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The Beast

By Benjamin B. Lindsey and Harvey J. O'Higgins

Publication Year: 2009

Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey's exposé of big business's influence on Colorado and Denver politics caused a sensation when serialized in Everybody's Magazine 1909-1910. When published as a book later in 1910, The Beast was considered every bit the equal of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Now back in print, the book reveals the plight of working-class Denver citizens - in particular, those Denver youths who ended up in Lindsey's court day after day. These encounters led him to create Denver's Juvenile Court, one of the first courts in the country set up to deal specifically with young delinquents. In addition, Lindsey exposes the darker sides of many well-known figures in Colorado history, including Mayor Robert W. Speer, industrialist and Senator Simon Guggenheim, and Denver tramway czar William Gray Evans. More than just a fascinating slice of Denver history, this book - and Lindsey's court - inspired widespread social change in the United States.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Series: Timberline Series

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pp. xi-xl

Denver, a city little more than half a century old in 1909, gave its boosters ample room to brag. They boasted of its population of more than 200,000. They boasted of its nearby mountains, its sunshine, its U.S. Mint, and its new Municipal Auditorium...

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pp. xli-xlvi

Judge Lindsey is known to the world at large for his work in the Juvenile Court of Denver; and, to his little courtroom there, come Children Society agents from all parts of the states, visitors from England, officers from Germany, and government officials sent from Sweden, Austria, France and Japan to study...

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The Beast

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pp. 1-4

Among the picture puzzles of your childhood, there was one that showed a forest of entangled branches, tree trunks, fallen timber and dense underbrush; and the problem was, in that bewildering jumble of lines, to “find the cat.” You traced the outline of a tail among the branches; you spied a paw in the...

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1. Finding the Cat

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pp. 5-16

I came to Denver in the spring of 1880, at the age of eleven, as mildly inoffensive a small boy as ever left a farm—undersized and weakly, so that at the age of seventeen I commonly passed as twelve, and so unaccustomed to the sight of buildings that I thought the five-story Windsor Hotel a miracle of height and magnificence...

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2. The Cat Purrs

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pp. 17-28

Denver was then, as it is now, a beautiful city, built on a slope, between the prairies and mountains, always sunny, cool and clear-skyed, with the very sparkle of happiness in its air; and on the crown of its hill, facing the romantic prospect of the Rockies, the State Capitol raised its dome—as proud as the...

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3. The Cat Keeps on Purring

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pp. 29-36

The fact, of course, was that we had won nothing. Our precious jury law was soon taken to the Supreme Court, on an appeal from a damage suit, and the judges declared it unconstitutional, without any blushing apologies for reversing previous decisions. But this blow did not fall until after an interval of some...

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4. The Beast in the Democracy

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pp. 37-50

Meanwhile I had thought I saw that new birth coming in the rejuvenation of the Democratic party under Bryan, in 1900. I really had thought so. I had learned that the Republican machine represented nothing but the rich corporations of the city and the state; and I naturally concluded that...

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5. The Beast in the County Court

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pp. 51-64

Well, the Democrats carried the county and the state in November, 1900, and our “people’s party” was put in power; but I no longer had any of the illusions with which I had volunteered in the battle. I had found that most of my companions in the struggle were not patriots but hired...

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6. The Beast and the Children

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pp. 65-76

My work was certainly waiting for me. I had found our Colorado probate law in a muddle. The sections conflicted, and the conflict led to litigation. The cost of administering the estates in the hands of the court was excessive, because the politicians had taken advantage of the condition...

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7. The Beast, Graft and Business

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pp. 77-90

One Saturday morning in the early part of May, 1902—while we were still in the midst of our fight against the wine rooms and against the jail—I saw a package of ledger sheets lying on a chair in the office of Mr. Thos. L. Bonfils, who was then Clerk of my court, and on top of the package there was...

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8. At Work with the Children

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pp. 91-104

Through these two years of quarrelling and crusading, our court work for the children was going on very happily. It was a recreation for us all, and it kept me full of hope—for it was successful. We were getting the most unexpected results. We were learning something new every day. We were...

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9. The Beast and the Ballot

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pp. 105-116

These days of 1902, 1903 and 1904 were the heydays of our Juvenile Court, and I should like to dwell upon them fondly— as the song says—because of what ensued. Our campaigns against the wine rooms, the jails, and the grafting Commissioners had made the court as popular as a prizefighter, and the newspapers kept it...

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10. The Beast and the Ballot (Continued)

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pp. 117-126

A New England philosopher has said that the great virtue of a college education is to teach a man how unavailing it is. I have never been taught that. I have always had an envy of those men who have been able to live four years of their youth among the ideals of a university, protected from...

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11. The Beast at Bay

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pp. 127-138

The elections that followed, in the autumn of 1904, were marked by the most lawless and far-reaching contrivances of power on the part of the corporations in Colorado. In that huge turmoil of injustice, of subsidized treason and legal anarchy, my own small struggle was the merest flurry. But I am not...

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12. The Beast and the Supreme Court

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pp. 139-150

In a republic, such as ours, where the law is the only king, “there is a divinity doth hedge” the courts; and it is right that it should be so. If our democracy is to endure, we must obey the law and respect its agents. The man who wilfully tries to impair the public credit of our courts, when those courts are just, is the greatest...

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13. The Beast and Reform

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pp. 151-162

So ended the great conspiracy of the corporations of Colorado in the elections of 1904. And with the triumph of that conspiracy, the government of Colorado changed from a democracy to a plutocratic oligarchy. I saw it then; I have seen it more clearly since. I saw that the people of Colorado were not free...

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14. A City Pillaged

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pp. 163-176

Have I convinced you yet? Do you still think I am crying “Wolf! Wolf!” when there is no wolf, or do you believe that we indeed do have our fabled dragon, to which some of us are daily sacrificed—that lives upon us—that the daughters of the poor are fed to, no less than the sons of the rich? Or do you...

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15. The Beast, the Church and the Governorship

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pp. 177-192

The investigation of the franchise vote had had one hopeful issue: it proved that the corporation ballotbox stuffers were afraid of the teeth of our new registration law. Behind every vote that we counted there was a voter—although it was evident that at least a thousand of these had been “qualified”...

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16. Hunting the Beast

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pp. 193-204

Did you ever hunt the sacred monkey among the Hindoos? Have you been a revolutionist in Russia? Or were you an Abolitionist near the Mason and Dixon line before the war? Well, did you ever make an anti-corporation campaign in a corporation-ridden community? It is an experience...

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17. A Victory at Last

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pp. 205-220

I come, now, to the last chapter of this story of the Beast; but I come to it, in the reminiscence—thank heaven!—with a lighter heart than any of us had when we faced it in the fact. As the result of seven years of almost frantic agitation for legislative...

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18. Conclusion

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pp. 221-232

I have been asked a hundred times: “Has the fight been worth while? Wouldn’t it have been better to let the corporations alone and just devote yourself to the children? You have made enemies who have hampered you in your work. You can’t get the contributions you used to get. The court has suffered because of...


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pp. 233-240

E-ISBN-13: 9780870819827
E-ISBN-10: 0870819828
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870819537
Print-ISBN-10: 0870819534

Page Count: 324
Illustrations: 1 b&w photo
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Timberline Series