The Nuremberg Trials

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

Holocaust. The very word conjures up unimaginable horrors. “The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.”

To control this threat, the Germans herded Jews into ghettos—enclosed districts that were isolated from the general populace as well as from other Jewish communities.  Once isolated, it became easier to implement the “final solution” of eradicating anyone considered inferior.  Between mass shootings and gas chambers at concentration camps like Dachau, Auschwitz, Treblinka, and others, the final death toll was staggering.

With Allied victories in Europe and Japan in 1945, thoughts turned (although the issue had been discussed earlier in the war) to consideration of how to seek justice for Nazi atrocities. “In December 1942, the Allied leaders of Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union “issued the first joint declaration officially noting the mass murder of European Jewry and resolving to prosecute those responsible for violence against civilian populations,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), the Soviet leader, initially proposed the execution of 50,000 to 100,000 German staff officers. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) discussed the possibility of summary execution (execution without a trial) of high-ranking Nazis, but was persuaded by American leaders that a criminal trial would be more effective. Among other advantages, criminal proceedings would require documentation of the crimes charged against the defendants and prevent later accusations that the defendants had been condemned without evidence.”

Much of Nuremberg was in ruins after the war, n.d. Source: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/nuremberg-germany-in-ruins-1945-david-lee-guss.html

Much of Nuremberg was in ruins after the war, n.d. Source: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/nuremberg-germany-in-ruins-1945-david-lee-guss.html

Setting up the trials was beset with difficulties.  There was no precedent for international justice on this scope–war crimes trials in the past had been held by single nations.  Now four sovereign nations (France, Britain, the Soviet Union, and the U.S.) were going to have to agree on a single set of laws and procedures while coming from different legal frameworks, traditions, and ideals.  The Allies wanted the trials held in Germany but selecting a location in a defeated and destroyed country was no easy feat.  The city of Nuremberg was chosen for several reasons—its Palace of Justice was still standing (see below), large enough to host the attendant crowd, and had a large prison area.  There were also important symbolic reasons to choose Nuremberg.  Nuremberg was the site of many of Hitler’s populist rallies and well as where the laws that stripped Jews of everything had been enacted.  It was thus fitting that Nuremberg should be the site where Hitler’s Third Reich came to an end.

Nuremberg Trial

Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, n.d. Source: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/trials/nurnbergtrial.html

Defendants at Nuremberg

Defendants Hermann Göring, Karl Dönitz, and Rudolf Hess confer, while examining a document, in the dock at the courtroom at the Nuremberg Trials. Two military policemen stand behind them, n.d. Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A4%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BB:Defendants_G%C3%B6ring,_D%C3%B6nitz,_and_Hess_conferring_Nuremberg_Trials.jpeg

There were two sets of Nuremberg trials, although the first, which indicted 21 major war criminals, was best known. Each Allied nation supplied two judges, a main and an alternate. The main American prosecutor was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. Indictments were based on “three categories of crimes: crimes against peace (including planning, preparing, starting or waging wars of aggression or wars in violation of international agreements), war crimes (including violations of customs or laws of war, including improper treatment of civilians and prisoners of war) and crimes against humanity (including murder, enslavement or deportation of civilians or persecution on political, religious or racial grounds).”  Hitler and his top henchmen Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler were not available to be placed on trial, having already committed suicide.  Among the 21 indicted were Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, and Martin Bormann (tried in absentia).  “As the accused men and judges spoke four different languages, the trial saw the introduction of a technological innovation taken for granted today: instantaneous translation. IBM provided the technology and recruited men and women from international telephone exchanges to provide on-the-spot translations through headphones in English, French, German and Russian.  In the end, the international tribunal found all but three of the defendants guilty.  Twelve were sentenced to death, one in absentia, and the rest were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life behind bars. Ten of the condemned were executed by hanging on October 16, 1946. Hermann Göring (1893-1946), Hitler’s designated successor and head of the “Luftwaffe” (German air force), committed suicide the night before his execution with a cyanide capsule he had hidden in a jar of skin medication.”

