DECEMBER 2019

DECEMBER   2019
Please, Have a Merry. Please. Oh, and get rid of the Orange Jerk!

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

IS ANYBODY THERE?

I think the basic problem with democracy is that humans are too darn clever for it to ever work efficently. Consider the lesser genius of old John Q. Adams (above), son of a founding father, who, after one term in the White House, won a seat in the House of Repesentatives, which he occupied for another 17 years as “Old Man Eloquent”.  Congressman Adams first dragged slavery onto the House floor for open debate, and then engineered the first compromise which delayed the Civil War for forty years -  a pretty clever guy. But it was also J.Q. Adams who was clever enough to insist he should not be counted as “present” if he refused to respond when his vote was called for. It was a matter of principle to John Q, and a matter of temprament. He was just too old to stand up and walk out of the chamber every time someone asked him to vote on something he wanted to avoid voting on. How could he predict that two generations later, in the hands of hack politicians, this principle would be used to thwart democracy?
They called it a “Silent Quorum”. By October of 1893, when the Senate was trying to repeal price supports for silver, which were costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year, this procedure had become a monster whenever the majority was razor thin. Without a quorum present, (half the membership plus one) no vote was legal, so by remaining silent when their names were called, the minority could “fillibuster” any action they wanted to avoid losing on. It was a manuever which one particular House member described as a “...peculiar art of metaphysics which admits of corporeal presence and parliamentary absence”. That year, over two days, the U.S. Senate tried 39 times to remove price supports for silver. And every time the quorum evaporated. A decade later the obstructionists had so honed their craft that the same particular House member calculated that the House of Representatives spent “...a whole month...calling over our own names”. Usually the bills being  fillerbusted were either dropped, or the delay and deal making required to get them passed held the Congress up to public ridicule. Who ever heard of such a thing?
The 'particular' Congressman who finally broke the filibuster of silence was a fourteen year veteran who knew the lower house of Congress well enough to describe it as “A gelatinous existence, the scorn of all vertebrate animals”. He owned the biggest head in politics (in more ways than one) and the sharpest wit in the Washington, at the time. Fifty year old Thomas Brackett Reed (above) was, said a critic, as “ambitious as Lucifer”.  He was also a giant - 6'3” tall and 300 pounds – who inspired one who saw him strolling to say in awe, “How narrow he makes the sidewalk look.” Republican Thomas Reed once lamented in his measured Maine drawl, “We live in a world of sin and sorrow. Otherwise there would be no Democratic Party.”  When accused of mockery by a Democrat, Reed responded, “I will say to the gentleman that if I ever ‘made light’ of his remarks, it is no more than he ever made of them himself.”   Reed described two politicans who annoyed him, this way; “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” He was imperious and dictitorial even with friends - a small “d” democratic Robespierre.
Like all political revolutions, newly-elected Speaker Reed's, was inspired by necessity. Specifically, on 23 January 1890, he received the Committee on Elections report concerning the 4th district of West Virginia. The Democratic Governor had thrown out the results from two polling places and declared Democrat James Jackson the winner. The loser, Republican Charles Smith, had appealed to congress. The Congressional Committee's Republican majority had labeled the governor's actions so outrageous that it “seems like a farce to argue about it” and recommended giving the seat to Smith. As expected the Democrats wanted to argue about it. Technically Reed had three more than the 166 Republicans needed to push through Smith's election. But if three or more of his own party were out sick or away from the floor Reed's working majority would fall to the “tyranny of the minority”. Thomas Reed was determined to do something about that.
Before the session was to begin that noon, on Wednesday, 29 January, 1890, Speaker Reed called the two ranking Republican members of the election committee into the hallway behind the Speakers podium, known as the Speakers' Lobby. There Reed warned Joe Cannon from Illinois (above) and William McKinley from Ohio that even with two Republicans dragged from their sick beds, what with several still out sick, one dead and another home with a dying wife, the Democrats could be expected to use a 'Silent Quorum' to delay or even kill action on their report. But Reed had a plan. What he did not tell this allies was that he had recently secured a partnership in a private law firm, in case his plot blew up in his face and he was forced to resign from the Congress. Representative Cannon asked when the Speaker intended upon launching his plan. Reed responded simply, “Now”, and he strode into the chamber.
