"The first casualty when war comes is truth."
Quote from Governor Hiram W. Johnson
Reform Politics in Palo Alto
|Good Government League banquet in 1909|
All these events transpired within the context of the "reform" administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, who took office after William McKinley's assassination and left reluctantly in 1913 as Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated.
W.F. Hyde's name appeared in local newspapers in association with other civic leaders. In August 1906 the San Francisco Call announced:
Another announcement appeared in the November 3, 1906, San Francisco Call:A new Republican club was organized here last night. Judge S. W. Charles acted as temporary chairman and W. R. Allen as secretary-treasurer. A committee of six was named to prepare a ticket of prospective delegates for the primaries. This committee consisted of B. P. Oakford, Marshall Black. W. F. Hyde, F. B. Simpson, John D. Boyd, F. L. Crandall and S. W. Charles. The ticket, that this body brought before the meeting was made up as follows: Delegates to the State Convention. Marshall Black and W. F. Hyde; delegates to the Congressional Convention, John D. Boyd and Dr. John C. Spencer. The delegates to the County Convention are: Precinct I— W. D. Cashel, W. B. Allen, Professor H. W. Rolfe, B. P. Oakford, A. N. Umphreys; Precinct 2— F. A. Marriot, F. B. Simpson, Dr. C. W. Decker, E. E. Peck and Professor R. E. Swain.
Almost a year later, the new Civic League would experience an incident that was written up into the Call as though a major scandal had occurred:GOOD GOVERNMENT LEAGUE IS FORMEDPALO ALTO, Nov. 2.— Citizens interested in good government met in Fraternity Hall annex last evening and formed the Civic League of Palo Alto. The meeting followed a preliminary conference, at which W. F. Hyde, W. E. K. Vail and Dr. C. W. Decker were authorized to draft a set of by-laws and issue a call for a meeting. The league's object is purely civic and it will not engage in furthering the interests of any religious sect or political organization. The constitution among other things provides that the league is formed to insure a more perfect administration of municipal affairs; to promote the general welfare and prosperity of the city, to secure such State legislation, as the interests of the city may from time to time require and to arouse a more widely extended interest in local municipal legislation and administration. A committee of nine will compose the active working body of the league five of whom were appointed at the meeting last night. They are W. F. Hyde, Professor Elmore, Walter E. Vail, Dr. C. W. Decker and Fred B. Simpson.
Through the above excerpts William Fletcher Hyde is revealed as a hard-working reformer in the mold of liberal Christians of that era. Edward P.E. Troy was just such a man. A Californian, Troy advocated the passage of the single tax program proposed much earlier by Henry George's Christian Socialist movement. Whether or not he wrote the open letter to President Hyde of the Palo Alto Civic League because they were acquainted with each other or not, what is notable is how much vehemence was expressed in the objection to his letter's being read at that meeting.San Francisco Call - November 24, 1907SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE CALLSuspicion That There Is Something Wrong Exists in MindsPALO ALTO, Nov. 23.— Scantily clothed insinuations of graft stuck their ugly heads out of the ruck of discussion at a mass meeting of the city fathers— and mothers— held in the old Presbyterian church here last night. One other thing also noticeably protruded, the unpopularity of Edward P. E. Troy of San Francisco.One of the speakers suggested the reading of an open letter from Troy to the president of the Civic league and the very mention of the hated name brought out such a storm of protest that the presiding officer, W.F. Hyde, took refuge in compromise and promised not to read the letter, but to give it to the press.For the best part of two hours those present sat with their hands to their ears figuratively speaking, while they attempted to learn from the successive speakers exactly what the financial condition for the city is at present. Out of the turmoil and talk came the conviction that the city's system of book keeping is in sad need of fixing.The Palo Alto Civic league was hard at work and President Hyde made plain that rapid action was imperative in view of the financial report filed by Town Clerk [John D.] Boyd. Things are very much awry in Palo Alto. The city owns its own water works and lighting plant, and the terrors of municipal ownership stare it in the face. These are the main points in the president's talk. Then he introduced A. A. Young, professor of economics at Stanford university."System, always system, and lots of book keeping, coupled with constant watchfulness, is the price a city has to pay for owning its own public utilities," said Professor Young. He added that only the most, careful book keeping , and strict attention to details would serve to scare graft away from such a city."Where is that surplus the present board started with?" cried Trustee William Dean, when he secured the attention of the chairman. "There were $75,000 in hand then. Where is it? What has become of the $200,000 the city has spent in the last 18 months?""There is nothing to show for it save debts," he went on. He also demanded the cause of the order issued by some of the members of the present board forbidding the trustees to sell electric current outside of the city."It looks like protection of private interests to me," he finished.Then came the incident of the Troy letter which nearly caused the gathering to break up in confusion. Dr. C. W. Decker, started it by asking that the letter, which contained strictures on the present board, be read in meeting. J.F. Bixbee jumped to his feet, shouting a protest against it."It would be an insult to this assemblage to read that letter. If Troy came into my office, I'd kick him out. No I won't ---he's too little— but I would get rid of him somehow." Bixbee said.
