Thursday, June 21, 2012

Knights and Their Secret Orders

Conditional Allegiance to Power?

In another blog article, I borrowed a quote from famed economic historian Robert L. Heilbroner who was quoted by James Presley in his book, A Saga of Wealth as follows:
Vassal swearing allegiance to lord
“Throughout most of history,” wrote Robert L. Heilbroner, “wealth and power have gone hand in hand.” The alliance, an obvious one, has grown with but occasional public outcries. Working together, possessors of wealth and power may achieve a stability of their own. Over most of history, wealth has been a vassal to power, for as Heilbroner explained, “it was easier for the ruler to become a rich man than the rich man a ruler.” [Presley, page 303]
Elliott Roosevelt was ushered into the radio business initially by Fort Worth men associated in business with  the father of his second wife, Ruth Googins. They enticed him to move to  Texas -- undoubtedly promising him the moon in the hope of attracting his father's power for their own interests. Newly elected Franklin Roosevelt had a power to which these businessmen gravitated, but that expanding federal power could also make them shudder. Americans, since the days of the Federalist blockade against England, have fought tooth and nail against the Constitutional principle of majority rule, which effectively damns the business interests of the defeated minority. They swear their fealty and allegiance to the man in power only when he gives them what they want. Full stop.

In 1930 Texas had quite a number of men, like Elliott's radio investors Sid Richardson and Charles Roeser, who had recently become rich in the oil fields of Corsicana and East Texas. Over the preceding decades these wealthy men had witnessed what they viewed as the usurpation of state law by the federal government. The federal government had obtained the power to tax their incomes in 1913 and to prohibit the sale of liquor within the state in 1920. Both laws could now be enforced through the expanding powers of the Bureau of Investigation, linked to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Prohibition, as opposed to Texas' own police force, the Texas Rangers.

With this feeling of a need to reach out and grab control of federal authority--much as Colonel Edward M. House of Texas had done when he went in search of a candidate for the Presidency in 1912--the newly wealthy oilmen in Texas thought that, by buying Elliott a place within Fort Worth society, they would thus gain the power of the executive office for themselves. Like the du Pont family of Delaware who would attempt to buy Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. in 1937, the Texans soon discovered things did not quite go as planned under the new President.

FDR was happy to accept his minions' pledge of fealty but, as the rich Texans soon learned, he rarely protected their interests if it was inconsistent with his concept of the overall good for America. Two of these wealthy "vassals," as we have seen, Sid Richardson and Charles Roeser, saw their investment in Elliott's radio network tank. At the same time, their primary interest--oil--was also in dire straits. Where was the protection they expected?

Hot Oil in East Texas

FDR was elected in 1932 by a plethora of groups disenchanted with Republican Herbert Hoover's nonaction in overcoming the effects of the stock market crash in 1929 and the depression that seemed to be unending. The Democrats' pledge to repeal the Volstead Act brought several otherwise divergent groups of voters into the Party, including Franklin Jr.'s in-laws, the du Ponts of the famous chemical conglomerate.

Over-drilling in East Texas
A wealthy group of Texas Democrats consisted of oil men made wealthy in the East Texas Oil Fields, who saw their profits being drained by fly-by-night opportunists tapping wells into the massive pools of oil underneath their own oil wells. They believed they had the right to regulate production through the Texas Railroad Commission, originated in the days when Colonel Edward M. House was building his own railroad and electing governors in Texas to appoint men to the Commission judicially recognized as the agency in charge of regulating oil and gas.

The Texas Oil and Gas Conservation Act of 1919 prohibited production of crude oil “in such manner and under such conditions as to constitute waste” and the Texas Railroad Commission was charged with doing “all things necessary for the conservation of oil” and with establishment of “such rules and regulations as will be necessary to conserve the oil and gas resources in the state.”

Believing the 1919 Act gave Texas complete power to regulate oil well production within Texas, the commissioners attempted to quell the flow from cheap "teakettle" refineries set up by independent oilmen who came to the Texas boom field from all parts of the nation, threatening to drain the pools underneath the wells of the "big oil" interests like Humble Oil. In the summer of 1931, more than a year before FDR's election, a federal appeals court had struck down the power of the Railroad Commission to do more than to "conserve" oil, disallowing a quota system, and thus upholding the rule of capture announced many years earlier in Pennsylvania.

Big Oil vs. Independents

Sterling Mansion portico
The governor of Texas at this time, Ross Sterling, was one of the founders of Humble Oil (now Exxon), who had resigned from the Humble board in 1925 when his sale of stock to Standard Oil of New Jersey made him a wealthy man and gave Jersey Standard half of Humble's stock. Sterling had seen his fortune diminish with the 1929 stock crash, which came on the heels of his sinking a hefty $1.4 million of his new-found wealth into the construction of a 21,000-square- foot mansion in La Porte, Texas.

Governor Sterling
As the Depression deepened without help in sight from President Herbert Hoover, Sterling took action on the state level, calling a special session of the Texas Legislature in August 1931 to address the oil crisis. Federal courts were being requested to grant injunctions in favor of small independent oil men who had contracted to sell more oil than the Railroad Commission permitted them to drill under new proration orders, issued in the hope of stopping the price of oil from plummeting further.

Since June, "the price of oil throughout the Mid-Continent Field had fallen from one dollar and seven cents for high gravity oil, similar to that produced in East Texas, to an average of twenty-two cents a barrel." [Master's thesis of Lucile Silvey Beard, citing L. G. Bignell, “East Texas Must Not Pass 160,000 Barrels of Oil,” Oil and Gas Journal, August 20, 1931, p. 23.]

While appealing one such injunction to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sterling then declared a state of war in East Texas and put the Texas National Guard's Brig. Gen. Jacob F. Wolters in charge of enforcing the new Texas law. Wolters, a graduate of the Fort Worth college that later became Texas Christian University (TCU), was not only a partner in a Houston law firm which acted as general counsel for the Texas Company (later Texaco), but, since 1918, as a general in the Texas National Guard had been the "troubleshooter for many Texas governors. They called on him to establish martial law in areas where even the Texas Rangers could not reassert civil law and order." [1]

In December 1932, a month after FDR was elected but not yet inaugurated, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal district court's contempt order against Governor Sterling "on the ground that a governor can declare martial law only in case of actual insurrection or menacing threats of insurrection."

In Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378 (1932), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who wrote the stinging opinion, addressed the governor's "attempt to regulate by executive order the lawful use of complainants' properties in the production of oil" by interjecting himself in the place of civil judicial process, delegating the authority to the

Humble Oil
Not only did Governor Sterling lose this case, so did former-governor Dan Moody, who had preceded Sterling as governor. Moody, given the credit for ending the reign of the Ku Klux Klan prominent once again during Prohibition, by fighting against the localized corruption of Pa and Ma Ferguson, had made it possible for the federal government to increase its power in areas formerly left to state control.

According to Nicholas G. Malavis in Bless the Pure and Humble: Texas Lawyers and Oil Regulation, 1919-1936, Moody--who had returned to private practice when succeeded by Sterling (elected apparently in an effort to protect Standard Oil's stock value)--was hired as attorney for a plethora of independent East Texas oil operators (filling 13 Pullman train cars) when Dan represented their interest before proration hearings at the Railroad Commission in March 1931. The orders came and went but, without any inherent enforcement mechanism, Governor Sterling was impotent without the national guard.

Rise of the "Federal Authority"

What is important for these purposes, however, is how this battle in the oil fields affected what was later to occur in Texas politics during the 1960's. Having been slapped down for using state action to regulate what they thought should have been within the state's power, certain influential Texans sought to buy their way into federal power. And if that wouldn't work, ... well, it would work. Texans knew how to handle such matters. They had being doing it since 1836.

Pre-1931 photo of Gov. Moody showing Oveta Culp as parliamentarian; she was later wife of Gov. Hobby

Remember San Jacinto!

These events occurred a relatively short time before Texas started to plan for the Centennial to commemorate its 100 years of independence from Mexico, declared on March 2, 1836, but not officially won until winning the battle at San Jacinto on April 21 that year. Ironically, Texans were only able to build a suitable monument to their glory days of independence by tapping into funds obtained from the federal government. And it just so happened they had powerful men in place who did the tapping for them--Vice President John Nance Garner and RFC chairman Jesse H. Jones.  The total monies for the memorial was set out in a special article in the San Antonio Light May 9, 1937:
The government, appropriated $3,000,000 for Centennial markers and buildings and other government agencies contributed enormous amounts of money toward various Centennial projects. The expenditure for San Jacinto is approximately this:
Vice President Garner's Centennial commission..................$ 385,000
WPA for landscaping...............................................................325,000
WPA Funds for terracing........................................................ 500,000
Extra fund approved by president........................................... 200,000
Total federal funds.............................................................. $1,320,000
State appropriation .............................................................$   250,000
Houstonians and Texas officials were embarrassed when Jesse Jones who, as chairman of RFC was instrumental in obtaining the WPA and PWA grants and originally inspired the San Jacinto monument, came to Houston to level the cornerstone which was to have borne his name. Additional embarrassment is in store for those who accompany President Roosevelt on his scheduled visit to San Jacinto at the end of his gulf fishing trip.
The reason the original fund set up in Texas was not used was that the constitutional amendment authorizing a centennial celebration and instructing the legislature to make adequate financial provision for resulted in competition among Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to host the central exposition. Although it possessed the least historical background, the commission chose Dallas because it offered the largest cash commitment ($7,791,000), the existing State Fair of Texas facility with provisions for expansion, and unified urban leadership headed by bankers Robert L. Thornton, Fred F. Florence, and Nathan Adams. The Texas legislature and the United States Congress each appropriated $3,000,000 for the special 1936 centennial; however, it was determined these funds could not be used in this monument.

It was thus up to Houstonian Jesse Jones to ensure that those "Sons of the Republic of Texas" who fought at San Jacinto were properly memorialized. An editorial in the Kerrville Daily Times humorously recounted events surrounding San Jacinto Day celebrations of 1937:

It has been suggested that an enemy of Jesse Jones is responsible for the protest of the patriotic organization. This may or may not be true, but the whole fuss looks like a tempest in a teapot to us. Far too many squabbles have developed during the Texas Centennial period over the location bill u provision which would have of Centennial memorials, etc. Such foolishness should stop....Jesse Jones foremost citizen of Houston, and a National leader, was largely responsible for the Federal appropriation for the monument. We see no good reason why his name and the names of the President and Vice President might not have been cut into an inconspicuous cornerstone. The whole fuss is being humorously referred to as the "Second Battle of San Jacinto." A similar uproar about the Alamo which occurred several years ago, was designated as the "Second Battle of the Alamo," and just now a third battle seems to be possible over the location of the Alamo Museum.
Jesse H. Jones and Sam Houston's only surviving son, Andrew Jackson Houston - 1936
In a show of gratitude that the long-dreamt-of monument was finally a reality, the Sons of the Republic of Texas (Gen. Jacob F. Wolters had been a president of the fraternity before 1934) made Jesse an honorary member. He could not be a regular member, because of its bylaws:

The society of Sons of the Republic of Texas is composed of white male persons of good moral character who are more than 16 years old and who are descended from an ancestor who was a loyal resident citizen of Texas prior to its annexation to the United States of America in February of 1846.
Base of San Jacinto Monument
Then they took him into their small secret order, the Knights of San Jacinto, created by Texian President Sam Houston in 1843, and revived by the Sons of the Republic of Texas at the culmination of Centennial celebrations on San Jacinto Day 1939. San Jacinto Museum of History Association headed by George A. Hill, Jr., the man "primarily responsible for creating the San Jacinto Museum."

The secret order's major role in later history will be explored in other posts at this blog.


[1] Wolters, a partner in an eminent Houston firm--Lane, Wolters and Storey--with Judge James L. Storey and Jonathan Lane. When Storey died in 1925, his obituary stated he had recently withdrawn from the firm -- making it Wolters, Blanchard, Woodul and Wolters -- which then included former lieutenant governor Walter F. Woodul, with offices on the  eighth floor of Jesse Jones' Houston Chronicle Building.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sir Stewart Menzies and Gladio

Belgian Enquiry into Gladio 

The Belgian parliamentary commission has ended its investigation into the "Stay Behind," or Gladio, network. 

