xt7wh707xc0g https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7wh707xc0g/data/mets.xml Slade, James William, 1877- 1920  books b92-136-29327267 English Burton Pub. Co., : Kansas City, Mo. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Possum hunters  : a story of the tobacco war in Kentucky / by J.W. Slade. text Possum hunters  : a story of the tobacco war in Kentucky / by J.W. Slade. 1920 2002 true xt7wh707xc0g section xt7wh707xc0g 






THE POSSUM HUNTERS

     A Story of the Tobacco War
           in Kentucky





           J. W. SLADE



  Kansas City, Missouri
Burton Publishing Company
      Publishers

 





























  COPYRIGHTED 1920 BY
Burton Publishing Company
    All Rights Reserved



 






















CONTENTS



           CHAPTER 1
       "They Play the Game."

           CHAPTER 2
      "The Secret Committee."

           CHAPTER 3
"Scandal Is the Police Court of Society."

           CHAPTER 4
   "It's Going To Be SOME Crop."

           CHAPTER 5
 "A Man In Love Is Just Like a Kid."

           CHAPTER 6
    "'Business' Is Unsentimental."

           CHAPTER 7
   "Will You Read This Story"

           CHAPTER 8
    "The Side-line Social Touts."

           CHAPTER 9
      "Five Hundred Dollars."

               5

 









6                CONTENTS

                 CHAPTER 10
           "I Will Not Defend Myself."

                 CHAPTER 11
              "Was It Blackmail"

                 CHAPTER 12
        "I Am Angry, But Not With You."

                 CHAPTER 13
            "Mr. Crosby, Presideat."

                 CHAPTER 14
              "Why This Insult"

                 CHAPTER 15
        "You Do Not Love Hughes Randall."

                 CHAPTER 16
       "Yes We'll Win, For We Can't Lose."

                 CHAPTER 17
              "The Farmer Czar."

                 CHAPTER 18
          "Are You a Possum Hunter"

                CHAPTER 19
          "I Will Try To Advise You."

                CHAPTER 20
           "One Woman in a Million."

                CHAPTER 21
          "I Am Fighting in the Open."

                CHAPTER 22
       "We Are Hunting Out the Possums."

 








         CONTENTS                       7

         CHAPTER 23
 "You Sent For Me; I Am Here."

        CHAPTER 24
    "The Mysterious Agent."

        CHAPTER 25
 "To Me Yes; To You No."

        CHAPTER 26.
 "Sixteen and One-Half Minutes."

        CHAPTER 27
     "I Am Not a Quitter."

        CHAPTER 28
   "Begin Shipment at Once."

        CHAPTER 29
"I Love Love, I Love Honor More."

 
This page in the original text is blank.


 















CHAPTER I.



            "They Play the Game."
  Ever since the day when he had learned to
know the fickle exultation from his associate's
acclaim, "handsome ugly," Hughes Randall had
delighted in being a social economist, a builder of
schemes, a promoter of ideas, an organizer.
While in common-school he had organized the
"Undefeated Shinny Players," the "Base Ball
Terrors," and the "Foot Ball Challengers," lead-
ing each organization through a series of glorious
victories and unlamented defeats until "Cap"
came to supersede the less gracious nickname
"pug ugly." During one vacation he had organ-
ized the "Swimming-Pool Electors," one law of
which required each "Elector" to devote one hour
to cleaning and repairing the pool for the hour
spent in the water; and the farmer on whose land
the pool was located, was so pleased at having
the stock pond put in repair that he presented the
"Electors" with a year old pig. This acquisition
gave rise to the organization of "The Perpetual
Pig Club," a commercial scheme which was to
reap glorious returns from the stock in control;
no doubt the idea of the organizer would have
been accomplished but for two more dominant
factors, one being the necessary upkeep of said
pig, the other being a circus which came to the
city when the "Perpetuals" were short of finance.
                      B  

 








