The Education

of a Muckraker:

The Journalism of

Christopher Powell Connolly

Christopher Powell Connolly belonged to a cadre of early-twentieth-century investigative journalists who exposed political, legal, and financial corruption in the United States. Published in national magazines, Connolly and his cohorts stimulated an impressive array of legislative reforms between 1900 and 1915 that improved the health and safety of American workers, many of whom lived and worked in deplorable conditions. Pictured here, circa 1915, is a trash-strewn backyard in Butte, Montana, the mining city that provided fodder for the story that launched Connolly's writing career.
MHS Photograph Archives, Helena

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by Dennis Swibold

From Montana The Magazine of Western History, 53 (Summer 2003), 2-19; this article is presented courtesy of the Montana Historical Society.  All rights reserved, © 2003.


They had once been friendly acquaintances, years ago in Butte. But now the miner and the muckraker squared off in the central dirt street of Rawhide, Nevada, their argument punctuated by dynamite blasts from the surrounding hills. Blacklisted and driven from nearby Goldfield for being a union man, the miner refused Christopher Powell Connolly's hand as the two met by chance outside the boomtown's combination saloon and mining exchange. Connolly, a lanky Montana lawyer moonlighting as a correspondent for Collier's, the national weekly, found himself under sudden attack from a man whose courage and loyalty he admired, a man who now stood a few feet away in the busy street, bristling with hatred.1
As a crowd gathered in the chill winter twilight, the miner blasted Connolly's recent coverage of the trial of Big Bill Haywood, who had been charged with plotting the assassination of former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg, whose lower body had been shredded by a homemade bomb wired to the gate of his home. Haywood, a leader of the militant Western Federation of Miners (WFM), had won acquittal, Montana The Magazine of Western Historybut Connolly, a former prosecuting attorney, left his readers little doubt that Big Bill had cheated the hangman, his bull neck saved only by the eloquence of his attorney, Clarence Darrow, and perhaps a little jury tampering. The miner saw it differently. For once, he argued, justice had sided with the workingman. Haywood, he insisted, had been the victim of a "capitalist conspiracy" aided and perpetuated by journalists too blind, prejudiced, or corrupt to see it. Connolly, the miner asserted, had lied.2
The debate raged for hours, with Connolly struggling to defend both his coverage and the strict rule of law and order. But the miner fired back with a list of workers' grievances that justified Haywood's continued militancy: dismal pay, dangerous working and living conditions, and anti-union bosses whose blacklists and forced deportations were upheld by lawmakers, judges, and journalists under the bosses' sway. "You seem pretty sure Haywood was guilty," he told Connolly, who described the exchange years later for Collier's. "You scriveners like to print anything that will hurt us; you are particular about your evidence when it runs against the capitalists."3
"Here was an indictment to which I could not demur," Connolly wrote. "It was not the only one that day that slashed mercilessly across my defense of capital, urged because of some things that labor and labor leaders had done." In focusing on labor violence, he-the press-had ignored the sins of industrialists, whose crimes "went deeper in their corruption of courts and of legislatures, in their perversion of the popular will and of the election machinery through which that will sought expression." Until Americans rooted out the corruption undermining their cherished notions of fair play and equal justice, the threat of dynamite and revolution could only grow, he warned.4
Written in 1912, at the height of his national prominence as a journalist, the story of Connolly's chance encounter in the Nevada desert crystallized themes that marked his contribution to the brief but remarkable phenomenon of muckraking journalism. Connolly's outrage against corruption-and the general lawlessness he believed it fostered-propelled him onto the national stage at the height of the Progressive movement. He would never be as famous as Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, or other pioneering muckrakers, but as a gifted disciple Connolly pushed the cause of political reform and helped create the new art of investigative reporting. He would leave an enduring mark on the historiography of Montana as well.
From his sensational national debut in 1906 to the end of muckraking in the years before World War I, Connolly fought his journalistic battle against corruption in the country's first true national medium: the sophisticated magazines that fueled the Progressive movement with scorching exposés of the people and systems that governed American lives. On the pages of McClure's Magazine, Collier's, and Everybody's, Connolly's broadsides appeared alongside those of the era's most celebrated journalists and the fiction of O. Henry, Jack London, and Willa Cather. Backed by facts that distinguished this new journalism from the partisan political rhetoric that preceded it, Connolly and his fellow muckrakers exposed the evils of the Industrial Age to millions of startled middle-class readers. Corruption pervaded Connolly's breakthrough series, "The Story of Montana," which McClure's featured in five monthly installments in 1906.5 It permeated "Big Business and the Bench," his massive indictment of the American judicial system written for Everybody's monthly in 1912.6Christopher Powell Connolly belonged to a cadre of early-twentieth-century investigative journalists who exposed political, legal, and financial corruption in the United States. Published in national magazines, Connolly and his cohorts stimulated an impressive array of legislative reforms between 1900 and 1915 that improved the health and safety of American workers, many of whom lived and worked in deplorable conditions. Pictured here, circa 1915, is a trash-strewn backyard in Butte, Montana, the mining city that provided fodder for the story that launched Connolly's writing career.
Though his muckraking career was brief, Connolly earned a reputation as a courageous investigator with a dangerous pen. In a time of bloody conflict between labor and industry, Connolly revealed the brutality of both. He fought for legal reform and conservation and investigated some of the most powerful figures of his day. And when critics accused the muckrakers of being reckless and sensational, Connolly's accuracy proved exemplary. "Whenever in Collier's you find a passion for the sacredness of fact, it is likely to have been written by Connolly," wrote Mark Sullivan, himself a muckraker and Connolly's editor. "His zest in life was in finding the facts of a complex situation and most of the waking hours of his existences were spent . . . separating the ragged shadows from the solid substance of truth, and finally in reducing the facts to what they were as God made them."7
The muckrakers represented a new breed of journalist: an independent expert whose zeal for reform was rooted in morality and experience. Ida Tarbell, the bookish scourge of Standard Oil, had watched Rockefeller's agents ruin her father's Pennsylvania oil business. Connolly studied corruption-and felt its sting-in the gulches and courtrooms of Montana.
Connolly was born on December 23, 1863, the son of Irish immigrants who eventually settled in Newark, New Jersey, when Christopher was nine. He received little formal schooling, but he was bright, energetic, and literate. In his early teens he worked as a reporter and a legal clerk, and he studied shorthand at night. He moved to New York City to work as a court stenographer but quit by age fifteen to take a clerk's job at a Wall Street banking house. When the bank and Connolly's health slowly collapsed after a whirlpool panic in 1884, the firm's principal partner, R. W. Donnell, suggested Connolly try Montana Territory, where Donnell and a businessman named William Andrews Clark had once been partners in a bank.8
Carrying a letter describing him as "a young man of excellent character, a good businessman, and a stenographer of rare ability," Connolly arrived in Helena in 1886, all of twenty-one and eager to become a lawyer. He clerked for the firm of reform-minded Joseph K. Toole, soon to be Montana's first elected governor, and within a year Connolly had passed the bar. He plunged into the life of the territorial capital, and in 1888 he married Mollie Fallon, the sister of a Helena businessman. To supplement his meager income, Connolly wrote occasional Montana features for the New York World, but politics held more attraction than journalism. He ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for county attorney in 1888; a year later he worked as official stenographer for Montana's 1889 constitutional convention.9
Connolly dove into Democratic politics, and by the mid-1890s his reputation was such that he was considered for appointment as Montana's United States attorney. By 1892 he was secretary of Helena's Hendricks Club, a group of reform-minded Democrats organized by future United States senator Thomas J. Walsh, whose intelligence and legal skill Connolly admired. Their shared political ambitions, Irish-Catholic heritage, and belief in a lawyer's duty to public service formed the basis of a friendship. Together, they toured Yellowstone National Park in 1897 and kept in touch as Walsh rose to national prominence as prosecutor of the Teapot Dome scandal and chairman of the 1932 Democratic national convention that nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for president.10
Beyond their friendship Connolly and Walsh also shared a suspicion of runaway capitalism, a view intensified by the Panic of 1893, which tossed thousands of Montanans out of work. Many blamed the crisis on the financial manipulations of the "trusts," and voters vented their anger. Fueled by farmers' ire over exorbitant railroad shipping rates and the federal government's decision to stop buying silver produced by western mines, Populism swept the West. At a Democratic-Populist rally in Butte in 1893, Connolly stood on a stage decorated with patriotic bunting and a portrait of William Jennings Bryan and warned Montanans that they were doomed to live as second-class citizens as long as eastern capital dominated the state's economy. "We always get the small end," Connolly told listeners. The depression lingered, and in 1897 Connolly, now with children to support, traded the uncertainty of private practice for a deputy prosecutor's job in Silver Bow County. It meant immersion in Butte's dominant Democratic Party, already divided into factions loyal to Copper Kings Marcus Daly and William Andrews Clark, whose rivalry was entering its most rancorous stage.11