Sir Stewart Menzies--"C"
Its conclusions show that the Belgian network was jointly organised by the STC/MOB (a branch of the civilian security service) and the SDRA 8 (of the military security service). In addition to functioning as a resistance network in the event of a Soviet attack on western Europe, the organisation also had contingency plans for evacuation of VIPs, the removal of security service secret documents and maintaining contact with government ministers.

The first "Stay Behind" network, codenamed "Sussex II," was set up in December 1944 with the approval of Premier Spaak, when Sir Stewart Menzies (Chief of MI6) visited Brussels. 

In 1948 the Brussels Pact [consisting of five nations] created the Clandestine Committee of the Western Union (CCWU) which by 1951 had become the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), based in Paris. A letter, written by Belgian Premier Van Houtte in March 1953, discusses coordination and technical arrangements between the CPC and SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), clearly linking the CPC with NATO.

During 1957 the CPC created two sub-committees, one of which went on to become the Allied Coordination Committee (ACC) and was responsible for coordinating the "Stay Behind" networks in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States. Its peacetime duties included elaborating the directives for the network, developing its clandestine capability and organising bases in Britain and the United States. In wartime it was to plan stay behind operations in conjunction with SHAPE; organisers were to activate clandestine bases and organise operations from there. Organisers would receive diplomatic immunity for their actions.

Between 1980 and 1986 the ACC arranged three-yearly international exercises to test its radio communications network and the collation of information. These exercises were codenamed 'Oregon.' In addition there were annual exercises to test the professionalism and performance of the network:
  • 1985 WODAN (Belgium/Holland); 
  • 1985 THUNDERBOLT (Belgium/US); 
  • 1987 SEABIRD I (Belgium/US); 
  • 1988 SEABIRD II (Belgium/Holland); 
  • 1989 SEABIRD III (Belgium/Italy); 
  • 1990 MARGARITA (Belgium/Britain).
 The last ACC meeting took place on the 23-24 October 1990, and members discussed the re-orientation of the ACC. The Belgian security service suggested a policy that would allow the network to operate more broadly in "crisis" situations. Apparently the "stay behind" network had been activated during the Zaire crisis in 1980, but failed to intervene because of operational problems.

Contact between the ACC and SHAPE (NATO) was carried out by the Clandestine Planning Committee. When, in 1968, the Chair of the CPC moved to Brussels it became a part of the Belgian military security service (SGR) known as section SDRA II and served as the international secretariat of the CPC.

Daniele Ganser
During the Belgian parliamentary commission enquiry the head of the SGR, General [Raymond] Van Calster gave evidence that was misleading. When questioned about the structure of the SGR he omitted to mention SDRA 11. Colonel Detrembleur, head of SDRA 11, refused to answer the commissions enquiries on his department, asserting that he was bound by NATO confidentiality. He claimed that the commission would need to obtain SHAPE authority for him to answer any questions, and he doubted if this would be forthcoming as it had been refused to other countries in the past. The commission dropped their investigations into the NATO connection.

Although the security service witnesses confirmed the existence of a functioning NATO security system against subversion, a NATO Security Committee and its National Security Authorities, much of this information had been published by Stef Janssens and Jan Willems in their book Gladio. According to their investigations NATO members must install a National Security Authority. 
Statewatch bulletin, vol 2 no 1 
© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. 
Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jesus H. Jones Behind the Scenes

"The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.--Edward R. Murrow

Musings about Media and Politics

During some of the scandals which erupted a few years ago I spent some time musing about how little has changed since the days of Plato's Republic in Greece when the Sophists helped to destroy their democratic government. I compared the Greek Sophists to the likes of Scooter Libby and explored the rise of political strategists such as Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff, tracing the roots back to the development of propaganda techniques during World War II by members of the newspaper, magazine, radio and television media and their adjunct advertising staffs.

Further musings along this line have taken me back into political management of the Democrats s as well, decades earlier. When businessmen and bankers are put in control of our government, they tend to see the national interest from their own slanted perspective--believing "what's good for General Motors is good for America," et cetera. As James Carville used to remind Bill Clinton ad nauseum, "It's the economy, stupid," and those in charge tend to have the most impact on the economy when working through the corporations over which they, or those who are backing them, have the most control.

In the late 20's and early 30's, not only was radio one of the biggest investment opportunities of that day, but its technology promised an ability to influence a wide-ranging audience of voters, as well as buyers of consumer goods. Retailers of goods and services were beginning to understand that radio could have a broader impact than newspapers and magazines. Politicians, and those who financed them, were eager to get aboard this new technology. Demographics, like democracy, is all about numbers.

President Roosevelt, a savvy politician, make great use of the new phenomenon in his "Fireside Chats."
Elliott's network would have made a third one, competing with CBS and NBC.

Lyndon Johnson's opportunity to rise in radio came simultaneously with Elliott Roosevelt's decline in that field, which may or may not be a mere coincidence, each resulting from the influence of Jesse Jones' network of Texans. In Jones' book, Fifty Billion Dollars, published by Macmillan in 1951, he disingenuously described the maneuvers of the Texas state Democratic convention of 1944:
the Regulars captured the convention from the pro-Roosevelt delegates, who then bolted to hold their own convention. Soon after these meetings certain troublemakers in Washington tried to make it appear to the President and others close to him that I had encouraged the action taken by the Regulars. This was due to the fact that George A. Butler, the husband of one of my several nieces, took a prominent part in the Regulars movement. In discussing this with the President, I told him that I had a good many in-laws, including several men who had married my nieces, and that I did not control them in their politics any more than he controlled his own family. I reminded him that his son Elliott, over my protest, had persisted in his purpose to second my nomination for the Vice Presidency at the 1940 Chicago Convention, after the President had chosen Henry Wallace, and of Elliott telling me that his father did not know what he was doing in wanting Wallace. Subsequent developments proved that Elliott was right about Wallace.