After the main trial, 12 more were held from 1946-1949.  Because of differences between the Allies a joint trial was no longer possible, so the later trials were U.S. military tribunals.  One of these was the doctors’ trial for those accused of crimes against humanity, including the medical experiments conducted on prisoners of war.  Other trials dealt with industrialists, SS officers, and high-ranking army officers.  The judges (or jurists) trial charged 16 lawyers and judges with implementing eugenics laws to preserve racial purity.

This latter trial involves some local interest.  Deputy chief of counsel was Charles LaFollette.  Charles Marion LaFollette (1898-1974) “moved with his parents to Evansville, Ind., in 1901; attended the public schools and entered Wabash College at Crawfordsville, Ind., in September 1916; during the First World War enlisted in the United States Army and served with the One Hundred and Fifty-first Infantry, Thirty-eighth Division, 1917-1919, with four months overseas; attended Wabash College until June 1921; studied law at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., in 1921 and also in law offices in Dayton, Ohio, and Evansville, Ind.; was admitted to the bar in 1925 and commenced practice in Evansville, Ind.; member of the State house of representatives 1927-1929; elected as a Republican to the Seventy-eighth and to the Seventy-ninth Congresses (January 3, 1943-January 3, 1947); was not a candidate for reelection in 1946 but was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for United States Senator; deputy chief of counsel for war crimes, Nuremberg, Germany, from January 4, 1947, to December 15, 1947; director of the Office of Military Government for Wurttemberg-Baden, Germany, from December 15, 1947, to January 16, 1949; appointed a director of Americans for Democratic Action on July 1, 1949, serving until May 1, 1950; member of first Subversive Activities Contol Board, 1950-1951; died in Trenton, N.J., June 27, 1974; cremated; ashes interred at Locust Hill Cemetery.”

LaFollette’s prosecution led to 10 convictions, with imprisonment for life in four of these.  Transcripts for the case, as well as his closing argument for the prosecution, made October 13, 1947, is available here through Digital Commons at Georgia Law, a  project of the School of Law at the University of Georgia.  Special Collections/University Archives has a collection of LaFollette’s speeches, correspondence, photographs, etc.  Within that collection is a copy of a speech he delivered on June 3, 1948 entitled “The Case Against Nazi Jurists.”  Made in his capacity as director of the Office of Military Government for Wurttemberg-Baden, it was presented to the interzonal conference of lawyers and justice officials in Munich.  There had been criticism of the Nuremberg trials on several grounds by many, even by U.S. Supreme Court justices.  In his speech, LaFollette passionately and at great length (44 single-spaced, typewritten pages) defended the trials.  On the accusation that like crimes were committed in other places by other individuals who were not charged, he wrote, “Such an argument chooses to ignore the sound rule that two wrongs do not make a right. … Would a court of Bavaria permit a murder to defend on the ground that a man had committed a murder in Thuringia and not been brought to trial?…Again, would any Protestant bishop anywhere in Germany refuse to discipline a pastor of his church who had stolen from his parishioners, merely because the pastor alleged as a defense that the bishops of [other church denominations] did not discipline their priests or ministers for the same act?” (p. 7) He concluded by cautioning, “these defendants have injured you, the German people, by their crimes.  They are not your martyred heroes, they are your betrayers.” (p. 43)

U.S. Deputy Chief of Counsel Charles M. LaFollette at the podium during the Justice Case. Behind him is the prosecution team., n.d. Source: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1058535

U.S. Deputy Chief of Counsel Charles M. LaFollette at the podium during the Justice Case. Behind him is the prosecution team., n.d. Source: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1058535

Troubled and contentious as they were, the Nuremberg Trials are nevertheless credited with progress towards establishing international laws, such as those of the Geneva Convention.  And a local man had a part in it!

Resources Consulted:

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1994-Present.

“Introduction to the Holocaust.”  The Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

MSS 005 Charles LaFollette Collection (Special Collections/University Archives)

“The Nuremberg Trials.”  The Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Nuremberg trials.  History Channel online, 2010, updated 2018.

Nuremberg Trials Project.  Harvard Law School Library, 2016.

Trial 3—The Judges Case. (Nuremberg trials).  Digital Commons @ Georgia Law, a project of the School of Law at the University of Georgia.