In taking the job Connolly threw in with Daly, the creating genius of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. The lawyer admired Daly's boldness, his raw intelligence, and his devotion to the Irish-Catholic heritage they shared. Although he would come to despise the corporation Daly was creating, Connolly valued the miner's patronage and served his political machine enthusiastically. His loyalty stretched beyond Daly's death in 1900. As secretary of Daly's memorial association, Connolly raised money to commission the Augustus Saint-Gaudens statue of Daly that stands today at the Montana Tech campus in Butte.12
With Daly's backing Connolly won election as Silver Bow County's attorney in 1898 and quickly earned a reputation as a stern prosecutor. He sent a murderous miner to the gallows, and when police ignored his order to close a crooked gambling den, Connolly grabbed a revolver and a willing deputy and raided the place himself.13 Between cases he mixed with Montana's notables and aimed for a district judgeship in the 1900 elections, but when the simmering Clark-Daly feud erupted in January 1899, Connolly Although Connolly came to despise Daly's Anaconda Copper Mining Company, he valued the miner's patronage and served his political machine enthusiastically. When Daly died in 1900, Connolly raised money to commission the Augustus Saint-Gaudens statue of Daly that stands today at the Montana Tech campus in Butte. found himself in a fight that would cripple his political career.
The explosion came in Helena, where a divided Democratic majority in the legislature threatened to block Clark's drive for the United States Senate. In a flagrant spree of bribery, Clark bought the necessary Republican votes to secure his election. "The purchase of votes was talked about almost as freely as the weather, almost as familiarly as the markets," Connolly wrote in McClure's seven years later. "The morning salutation of everyone was: 'What's the price of votes today?'" When Republican state senator Fred Whiteside exposed the corruption, Clark's newspaper, the Butte Miner, accused Whiteside of concocting the tale on Daly's behalf. Infuriated, Daly fought for an investigation by the Senate, scheduled to convene in December 1899.14
Throughout the summer and fall Daly's operatives combed Montana for evidence of Clark's corruption. As part of that effort, Connolly and a legal team that included Walsh and Wilbur Fisk Sanders sued the Butte Miner, accusing its editors of libeling Whiteside, though defending Whiteside's honor masked the suit's true purpose. The proceedings allowed Daly's lawyers to cross-examine legislators, lobbyists, and Clark himself about the bribes, and the resulting testimony was funneled to the Senate, which began its probe in January 1900. "I had gone about the state, putting members of the legislature on the stand, and forcing reluctant admissions of guilt from their lips," Connolly recalled later in Everybody's. "Clark himself had been placed on the stand, and when he refused to answer I had argued before the court for his commitment to prison."15 Faced with overwhelming evidence, the Senate's Committee on Privileges and Elections In 1899 the war of the Copper Kings came to a head when, in the face of protests from state senator Fred Whiteside (below, left), Clark bribed his way to a United States Senate seat. Although Clark was forced to give up the seat, he soon found a political ally in fellow mine owner F. Augustus Heinze (right, center). recommended that Clark be expelled. Rather than face a Senate vote, Clark resigned.
Daly's victory was short-lived. Clark opened his purse again for the fall elections, determined to elect a legislative majority that would return him to the Senate. He found an ally in F. Augustus Heinze, an audacious young mine owner and brilliant political showman eager to exploit Butte's riches. Together, and through their respective newspapers, the Butte Miner and Butte Reveille, they shrewdly ignored Daly and attacked Standard Oil, whose ruthless executives had recently purchased Daly's Anaconda properties and combined them under a new corporate entity: the Amalgamated Copper Company. Railing against Rockefeller's "kerosene crowd" and its "copper trust," Clark and Heinze swept the 1900 elections, winning a legislative majority.16 In Butte they elected judges sympathetic to Heinze's brash attempts to strip Amalgamated of its mining properties and revenues by exploiting the notorious ambiguities of Montana's mining laws.
Among the election-day casualties in Butte was C. P. Connolly, the Dalyite candidate for district judge. Of four contestants vying for two judgeships, Connolly finished last, more than thirteen hundred votes behind winners Edward Harney and William Clancy, Heinze partisans whose terms would drip with scandal. Clark's triumph seemed complete with news of Daly's death days later. "Vindicated" at last, Clark broke with Heinze and made In 1899 the war of the Copper Kings came to a head when, in the face of protests from state senator Fred Whiteside (below, left), Clark bribed his way to a United States Senate seat. Although Clark was forced to give up the seat, he soon found a political ally in fellow mine owner F. Augustus Heinze (right, center). peace with Amalgamated. "As a fragment of this bargain," Connolly later wrote, "it was said that certain men obnoxious to Clark, of which I was one, were to be shut out from any future professional or political career."17 Connolly lingered on, trying cases in Silver Bow County's corrupt courts, but in 1904 he left brown and blasted Butte for Missoula, where he shared a legal practice and settled into a more tranquil existence. He also began to write, and the story he chose was the one he knew best: Montana's copper wars.
Connolly's timing was propitious. The Clark-Daly feud had erupted irregularly in national newspapers, but now, with the added involvement of Standard Oil and its ongoing fight with Heinze, the tale seemed custom-made for the mass-market magazines whose circulations were soaring in response to the gripping new "fact stories" that filled their pages. McClure's led the way with Tarbell's history of Standard Oil and Steffens's exposés of municipal corruption, but as Connolly began to write in 1905 the nation's hottest story was "Frenzied Finance: The Crime of Amalgamated," financier Thomas W. Lawson's gripping insider account of how Amalgamated's creators had coolly fleeced investors of millions. Everybody's, which carried the series, saw its circulation surge above five hundred thousand, the highest of any American magazine. Given its antecedents, Connolly's lengthy manuscript detailing Montana's corruption was bound to attract notice when it landed at McClure's.18
By August 1906, when "The Story of Montana" began its five-month run, McClure's had become a publishing powerhouse. Its circulation mushroomed in early 1903 with the almost simultaneous publication of exposés by Tarbell, Steffens, and Ray Stannard Clark and Heinze candidates swept the 1900 election, and Connolly, Daly's candidate for district judge, was among the casualties. Heinze partisans Edward Harney, pictured with Connolly sitting on rail at left, and the bearded William Clancy (below) won the two judgeships. His political career at an end, Connolly moved to Missoula to practice law and write.Baker. Rich with facts combed from largely ignored public records and stitched together by first-rate writers, the articles fascinated readers eager to understand the murky workings and pervasive influence of corporations, political machines, and labor unions.19
With publishers scrambling for the next big exposé, Connolly's series was a bona fide hit. A veritable Wild West show, the story had it all: miners, gamblers, outlaws, vigilantes, robber barons, and venal politicians. Like countless western writers before and since, Connolly played to the preconceptions of his mostly eastern audience. The tale opened in the lawless gold camps of territorial Montana, where civic-minded men and outlaws led by crooked Sheriff Henry Plummer "struggled desperately for a place in the fierce, primeval race for nature's loot." With Winchesters and rope, vigilantes made the region safe for development. By the late s the principal business was the mining of Montana's world-class copper ores, and Connolly detailed the ruthless, high-stakes scramble to dominate the industry that ruled the newly minted state.
This struggle between mining kings of limitless wealth made hundreds of men, and ruined thousands; it perverted the moral sense of entire communities; it placed scores of prominent men within the shadow of prison walls; it destroyed promising political careers, and checked worthy names from the scroll of state and national fame. It sent nondescripts afloat upon the sea of national politics, corrupted the machinery of justice to the core, and placed the law-making power of the State upon the auction block.20
In McClure's Connolly offered the nation its first detailed overview of the Clark-Daly fight, from the boodle-soaked election to determine the site of Montana's capital in 1894 to Clark's corrupt Senate campaigns. The series' final two installments-accounts of Clark and Heinze candidates swept the 1900 election, and Connolly, Daly's candidate for district judge, was among the casualties. Heinze partisans Edward Harney, pictured with Connolly sitting on rail at left, and the bearded William Clancy (below) won the two judgeships. His political career at an end, Connolly moved to Missoula to practice law and write.Clark's bribery of Montana's 1899 legislative assembly and his subsequent attempt to corrupt the state's supreme court-covered ground Connolly knew intimately.
It was thrilling stuff, "bizarre almost beyond credibility," according to Mark Sullivan, an associate editor at McClure's. Assigned to fact check Connolly's reporting, Sullivan hopped a train for Missoula to meet the author, who made a splendid impression. "His fineness of character, intellectual integrity and exactness of mind were so readily apparent as to leave me little to do beyond a nominal search of the court records and other documents upon which his book was irrefutably based," Sullivan wrote.21