After the preliminaries for the opening of a session, Edward McPherson, the House clerk, called for a vote on the report of the election committee. The initial results were 162 yeas, 3 nays and 163 not voting. The Democrats immediately called for a “quorum call”. Again Mr. McPherson read out the roll call, pausing after each of the 332 names for a response. All 162 Republicans in the chamber answered “present”. Not a single Democrat in the room lifted his voice. The “Silent Quorum” had again triumphed - or so it seemed. But then Speaker Reed announced ponderously, “The Chair directs the Clerk to record the names of the following members as present and refusing to vote.” And slowly he began to read off the names he had marked down as being in the room.
According to the Associated Press reporter who was present, “Pandemonium broke loose...wild excitement, burning indignation, scathing denunciation...” When Reed called his name, the Democratic war horse William Breckinridge bellowed over the mob, “I deny the power of the Speaker and denounce it as revolutionary!” By now Democrats were spilling into the aisle and pressing toward the podium, “...as if they intended to mob the Speaker.” But imperious, “utterly fearless”, and (said the New York Times) as “cool and determined as a highwayman,” Speaker Reed deigned not to acknowledge their outrage. He just kept reading the the names of the no longer silent minority.
When he called out, “Mr. McCreary”, the sexagenarian ex-Governor of Kentucky and ex-Confederate Colonel, James Bennett McCreary (above), shouted up at the podium, “I deny your right, Mr. Speaker, to count me as present!” Unexpectedly, Thomas Reed paused, and the entire bedlam paused as well, sucking in a breath of anticipation. Gazing down impassivily from atop the massive podium, the New England Buddha pronounced, “The Chair is making a statement of fact that the gentleman is present. Does he deny it?” Representive McCreay was nonplussed. And calmly Reed continued with his roll call of the principled “absent”. And when he had finished, over the din and angry shouts which again tore the air, he announced he would now give his reasons for the revolution he had just launched.
The Constitution, in Article One, section five, said Reed, dictates that each house of Congress could “...compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each house may provide.”  Speaker Reed argued, “If members can be present and refuse to (be)....counted as a quorum, that provision would seem to be entirely negated. Inasmuch as the Constitution only provides for their attendance, that attendance is enough. If more was needed the Constitution would have provided for more.” His words were not going to sway the losing side, but then that was not whom Reed was speaking to.  Are elections a farce and is government by the people a juggle?” he asked. “Do we marshal our tens of millions at the polls for sport? If there be anything in popular government it means that whenever the people have elected one party to take control of the.House or the Senate, that party shall have both the power and the responsibility. If that is not the effect, what is the use of the election?”
Having said his peace, Mr. Reed intoned, “The Chair thereupon rules that there is a quorum present within the meaning of the Constitution.” Breckinridge demanded to make a point of order. Reed dismissed him, saying. “The Chair overrules the point of order”, without even hearing it. “I appeal the decision of the Chair,” shouted the old war horse. Interjected the Republican Lewis Payson from Ilinois' 9th district, “I move to lay the appeal on the table”. And with a Republican second, the Congress now debated the very idea of Reed's revolution.
It went on for three bitter, angry, frustrated days. And from atop the pyramid of the podium Thomas Reed sat impassive, “serene as a summer morning”, rendering Parlimentary decisions which kept the debate moving.  Speaker Reed used his gavel so often, he broke it (above).  Charles Landis, the Indiana Republican, insisted that Reed “...did not gag debate, he simply....thought that a man who had a private balloon to inflate should hire a field.”  If the Democrats “shouted until the acoustics bled,” wrote Landis, that was merely “prima facie evidence that they were in the vicinity”. In the beginning Republicans were not united, but the Democratic reaction had forced the doubters into the battle line. Even the one Texas Democrat who stayed seated while ominously wetting his bowie knife, helped to unite Reed's Republican troops.
