminding the jury about the recent death of John's daughter, and the Senator's age – he had just turned 70. But on Monday July 3, 1905 the jury found him guilty, anyway. It was the climax to the Oregon Land Fraud Trials, and a fitting end to Mark Twain's Gilded Age. John was sentenced to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
He never served an hour in jail, of course. And he never paid the fine. Not because of his political connections, this time, but because of a visit to the dentist. Five months after the verdict, on Friday December 8, 1905, John had four teeth pulled, and the strain was too much for the old thief’s heart. He died, said the press, of complications after surgery. The old Republican was replaced by a Democrat.
John H. Mitchell – ne John Mitchell Hupple – was survived by a second daughter, Marie Elisabeth, who in 1892 had married the very wealthy Alfred Gaston, the 5th duke of Rochefouald and Duke of Anville. But the only place in Oregon which still carries his name is the tiny hamlet of Mitchell, with less than 200 residents. Three time in its history the town has been destroyed by floods, and three times by fires. But the residents keep rebuilding, making it a perfect monument to a man described  as lacking either ethics or ability, but making up for that with “persistence and (a) desire for success.”
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