Advertised as "the most thrilling fact story that has ever come out of the West" and illustrated with a painting by N. C. Wyeth and rare photographs, the series led McClure's August 1906 edition and ran through December. It caused a sensation. Its blistering excoriation of a sitting senator struck like an aftershock to muckraker David Graham Phillips's "The Treason of the Senate," a scathing critique of senatorial corruption that had appeared in William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan a few months earlier. Connolly offered his readers a detailed cautionary tale of a sovereign government corrupted by powerful economic interests. Other states-Connolly wrote the story he knew best, Montana's copper wars. His publisher, McClure's Magazine, advertised the Clark-Daly feud, spiced with the struggle between Standard Oil and Heinze, as "the most thrilling fact story that has ever come out of the West" and illustrated it with rare photographs and N. C. Wyeth's The Prospector (right).Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, California, and New York-knew corruption on grander scales, but Montana's story, with its whiff of sagebrush and gun smoke, aroused the public's indignation by capturing its imagination.22
In Montana, where Connolly's story was hardly news, the reaction ranged from ambivalence to outrage. The Anaconda Standard, Daly's creation, advertised the series as of "vital importance to the state whose history has been so often incorrectly told." But other newspapers condemned the story as unfair. Most granted McClure's claim that the work was factual, but they scoffed at its assertion that Connolly had "written without bias, with impartiality and fairness as the first consideration." "The man [Connolly] is merely giving the factional side of it," wrote the editor of the Great Falls Leader. "Those on the other side are treated unjustly, and the facts are distorted to make points for those he favors and against those of the opposite faction." Clark's newspaper, the Butte Miner, wondered how Connolly, a partisan in the feud, could possibly "disabuse his mind of prejudice." His series, the paper charged, contained serious inaccuracies, and its author had substituted "rumor and vague and unverified reports" when facts were scarce. Out of respect for Daly's memory and to avoid reopening old wounds-"the very scars of which were in a good way to be[ing] obliterated before Mr. Connolly started publishing this Though it was accused of bias, "The Story of Montana" launched Connolly's career, and he went on to write three more articles for McClure's detailing Heinze's court battles with Standard Oil's Amalgamated Copper Company and others. F. E. Schoonover illustrated "The Fight of the Copper Kings" with The Slag Heap (left) as well as many of his photographs.story of his"-the Butte Miner offered no specifics. Instead, it accused Connolly of unfairly impugning the motives of Clark and his supporters, men who fought for the survival of independent businesses in the face of a powerful corporation. "This newspaper is not worried over the effect which this story of Montana may have upon the minds of the people of this state, for they know it pretty well themselves," the Butte Miner wrote, "but certainly outside of this commonwealth Mr. Connolly's article is calculated to do a grave wrong to the leader and his followers on one side of this political feud."23
Despite its easy dismissal of Clark's corruption, the Butte Miner had a point. In casting Clark as the story's principal villain, rivaled only by Henry Plummer, Connolly had ignored Daly's own motives and excesses. In the end, "The Story of Montana" was a partisan's tale-accurate in detail but hardly fair and hardly a comprehensive view of the state's history. The criticism, which resurfaced in 1938 when the series was posthumously republished in book form as The Devil Learns to Vote, lingers today.24 Scenes from Connolly's depiction of the copper wars and his theme of corruption would worm their way in the state's folklore and historiography, but it would be up to latter-day historians to render a more thorough and objective account.25
Connolly probably gave the criticism little thought. Trained in an adversarial profession in an era of intense partisanship, he had little use for strict notions of journalistic objectivity. He could be prickly about his reputation for accuracy, but for Connolly good journalism was like a prosecutor's closing argument: a selective and persuasive summary of the strongest evidence against a threat to the public good. As a muckraker, Connolly considered himself, above all, an advocate for reform.
"The Story of Montana" launched Connolly's journalistic career, and he followed his success with three more articles for McClure's, stories detailing Heinze's court battles with Amalgamated and others.26 In Montana Connolly suddenly found himself in demand as a public speaker and the subject of local newspaper speculation about his next project and the size of his magazine fees. He made news by switching his political allegiance to the Republican Party, whose progressive wing under Theodore Roosevelt attracted many muckrakers. Welcoming him to the fold was Missoula's own congressman, Joseph M. Dixon, a future senator, governor, and chairman of Roosevelt's 1912 Bull Moose campaign.27
The attention also brought him further work. When Collier's needed a reporter to cover Big Bill Haywood's trial in Boise in summer 1907, Connolly got the job, perhaps on the recommendation of Mark Sullivan, or perhaps to counter Roosevelt's recent criticism that Collier's was soft on radicals. In any case, the former prosecutor seemed the perfect choice. He knew mining, the law, and the West. In a case billed as a national showdown between industry and labor, Connolly was appropriately skeptical of both.28
Connolly's first test as a reporter came on the biggest story of the summer. The defendants-Haywood, George Pettibone, and Charles Moyer, leaders of the militant WFM-stood accused of plotting the bombing death of former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg. A former miner eventually confessed to the crime, saying union leaders had hired him to assassinate Steunenberg, whose call for federal troops had led to a brutal suppression of an 1899 miners' uprising in Idaho's Coeur d'Alene mining district. Controversy preceded the trial when Pinkerton detectives in the pay of Idaho mining companies yanked Haywood, Pettibone, and Moyer from their beds in Denver, Colorado, and whisked them aboard a train to Idaho before anyone could contest their extradition. The "kidnapping" infuriated labor and its Socialist allies, who smelled a frame-up and predicted an explosion of revolutionary violence if the defendants were convicted in their separate trials.
Haywood's trial came first, and it featured a compelling cast. The defendant, the beefy, half-blind founder of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-the fearsome "Wobblies"-seethed with contempt for the court. Clarence Darrow, the lead defense counsel, captivated reporters with his oratory and his talent for publicity. The prosecutor, Idaho's freshly selected senator William E. Borah, would emerge as a powerful western maverick. Most intriguing of all was the bomber himself, Harry Orchard, whose cool confession and jailhouse religious conversion held the nation transfixed. The case itself had been pieced together by one of the country's most celebrated detectives, James McParland, the Pinkerton operative whose undercover work years earlier had rid Pennsylvania's coalfields of the Molly Maguires. McParland's sidekick in Boise, spy and gunman Charlie Siringo, attracted a different kind of attention.
The national press flocked to Boise, and the pack included some of the era's most prominent reporters, led by correspondents from the New York Times, New York Sun, and Associated Press. The Hearst, Pulitzer, and Scripps papers sent representatives, who joined writers from the Denver Post, Portland Evening Telegram, Boston Globe, Cleveland Press, Chicago Herald-Record, and Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The trial also attracted a contingent from the Socialist press, including Ida Crouch-Hazelett, editor of Montana's tiny Socialist organ, the Montana News, published in Helena. Writers from smaller papers-reporters like E. G. Leipheimer of the Butte Evening News-squeezed into the courtroom as well.29
But for journalist and historian J. Anthony Lukas, "the one true muckraker at the trial was C. P. Connolly." Connolly quickly won the prosecution's confidence, and his legal insights so impressed the judge that he assigned the journalist a seat next to the bench.30 But it was Connolly's writing that distinguished him from the pack. As newspaper and wire-service reporters filed daily cables from Boise, Connolly gave Collier's eight sweeping articles, beginning on May 11, 1907, with a history of Coeur d'Alene mining violence and Steunenberg's call for federal troops. Connolly followed with stories examining Orchard's background and confession and the legality of the three defendants' abduction from Colorado. He also related the recent labor battles in Colorado, where mine owners, with the full backing of friendly judges, had used gunmen and deportations to break the WFM. Connolly expressed sympathy for conditions that provoked the miners and criticized aspects of their brutal suppression in Idaho and Colorado, but his reporting focused harshly on the violent crimes of union militants.31
The jury's surprising "not guilty" verdict on July 27, 1907, broke badly for Collier's deadline, but by then Connolly's reputation as a reporter of national stature was secure. The case also drew him deeper into Republican politics. During the trial Connolly met William Allen White, the eminent editor of the Emporia Kansas Gazette and a spokesman for Roosevelt's progressives. Their friendship quickly became collaboration. Alarmed to learn that Borah was under indictment for allegedly securing fraudulent federal timber leases, White asked Connolly to investigate the rising Republican star. When the journalist dismissed the charge as the product of a local political feud, White pressed Connolly to deliver his findings personally to Roosevelt, which he did. In September a federal jury took less than twenty minutes to find Borah innocent, and two months later Connolly's account of Borah's travails ran in Collier's under the headline "A Little Drama Out in Idaho." The journalist emerged from the affair with powerful new friends, and his brush with Roosevelt so impressed him that he asked White to gently inquire into his chances of becoming the president's private secretary.32