THE POSSUM HUNTERS



But even their supplications to dispose of the
stock was not without reward; the plea and argu-
ment was addressed to Hughes Randall as their
leader; he was the central figure in the organiza-
tion, their "President."
  The growing years did not diminish his stock
of magnetism. His semesters in college were
filled with due recognition of his ability to lead,
to promote, to organize. He had rejuvenated the
debating society, was a charter member of the
first Greek letter fraternity among the student
body, was most active in all matters pertaining
to athletic sports, and instituted the "Semi
Weekly Dance Club." But with all his activities
in the social life of the college there was one note-
worthy fault, failure, virtue, or indiscretion:
Hughes Randall never was known to claim such
an article as a sweetheart.
  His post-graduate course at the university
which gave him his degree in law was not dull
and drab because of unpleasing acclaim. Although
his degree prevented an active participation in
athletics, although the social life of the institu-
tion was in control of the students who had ma-
triculated as freshmen, although he entered the
university an unknown "post grad," he left a
memory carved in the hearts and affections of
the student body, and a "dramatic" club as the
result of his ability to organize. Also he left the
same exception to his college years; he was cour-
teous and affable to the charming young woman-
hood of his association, he would escort them to
theatres, parties and dances, but not one of them
could say what his eyes would look like as they
told the world old story.
  A lawyer, scholar, gentleman, and organizer,
he returned to his natal heath to practice in his
chosen profession and to promote, foster and en-
courage schemes of social and politic economy to



10

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



the upbuilding of the moral and commercial wel-
fare of the state. He dabbled in politics to the
extent of being elected representative from his
district, and while serving in this capacity he saw
the opportunity to organize a society the magni-
tude of which only gave zest to this born "or-
ganizer."
  He would give battle to the "Tobacco Trust."
He would form the tobacco farmers into a "fool-
proof, bomb-proof, wear-proof combine."  He
would turn timid fear into bold shoutings. He
would turn their prejudices into a marketable
asset. Glory be, here was a man's size job, a task
which none but an optimist would tackle; just
his size, just his spirit. Eagerly, painstakingly
he studied conditions, found out why other efforts
along this line had failed, and built the founda-
tion plan for a tremendous following.
  He built, untiringly he schemed and planned
and talked, argued, reasoned and explained. Un-
til the future began to promise the fulfillment of
his dreams of yesterday, the day was filled with
the glad joy of efficiency, and victory seemed to
smile on him as he was busily sorting the written
evidence of his accomplishment. 'Twas a joy-
giving day just on the edge of spring, a day such
as Nature fashions for lovers, dreamers and or-
ganizers. Possibly he was a "lover" without his
knowing the fact, no other than a "dreamer"
could have begun the engineering of his scheme,
certainly his record as an "organizer" prepared
"handsome ugly" Hughes Randall for the vast
amount of intricate detail work necessary for suc-
cess. These papers permitted him to "feel" suc-
cess; he smiled on each signature as though here
was something he would never forget; he called
off the number of acres listed in the "Contract-
Bond," or agreement between member and the
society, and waited fo--- his secretary to "check"



11

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



the entry; he told his secretary how eagerly one
man had "signed up," or the extra amount of
argument which was required before another
would join in the "pool." His secretary gave
pleased attention, she listens with that grace
which induces full recital, she understands be-
cause she loves the organization and the organ-
izer. Her eyes say this fact and she believes his
smile answers full. She listens, he talks, and
they are so interested in one of his recitals-and
in looking into eyes, that neither of them hear
the approach of a visitor through the outer room
of the suite until Durbin Ellis, nervous and irri-
table, stood in the doorway-Ellis, with his an-
noying habit of constantly flipping the ash from
his cigar by tapping it with his second finger.
  The visitor and client stood tapping his cigar
as though he was displeased over seeing other
folks happy while he was miserable.
  "Hello, Hughes." His gretting was a surly de-
mand for the lawyer's attention. He asks, "Are
you busy"
  "Always busy since the day the returns com-
menced to come in," was the jovial reply, as he
waved the handful of papers in a salutation to his
friend and kinsman, who merited additional con-
sideration since he was one of the most extensive
tobacco growers in the county. He welcomed his
visitor, then told him: "Sit down for a moment
and wait until we finish listing these new mem-
bers, please, old fellow, and it will be an intro-
duction to some few of the men who are already
in the society I intend to ask you to join." He
explained his delay in not asking him ere this:
"I have been anxiously waiting your return from
gay Palm Beach for the past thirty days, and
Miss Beatrice has been placing your name at the
very top of our 'prospect' list each time it was
revised. You remember Miss Herron, do you