In July of 1909 at the California Republic Convention, W.F. Hyde was one of the delegates who voted unanimously in favor of the following:
Hyde's politics seems in alignment with the Republican governor of that era, reformer Hiram W. Johnson, a supporter of the Progressive wing of Republicans who, by bolting from the Repubican convention in 1912, played a part in electing Democrat Woodrow Wilson rather than the Bonesman, William Howard Taft, who had been TR's chosen vice president and successor, to the Presidency. Taft's father, Alphonso, had in fact co-founded Skull and Bones at Yale in 1823, along with William H. Russell, while the son had spent years on the Philippine Commission with W. Cameron Forbes, overseeing America's colonial empire.Resolved, that we pledge the Lincoln-Roosevelt league delegates to the several conventions to nominate an able and conscientious republican to represent the people of the the Fifth congressional district of the state of California in the United States congress, a candidate free from the control of the Southern Pacific railroad, or any other special interest, and pledged to represent the people of California; also to nominate as a candidate to the legislature such a man as can be relied upon to vote and work for the election as United States senator of a clean republican, not controlled by or affiliated with the Southern Pacific railroad, or any other special interest, and in full sympathy and accord with the principles of this league and the policies of President Roosevelt; ...Among the other speakers who pointed out the aims and ideals of the organization were State Senator Marshall Black and Richard Keating. The balloting for delegates at the various conventions resulted as follows: For the county convention — Charles Baker, J. T. Coulthard. W. F. Hyde. Richard Keating, Fernando Sanford. H. W. Simkins W. H. Sloan, John C. Spencer. A. N. Humphreys. A. G. Walker. C. B. Wing: for the congressional convention — E. D. Mosher, B. P. Oakford; for the state convention— E. P. Cashel, Edward Ackley.
Hiram Warren Johnson was born in Sacramento, September 2, 1866, the son of Grove and Annie (De Montfredy) Johnson. He was educated in the Sacramento public schools and attended the University of California at Berkeley. He left in 1886, in his junior year, to marry Minnie L. McNeal. He studied law in his father's law office, was admitted to the bar in 1888, and practiced in Sacramento. In 1894 he and his brother, Albert, managed their father's first congressional campaign. However, they opposed him in his bid for re-election and backed a reform group. The political rivalry estranged father and sons for many years.At this point it should be mentioned, with reference to Skull and Bones, that Stanford University was linked to that secret society from inception as a result of Leland and Jane Stanfords' consultation with Cornell president Andrew Dickson White, who advised them to select David Starr Jordan as the first president of their university. Jordan, in his eulogy at the death of Jane Stanford, stated:
In 1902 Johnson went to San Francisco to practice law. In 1908 he was selected to take the place of Francis Heney, after the latter was shot during the prosecution of the graft trials, and secured a conviction against Abraham Reuf [sic] for bribery. At this time Johnson came to the attention of the state reform element and enhanced his anti-machine reputation by his dynamic speeches before the Lincoln-Roosevelt Republican League.
By 1910 he was the acknowledged leader of the progressive movement in the state, and in November he was elected Governor. In 1912, he led the California delegation to the Republican convention in Chicago, and, with Theodore Roosevelt and other Progressives, bolted the convention after the renomination of President William H. Taft. Johnson then became the vice-presidential nominee of the newly formed Progressive Party. In 1914, he was re-elected Governor and in November 1916, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. On March 17, 1917, he resigned his state office and went to Washington.
Johnson served as a U.S. Senator from California for five terms, 1917-1945. During this time he maintained his image as a progressive reformer by his sponsorship of the Boulder Dam project, through investigations into the labor conditions in the West Virginia coal mines, by his attack on the power of private utilities, and through his strong support of the public works projects in the New Deal era. In the field of foreign relations, Johnson's stands were always highlighted by a vigorous nationalistic spirit, and he was popularly termed an "isolationist".
The coming of World War II brought Johnson into a headlong clash with Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. The disintegration of American neutrality alarmed Johnson and led him into a bitter losing battle from which he never recovered. Once the war began he gave it full support, but his failing health kept him more and more from the active business of the Senate. He died in Bethesda Naval Hospital on August 6, 1945.