Connolly found steady work with Collier's. He wrote about the mysterious bombing death of Harvey K. Brown, an ex-sheriff at Baker City, Oregon, who had been scheduled to testify at George Pettibone's trial. But, increasingly, Connolly's attention focused on corrupt public officials and corporations, especially the railroads. He contributed blistering profiles of senators Charles W. Fulton of Oregon and Levi Ankeny of Washington, accusing both of having bribed their way to power. Senator Jacob H. Gallinger of New Hampshire, whom Connolly described as a tool of the railroads, Connolly found steady employment with Collier's. In his most controversial work, he investigated Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger who was accused of giving away federally owned coal and mineral reserves in Alaska. Among the beneficiaries were contributors to President William Taft's election campaign. Taft dismissed the allegations, providing the whitewash theme that accompanied Connolly's revelations.provided another target. Meanwhile, Connolly began to research an exposé on corruption in the American judiciary, and slices of that work found their way into Collier's. By 1909 Connolly had joined the celebrated war correspondent Richard Harding Davis and fellow muckrakers Will Irwin and Samuel Hopkins Adams on the magazine's staff as a writer of "special articles."33
Connolly's most controversial work began in late 1909 when Collier's assigned him to investigate Secretary of the Interior Richard Achilles Ballinger, who stood accused by Forest Service chief Gifford Pinchot and others of giving away vast federally owned coal and mineral reserves in Alaska to agents fronting for a mining syndicate controlled by financier J. P. Morgan and the Guggenheim family. President William Howard Taft dismissed the allegations-and fired Pinchot-but Collier's refused to let the matter fade. In a string of withering articles, beginning with an issue whose stark cover illustration featured a lone paintbrush dipped in whitewash, Connolly investigated Ballinger's background and linked the embattled secretary to the spurious Alaskan land claimants, whose number included contributors to Taft's election campaign. With attention focused on the purported Alaskan land grab, Connolly also raked Congress and federal agencies for allowing railroads to swap millions of acres of noncommercial lands included in their massive western land grants for public parcels rich in timber or minerals.34
The uproar over Collier's attack forced a congressional investigation that cleared Ballinger on a partisan vote, but the secretary was eventually forced to resign. The scandal, at its heart a debate over conservation, widened the rift between Republicans loyal to Taft and Roosevelt's progressives. Exploiting the split, Democrat Woodrow Wilson sailed to victory in . The controversy over Ballinger's guilt lingered for decades. Connolly found steady employment with Collier's. In his most controversial work, he investigated Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger who was accused of giving away federally owned coal and mineral reserves in Alaska. Among the beneficiaries were contributors to President William Taft's election campaign. Taft dismissed the allegations, providing the whitewash theme that accompanied Connolly's revelations.A generation later Taft biographer Henry F. Pringle called the muckrakers dogging Ballinger "Cassandras of woe" who wrote "blistering attacks based on inaccurate information," attacks that unfairly clouded Taft's admirable record as an early environmentalist. Meanwhile, Princeton law professor A. T. Mann argued that, whatever the truth about Ballinger, it was Collier's coverage that crystallized public support for conservation.35
The campaign put Connolly solidly in the Progressive camp and brought him additional attention, some of it ludicrous. When a lawyer in Ballinger's Interior Department claimed publicly that the muckraker had once raced past women and children to escape a sinking passenger ship, Connolly sued for slander. Under questioning Connolly's accuser admitted that he had confused the journalist with someone else, and Connolly won a substantial settlement.36
By fall 1911 Connolly found himself covering another case involving dynamite and the struggle between capital and labor. This time two brothers, unionists John and James McNamara, stood accused of bombing the Los Angeles Times and killing twenty-one people. Set against a bitter struggle between Socialists and conservatives for control of the Los Angeles municipal government, the case attracted immense attention. Connolly arrived to find the city's mood explosive and the case reminiscent of Haywood's trial. Once again Clarence Darrow led the defense, with the city's Socialist mayoral candidate, Job Harriman, a former preacher turned lawyer, as his associate. Darrow knew his clients were guilty but did nothing to deter the Socialist press from claiming that the charges had been concocted by conservatives and Harrison Gray Otis, the Los Angeles Times's rabidly anti-union owner. Fearing bloodshed, muckraker Lincoln Steffens rushed to Los Angeles to mediate, but the defense's case crumpled when police caught In 1911 Connolly covered a second bombing-this time unionist brothers John and James McNamara (right) stood accused of blowing up the Los Angeles Times building (below), killing twenty-one people. Comparing the McNamara and Haywood cases, Connolly tried to explain the "war between capital and labor" to an audience torn between suspicion of corporate power and fear of radicalism.Darrow's chief investigator attempting to bribe a juror. Darrow quickly entered guilty pleas on behalf of the McNamaras, who were sentenced on election day to stiff prison terms. As the defense fizzled, so did the Socialists' hopes in southern California. A hung jury saved Darrow himself from conviction on bribery charges.37
Connolly's articles from Los Angeles revealed his disgust with Darrow and the Socialist press, which he accused of fabricating stories to generate sympathy for the McNamaras.38 But Connolly's harshest criticism fell on Otis and conservatives, whose day-to-day campaign against labor, he argued, had driven workers to desperation. Connolly spent hours interviewing defendant John McNamara and came away convinced of labor's complaints, if not its tactics.
Connolly aired his views in "Protest by Dynamite," a Collier's piece published in January 1912. In comparing the Haywood and McNamara cases, he strove to explain the "war between capital and labor" to a middle-class audience torn between its suspicion of corporate power and its fear of radicalism. Connolly found ample targets for blame, but he began with the press, exemplified by Otis's Los Angeles Times. He excused Otis's personal animosity toward unions but bemoaned the paper's practice of concocting dispatches that depicted ordinary crimes as sinister acts of labor mayhem. Such tactics, and Otis's editorial pleas for vigilante action to make the city's Socialists and labors leaders "quietly disappear," were a kind of terror themselves, Connolly charged. "It had got beyond the question of the right of free speech and of a free press," he wrote. "Real hate was in the air. The Socialist orator, who on the street corner uttered sentiments on his side as revolutionary, and as unfair as the 'Times,' . . . was jailed without bond and the nozzle of a cold hose turned on him if he made further trouble." While conservative In 1911 Connolly covered a second bombing-this time unionist brothers John and James McNamara (right) stood accused of blowing up the Los Angeles Times building (below), killing twenty-one people. Comparing the McNamara and Haywood cases, Connolly tried to explain the "war between capital and labor" to an audience torn between suspicion of corporate power and fear of radicalism.editors devoted barrels of ink to labor violence, barely a drop was spared to report the squalid conditions that brutalized workers, Connolly argued.39
Even more repulsive to labor, Connolly wrote, was an overwhelming anti-worker bias in the courts. Recalling his years in Butte, where miners had maintained a lengthy peace with mine owners, Connolly argued that most workers feared labor violence and supported its prosecution. "They knew that dynamite was more deadly in its moral than in its physical effects," he wrote. But when miners themselves were killed or injured "through the criminal In 1911 Connolly covered a second bombing-this time unionist brothers John and James McNamara (right) stood accused of blowing up the Los Angeles Times building (below), killing twenty-one people. Comparing the McNamara and Haywood cases, Connolly tried to explain the "war between capital and labor" to an audience torn between suspicion of corporate power and fear of radicalism.carelessness of capital," they rarely found the courts responsive. Juries, he wrote, "were packed in the interests of the corporations, and witnesses and trial jurors made fearful of the vengeance of the employers to whom they owed their living." Was it any wonder, Connolly asked, that miners in Montana, Idaho, and Colorado now cheered when Bill Haywood declared that he despised the law? "Sentiments such as Haywood's will be applauded as long as Justice is a manikin for capital and a Juggernaut for labor," he wrote. Through finesse and corruption, big business ensured that America's courts favored profits over people. "What the public does not know about the inside workings of our courts would make a large and highly sensational volume," he concluded.40