Being a member of the President's Cabinet, I was, of course, embarrassed by Mr. Butler's activities in the Regulars movement, but there was nothing I could do about it. [page 274]
Background of the "Texas Regulars" Movement

Spearheading the publicity for the "Regulars" was the eminent E.E. Townes, who had been closely connected to Jesse's financial network since at least 1917, if not much earlier, through Houston oil men made wealthy after the Spindletop boom in 1901.

Click to enlarge

Included among these businessmen were the founders of Humble Oil, which had been chartered in 1917 by none other than Houston attorney Edgar E. Townes on behalf of William S. Farish, Ross and Frank Sterling, Harry C. Wiess, Robert L. Blaffer, and W.W. Fondren. Jesse Jones, who was never an oil man, was strangely included in the original list of incorporators (possibly as a mere trustee who represented the financial interest of others who wished to remain unnamed, most likely Col. E. M. House, who had previously introduced Jones to President Woodrow Wilson).[1]

A few months after Humble Oil's corporate papers were filed, President Wilson appointed Jesse to head the American Red Cross, then active in World War I as a sort of "unofficial intelligence agency," before any official civilian intelligence service existed. Jones sold his stake in Humble Oil in 1918, after first introducing W.S. Farish to his "personal friend," Harvey Gibson, president of Liberty National Bank in New York City, which loaned Humble a much needed $250,000.[2]

Jones revealing model of San Jacinto Monument
E.E. Townes took Jones' place in 1918 on the board of directors of Humble Oil and thereafter devoted full time to the corporation's business.[4] Townes' brother, John C. Townes, Jr., was general counsel for the company for a ten-year period before going into partnership with E.E. Townes and his son.[5] For a number of years their law firm was located in the same building--Houston's San Jacinto Building--as Herman and George Brown's "Brown Foundation," not surprisingly since, according to Jesse Jones' own newspaper [Ralph Bivins, Houston Chronicle, Section Business, Page 6, 08/17/2003], principals of Brown and Root bought the building in 1940 from principals of Humble Oil:
In 1940, an investment group led by George Brown of Brown and Root bought the property for $1.35 million. The seller was a holding company led by R.L. Blaffer, former chairman of the old Humble Oil and Refining Co. In 1950, a redevelopment of the hotel became major news in Houston. The interior and exterior of the hotel were stripped away, architect Kenneth Franzheim [a New York and Houston architect who was awarded contracts from Jesse Jones' RFC subsidiary Defense Homes Corporation] redesigned it, and the hotel was transformed into an office building.
The Townes brothers also were assisted by attorney Frank Andrews, senior partner of Andrews, Kurth, the Houston firm which represented Standard Oil of New Jersey, which had a hidden 50% interest in "the Humble." Andrews, incidentally, was another very close friend of Edward M. House (the "Colonel," as he was called).[6] In fact, Andrews and House were partners in an unsuccessful venture in Spindletop with investors from Boston.[7]

The year FDR was first elected, 1932, Elliott was sales manager of the Southwest Broadcasting company, based within the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, which handled the exclusive advertising rights of some of Texas' biggest corporations--Humble Oil and Duncan Coffee in Houston and Magnolia Petroleum of Dallas.

Those corporations' executives all had strong ties to the government's biggest banker of that day, Jesse Holman Jones, sometimes called "Mr. Houston." Jones not only headed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, but he also owned the Lamar Hotel where the "Suite 8-F Crowd" would meet in Herman Brown's 8th floor suite. Originally appointed to the RFC by Herbert Hoover, Jones would remain in his important post throughout FDR's terms of office until frustration with the New Deal forced him out. Jones' arrogance jokingly earned him the nickname, Jesus H. Jones, among some of his detractors.

In January 1938, Elliott became president of Hearst Radio, Inc. after Southwest Broadcasting sold three of the companies it owned to Hearst. One of those stations--Station KUT (1300 kilocycles)--had been created in Austin, Texas in 1922 by the University of Texas which sold it in 1927 to Jesse Jones, under the corporate umbrella through which he owned Houston Station KTRH. Sold to the Hearst empire in 1932, the call letters were changed to KNOW while the station employed then-student Walter Cronkite. Intriguingly, KNOW would later broadcast from the Norwood Building, now owned by an LBJ subsidiary controlled by Lyndon's daughter, Luci JohnsonTurpin.

Elliott Fades Out

The national network Elliott formed possibly with an eye toward helping FDR with the upcoming 1944 election had been financed by a group of men from Harry Truman's stronghold in Missouri, including Lester E. Cox, who established KGBX radio in Springfield, Mo. in 1931. Like the Fort Worth clique which favored the vice presidency of John Nance Garner, these Missouri Democrats likely hoped to influence Elliott's father's choice of a running mate by investing in the son's career. As Jesse Jones revealed also in his book, however, FDR welcomed the financial assistance but felt no obligation to those who showered Elliott with money. Cox sold KGBX to a newspaper company in 1944, just before FDR finally dumped Vice President Henry E. Wallace, replacing what the Regulars called the "Communist" candidate with Missouri U.S. Senator Harry Truman.

By 1944, however, Elliott Roosevelt, in addition to losing interest in the radio network bought in the name of his second wife, Ruth Googins, but he had also dumped Ruth, having left curmudgeonly Jesse Jones to clean up the radio mess abandoned by him shortly after Pearl Harbor. In a section of Jones' book, entitled "Bailing out Elliott Roosevelt," Jesse relates in great detail how he fixed the situation after receiving a call from FDR while Sid Richard and Charlie Roeser were in his office railing about their tanked investment in Elliott's radio network:
They told me that Elliott's radio company had lost its entire capital of $500,000, and that to buy his stock in the company Elliott had personally borrowed $200,000 from John A. Hartford, president of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, $50,000 from David G. Baird, an insurance official of New York, and $25,000 from Judge Charles Harwood of New York, who subsequently, in the early part of 1941, had been appointed Governor of the Virgin Islands by the President. As collateral to these loans, Mr. Hartford had received $200,000 par value of Elliott's radio stock and Mr. Baird, I think, $50,000 of the same....The [financial] statement showed the company to be insolvent. Operating losses had exhausted all of its capital stock.... These debts did not include what Elliott personally owed for the money he had borrowed to put into the stock of the company. Messrs Roeser and Richardson advised me in writing that they regarded their stock in the company as then of no value....