12

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



not Miss Beatrice Herron, daughter of 'Old
Ironsides' "
  Two of them laughed over the appellation, the
other one seemed to be struggling to be less of a
grouch in the presence of beauty and wit. Miss
Herron appreciated the effort, she understood
that something gross was troubling the visitor,
with a woman's intuition, and remembering much
gossip which had been running around loose of
late, she correctly guessed the cause, therefore,
she was more than gracious and tried to detract
him from ugly memories. She advanced argu-
ments why he should become one of their mem-
bers, and did not wait for him to give assent or
denial to her statements. Logically she quoted
facts and figures as though this was the sole
subject of her thoughts and the one which she
would recommend to him as of greater impor-
tance than all things else. She saw that logic and
reason were not impressing her audience, so
changed her tactics; she began teasing him for
being "the last big farmer of Fayette County to
join." She was enthused by her arguments and
efforts, and might have won her "prospect" to
her way of thinking had she been given a few
more minutes, but when the last contract-bond
had been recorded and filed she turned to her
typewriter desk as she admonished him to "let
Mister Randall tell you all about it."
  "Durbin," Hughes began; "you know that I am
trying to perfect this Society of Equity, which is
the one great hope of the farmer, and to make it
a more powerful body than the 'Trust' we are
fighting. Certainly you must realize that with-
out a union of farmers who demand a living wage
for the product of their labor, the combination of
manufacturers and middle-man, who gain greater
and greater control each day, will forever hold
the "tiller of the soil" in the thrall of slavery.



13

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



Tobacco is the principal product through this sec-
tion of Kentucky, many of your neighbors depend
on their tobacco crop to give them the wherewith
to live, and you know that the combination of
buyers have held the price down to a mere pit-
tance. I am going to break that combination. I
am going to dictate the price to the buyer. I am
going to organize a shell-proof, bomb-proof and
fool-proof organization. When organized, we will
hold out for our price, we will dictate instead of
being robbed, and if necessary we will manufac-
ture our tobacco and put it op. the market. But
that will not be necessary; the Crosby Tobacco
Company can be brought to reason, they are
human just like you and your other tobacco grow-
ers. Will you come in with us Will you help"
  "No."
  "Why "
  "Because I refuse to tickle myself with pretty
words when there isn't a God's blessed chance of
success."
  "You are the first man who ever told me that
God was fighting on the side of the 'Trust,'"
Hughes laughingly admonished; then seriously:
"Why do you think our hope is so vain"
  "Because this same scheme has been tried
three different times, and was a complete and
miserable failure each time."
  "I grant that, but why was it a failure"
  "Simply because the 'Trust' could buy their
tobacco from the men who didn't join in the move,
and the poor fools who formed the 'pool' were
laughed at as they were told to count their credi-
tors while the other farmers counted their dol-
lars. Your scheme will pan out just the same
way, even though you've got it hedged up in
better language than the others were. But you
can't fool Durbin Ellis; because he was fool
enough to join two of the other 'pools.' Just re-