Thomas Reed came out of this debate forever bearing the tag of “Czar Reed”. But he also won his point. On Monday, 3 February 1890, the Democrats admitted defeat and simply walked out of the chamber (above). This left the Republicans with just 165 votes - one short of a quorum. An hour later, Republican Joe Sweeny of Iowa, having raced from the train station, walked into the chamber and announced, “One more, Mr. Speaker”. And with that a quorum was achieved. And the reason for the drama (if anybody still remembered), Charles Smith, was officially elected to the 4th district House seat for West Virginia, by 166 votes to 0. Twenty-six days later the United States Supreme Court rejected the Democratic appeal, and the matter was settled for at least a generation.
"Reed's Rules" gave the Republicans the power to fully enact their programs. And the public fully rejected them. In the election of 1890 Democrats gained the clear and working majority both sides had wanted, and immediately discarded Reed's Rules.  Reed's observation on this was, “The House has more sense than anyone in it.”  Two years later, the Republicans re-gained ground and it was the Democrats who were facing a intransigent minority, lead by Thomas Reed. The Democrats were forced to now accept and use Reed's Rules for themselves. In response, Thomas Reed said only, “I congratulate the Fifty-third Congress.” And he meant it.
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Friday, October 06, 2017

FEET OF CLAY

I think it might be the most important two feet of clay in the entire world. It was the effort to overcome  those 14 inches of clinging  clogging muck that created the American century, and offers a lesson in the history of the world we live in - that we all have feet of clay. And thank God for them.
The two feet had to be clay because clay holds water, and this particular clay was created over thousands of years by limestone being eroded by the dark acidic waters of a lake surrounded by a dense forest, such as in today’s Wisconsin Dells (above). This particular ancient dell has been called  "Lake Chicago", and if the clay it produced had been less than two feet high, then the clay would not have mattered.
If it had been thicker, then in 1674 Lois Jolliet (above) would have returned from his exploration of the Mississippi by a different route. Two feet was just thick enough to be difficult to overcome, but it could be over come. And although Ms Jolliet was the first European to see the clay, he did not really see it. He wrote to his superiors back in France that there was a simple way to connect the great lake now called Michigan with the Mississippi River  "We could go with facility to Florida in a bark (canoe), and by very easy navigation, " wrote Jolliet.. "It would only be necessary to make a canal by cutting through but half a league of prairie."  But Jolliet had arrived at the edge of the ancient "Lake Chicago" when most of the clay was hidden from view by the spring runoff. So the obstacle and the advantage of the clay would have to wait over a century to be revealed.
In the summer of 1818 fur trader Gurdon Hubbard, retracing Jolliet's route for the American Fur Company, made his first trip up the south fork of the ‘Shikaakwa’ (or skunk weed) River from the village of “Chicago” on the western shore of Lake Michigan (above) . Hubbard followed the river upstream until the open water gave out. From there, like Jolliet,  Hubbard was forced to  portaged for another seven miles. But Hubbard was traveling in the summer, when the water was low.
“Our empty boats were pulled up the channel," wrote Hubbard, "...until the Mud Lake (above)  was reached, where we found mud thick and deep, but only at rare intervals was there water….”
Fighting off schools of leeches and clouds of mosquitoes, it took Hubbard three days to cross the 7 miles of clay and mud before reaching the clear flowing water of the Des Plaines River.  But as Jolliet had said, the Des Plaines River ran into the Illinois River, which joined the Mississippi River, which carried Hubbard and his bateau’s 12 tons of trade goods into the very hinterland of the continent. And perhaps this might be a good point to pause and explain why this was where the clay was on the surface..
Three times over the last 300,000 years glaciers have ground southward across North America, successively plowing the landscape bare and then recreating it on their retreat. When the penultimate of the glaciers paused here 25,000 years ago, they bulldozed a 10 foot high north-south ridge of clay (above, foreground) from the bed of the  ancient Lake Chicago into the “Valparaiso Terminal Moraine”. 
Chicago writer Libby Hill has noted this moraine is not a mountain range, but  "a very slight rise of maybe about 10 feet that...in times of low water... would be a subcontinental divide"(above).   The  24 inch high clay was the cap on the moraine ridge which kept the present Lake Michigan from draining to the west and south down the Des Paines River into the center of the continent.  Instead the waters of Lake Michigan were forced to find a another path to the ocean , eastward,  toward the Saint Laurence River, and giving birth 12,000 years ago, to Niagara Falls.  But from the moment Hubbard clawed his way through the sucking, engulfing clay, Americans were anxious to dig through it. 