Connolly's own large and highly sensational critique of the American justice system began its six-month run in Everybody's a few weeks later. The monthly journal's muckraking would soon wither under pressure from advertisers, but in early 1912 the magazine remained one of the few still willing to devote space to lengthy exposés. In its In his articles about the Los Angeles Times bombing, Connolly wrote of the overwhelming anti-worker bias in the courts. A few weeks later his critique of the American justice system, which detailed how American courts favored profits over people, began its six-month run in Everybody's. introduction to "Big Business and the Bench," the journal touted Connolly's investigation as "one of the most significant in the history of American magazines."41
Connolly summarized his case in a sweeping opening argument: The "Interests," aided by corrupt and incompetent judges, were using the courts as a barricade against efforts to curb the abuses of unrestrained capitalism. The judiciary, "veiled in mystery and approached with awe," remained somehow immune from public scrutiny. "But while we have been giving to judges a reverence that men once gave to kings, the forces that corrupt every other branch of public life have been no more reverent to judges than to aldermen," Connolly wrote. "While we worshipped they corrupted."42
In what Connolly described as "an astounding tale of judicial perversion and malpractise [sic]," corrupt judges routinely issued judgments favorable to their political bosses or corporate patrons, and in doing so, they polluted the law. Judges quietly enriched themselves or sponsors through their decisions, and they did so without fear of impeachment or challenge. Expense and interminable delays made it nearly impossible for individuals to fight back. The problem was rarely the law itself, Connolly argued, but its uneven, corrupt, or nonexistent enforcement. Behind every new economic evil-monopolies, unfair tariffs, inequitable freight rates, and labor unrest-lay courts "packed in order to render decisions favorable to certain corporations" and eager to twist the intent of legislative reforms.43
Connolly's views grew from his experience in Montana, where rival mining companies fought to control local courts, whose dockets were jammed with lawsuits contesting the ownership and boundaries of mining claims. Montana law, which allowed miners to pursue veins of ore that "apexed" on their claims, regardless of where they led, handed judges enormous power-and enormous opportunity for corruption. In Butte Connolly had seen judges William Clancy and Edward Harney decide spurious cases in favor of their patron, F. Augustus Heinze, and against Amalgamated. He had seen the company retaliate with blackmail and economic reprisal. In autumn 1903 Connolly had watched Industry often benefited from sympathetic judges. In 1895 an explosion of illegally stored powder in Butte (right) killed sixy people and injured three hundred. Years of litigation resulted in no redress to the victims or their heirs. In another example, railway worker Rube Oglesby (above) lost his leg in an accident clearly caused by his employer's negligence. The Missouri Pacific Railroad labored for eleven years to overturn his trial court award of fifteen thousand dollars.the company throw thousands of Montanans out of work in a brutal but successful bid to win legislation allowing it to try its cases before judges it preferred. "[Copper Kings] won or lost their judges on election day, and decided their litigations on the turn of the ballot-box," he wrote.44
Meanwhile, individuals who sued mining companies over injury claims or property disputes often faced verdicts that were preordained. Connolly confessed that he had won weak cases on behalf of mine owners and lost strong ones on behalf of their foes. After one such loss, Connolly recalled that he had walked from the courtroom arm in arm with an intoxicated judge who cheerfully admitted that the case had been fixed. Even honest judges surrendered to technical arguments and long delays rather than reject a powerful corporation's weak arguments outright. "In 1895, sixty people had been killed and three hundred maimed in Butte by an explosion of powder stored contrary to law," Connolly recalled. "After years of litigation no redress, civil or criminal, had been secured by these victims or their heirs." Connolly wrote that he left Butte assuming that such judicial corruption was unique to mining districts, but he found the pattern repeated elsewhere.45
Connolly attacked in detail, taking special aim at the relationship between the railroads and the courts. In cases from New York to California, he exposed a revolving door between judicial chambers and the offices of railroad attorneys who worked to smash competition, snatch choice public lands, and elude responsibility for workers' deaths and injuries. In one case lawyers for the Missouri Pacific Railroad labored for years to Industry often benefited from sympathetic judges. In 1895 an explosion of illegally stored powder in Butte (right) killed sixy people and injured three hundred. Years of litigation resulted in no redress to the victims or their heirs. In another example, railway worker Rube Oglesby (above) lost his leg in an accident clearly caused by his employer's negligence. The Missouri Pacific Railroad labored for eleven years to overturn his trial court award of fifteen thousand dollars.overturn a trial court's award of fifteen thousand dollars to a railway worker who lost his leg in an accident clearly caused by the railroad's negligence. Finally, after eleven years of maneuvering by railroad attorneys, who won repeated appeals to have the case retried, Missouri's supreme court not only dismissed the railroader's claim but also ignored his lone plea for an appeal. When the editor of a small Missouri newspaper criticized the court's decision, the justices fined him five hundred dollars and tossed him in jail for contempt.46
Other industries benefited similarly from sympathetic judges, Connolly reported. In Pennsylvania mine owners replaced hundreds of American miners with immigrants, who were cheaper to kill, thanks to a court decision denying accidental death benefits to the surviving dependents of foreign workers. In Colorado judges beholden to mining interests had suspended habeas corpus for miners arrested during strikes and allowed the use of National Guard troops as strikebreakers. The highest court in Washington state had denied death benefits to all but the wives and children of workers, a ruling that led to the de facto blacklisting of married men and destitution for widowed mothers or invalid siblings dependent on a dead worker's pay. Corporate favoritism was not always a case of corruption, Connolly added. Some judges demonstrated their gross ignorance of the modern workplace by insisting that workers bear full responsibility for their work-related injuries or deaths. The quaint notion that workers fully understood the dangers inherent in their work might have made sense on the farm but not on the floor of a modern steel mill or smelter, Connolly wrote.47In 1912 Connolly moved to New Jersey to be near the offices of Collier's where he was now an editor. Collier's ran his next series of exposés on corrupt politicians who used public office to benefit relatives, supporters, and themselves. He painted a blistering profile of New York Republican William Barnes, Jr., whom the writer accused of enriching himself and members of his Albany machine.
Consumers also felt the sting of judicial corruption, Connolly wrote, because corporate lobbyists and lawmakers had effectively crippled antitrust laws aimed at nurturing competition. Calculated ambiguities in the Sherman Anti-trust Act's ban on trade restraints created loopholes large enough to accommodate rampant price-fixing. Antitrust enforcement itself was rife with conflict, added Connolly, who observed that the government's special prosecutor in a prominent antitrust case against Standard Oil earned his primary pay as lobbyist for the steel trust, whose directors included executives of Standard Oil.48
Connolly rained his heaviest blows on those judges he identified as hacks for corrupt political machines. In documenting cases of graft, favoritism, nepotism, and financial mismanagement, Connolly named federal judges in Missouri, Kansas, Washington, and other states. In other cases he reported that state and local judges often repaid political supporters by awarding lucrative receiverships, and they routinely handled cases involving litigants with whom they shared business dealings. Corporate plaintiffs often Though accurate, Connolly's attacks on Republicans Barnes and Wyoming senator Francis E. Warren were clearly political, as Collier's was promoting Bull Moose-candidate Theodore Roosevelt's bid to regain the presidency from Taft (right). Although Connolly had rejoined the Republicans by 1916, his concern about the war in Europe led him to support Woodrow Wilson (below) and endorse the United States' entry into World War I.favored judges with free railroad passes or the use of private cars for recreational junkets. Business friendly judges often retired from the bench to plum jobs as corporate counsels. In one of many examples Connolly offered, a former Washington state supreme court justice continued to write pro-railroad opinions for the court long after his retirement to a railroad legal post.49