I first saw the Governor and Mrs. Stanford at Bloomington, Indiana, in March 1891. At that time, Governor Stanford, under the advice of Andrew D. White, the President of Cornell, asked me to come to California to take charge of the new institution he was soon to open.
|The Bibles about Skull and Bones|
Andrew Dickson White, the co-founder of Cornell, had graduated from Yale in 1853, where he edited the Yale Literary Magazine, rowed on the crew team, joined multiple fraternities and won numerous oratory and literary awards. At the conclusion of his junior year, he was one of fifteen students tapped for Skull and Bones, an organization surrounded with intrigue and mystery.
White was crucial in developing the educational ideals upon which Cornell was based. It was White who convinced Ezra Cornell not to donate his wealth to an already existing upstate New York college, and White who proposed the State Senate bill for Cornell University’s establishment. He was elected the school’s first president, serving from 1866 [at age 31!] to 1885. After his resignation, he remained involved in the University, participating as a trustee and adviser until his death in 1918.
Both White and Cornell were good friends with an Ithaca native and Skull and Bones member (or Bonesman), Francis Miles Finch. Upon Cornell’s founding, Finch became a charter trustee, legal adviser, lecturer and later, dean of the Cornell Law School. Was Finch’s involvement in Cornell’s founding related to his common allegiance with White? Or, was it simply due to his residence in Ithaca? But the plot thickens as Yale alumni joined the fledgling Cornell faculty.…
In 1867, as Cornell’s trustees attempted to gather a faculty, the first name proposed by White was Evan W. Evans, another Bonesman. Evans would become the first official faculty member of Cornell University. Shortly thereafter, the first Cornell professor of physics was appointed, Bonesman Eli W. Blake. This pattern would continue for the remainder of White’s reign.
In 1870, the professor of Latin was fired for drunkenness, and Bonesman Tracy Peck was hired. In 1881, Bonesman Moses Coit Tyler was hired by the University as the country’s first chair of American history. Tyler’s biography reveals that he met White at a Skull and Bones meeting when Tyler was a senior and White was a graduate student. According to correspondence, White offered Tyler a professorship as early as 1871, and even asked if he would consider being Cornell’s president in 1880.
Daniel H. Chamberlain, Bonesman and former governor of South Carolina, was hired to the law faculty in 1883. When Cornell’s School of Philosophy was created in 1890, the first person hired was a local Ithacan and Bonesman, Charles M. Tyler. History indicates that he was first considered for the faculty in 1881, when White was still president.
With the founding of Cornell Medical College in New York City in 1898, four Bonesmen physicians were hired nearly simultaneously. Coincidence? A further look reveals that the medical school was endowed by Oliver H. Payne, a Yale alumnus who left school early to enlist in the Civil War. However, Payne’s brother-in-law [William Collins Whitney] was a Bonesman whose two sons would also become Bonesmen. The founding faculty also included Lewis A. Stimson (father of Henry L. Stimson, a Bonesman who would become Secretary of War and Secretary of State) and W. Gilman Thompson, a nephew of Bonesman Daniel Coit Gilman.
Oliver H. Payne
Gilman was actually one of President White’s closest associates at Yale. When Johns Hopkins University was founded in the 1870s, its trustees approached White for help in finding a university president. Correspondence between White and Gilman shows that they discussed the matter, calling it the “Baltimore scheme” since the Hopkins trustees were based in that city. The “scheme” was successful, and Gilman served as Johns Hopkins University’s first president from 1875 to 1901. Gilman did his part by hiring Bonesman William Henry Welch to the faculty in 1884 and appointing him first dean of the School of Medicine in 1893.
Interestingly, White was publicly silent about his membership in Skull and Bones. His voluminous autobiography fails to mention it, despite a full chapter on his activities at Yale. White’s own diary, spread across sixty-nine volumes, disappeared after his death. It wasn’t until 1951 that a Cornell librarian discovered it locked in a suitcase and hidden in the library stacks, surrounded by books. Concealed with the diaries was an especially unique item: White’s personal Skull and Bones membership book. Was the Bones book hidden by White himself?
White’s experiences with Yale’s oldest and most prestigious secret society clearly influenced him heavily. While a professor at Michigan, he allegedly founded a similar organization called The Owls, and he encouraged the creation of a society system at Cornell University. He would later serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany and Russia, both popular positions for Skull and Bones members. Bones founder, Alphonso Taft, was ambassador to Russia less than a decade before White.
Was Andrew Dickson White acting in the interests of Skull and Bones while serving as president of Cornell University?