The dream of breaching that moraine was first achieved by the 96 mile long "Illinois and Michigan Canal", begun 1836, discontinued in the panic of 1837,  and not completed until 1848. It drained the Mud Lake and provided locks (above) to lift the narrow canal boats and their 100 ton loads 35 feet up to the level of the Des Plaines River at Jolliet.  From there another series of locks provided an easy journey so Michigan apples could be sold in St. Louis and New Orleans. That first canal established Chicago as a transportation hub.
But the growth of Chicago presented its own challenges. By 1867, the 300,000 citizens of Chicago had so fouled their Lake Michigan shoreline that to reach clean drinking water they were required to tunnel two miles out under the lake. 
The success of such "big government projects", like the water tunnels and the "I and M" canal,  encouraged the locals to dream of breaching the moraine in a more grand fashion,  and of converting Chicago from a mere lake port into a seaport. 
To sell the plan to conservative voters, politicians  also pitched the idea of reversing the flow of the Chicago River, to carry Chicago’s waste away from the lake, which was the source of the cities’ drinking water. Pumps would draw lake water into the Chicago River, and then send it up and over the "Valparaiso Moraine" before sending it down the Sanitary and Ship Canal. 
So on Saturday, 3 September, 1892, Frank Wenter, President of the new Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago, turned the first ceremonial shovel of earth in the village of Lemont, Illinois, which was to be the central point of the Sanitary and Ship Canal, because it was the highest elevation between the rivers and a good source of stone, for lining the canal.
The new canal, built in the name of progress and “clean water”, would excavate 44 million cubic yards of clay and stone...
...to create a passage 28 miles long, 202 feet wide and 24 feet deep, which would terminate, for the time being, in a dam and lock at a new town named Lockport, Illinois. Here the lock could take ships and barges up to 600 feet long and 110 feet wide. It would take eight years to finish the initial work and the final cost would prove to be $45 million.
The New York World newspaper examined the social changes this ‘progress’ brought to the sleepy village of Lemont (below). Out of the town's 9,000 residents, wrote the paper,  “…4,000 are gamblers, thieves, murderers or disorderly women. There are 100 saloons, 40 gambling houses, 20 dance houses and three theaters…Everything is running wide open and licensed...Within three months 30 dead bodies have been found…and no one has been punished…"
The paper then added, "Every Sunday excursions of the worst classes go to Lemont from Chicago.”
The Mississippi River town of St. Louis had already lost the race to become the rail center of the nation to Chicago, and now the new canal would allow Chicago grain and livestock markets to set prices for Missouri farmers. When the Missouri business interests finally awoke to the threat,  they realized a purely monetary argument against the canal lacked a sense of urgency.  So, as the Sanitary and Ship Canal got ready for an official opening in the spring of 1900,  Missouri threatened a lawsuit, claiming, to quote the Missouri Attorney General  “The action of the Chicago authorities in turning their sewage into the Mississippi River for the people of St. Louis to drink is criminal, and Chicago knows it.”
Yea, maybe they did. But in response, in December of 1899, the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago released a "scientific study" which "proved" all sewage had been removed by the time the Chicago waters reached Peoria, even before it joined the Mississippi.  And besides, the Chicago lawyers argued, St. Louis drew most of its drinking water from the Missouri River, not the Mississippi. And besides that, the city of St Louis even had their own a sewage drain into the Mississippi River, above their own water intake on the Mississippi.  If anybody was forcing the citizens of St. Louis to drink sewage, it was St. Louis, not Chicago! 
In an attempt to present the United States Supreme Court with a faite accomplie on this issue, on 2 January 1900,  Chicago opened the new northern locks connecting Lake Michigan with the canal.  Not to be deterred,  on Wednesday, 17 January, 1900, Missouri filed a request for an immediate  injunction from the Supreme Court to stop the canal from being opened at the southern end. And suddenly the Chicago lawyers and politicians did not feel so certain about their case. 