Connolly offered a few specific solutions: voter repeal of unpopular court rulings, simplified court procedures and language, and limits on appeals, delays, and judicial power to rewrite laws. Above all, he encouraged increased public scrutiny of judges' business dealings and the election and appointment of judges sympathetic to the welfare of ordinary people.50 For Connolly, as for many leading muckrakers, the cure for democracy's ills was not its overthrow but a more enlightened electorate.
Despite its broad topic and its Old Testament tone, "Big Business and the Bench" was a surefooted effort by an inspired muckraker, and it was largely ignored. As historian David Mark Chalmers wrote, Connolly's single-minded focus on judicial reform as the Though accurate, Connolly's attacks on Republicans Barnes and Wyoming senator Francis E. Warren were clearly political, as Collier's was promoting Bull Moose-candidate Theodore Roosevelt's bid to regain the presidency from Taft (right). Although Connolly had rejoined the Republicans by 1916, his concern about the war in Europe led him to support Woodrow Wilson (below) and endorse the United States' entry into World War I.prime remedy for modern ills was "a weakness as well as a strength" of the series, but the lukewarm response also may have reflected a readership grown weary of the grim journalism of exposure.51 Connolly's series drew compliments from readers, and some lawyers, but little comment in the national press. The biggest headlines related to the series came when Connolly won damages from a legal journal that had published a Memphis attorney's speech attacking the series as false and misleading.52
Whatever Connolly felt about the response to his exposé, he may have been too busy to dwell on it. In 1912 he settled his family in Newark, New Jersey, his boyhood home and close to the offices of Collier's, where he now worked as an editor. In August the magazine ran his scathing profile of Wyoming senator Francis E. Warren, a conservative Republican whom Connolly accused of enriching himself and members of his "ring" by allowing the private use of public lands, by securing no-show public jobs for relatives and supporters, and by awarding fat public contracts to firms he controlled. Among other things Connolly charged the longtime chairman of the Senate's military affairs committee with pulling strings to win promotions for his son-in-law, John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, the future leader of American forces in World War I. By Connolly's count Pershing had leapfrogged 862 higher-ranking officers to become a brigadier general and commandant at West Point. A month later Connolly produced a blistering profile of William Barnes, Jr., the powerful Republican boss of upstate New York, whom the writer accused of enriching himself and members of his corrupt Albany machine through kickbacks on inflated public works contracts and through the pricey protection they offered gamblers, pimps, and the purveyors of local monopolies on electricity, beer, and tobacco.53
With Collier's promoting Roosevelt's bid to recapture the presidency, the timing of Connolly's attacks on Barnes and Warren, both Taft supporters, was clearly political. The accuracy of his work, however, once again stood the test when Barnes, years after the election, accused the ex-president of libeling him in stump speeches in which Roosevelt quoted from Connolly's article. When Roosevelt calmly demolished the charge in court, Collier's editor Mark Sullivan touted the outcome as yet another testimonial to Connolly's accuracy and a refutation of critics' charges that muckrakers in general were sloppy reporters. "The 'reckless muckraker' isn't always as reckless as those who feel the discomfort of his pen would like to have the public believe," Sullivan wrote.54
Despite his reputation with editors, Connolly's muckraking days were nearly done. A December 1912 Collier's piece detailing Big Coal's corrupt hold over West Virginia The early 1920s saw Connolly's muckraking career near its end. His days of penning headlines like "Ballinger,-Shyster" (below) were over. In 1923 when Senator Thomas Walsh asked him to write about the emerging Teapot Dome oil leasing scandal (left), Connolly refused.politics was his last true exposé. By 1914 he was writing glowing portraits of Progressive political hopefuls in New York and Kentucky. Later that year Connolly reported a bloody outbreak of Montana labor violence between Butte miners loyal to the WFM and those drawn to the more militant IWW. Montana's copper-collared press blamed the incident on IWW agitators, but Connolly also pointed to provocation by agents of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. His last major national story came in late when Connolly reported on the anti-Semitic hysteria surrounding the dubious conviction of Leo M. Frank, a young Jewish businessman accused of killing a fourteen-year-old girl in Atlanta, Georgia. Connolly's coverage helped win a commutation of Frank's death sentence, but Frank was eventually lynched by vigilantes. Connolly's last article for Collier's, a glowing assessment of Senator Borah's presidential potential, ran in 1915.55
Like many Bull Moosers who followed Roosevelt to disaster in 1912, Connolly grudgingly rejoined the Republicans in 1916, but with the United States' entry into World War I he offered his talents to President Woodrow Wilson's propaganda campaign in support of the war effort. In 1918 he shipped to France where he dodged German artillery shells while inspecting the Knights of Columbus's wartime services to Catholic troops. After the war Connolly wrote occasionally on domestic and international subjects, but his sweeping themes of corruption were gone. As magazine work dried up, he resumed his long-abandoned legal practice. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in The early 1920s saw Connolly's muckraking career near its end. His days of penning headlines like "Ballinger,-Shyster" (below) were over. In 1923 when Senator Thomas Walsh asked him to write about the emerging Teapot Dome oil leasing scandal (left), Connolly refused.1920 and became a leader among Catholics who supported Prohibition, only to become disillusioned by the public's lukewarm support for its enforcement.56
Toward the end of his life Connolly came to view the fight against corruption with increasing cynicism. In late 1923, when old Montana friend Senator Thomas Walsh invited Connolly to write about the emerging Teapot Dome scandal, Connolly turned him down. Muckraking, Connolly wrote, had become "extremely unpopular." Magazines intent on "attacking big interests" risked "death," he added.57
The muckrakers failed to bring about the millennium, but in their brief but intense period of activity they advanced a remarkable series of reforms and compiled an extensive body of work. Connolly's contributions to that effort were important. His exposure of political corruption helped fuel a nationwide push for the direct election of senators, which became a reality in 1913. In his coverage of labor violence, he focused attention on industry's brutal indifference to the safety and well-being of workers. In the Ballinger case he helped foster a growing awareness of conservation, and in his series on judicial corruption he revealed flaws in a system few Americans had paused to consider, much less scrutinize.
Christopher Powell Connolly died after a lengthy illness on November 8, 1933, in East Orange, New Jersey, weeks shy of his seventieth birthday. His obituary appeared in newspapers ranging from the New York Times to the Montana Standard in Butte. Most identified his masterwork as the McClure's series "The Story of Montana," which began with righteous vigilantes ridding the territory of Henry Plummer's road agents only to have them supplanted by industrial barons who committed their larcenies on a larger scale. In Missoula, where the McClure's series had been written, the Missoulian carried a short notice of Connolly's death, referring to him as the man largely responsible for establishing the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. It also allowed that he had been a "muckraker of the period of Ida M. Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens."58
Toward the end Connolly placed small value on his journalism. Nine years before his death, he exchanged wistful letters with Montana's lame-duck governor Joseph M. Dixon, a fellow Progressive whose battles with the Anaconda Copper Mining Company had led to his recent crushing defeat. Connolly wrote to ask for state funds to help him publish his notes on Montana's constitutional convention. Dixon offered his regrets-the state, as usual, was broke-but he urged Connolly to tell him something of his personal life.
"I am practicing law here in this benighted country-and 'benighted' is no misnomer," Connolly replied, then added:
I am glad of one thing. I am out of the lime-light as a muck-raker. If Plummer, leader of the road agents were alive today, and at his old game, I wouldn't have a word to say. In fact, I am not sure I would not join his band. Every time a crook goes wrong in this neck of the woods, I join the universal chorus and give three cheers. It is the popular thing to do. And it isn't half as lonesome as holding aloft the torch of those twin-evils, truth and righteousness."59
DENNIS SWIBOLD is a professor of journalism at the University of Montana, Missoula. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he is currently writing a history of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company's influence over Montana's newspapers.