14

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



member this as long as you live: The farmer will
always play a losing game when he attempts to
buck against 'big money.' "
  "Why" eagerly insisted Hughes Randall, and
Durbin Ellis said words which afterwards were
to be turned into an Equity slogan:
  "Because those men know how to play the
game."'
  "That's it. That's the one and only answer.
That's the only point for us to remember. You
have pointed to the hunch for success or failure
in this deal. The 'Trust knows how to play the
game.' They play the man, not the cards. They
urge you on to sentimental haste while they play
a watchful-waiting game. They have made boobs,
whiners and quitters of the men who produce the
tobacco, simply because the farmer was so im-
patient to see the color of the dollar he couldn't
wait and watch and 'play the game.' Those three
efforts failed because they started out to bluff
the 'Trust' into paying a better price, they failed
because money cannot be bluffed, they failed be-
cause the dollar has no sentiment, they failed
because the pool was constructed of a magnificent
wish-bone where there should have been a back-
bone. Were there any 'every-day' reasons Yes,
two. First, the promoters controlled less than
half the tobacco grown; second, they demanded
more money than the product was justly worth.
That is history which no sane man can deny. The
plan which we are working on now will not fail,
simply because we have learned 'to play the
game,' the same game which the 'Trust' learned
long ago. Before we go into permanent organi-
zation we will fix a reasonable price, a living
wage, and a fair profit; thereby eliminating all
speculation from our scheme. We then will go
into the 'watchful-waiting' game, and stand fixed
to our principles; and we'll win, or put the 'Trust'



15

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



out of the tobacco business."
  "Aw, hell," the farmer exclaimed in disgust.
His little stock of patience was completely ex-
hausted; he had not come to the lawyer's office
to discuss the products of man, he was here to
talk over the products of the devil. He told his
cousin so: "I don't want to talk tobacco, or any-
thing else except that," and he threw an en-
velope onto the desk in front of Hughes.
  The lawyer correctly guessed what the en-
velope would contain even before he lifted it from
the desk. He had feared this epoch in the do-
mestic affairs of his kinsman and friend; feared
it as only a man of staunch principles and un-
sullied life can fear the insidious evil of slander-
ous court proceedings. He read the letter which
was in the envelope, read it in sympathetic silence.
He pitied the man, pitied the woman who was
deserting the man and leaving only this note to
tell of her intention to return to her people. He
wished that he could help them, he would have
done anything in his power to draw them to-
gether again that they might live as their mar-
riage vows had sworn them to live. He was sorry
that he could not help, sorry that he was unable
to assist in annulling the marriage by court pro-
ceeding, but such assistance would be contrary to
one of the fixed principles of the law firm Ran-
dall, Clay  Randall.
  The farmer bluntly demanded: "I want you
to get me a divorce; get it as quickly and as
quietly as possible, but get it. I'm worth about
sixty thousand dollars outside of those five hun-
dred acres that are entailed; if I should die she
would be given about twenty thousand dollars,
or one-third of my fee simple property; I'm the
same as dead to her now so give her that amount;
but hurry up and get the divorce. I want to be
free." He arose and would hurry from the office,



16

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



but the lawyer called to him:
  "Wait, Durbin." He regretted saying that
which he would be forced to tell his kinsman and
friend, but an absolute rule of the law firm de-
manded that no one of the members should ac-
cept a case in divorce. "Come back and sit down,"
he asked, and when the farmer returned he began
telling him how impossible it was for him to
handle this class of practice, but that he would
go with him to a law firm skilled in "Domestic
Relations" practice.
  This refusal dazed the farmer. He was un-
able to comprehend the ethics which seemed so
clear to his kinsman. He had suffered inordinate
worry over the affair, and had believed it only
necessary for him to come to Randall, Clay 
Randall, state his demand, give them the evi-
dence, and secure relief. With a hazy, unbeliev-
ing, dull stare he sat looking at the lawyer. He
fumbled in his pocket, found a fresh cigar, tried
to light it from the long since dead cigar which
he had all but pounded to pieces with incessant
tapping, got a match out of his pocket, struck it
against the desk, and as the match flared up, so
did he.
  "You mean-you mean you are not going to
handle this suit"
  "I do," though he qualified the statement by,
"It is not I who refuse the practice, it is the firm,
though God knows each and every one of us have
personal reasons for not practicing in that
branch."
  "You, hell." Durbin was suddenly furious.
"You are refusing to help me simply because I
won't join your damned society."
  "You can at least remember that a woman is
present." He towered over the enraged man as
a school master over a refractory pupil.
  "Woman" was the cause of all the hell he had