To forestall the Supreme Court, on Sunday, 21 January, 1900, the directors of the Sanitary District tried to quietly produce another fait accompli (above). The Chicago Tribune explained why that did not prove a simple thing to achieve.
“…B.A. Eckhart was the first to reach the narrow watershed at Kedzie Avenue and Thirty-filth Street...a dredge was already hard at work throwing up the clay from the cut…. Less than eight feet (of ice and frozen clay) separated the waters of the lakes from the waters of the Mississippi…It was exceedingly slow work, for the clay was (frozen) like a rock…Four large charges of dynamite were placed in the ridge…A few fugitive pieces of clay did fly into the air. But as a grand opening it was a failure…."
"Then the ambitious trustees, armed with their shovels, descended into the cut and began to push away the pieces of clay and ice which held back the lakes…With the regularity of a pendulum the arm of the dredge swung back and forth….The ice from the river rolled in and blocked the channel…"Push the ice...away with the arm." shouted the foreman…The (dredge) arm dropped behind the ice gorge and then with resistless motion swept the whole of it into the Mississippi Valley. .... "It is open! It is open!" went up from scores of throats as the water at last (flowed)…Like school boys on a vacation, the drainage officials waved their arms and shouted.”
It was done.  On 2 May, 1900 Admiral George Dewey, hero of the battle of Manila, dedicated the official opening. But it would not be until 1907 that a lock and power plant would be built (above) to control the 36 foot drop from the southern canal level at Lemont to the level of the Des Plaines River to the north, and complete the dream of ocean going ships reaching the Mississippi via Chicago.
Within a decade after the canal opened the construction techniques for the locks used to raise and lower ships over the Valparaiso Moraine (above)....
...would be used by many of the same engineers in the construction of the Panama Canal (above). It was that endeavor, championed by Teddy Roosevelt, which ushered in the American Century. The lesson here is that no infrastructure construction, be it the creation of the Sanitary and Ship Canal, or manned space flight, or the creation of the interstate highway system, or a national Internet access system, is ever a wasted effort. It is the lesson learned from the endeavor that make the future possible. 
And the Chicago canal proved something else as well. As recorded by William C. Alden in the 1902 “Chicago Folio” for the U.S. Geological Survey Atlas of the United States (volume #81), excavations for the canal and its locks unearthed the history of the entire continent.Beneath the clay and beneath the limestone was the bedrock of Chicago; “Potsdam Sand stones”. That sequence explained the history of the place. Chicago ultimately sits upon beach sands, the bottom of an ancient shallow sea. We know it was shallow because above the sandy bottoms corals grew, and left their lime rich skeletons (above) hundreds of feet thick embedded in the sand stones. Over millions of years that sea had been replaced with a freshwater lake, surrounded by trees,  whose leaves fell into the waters, turning the waters acidic, and converting the top layer of the limestone into clay.And then the glaciers had come, and scrapped across the clay, piling it up in a terminal moraine, which prevented the glacial melt waters from finding their way to the Mississippi river, until humans arrived and stood upon their own two feet of clay and thought, "I can do this. I shall do this". And it was done.  It was not done without a paying a price, but there is a price required to doing anything. Even nothing.
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Thursday, October 05, 2017

BANG, BANG. MY BABY SHOT ME DOWN.

I believe I have stumbled upon a way to spot a deranged maniac with a gun before they get the gun, and it ain't their choice of video games or violent movies that gives them away. Simply criticize their poetry, and the unbalanced individual is instantly revealed. My case in point  -  in early 1910 Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough once again had “insisted on inflicting his home-made poetry and epigrams on all who would listen",  according to William Mossman,  manager of the Pittsburgh Orchestra.   Now, the experienced members of the orchestra always listened politely to Fitzhugh, and kept their spit valves firmly closed until the maudlin verse was over,  but on this day, brass section member Otto Kegel could no longer resist trumpeting his opinion that Fitzhugh wrote the worst poetry ever written   Fitzhugh's response was to grab his own $400 violin and smash it over the critic's head.  Fitzhugh then fled screaming from the building.  He sulked for 72 hours, and when he returned he was not a better poet.  That, I believe, was a certain indication Fitzhugh was a lunatic destined to kill somebody.
Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough's story began inside 1331 K Street Northwest, Washington, D.C.. The row house  mansion stood just across the street from Franklin Square Park, on the corner lot with 13th Street.  In this wealthy abode resided the imminent Dr. Edmund K. Goldsborough, his wife Julia and their children - two sons, Fitzhugh, the eldest, and Edmond the youngest child, - and two daughters in-between – Francis the older and Ann the younger girl. Julia doted on all her children, and denied them nothing,  But Fiitzhugh was her favorite. He showed real talent with the violin and he loved poetry, which he produced in prodigious quantities.  He composed, by his own admission, a new ode to Venus about once a week. And his mother assured him every line was sheer genius.
In 1898 Dr. Goldsborough decided his son needed a profession. And that year the would-be poet was dispatched to Harvard College, to become an attorney.  After just one year however, the boy withdrew and returned home. Tensions in the house on K Street began to rise.  Fitzhugh  (above) told his diary that he was being followed by private detectives, and increasingly,  the volitile young man would intervene when his father tried to discipline Francis or Ann,  eventually even threatening violence if the doctor “so much as laid a hand” on either girl.  There is no record, Dr. Goldsborough ever did. After two years of this, in 1901, and by mutual consent, Fitzhugh  left home again,  this time for Europe, to study the violin.  Here he met with considerable success, and he did not return for four long years, coming home briefly during the winter of 1905-06. That spring he left again, first to Montreal, Quebec where he worked as an instructor, and then in 1907 he followed a Berlin acquaintance, Karl Pohlig, who had been hired as the new conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The city of brotherly love offered Fitzhugh his best chance for normality, and he became first chair violinist. However, at the same time he took to signing his name with a multi-pointed star, with his name forming all the spokes. But then in 1909 he followed an offer of more money, when half the Pittsburgh orchestra quit in a dispute with their new cold intellectual conductor, the Frenchman Emil Paur. The labor tensions had an impact upon Fitzhugh, as shown by his attack upon the head of the unfortunately outspoken Mr. Kegel.  As the orchestra teetered on the verge of bankruptcy early in the 1910 season, the 31 year old Fitzhugh learned his little sister Ann had become engaged to William Stead, and the pair intended on moving to England. Shortly there after Fitzhugh Coyee Goldsborough disappeared from Pittsburgh, leaving behind only a note of explanation. “The Pittsburgh smoke has driven me crazy”, he wrote. “You will never see me again.” He confided to his diary that he had decided to murder a man he had never met, the journalist, social novelist, and affected eccentric, David Graham Phillips.
The tall, handsome and beryl eyed Phillips once said he would rather be a journalist than President. His 1906 series “Treason in the Senate”, serialized in the magazine “Colliers”, was such a scathing indictment of political corruption that it led by 1912 to the 17th amendment to the Constitution, requiring the open election of senators. Phillips was a workhorse,  writing late into the night while standing at his desk (above), grinding out 6,000 words a day.  He said, “If I were to die tomorrow, I would be six years ahead of the game”  And beginning in 1901 he also produced six popular pot boiler novels like his 1909 best seller “The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig”.
His characters were little more than caricatures, but because Phillips (above) told interviewers he based them on living people, readers were intrigued. Phillips described his female protagonist in “Craig” , the wealthy “noodle-head” Margaret Severence, in venomous terms. “To her luxurious, sensuous nature every kind of pleasurable physical sensation made keen appeal, and she strove in every way to make it keener.” In reality Phillips wrote from his fertile imagination, and what he knew his readers wanted. The hint of slander was a marketing ploy, like the white suits with a mum in the lapel Phillips always wore in public, or his crumpled alpine hat. The problem was, Fritzhugh fell for the ploy.
And when the mad young Mr Goldsborough read the “Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig” he was convinced the unflattering character of Miss Severence (above)  was based upon his own younger sister, Ann.  Fitzhugh wrote to Phillips, claiming libel and asking for an apology. However, since he did not sign his name and failed to provide a return address, Phillips could not apologize, even if he had wished to. Fitzhugh took the lack of response as arrogance, and wrote a series of increasingly angry and threatening letters, eventually signing them in Phillips' own name,  convincing the novelist his mysterious correspondent was a lunatic - which he was. Clearly this miss-communication could not continue.