At the time Mr. Hartford loaned the money his company was being sued by the Federal Trade Commission under the antimonopoly laws. This was of course known to the President but not to me. [pp. 294-295]
After FDR was elected to his third term, someone spilled the beans on the mess Elliott had made and an investigation ensued. Columnist Westbrook Pegler described part of that public airing as follows:
Hartford was asked why, when he went to see Jesse Jones, then secretary of commerce and chairman of the Reconstruction Finance corporation, at Jones' suggestion, he expected that he was going to get back his $200,000, with interest.

"I thought the President would pay his son's debts, just as any father would," Hartford answered.

At the time of the settlement, Sid Richardson and Charles Roeser, Ft. Worth oil men and friends of Elliott, who had been dined several times at the White House, wrote their opinion that the stock of Elliott's Texas state network, which Hartford had taken as collateral, was worthless. Richardson and Roeser were large stockholders and friends of Elliott and his wife at that time, a Ft. Worth girl. Jones was appearing in the deal as agent for clients, the President and Elliott. All concerned in the representations by which Hartford was led to believe that his collateral was worthless and that he was well rid of it at two cents on the dollar, had an interest in the company or, in the President's case, a paternal interest in his son's fortunes.

There were reasons at that very time, however, had Hartford taken the pains to inform himself thoroughly, instead of relying on his faith in the President and Jones, which might have persuaded him to hold his stock for a rise. The company's affairs were improving. 

"Jones," he said, "assured me that Elliott was broke and insolvent and the stock was worthless and, being a member of the cabinet and head of the largest bank in the world (the RFC), that was all the assurance I wanted."

He added that Jones told him Mrs. Elliott Roosevelt, too, was broke. The stock is now worth more than $100 a share. Hartford's 2,000 shares, bought back for $4,000 of Jones' money, by President Roosevelt's suggestion, now are worth more than $200,000 at that rate.
Apparently Jesse, whose own Station KTRH was part of Elliott's network, had no idea what the network was worth.

Elliott's marriage to rising movie starlet, Faye Emerson in December gave evidence of his new focus on creating a transcontinental airline company, if one can rely on the fact that witnesses at the wedding were Jack Frye, president of Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc. (TWA), and Johnny Meyer, a close friend of TWA's Howard Hughes from Texas (nephew and one-time son-in-law of two of W.S. Farish's in-laws). Meyer had allegedly introduced Elliott and Faye only a few months earlier. News stories of their wedding revealed that "Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet, was her [Faye Emerson's] great-uncle," which, if true, made her a relative of Ruth Forbes Paine Young--daughter of William Hathaway and Edith Emerson Forbes--mother-in-law of future Oswald "friend" Ruth Hyde Paine.
Newlyweds Elliott and Faye (center) with M/M Jack Frye, Janet Thomas, Johnny Meyer, and Mrs. Joseph B Livengood, Faye's friend. Press Photo 1944

British Intelligence Planned Dump Wallace Campaign?

Instrumental in the campaign to dump Wallace was British Intelligence, which then had a very active role in spying on Vice President Henry Wallace--according to Jennet Conant, author of a most fascinating book The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington--with unwitting help from Lyndon Johnson's financial angel, Charles Marsh, a friend of Roald Dahl, the undercover spy:
It was a dirty convention and made for a lot of hard feelings all around. Roosevelt tried to be conciliatory and asked Wallace to remain part of his administration, telling him he could have his pick of jobs with the exception of secretary of state. That job was reserved for his dear friend Cordell Hull, his secretary of state for the past ten years, who was in his last stint of public service. Roosevelt hastened to assure Wallace that he wanted him to take an active role in postwar planning and to sit on "some international conferences." Wallace felt that as one of the strongest leaders in the Democratic Party, he should by rights have the State Department, the most important cabinet post. Out of deference to the president's wishes, however, he settled for secretary of commerce, the seat currently occupied by his bitter adversary Jesse Jones. The president had already indicated that after the election one of the first people he wanted to boot from his administration was the arrogant "Jesus H. Jones." The ambitious commerce secretary had been a thorn in Roosevelt's side as well, and it suited him to allow Wallace to replace him, thereby exacting a measure of revenge on both their behalfs. [pp. 267-268]

An intriguing detail about Henry Wallace's replacement on the Democratic ticket in 1944 harks back to the radio men from Missouri who financed Elliott's first move into national broadcasting. Lester E. Cox would move up the regional political ladder within Truman's political sphere. As the news article to the right attests, Cox was close to Sen. Prescott Bush's younger brother, James S. Bush, Prescott's best man at his 1921 wedding to Dorothy Walker of St. Louis.[8]

Both Cox and Bush were Democrats who were appointed in 1951 by Missouri's Democrat governor to the governing board of the University of Missouri as well as to its executive committee, which controlled the university's School of Mines and Metallurgy and its radio station. Bush would leave the governing board in 1957. In the meantime his nephew, George Herbert Walker Bush, Prescott's son, would have moved first to the West Texas oil fields and then to Houston, where he began hobnobbing with the same social set which had made up the Texas Regulars in 1944, and he would help them build the Republican Party in Texas, while always having nice things to say about his uncle's friend Harry Truman.

James Bush's Skull and Bones class, 1922
Like Prescott, Poppy and Dubya Bush, James, whom Kitty Kelley in The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty called "the black sheep of the Bush family," was a member of the Yale secret society, Skull and Bones. Kelley also stated he was an alcoholic who, when drunk, beat his wife Janet. That fact never made it into the headlines, however.