17

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



suffered since the note had been found on his
"whisky cabinet," "woman" was the word which
now tormented him. Jumping to his feet he
shook his fist in the face of his kinsman and
raved:
  "Woman, hell, no I don't forget her, and if she
knew one-half as much about my affairs as she
does about your fake tobacco scheme she would
argue you into helping me out. No I don't forget
her, and I won't forget you, either." He rushed
to the door, turned and flung: "You are going
to live to be sorry for your straight-laced prac-
tice and your petticoated ideas of divorce, and by
God I'm going to try and make you sorry. Yes,
I refuse to sign up with your farmer's trust, and
I'll do everything in my power to break it up.
You're only starting it as a boost to some political
scheme of yours, and you're trying to tie the
farmer to you to make him the goat. But I'm
not going to be one of your damned boobs, and
I'm going to take care to see that nobody I have
any influence with is fooled by your smooth talk
and high-toned wind-jamming." Angrily slam-
ming the door after him he rushed into the hall.
  The lawyer sprang after him, his Southern
blood was up, he would give the whipping which
was invited, he
  "Hughes !"
  The cool warning in the tone drew the son to
his composure, turning, he saw his father and
Mr. Clay standing in the doorway leading from
his office into that of William Randall's. The
elderly members of the firm had heard the hot
ranting of Durbin Ellis, and had hastened to pre-
vent a possible encounter. Well did they know
that their arrival had been most opportune, for
the glint of his eyes and the paleness of his face
eloquently told of the waging battle between
anger and discretion in the heart and brain of



18

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



Hughes Randall. They inquired into the cause,
accepted the explanation of Hughes and Miss
Beatrice, lamented the fact that an old client had
become offended, regretted that he was swearing
vengeance, though classified the occurrence as
''an unavoidable accident." The even tenor of a
well-regulated law office was soon restored, and
Randall, Clay  Randall "were playing the game"
with every card in the deck. They did not at-
tempt to depreciate the influence of their new an-
tagonist, they knew Durbin Ellis to be a man who
would wage a most bitter fight, they realized that
the five tobacco barns on his two farms would
form a weighty argument for the "non-pool" fac-
tions, and William Randall was fearful lest the
venom in the unchecked hate of the farmer would
incite some of the Equity supporters to do physi-
cal damage.
  "'Forewarned is forearmed,' they say, so today
will be the best time to begin intensive solicita-
tion in Durbin's district." Hughes asserted, and
he was making preparation to go on that task
when his father asked:
  "Will you help Mr. Clay and myself 'pick a
jury' before you go" They were all three soon
busied over the task of "picking a jury."
                    



19



 















CHAPTER 2.



           "The Secret Committee."
  The law firm of Randall, Clay  Randall was
elite from the professional, political and social
viewpoint, and very sound financially. They were
"corporate counsel" for one of the "trunk line"
railroads, and "attorneys in pleading" for many
firms of major magnitude. They were proud but
not boastful, diplomatic but not arrogant, and
attributed a great amount of their success to an
adherence to two rules:
  "Safe and sane briefs.
  "Safe and sane jurors."
  A large and well-selected library of law books
made possible their adherence to the first maxim,
and a certain system which Hughes had jokingly
labeled "The Mental Pedigree" was invaluable as-
sistance to the second. This "Mental Pedigree"
consisted of a complete record of every juror who
had served during the past ten years in cases
involving corporation law or circumstantial evi-
dence. Citations were condensed and methodical,
slight research was involved to determine the
suitability of a prospective juror. It was a clever
scheme, skillfully devised and ably employed, and
was of supreme value to the firm. It had been
invented by Mr. Clay, and perfected by Hughes,
but William Randall to this day fought its use
and required his partners to maintain a fearful
secrecy as to its existence. He would have de-
                       20