With his sister Ann's wedding day scheduled for 25 February, 1911,  Fitzhugh rented a top-floor rear room for $3 a week at the Rand School on East 19th Street in New York City.  His check in date was 2 November, 1910.  He informed no one of his new address.  His family thought he was still in Pittsburgh. In fact he was now just a block away and just around the corner from the brownstone National Arts Club at 16 Gramercy Park South – where David Graham Phillips lived. And almost directly across that small private Gramercy Park was the Yale Club, where Phillips received his mail.  Fitzhugh spent the next two months stalking his victim.
As was his usual habit, the 42 year old David Phillips rose late on Monday, 23 January, 1911. He had been working the night before, grinding out his six thousand words, and after breakfast and dressing, it was well after one before he took the elevator to the first floor and hurried down the front steps of the Arts Club (above) . He carried with him the corrected proofs of his new short story, “Susan Lenox:  Her Fall and Rise”,  ready to be mailed to the Saturday Evening Post magazine
Rather than cutting through the gated park, Phillips turned left and walked the few steps to the corner of Gramercy Park West, and then turned right.  It took him less than a minute to cross 21st Street, or Gramercy Park North, where he turned right again, walking the half block toward Lexington Avenue, which “T”ed into Gramercy Park. At the corner was the mansion that housed the Princeton Club (above).
As Phillips approached 115 East 21st Street a man stepped away from the cast iron fence he had been leaning against, and blocked Phillip's way. From his coat pocked the assassin pulled a ten shot .38 caliber pistol, and was heard to announce, “Here you go.”  Then, with a sweep of his arm he fired six shots, each one hitting Phillips, once in the right lung, once in the intestines, the left forearm, the right hip and both thighs. Phillips staggered backward against the fence, almost falling into the arms of John Jacoby, a passing florist. Then, according to two other wittiness who had just come out of the Princeton Club, and without bothering to look at his victim,  Fitzhugh stepped into the gutter and, announced, “And here I go”. Fitzhugh then shot himself in the head.
The Princeton Club's paper recorded the incident as follows. “David Graham Phillips, (class of ) '87, editor, publicist and novelist,  was shot six times today as he approached the Princeton Club, by Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough, a Harvard man...”
The three witnesses carried Phillips into the club's foyer and laid him on a settee. There the victim said he had no idea who his assassin was, and begged them not to tell his mother of his shooting because “the shock might kill her.” Out in the gutter Fitzahugh's body lay under a sheet for hours while police tried to understand. In Fitzhugh's pockets they found two short story manuscripts, and a membership card for the American Federation of Musicians. Now they knew the who and what, and after they read Fitzhugh's diary found in his room at the Rand School, they understood the why. He was a lunatic.
Three days after the shooting, David Graham Phillips died in a fever of septicemia. He was survived by his sister Caroline, who had been sharing his apartment at the Arts Club after leaving her abusive husband. She finished up her brother's final short story, and it was published posthumously. And in 1931 it was made into a motion picture, staring Clark Gable and Greta Garbo (above) . The Goldsborough family sent their sincere regrets to the Phillips family. The Goldsboroughs held the mad man's funeral service in the family home at 1331 K Street Northwest, and a month later held Anne's wedding in the same rooms. After the wedding, Mr and Mrs. William Stead moved to Nottingham, England, where he served as the United States Counsel.
The only positive outcome from the shooting was the passage of gun regulation, named after its co-author, State Senator Tim (Big Feller) Sullivan, which went into effect in August, just seven months after the shooting. To this day, the Sullivan Act requires a license to carry a hand gun in New York State, and allows each county to set their own limits on handgun licenses. Possession of an unlicensed gun in New York City results in an automatic one year in jail. Similar murders have occurred since, of course, but then crime prevention does not have to be 100% effective. Every life saved is of value, even if it is the life of an arrogant obnoxious lunatic like Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough
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