[1] Bascom N. Timmons, Jesse H. Jones, The Man and the Statesman (New York:  Henry Holt, 1956), p. 96.
[2] Henrietta M. Larson and Kenneth W. Porter, History of Humble Oil (New York:  Harper and Brothers, 1959), p. 72.
[4] Ibid., pp. 28, 55, 58.
[5] Committee on History and Tradition of the State Bar of Texas, Centennial History of the Texas Bar:  1882-1982, p. 94.  According to this account, Townes was a member of the Masonic Blue Lodge, Arabia Temple Shrine, and, after the death of his first wife, was married to Mrs. Browne Rice, Jr.
[6] Rupert Noval Richardson, Colonel Edward M. House: The Texas Years, 1858-1912 (Hardin-Simmons University Press, 1964), p. 201. 
[7] Ibid., p. 201.
[8] In 1948 James Bush made it into Walter Winchell's column with a one-sentence question: "Could James S. Bush (of St. Louis) be 'Mr. Next' for the lovely widder of Wm. Rhinelander Stewart?" The answer turned out to be yes. Bush married the beautiful Janet Newbold Ryan Stewart, whose son, Allan Ryan, Jr., was later in the same 1953 Yale/Skull and Bones class with Poppy Bush's brother, Jonathan J. Bush. James Bush had been a Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army Air Force in WWI. After working as an investment banker at Hayden, Miller in Dayton, Ohio, Bush moved to St. Louis to work for G.H. Walker and Co. (the investment bank set up by Prescott's father-in-law decades earlier), where his 503 Locust office was next to the Boatmen's Bank building. They lived at 36 Westmoreland Place in the city in 1939. Walker relative James H. Wear, Jr., also a banker, lived at 40 Westmoreland. Wear (Yale's class of 1934) was the son of Yale Alumni's one-time president of the St. Louis chapter, whose sister Loulie married George Herbert Walker. The Wears and Walkers all lived within walking distance of each other in the Central West End near Forest Park. By 1910 G.H. "Bert" Walker had bought a three-story Italian Renaissance home at 12 Hortense Place where the couple reared two daughters and four sons, with assistance from six live-in servants. George’s father, David Walker, lived nearby at 53 Vandeventer Place, and an elder brother, David Walker Jr. (a clerk in the Eli-Walker dry goods business), also lived at that address.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Elliott Roosevelt's Radio Network

Creating "Cowtown"

Joseph B. Googins, manager of the Swift meat packing company, moved to Fort Worth from Chicago shortly after Fort Worth city fathers enticed Swift, in June 1901, to build a rail head plant in the Texas city. Although Amon Carter is sometimes given credit for securing the move which created numerous jobs in the Fort Worth stockyards, newspaper articles in 1901 credited Winfield Scott and L.V. Niles with the making the trip to Chicago proposing the move.

This construction promised to save the Chicago packers money to drive live cattle to Chicago for slaughter. Googins then became a wealthy Fort Worth businessman, one of the seven original directors of the Fort Worth Belt Railroad of the first board in 1903. Other
Swift and Armour owned the land jointly where plants were built.
directors included George B. Robbins, who was also director of the Armour Co., and  O.W. Matthews, manager and secretary of the Fort Worth Stock Yards Company.

Amon Carter was one of the six incorporators of the Star-Telegram in 1909, along with its president and editor, Louis J. Wortham (no obvious relation of Suite 8-F member Gus Wortham). L.J. Wortham had been close to Paul Waples who formed the Texas World's Fair Commission for the St. Louis exposition in 1904 before launching, with Amon G. Carter and others, the afternoon Star, which later merged with The Telegram.

Googins served as a vice president for a time of Stock Yards National Bank at 115 E. Exchange and helped develop the city of North Fort Worth Townsite area now known as the Stockyards neighborhood. It should not be overlooked that Googins had migrated to Texas from Chicago, where he undoubtedly had connections to agencies handling the advertising of meat products, a business detail that would factor into Ruth's later involvement in radio ownership.

Corner of N. Commerce and Exchange in north Fort Worth.  
In the photo at right, the Stockyards offices and the Exchange Club building are in the center, across the street from the Stockyards Bank of which Googins had been an officer before his death in 1922. Eleven years later his daughter, Ruth, met one of the sons of then recently-inaugurated President Franklin Roosevelt, Elliott, who just happened to be in the city on his way to Arizona, as shown in the wedding announcement below:

Elliott Roosevelt to wed Fort Worth girl,

Political Wedding?

In 1939 Ruth purchased a radio station--one made famous in an earlier day by local "Elmer Gantry" type preacher named J. Frank Norris. Radio was the Facebook and Google of those days--giving advertisers a platform from which to spread the capitalistic bilge to influence the public to buy whatever they were selling at the time. Those who financed President Franklin Roosevelt in the early 1930's hoped they were buying political power, and they spread their money around to his children in the hope of advancing their own cause, namely deeper pockets for themselves.

Anti-Roosevelt author Emanuel M. Josephson in 1948, looking back on that capital investment in radio, wrote  in The Strange Death of Franklin D. Roosevelt: A History of the Roosevelt-Delano Dynasty, America's Royal Family:
In 1938, with the support of Charles F. Roeser and Sid W. Richardson, Texas oil operators, who invested $500,000, Elliott set up a chain of 23 radio stations in Texas. This provided him, according to the Washington Times-Herald of August 29, 1945, with an income of $76,000 a year, more than his father earned as President of the United States. The enterprise is reported to have lost $100,000 in the first three months. The Transcontinental Broadcasting Company was liquidated in 1941.
Breaking into Radio

The formal announcement about Elliott's new radio network was made in Chicago on Halloween 1939, after Elliott and six investors, mostly from the Missouri area, incorporated in Delaware, hoping to compete with CBS, NBC and the Mutual Network. Elliott's stock ownership was represented on the board by John T. Adams, general manager of the Texas state network, was named chairman of the board of the Transcontinental Broadcasting System.

Elliott had flown to New York at the end of November to reveal that the headquarters of the network would be in the General Electric building at 570
Lexington avenue—51st and Lexington —in New York City and would take up three floors of the building. William A. Porter, a Washington attorney, was given the job of vice president, and H.J. Brennan was the treasurer. Porter had handled Elliott's role in the Federal Communications Commission's monopoly investigation of the radio industry when the President's son, as head of the Texas State Network, testified in February 1939.