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



stroyed it rather than permit a copy of it to be
made, and often designated it as "a most dan-
gerous instrument in the hands of fools." All
of them were destined to remember this warning
long afterwards when its adoption in a commer-
cial enterprise would result in the formation of
the Kuklux of tobacco.
  The partners themselves were essentially "safe
and sane." William H. Randall, the senior mem-
ber, was a typical Kentuckian-not that he al-
ways wore a long frock coat, black string tie,
broad-brimmed hat, or had an innate proclivity
for the mint bedecked julep. He and his friends
did not know the picturesque and bombastic
Colonel, who boasts a julep appetite and "would
have you to know, suh, that I am a Kentuckian,
suh." Mr. Randall was of the Kentucky of cul-
ture and democracy, the aristocracy of achieve-
ment, and the nobility of honest intentions.
  Gregory C. Clay, second member of the firm,
was a careful, dogmatic individual, one of the
recognized scholars of the state. He loved all
books, but law was his passion. Has patience
was the marvel of all who knew him, nothing
pleased him more than a knotty problem of in-
tricate detail, and with the assistance of Miss
Herron he had devised a system of filing the
equity pledges which was a wonder in its com-
pleteness.
  Hughes Randall, third member of the firm,
ex-representative, and organizer of the Society of
Equity, was only a few months past his thirtieth
year and joyously proud of his youth. He had
the rugged features, "the attractive ugliness"
which, with some wonderful power, bewitches
women sooner and more often than the blandish-
ments of the "handsome" men. He was put to-
gether in the mold of an athlete, and "could whip
his weight in wildcats, with or without." His



21

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



quick smile was an instant invitation to friend-
ship, while his clear blue eyes held many warn-
ings against enmity. He had never had a love
affair; some day he would meet the woman his
soul cried out to, and when he did so he could
say "Thou art my first, my only love." He be-
lieved he would recognize that one; she would not
be fitted to a selfish pattern, but would be so
altogether lovely and overpowering as to make
her every word the foundation upon which
"home" is builded. Should he have been told
that he had met that one, should the Gods have
let him know that his love was so much a part
of his very life as not to be separated and dis-
tinguished by a special name; should he have
even guessed the truth, he would have been won-
derously happy, gladly mystified. But it is not
given one man to see too many secrets of "or-
ganization," so he must devote more skill to the
formation of the "house of Equity" than to "the
house of Randall." Just at this moment he was
so intensely interested in the formation of the
society of tobacco growers that he was more at-
tentive to the maneuvers of Albert J. Andrews,
state purchasing agent for the Crosby Tobacco
Company, or "Trust," than in the marksmanship
of one "Dan Cupid," the recognized Comptroller
of love: A condition which was greatly to the
advantage of a scheme which was being perfected
by Mrs. Anna B. Easson and her daughter, Miss
Caroline, though distressful to Miss Beatrice
Herron.
                    
  The successful lawyer is not the one who de-
votes his time to building elaborate bouquets of
beautiful words to be gracefully and eloquently
presented to judge and jury; he is the one who
most skilfully bends law and physical conditions
to support his case. Hughes Randall had been



22

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



asked to assist in the selection of the most likely
candidates in the panel of jurymen, because the
case which his father and Mr. Clay would defend
in court on the morrow was one of great local
interest. Durbin Ellis did not have time to sat-
urate his anger in a dozen highballs before that
number of jurors had been chosen from the first
half of the list, and the three lawyers were in-
tently busy in their discussion of the faults, fail-
ings, pro and anti beliefs of the remaining num-
ber.
  Suddenly Hughes paused in his task; there was
something which was rankling in his brain, some-
thing which he had been silently fighting ever
since the moment his cousin left the office; with
force he hammered his fist on the table in front
of him as he vehemently declared: "I do not
believe that Durbin Ellis or any other man for
whom I have the least grain of respect or affect-
ion would betray friends and fellow land owners,
deliberately hurl himself and his neighbors into a
more absolute slavery, tear hope from the heart
and fling all prospects of embetterment into the
slough of despair, by contracting to deliver his
future production and all he can buy or control,
over to the enemy while others are struggling to
form and hold together a pool."
  "Nor I," chimed Mr. Clay.
  "That is your personal belief, mine also," Wil-
liam Randall would caution; "but we have his own
words and the evidence of his past conduct to
support his stand as a rebel. He was largely in-
strumental in breaking up the last effort at pool-
ing the crop; the agreement between the farmers
was 'not to sell the tobacco to manufacturers or
storage warehouses', he bought thousands of
pounds from those who were in the pool and sold
it to the 'trust'.- He can rally to his support all
of the farmers who are opposed to our plan, and