1. Connolly describes the scene in "Protest by Dynamite," Collier's, 48 (January 13, 1912), 9.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. C. P. Connolly's "The Story of Montana" appeared in McClure's Magazine, 27 (August 1906), 346-61; 27 (September 1906), 451-65; 27 (October 1906), 629-39; 28 (November 1906), 27-43; 28 (December 1906), 198-210.
6. C. P. Connolly's "Big Business and the Bench" appeared in Everybody's, 26 (February 1912), 146-60; 26 (March 1912), 291-306; 26 (April 1912), 439-53; 26 (May 1912), 659-72; 26 (June 1912), 827-41; 26 (July 1912), 116-28.
7. Cornelius C. Regier, The Era of the Muckrakers (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1932), 103-4.
8. An early campaign biography of Connolly appeared in the Helena (Mont.) Weekly Independent, September 13, 1888.
9. Ibid.
10. J. Leonard Bates, Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana: Law and Public Affairs, from TR to FDR (Urbana, Ill., 1999), 33, 39, 45. For Connolly's views on Walsh, see Christopher P. Connolly, The Devil Learns to Vote: The Story of Montana (New York, 1938), 295-303.
11. Michael P. Malone, Richard B. Roeder, and William L. Lang, Montana: A History of Two Centuries, rev. ed. (Seattle, 1997), 215-17; Anaconda (Mont.) Standard, October 20, 1896.
12. For Connolly's views on Daly, see Connolly, Devil Learns to Vote, 83-92. His role as secretary of Daly's memorial association is outlined a letter from Christopher P. Connolly to Governor Joseph K. Toole, January 10, 1901, folder 4, box 5, Manuscript Collection 35a, Montana Governors' Papers, Montana Historical Society Archives, Helena.
13. For details on the murder case, see the July 16, 1900, Montana Supreme Court State v. Lucey decision. Connolly describes the gambling raid in "Big Business and the Bench" (February 1912), 153.
14. Connolly, Devil Learns to Vote, 126.
15. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (February 1912), 154-55.
16. Malone, Roeder, and Lang, Montana, 222.
17. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (February 1912), 155.
18. Louis Filler, The Muckrakers (University Park, Pa., 1976), 179-80. Lawson's articles for Everybody's were later published in book form. See -Thomas W. Lawson, Frenzied Finance: The Crime of Amalgamated, vol. 1 (New York, 1906). A second volume was never published.
19. Filler, Muckrakers, 80-89.
20. Connolly, "Story of Montana" (August 1906), 348; ibid. (September- 1906), 452.
21. Mark Sullivan, The Education of an American (New York, 1938), 202.
22. Regier, Era of the Muckrakers, 103. For a discussion of muckraking articles on corruption in states other than Montana, see ibid., 98-107.
23. Anaconda (Mont.) Standard, July 29, 1906; Connolly, "Story of Montana" (August 1906), 346; Great Falls (Mont.) Daily Leader, September 6, 1906; Butte (Mont.) Miner, September 30, 1906.
24. For an assessment of the historical value of The Devil Learns to Vote, see Michael Malone, The Battle for Butte: Mining and Politics on the Northern Frontier, 1864-1906, rev. ed. (Helena, Mont., 1995), xxi.
25. For similar criticisms of Connolly's objectivity, see Christian Science Monitor, July 27, 1938; New York Times, June 26, 1938; Survey Graphic, July 1938; and Forrest L. Foor, "The Senatorial Aspirations of William A. Clark, 1898-1901: A Study in Montana Politics" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1941), ii.
26. Christopher P. Connolly, "The Fight of the Copper Kings," McClure's Magazine, 29 (May-June 1907), 1-16, 214-28; Christopher P. Connolly, "The Fight for the Minnie Healy,'' ibid., 29 (July 1907), 317-32. Connolly's articles offered the nation vital background on Heinze, whose recent spectacular financial collapse was triggering a Wall Street panic.
27. Butte (Mont.) Evening News, June 10, September 14, 1906, January 7, April 6, 1907; Missoula (Mont.) Herald, March 25, 1907.
28. J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble (New York, 1997), 677-78.
29. For an assessment of the trial's press coverage, see Lukas, Big Trouble, 632-86.
30. Ibid., 677-78.
31. Christopher P. Connolly's "The Moyer-Haywood Case" appeared in Collier's, each part under a different title: "The Story of the Idaho Mining Troubles," 39 (May 11, 1907), 13-15; "The Murder, and the Arrest of Orchard," 39 (May 18, 1907), 21-22; "The Kidnapping," 39 (May 25, 1907), 23; "Harry Orchard and His Story," 39 (June 22, 1907), 11-12; "The Colorado Labor War," 39 (June 29, 1907), 15-17; "The Colorado Labor War (Continued)," 39 (July 7, 1907), 11-13; "The Colorado Labor War (Concluded)," 39 (July 20, 1907), 13-14; "What Has Been Brought Out in Haywood's Trial," 39 (July 27, 1907), 13-15.
32. Lukas, Big Trouble, 732-33.
33. Christopher P. Connolly, "Pettibone and Sheriff Brown," Collier's, 40 (January 25, 1908), 11-13; Christopher P. Connolly, "Senate Undesirables: Fulton of Oregon," ibid., 41 (April 4, 1908), 13-14; Christopher P. Connolly, "Ankeny of Washington," ibid., 41 (August 22, 1908), 15-16; Christopher P. Connolly, "Gallinger of New Hampshire," ibid., 41 (May 30, 1908), 26; Christopher P. Connolly, "Loopholes of the Law," ibid., 42 (January 9, 1909), 14-15, 25; Christopher P. Connolly, "More Loopholes," ibid., 42 (February 20, 1909), 9; Christopher P. Connolly, "Freight Tariff's," ibid., 43 (April 3, 1909), 13-14.
34. Connolly covered the Ballinger story in six stories that appeared in Collier's: "Can This Be Whitewashed Also?" 44 (December 18, 1909), 8-9 (the article did not carry Connolly's byline but most scholars attribute the piece to him); "Raiding the People's Land," 44 (January 8, 1910), 18-19; "Ballinger,-Shyster," 45 (February 19, 1910), 16-17; "Some Lighter Aspects of Ballinger," 45 (March 5, 1910), 22-23; "Who
is Behind Ballinger?" 45 (April 9, 1910), 16-17; "One Pinchot-Ballinger Controversy," 45 (April 9, 1910), 17. For the impact of Connolly's articles during the Ballinger affair, see Filler, Muckrakers, 333-36; and Arthur and Ella Weinberg, The Muckrakers, 1902-1912 (New York, 1961), 148-49.
35. Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft (New York, 1939), 470; A. T. Mason, Bureaucracy Convicts Itself
(New York, 1941), 212.
36. Filler, Muckrakers, 336; Anaconda (Mont.) Standard, May 28, 1910.
37. W. W. Robinson, Bombs and Bribery (Los Angeles, 1969), passim; Lukas, Big Trouble, 750-54.
38. Christopher P. Connolly, "The Trial at Los Angeles," Collier's, 48 (October 14, 1911), 17, 31-32; Christopher P. Connolly, "The Saving of Clarence Darrow," ibid., 48 (December 23, 1911), 10-11.
39. Connolly, "Protest by Dynamite," 9.
40. Ibid., 24.
41. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (February 1912), 147.
42. Ibid., 150.
43. Ibid.
44. Ibid., 152-53, quote on p. 154.
45. Ibid., 153-55, quote on p. 154.
46. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (March 1912), 291-96.
47. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (May 1912), 666; ibid. (April 1912), 449-50; ibid. (February 1912), 156; ibid. (April 1912), 303.
48. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (May 1912), 659, 663.
49. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (June 1912), 830-33; ibid. (April 1912), 439-53, 305-6; ibid. (June 1912), 835-36; ibid. (February 1912), 157-58.
50. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench" (July 1912), 124-28.
51. David Mark Chalmers, The Social and Political Ideas of the Muckrakers (New York, 1964), 31-32.
52. Connolly's sued the Edward Thompson Company, publishers of Law Notes, which reprinted a speech by Caruthers Ewing, a Memphis attorney who attacked Connolly's series in a speech before the Georgia Bar Association. For details, see New York Times, January 4, 1913; Collier's, 55 (June 12, 1915), 14.
53. Christopher P. Connolly, "Senator Warren of Wyoming," Collier's, 49 (August 31, 1912), 10-11, 30; Christopher P. Connolly, "Mr. Barnes of Albany," ibid., 49 (September 14, 1912), 10-11.
54. Mark Sullivan, "The 'Reckless Muckraker,'" Collier's, 55 (June 12, 1915), 14.
55. Christopher P. Connolly, "Case of West Virginia," Collier's, 50 (December 21, 1912), 12-13, 20; Christopher P. Connolly, "Gov. Glynn of New York," ibid., 52 (March 7, 1914), 7-8, 28-30; Christopher P. Connolly, "Beckham of Kentucky," Harper's Weekly Magazine, 59 (July 11, 1914), 3, 5, 36; Christopher P. Connolly, "The Labor Fuss in Butte," Everybody's, 31 (August 1914), 205-8; Christopher P. Connolly, "The Frank Case-Part I," ibid., 54 (December 19, 1914), 6-7, 22-24; Christopher P. Connolly, "The Frank Case-Part II," ibid., 54 (December 26, 1914), 18-20, 23-25; Christopher P. Connolly, "Presidential Possibilities: Borah of Idaho," ibid., 55 (July 31, 1915), 5-6, 28-29.
56. Connolly worked for a time as a lawyer for New Jersey's Prohibition enforcement unit.
57. Bates, Senator Thomas J. Walsh, 214. Bates cites Walsh to Connolly, November 6, 1923, and Connolly to Walsh, November 8, 1923.
58. For obituaries, see New York Times, November 9, 1933; Newark (N.J.) Evening News, November 9, 1933; Butte (Mont.) Montana Standard, November 9, 1933; Missoula (Mont.) Missoulian, November 12, 1933; Register, the official paper of the Catholic Diocese of Helena, December 3, 1933.
59. Christopher P. Connolly to Joseph M. Dixon, December 29, 1924, folder 2, box 61, collection 55, Joseph M. Dixon Papers, K. Ross Toole Archives, Mansfield Library, University of Montana, Missoula.