About Elliott, the November press announcement stated:
Fresh out of Princeton, young Elliott got his first job with the advertising firm of Albert Frank- Guenther Law, Inc. He lasted two years before talk, occasioned by the surpassing eagerness of companies to become his clients, forced him to move on. He tried the aviation business, but the clamor attending several deals made life unbearable. The future seemed no brighter when he went to work for William Randolph Hearst, as vice president of Hearst Radio, Inc., in charge of four stations in Texas and Oklahoma, and president of Hearst- owned KFJZ in Fort Worth.... 
In June, 1937, Elliott's wife, the former Ruth Googins of Fort Worth, contracted in her own name to buy KFJZ. Price of the  100-watt station was $57,000. Three months later, Elliott bought another 100-watter, KABC, in San Antonio, under his own name for $55,000. Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt put their two stations together in the Frontier Broadcasting System, made a go of it. And last: year KFJZ and KABC became the outlets of the Texas state network, Elliott Roosevelt president. Today, TSN has 23 member stations, a base advertising rate of $1,218.37 per hour, and calls itself the fourth largest network in the world.
Since he's been in the radio business, Elliott has made news out of all proportion to the importance of his little station. As a regular commentator on his own network, he got in solid with Texans by becoming one of the state's biggest boosters—second only to Amon Carter. He set himself "right'' politically by becoming a pal of John Nance Garner, which nicely counterbalances his presidential relationship. And he's become a national figure since Emerson Radio began sponsoring his comments on a coast- to- coast hookup on Mutual Broadcasting System. 
The inference could be made that Elliott's real boss, however, was his father, who was already looking ahead to the technological changes taking shape that were to change the face of political campaigning. Elliott was given the task of putting in place an infrastructure from which to launch FDR's final run for the Presidency in 1940:


Selling Soap and Politics?

Blackett-Sample-Hummert (B-S-H), founded in 1923 in Chicago, where Ruth Googins was born, wrote ads for Procter and Gamble, producing daytime radio dramas promoting the company's soap products--thus inspiring the term "soap operas”." According to Time Magazine, "in 1938 B-S-H had placed orders for $9,000,000 worth of air time. This was about one-eighth of all money paid for radio network time and over $3,700,000 more than B-S-H's nearest competitor spent."

Possibly the purchase of the network had been inspired as a result of a column written by Drew Pearson and his then-partner, Robert S. Allen, in 1936, which called B-S-H a "group of high-pressure ad men ... hatching ideas to unsell Roosevelt to the country and sell Landon in his place. Their aim is to get away from the barnstorming campaign speech, the baby-kissing, the torch-light processions, and make the housewife and the workingman anti-Roosevelt conscious." Pearson credited Hill Blackett, the senior member of the firm with developing "a new type of campaign ... at republican national headquarters in Chicago." He then went on to illustrate how the campaign would work:
First move in this campaign is a set of blackboards to be placed in grocery stores, on which will be chalked up three headings: PRICE—TAXES—TOTAL.
Thus the butcher, explaining the high price of meat to the housewife, merely points to the blackboard and shows how much of the total price she pays is allegedly made up of taxes. There is no indication anywhere about the blackboard that it is supplied by the republican national committee, and that is the beauty of the scheme. It automatically drives home the idea that Roosevelt is responsible for high taxes, without being labeled propaganda. This is the general type of campaigning the new idea-men are proposing. It is reported to have democratic strategists somewhat worried.
Note.—One brain child of the idea-man pictures a large Brazilian steer, supposed to represent the Importation of meat under Hull's reciprocity treaty. Fact is, however, that fresh meat from any South American country is flatly embargoed by an act of congress, over which Hull has no control. Canned meat comes not from Brazil, but from Argentina and Uruguay.
Hill Blackett had grown up in Iowa, then managed an advertising company in Oakland before moving to Winnetka, Illinois. He was head of public relations for the Republican National Committee in 1936, and his firm was located in downtown Chicago at 221 N. LaSalle.

Roots of Suite 8-F Members

Membership List?

Lamar Hotel, part of Jesse Jones' empire
My understanding of the men and Mrs. William P. (Oveta Culp) Hobby--who, to my knowledge, was the only woman considered part of the "crowd"--was that they were simply visiting Herman Brown's suite unofficially. There was no "membership list" because there were no "official" members. I think they just jokingly referred to themselves in this way because they had heard references to Eastern financiers as members of various "crowds".

It would be more akin to a financial syndicate or even an unofficial lodge where men get together to talk about business (in Texas they say "bidness") opportunities--to share knowledge with "trusted" colleagues. Politics was viewed merely as another means of making their business dreams a reality. 

However, most of them grew up in Texas only a decade or two removed from the post-war reconstruction era, an age which taught them to distrust "Yankees" who would use every political contrivance to despoil their land and take advantages of the resources located within Texas. They were committed to restoring what they saw as the glory of the Texas Empire. In that sense they would have been "right wing," as I understand the term. To me the term conservative means maintaining the economic status quo, while right-wing means going backward to a previous status.

The people who were hobnobbing in Herman's rooms had never had much status to speak of. Their only claim to fame was the fact that one or more of their ancestors had arrived in Texas somewhere around the initial days of the Republic in 1836, and they had either heard stories about that or had invented some significance from that fact. Like all groups favoring control by oligarchy, they wanted to set themselves apart from others into some sort of special elite, and they wanted to wrest political control out of the hands of those whom they felt were inclined to keep them down. I doubt they had any understanding of history, though it is important, I believe, for us who are looking back, to understand what actually happened.

Texas History 

Texas was born in the days of Andrew Jackson, a man from Virginia who moved to Tennessee (then called the western frontier) and found himself strapped economically by  the Second Bank of the United States, the stock ownership of which was within the control of the second or third generation of family inheritance. Jackson had fallen in with others who had been called "anti-federalists" during the post-revolutionary era, a philosophy  espoused by Aaron Burr. Burr's attempt to promote the building of a separate "empire" within lands to the south and west of Tennessee was rewarded with his unsuccessful prosecution for treason in 1807, only a few years before the War of 1812 resulted in an American blockade against trade with Great Britain, our enemy. 