2B

 







THE POSSUM HUNTERS



there will be many of them despite our greatest
effort; certainly he can control the product of his
own tenants and those who rent ground from him;
if he makes the effort to do so he can influence
the policy of the bank of which he is a director;
he might even be shrewd enough to advance money
on the tobacco in pool, taking first mortgage on
the crop, and endeavor to force it out of the
Equity's control by a suit in court."
  "Thank you for that technical possibility," the
organizer accepted, then prophesied: "I shall make
a powerful effort to have the assembly enact
special laws to give us protection." Afterwards
he was successful in his attempt to secure state
protection to the Equity's "Sale-Bond" contract.
  The more experienced lawyers would advise him
against the possibility of "class legislation"; they
argued the subject pro and con, Mr. Clay finally
agreeing to "take the matter up and see if such
a law could be framed to hold water," he believed
the idea could be formed into one of their most
powerful weapons.
  "The law is a most powerful weapon but it can
be turned into a most miserable curse," William
Randall philosophized.
  Hughes was quick to answer; "Law is the
weapon by which men force support to their claim,
and those who do not know how to handle 'law'
are the only ones who bring the 'curse.' There
is no 'law' to prohibit or permit our use of this
'mental pedigree,' yet the opposing counsel would
envy us its use, and doubtless try to prohibit us
its use did they discover its existence. They
must be puzzled to know why we so quickly reject
some men who appear to be rational human beings,
they must wonder why we readily accept men who
are as rigid in their dealings as 'Old Ironsides'
Herron, they do not know we do so because we
have the record showing where those men were



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influenced by fixed personal faith and beliefs. I
want to be prepared to fight the quitter the same
as you will be prepared to fight the opposing
counsel by the use of this 'mental pedigree.'
When you go into court tomorrow you will know
more about some of those men, their real opinions
and inclinations, than they know or acknowledge
to themselves; and your knowledge was gleaned
from the use of a weapon which could be made
'lawful' did you but ask the assembly to recognize
it as such. We know to a certainty what banker
will have influence over a certain land owner, be-
cause that bank holds a 'blanket' over the farm;
we know the political faith and creed of the in-
dividual; we know whether he is a radical 'union'
supporter, or a man of unfixed principles; we
know if he is antagonistic to corporate interests,
whether he favors a body of men or the individual;
we-" His voice caught on that word and held in
a creative silence; praise of the "mental pedigree"
and its valued services had developed an idea, a
scheme, more bold, more daring, more powerful in
its possibilities, than any he had heretofore
developed. The scheme was quickly taking definite
form in his active brain, rapidly he began to
speak as he outlined the idea to Mr. Clay and his
father; he was the dreamer, organizer, creator;
his eyes sparkled with the glory of genius;
  "Why not adapt this 'mental pedigree' plan of
securing information to the organization of the
society Why not have a carefully chosen com-
mittee in each and every county to unearth the
secret connections of the obstinate tobacco farm-
er We could operate with the same secrecy we
employ in our selection of a jury, and there is no
reason why the scheme would be less successful
in commerce than it is in law. Let the committee
secretly work to secure inside information on an
unconvinced grower; let them learn his private



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affairs, his banker, his creditors, his friends and
enemies, his affiliations of every class and charac-
ter, and the society can bring to bear a pressure
which cannot be resisted."
  Mr. Clay caught the spirit of the idea, quickly
he was aglow with the same enthusiasm as the
younger man, he elaborated on the scheme and
drew it into many ramifications, he was delighted
to lend his invention to the commercial enterprise.
But the more cautious William Randall looked
very dubious as he listened to the eager discussion,
years had been required to win him over to the
free use of