Captions/credits
Christopher Powell Connolly belonged to a cadre of early-twentieth-century investigative journalists who exposed political, legal, and financial corruption in the United States. Published in national magazines, Connolly and his cohorts stimulated an impressive array of legislative reforms between 1900 and 1915 that improved the health and safety of American workers, many of whom lived and worked in deplorable conditions. Pictured here, circa 1915, is a trash-strewn backyard in Butte, Montana, the mining city that provided fodder for the story that launched Connolly's writing career.
MHS Photograph Archives, Helena

Connolly arrived in Montana in 1886, became clerk for a reform-minded lawyer in Helena, and threw himself into Democratic politics. By 1898 Connolly, now in Butte, was elected Silver Bow County attorney and aligned with Marcus Daly in his infamous Copper King rivalry with William Clark.
MHS Photograph Archives, Helena


Although Connolly came to despise Daly's Anaconda Copper Mining Company, he valued the miner's patronage and served his political machine enthusiastically. When Daly died in 1900, Connolly raised money to commission the Augustus Saint-Gaudens statue of Daly that stands today at the Montana Tech campus in Butte.
MHS Photograph Archives, Helena

In 1899 the war of the Copper Kings came to a head when, in the face of protests from state senator Fred Whiteside (below, left), Clark bribed his way to a United States Senate seat. Although Clark was forced to give up the seat, he soon found a political ally in fellow mine owner F. Augustus Heinze (right, center).
C. P. Connolly, "The Story of Montana," McClure's Magazine, 27 (October 1906), 629
C. P. Connolly, "The Fight of the Copper Kings," McClure's Magazine, 29 (June 1907), 215

Clark and Heinze candidates swept the 1900 election, and Connolly, Daly's candidate for district judge, was among the casualties. Heinze partisans Edward Harney, pictured with Connolly sitting on rail at left, and the bearded William Clancy (below) won the two judgeships. His political career at an end, Connolly moved to Missoula to practice law and write.
C. P. Connolly, "The Fight for the Minnie Healy," McClure's Magazine, 29 (July 1907), 325
C. P. Connolly, "The Fight of the Copper Kings," McClure's Magazine, 29 (May 1907), 8

Connolly wrote the story he knew best, Montana's copper wars. His publisher, McClure's Magazine, advertised the Clark-Daly feud, spiced with the struggle between Standard Oil and Heinze, as "the most thrilling fact story that has ever come out of the West" and illustrated it with rare photographs and N. C. Wyeth's The Prospector (right).
"The Story of Montana," McClure's Magazine, 28 (November 1906), opp. p. 27

Though it was accused of bias, "The Story of Montana" launched Connolly's career, and he went on to write three more articles for McClure's detailing Heinze's court battles with Standard Oil's Amalgamated Copper Company and others. F. E. Schoonover illustrated "The Fight of the Copper Kings" with The Slag Heap (left) as well as many of his photographs.
:C. P. Connolly, "The Fight of the Copper Kings," McClure's Magazine, 29 (May 1907), opp. p. 1

Connolly found steady employment with Collier's. In his most controversial work, he investigated Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger who was accused of giving away federally owned coal and mineral reserves in Alaska. Among the beneficiaries were contributors to President William Taft's election campaign. Taft dismissed the allegations, providing the whitewash theme that accompanied Connolly's revelations.
Collier's, 44 (December 18, 1909), cover
Collier's, 45 (April 19, 1910), 17

In 1911 Connolly covered a second bombing-this time unionist brothers John and James McNamara (right) stood accused of blowing up the Los Angeles Times building (below), killing twenty-one people. Comparing the McNamara and Haywood cases, Connolly tried to explain the "war between capital and labor" to an audience torn between suspicion of corporate power and fear of radicalism.
Both from C. P. Connolly, "The Trial at Los Angeles," Collier's, 48 (October 14, 1911), 17


In his articles about the Los Angeles Times bombing, Connolly wrote of the overwhelming anti-worker bias in the courts. A few weeks later his critique of the American justice system, which detailed how American courts favored profits over people, began its six-month run in Everybody's.


Industry often benefited from sympathetic judges. In 1895 an explosion of illegally stored powder in Butte (right) killed sixy people and injured three hundred. Years of litigation resulted in no redress to the victims or their heirs. In another example, railway worker Rube Oglesby (above) lost his leg in an accident clearly caused by his employer's negligence. The Missouri Pacific Railroad labored for eleven years to overturn his trial court award of fifteen thousand dollars.

Winfield S. Hawes, photographer, MHS Photograph Archives, Helena
C. P. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench," Everybody's Magazine, 26 (March 1912), p. 295

In 1912 Connolly moved to New Jersey to be near the offices of Collier's where he was now an editor. Collier's ran his next series of exposés on corrupt politicians who used public office to benefit relatives, supporters, and themselves. He painted a blistering profile of New York Republican William Barnes, Jr., whom the writer accused of enriching himself and members of his Albany machine.
Collier's, 49 (September 14, 1912), p. 10

Though accurate, Connolly's attacks on Republicans Barnes and Wyoming senator Francis E. Warren were clearly political, as Collier's was promoting Bull Moose-candidate Theodore Roosevelt's bid to regain the presidency from Taft (right). Although Connolly had rejoined the Republicans by 1916, his concern about the war in Europe led him to support Woodrow Wilson (below) and endorse the United States' entry into World War I.
Erman J. Ridgway, "Weighing the Candidates," Everybody's Magazine, 26 (May 1912), pp. 581, 585
: Denver Post, in "The Great Coal Controversy," Collier's, 45 (April 23, 1910), p. 18

The early 1920s saw Connolly's muckraking career near its end. His days of penning headlines like "Ballinger,-Shyster" (below) were over. In 1923 when Senator Thomas Walsh asked him to write about the emerging Teapot Dome oil leasing scandal (left), Connolly refused.
Dallas News, in M. R. Werner and John Starr, Teapot Dome (New York, 1959), p. 247


In turning down Walsh's Teapot Dome proposal, Connolly noted that muckraking had become "extremely unpopular." After almost a decade and a half of helping to advance significant political reforms, Connolly placed small value on his journalism and returned to the practice of law. He died in 1933 in New Jersey.
C. P. Connolly, "Big Business and the Bench," Everybody's Magazine, 26 (February 1912), p. 146

 

 

From Montana The Magazine of Western History,53 (Spring 2003), 58-64; this article is presented courtesy of the Montana Historical Society.  All rights reserved, © 2003.