General Jackson won the battle in New Orleans during the War of 1812, and then returned to Tennessee, mentoring young Sam Houston, who went to Texas, then part of Spanish Mexico, and won the Battle of San Jacinto, the culmination of Texas' war of independence. Most of those who met in Herman's suite claimed some connection to "Texians" of that day and celebrated San Jacinto Day (April 21)--then a Texas state holiday--as Americans do the 4th of July.

As the civil war approached, however, Sam Houston--first as President of the independent nation of Texas, and later as governor of the annexed State of Texas--opposed secession. As a result, rabid secessionists forced him out of office. The "Order of the Knights of San Jacinto," created originally as a secret Masonic-type society following the principles of Sam Houston, began to resemble the views of those who advocated the Southern Confederacy and the Ku Klux Klan which rose to prominence again during the prohibition era. 

Remember San Jacinto

End of Battle of San Jacinto
Lyndon Johnson claimed a relationship to the Texian heroes through his Bunton ancestors. Robert Dallek well documents the Bunton history in his book, Lone Star Rising (page 16 et seq.). Lyndon's maternal greatgrandfather, George Washington Baines, also gave him a right of entry into this secret society. Baines, a Baptist preacher and professor at one time in Independence, Texas, the early capital of the Republic formed in 1836, nevertheless had no roots in Texas until 1848, when he helped to organize a Baptist congregation in Marshall, Texas while he lived in Louisiana. It was in Louisiana that LBJ's mother's father, Joseph W. Baines, had been born in 1846, before the Baines family's move to Texas after annexation in 1845. In Independence, near Brenham, however, George Baines eventually became a friend of the man who had been President of the Republic of Texas.

Rebekah's father, Joseph, studied law under James Webb Throckmorton, whose father had been "a Whig of the Tennessee school," one of Sam Houston's most loyal political supporters as secession loomed:

Sam Houston
In the 1857 gubernatorial election he supported Sam Houston and unionist sentiment ... and became a political advisor to the governor and Houston's ally in attempting to restrain the forces within Texas who favored secession. Throckmorton's attempt to organize a state Union party attracted few supporters, and he watched helplessly as the events between 1859 and 1860 precipitated the crisis of 1861. He refused to concede, however, and was one of only seven delegates to the 1861 Secession Convention who voted against Texas withdrawal from the union.

Throckmorton was removed from office as governor in 1867 and prevented from holding office until after the passage of the General Amnesty Act of 1872. In 1874 he was elected to Congress and reelected in 1876 as an advocate of education and federal support of railroad expansion, reflecting interest of a client, the Texas and Pacific Railway Company, involved in unsuccessful litigation against the Southern Pacific Railroad, which led to a joint venture with Jay Gould of the Missouri Pacific.

Burleson baptizing Sam
G.W. Baines, while living in Independence, Texas, had not only met Sam Houston but had convinced him to be baptized, although it was Rufus C. Burleson, who succeeded Baines as pastor of Baines' church, who performed the rite. While in Independence, Baines encouraged women students at the Baptist female college (later called University of Mary Hardin-Baylor), where he was a trustee of  which moved from Independence to Belton, a town 60 miles north of Austin. The land in Belton was donated by Rufus Young King, a real estate developer, who was the maternal grandfather of George and Herman Brown, organizers of Brown and Root. Rufus King's parents were pioneers to Texas who had set out from North Carolina before 1828, the year Rufus was born in Alabama, which was then part of the Mississippi Territory. The Brown boys were born in Belton and grew up in Temple, a few miles away--both in Bell County --where future governors, "Pa" and "Ma" Ferguson were married and politically active. Much of the Browns' social and political network had originated in that same county, including Oveta Culp.

Stomping Grounds in Bell County

Baines' Salado home now a B and B
The 1880 census reflects that King (occupation merchant/drummer) was then living in Belton, Texas with his second wife and her parents, along with 22-year-old daughter Lucy King, who would become the mother of George and Herman Brown. In the same town was Annie Baines Rosebrough and her attorney husband William, the youngest child of G.W. Baines, with whom G.W. Baines resided. In 1867, the same year his son Joseph went to McKinney to study law under Throckmorton, G.W. Baines had moved to the town of Salado--in the same county as Belton, Temple and Killeen--from which he traveled as an agent for the Education Commission of the Baptist State Convention until 1881. He died of malaria in 1882.

Joseph Wilson Baines
LBJ's mother, Rebekah Baines, was a mere infant when her grandfather died. Her father, while Throckmorton's student in Collin County, Texas had married a local girl whose parents were wealthy farmers from Kentucky. Joseph taught school, studied law and then set up a newspaper while he lived there. He used his newspaper to support the election of John Ireland as governor in 1882 and 1884. Ireland served as governor until 1886, and in 1883 appointed Joseph W. Baines as his Secretary of State, which require Joseph to move his family to Austin only a year after his father's death; young Rebekah resided at 303 E. 14th Street, just east of where the State Capitol Building would be constructed. 

Governor Ireland, who had served in both the House and Senate of the Texas Legislature, where he opposed granting lands and subsidies to railroads, in particular to the International-Great Northern Railroad consolidated by the Gould network, which consumed Throckmorton's client, the T and P. Gov. Ireland helped establish the University of Texas and during his term of office the construction of the Texas Capitol building began with pink Texas granite from Marble Falls.

After Ireland left office, the Baines family moved further west to Blanco, 100 miles west of where the granite for the Capitol had been cut. After financial setbacks in Blanco, Baines settled in nearby Fredericksburg, where he and his wife reared two daughters (Josefa and Rebekah) and son Huffman, named for Mrs. Baines' father. Joseph died there in 1906, shortly after Rebekah had spent four years studying literature at various colleges, including Baylor Female College in Belton. She taught elocution in Fredericksburg before her marriage in 1907 to Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr., and then worked as a stringer for newspapers in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. When Sam died in 1937, Rebekah Baines Johnson moved to Austin, where she died in 1958, having witnessed her son Lyndon's rise to the U.S. Senate.

Map of Bell County, Texas
Intriguing, however, is that LBJ's ancestors and those of the Browns were running in the same circles at the same time and could very well have had contacts with each other long before Lyndon ran for Congress.