Posted in European History, Holocaust, World War 2 | Leave a comment

Once Upon a Time …

Colleen Moore (left) with her younger brother, Cleeve, n.d. Source: https://silentology.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/colleen-moore-americas-favorite-flapper/

Colleen Moore (left) with her younger brother, Cleeve, n.d. Source: https://silentology.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/colleen-moore-americas-favorite-flapper/

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

….there was a little girl named Kathleen Morrison who grew up to be an actress called Colleen Moore.  After she retired from the silver screen, she indulged her second love of dolls, and built a fairy castle enjoyed by millions of guests.

Kathleen Morrison was born in Port Huron, MI in 1899 (although she claimed it was in 1902). She and her younger brother, Cleeve, shown here, enjoyed a happy middle-class childhood surrounded by family.  The family moved to Georgia, then Pennsylvania, and finally, Florida.  “Perhaps the most important event of Kathleen’s childhood was the lucky day she and her mother went to see a very popular new play–Peter Pan. Absolutely mesmerized, she became so carried away by the story that when the famous scene arrived of Peter Pan turning to the audience and asking children to raise their hands if they believed in fairies (as Moore recalled in her biography), Kathleen stood on her chair waving her hands frantically, shrieking “I believe in fairies, I really do!!”  The laughter from the audience both surprised and delighted her–this was much more satisfying than reciting stories to her tiny audiences at home. And thus began her dream of becoming an actress.”

Her dream became a reality when her uncle, Chicago newspaperman George Howey, introduced her to famous director D.W. Griffith, who owed him a favor. After a successful screen test, she and her mother and grandmother were soon aboard a train, Hollywood bound. A quick study and a hard worker, the newly-minted actress made a couple of films for Griffith, honing her skills along the way through her 6-month contract. She also made a number of films for other studios.

For most of her early roles, Colleen played girlish, innocent heroines and love interests.  By the early 1920’s, however, the appearance of the flapper was rocking the foundations of American society. “Industrialization had made it possible for women to hold jobs that did not require the strength of their male counterparts. Armies of newly-minted stenographers and typists descended upon the cities where they could make a living. The cities themselves made it easy for a woman to live alone and yet be able to acquire all the necessities of life.  By the 1920s, it was clear that women were not sticking to the expected ideals.  There were jobs available in big cities, comforts undreamed of on the farm. They smoked and drank and had sex. They wore makeup, discarded their restraining corsets, and enjoyed sinful jazz music. Their whole generation was going to hell in a hand basket, their dismayed elders exclaimed. Flappers were women of questionable morals and subject of both fascination and fear by the public.”

Her performance in Flaming Youth got good reviews, and the new Dutch-boy style haircut seen here, created by her mother, was widely imitated. Her career flourished and she went on to make many more movies.  The end of the decade saw the introduction of a new phenomenon, the talking motion picture, or “talkie.” Colleen made 4 talkies, but none of them was particularly successful.  She decided that she had had a good run in Hollywood, and cutting her losses, she retired from acting in 1934.

Fortunately, Colleen was a shrewd investor and savvy financial manager, so she now had the time and wherewithal to indulge in her passion for dolls. Back in 1928, she and her father had decided to build the most deluxe of dollhouses, the dollhouse to end all dollhouses. A set designer and an architect were involved in planning the 9 ft. square, 13 room structure, which included a 12 ft. tall bell tower. Some 100 people worked on the project between 1928-1935. “An intricate work of art, it featured thirteen fairytale-themed rooms complete with gorgeous miniature furniture, hand-painted murals and teeny paintings, and even a tiny library with miniature books signed by famous writers of the day. No expense was spared–real gold, diamonds, and other trimmings were used to make it as beautiful as possible.”

Photograph 1: https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/03/01/colleen-moore-dollhouse/

Photographs 2-6: https://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/colleen-moores-fairy-castle/

 

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The piano in the drawing room is 6.25 inches long, 2.75 inches wide, and 3 inches high with the top closed. The Royal Doulton dinner service in the kitchen is an exact replica of that in Queen Mary’s dollhouse in Windsor Castle.  Floors are of marble and inlaid wood.  The total cost, in 1935 dollars, was almost $500,000.

She continued to tweak her creation all her life, and during the Great Depression, she used it as a force for good. “In 1935 Colleen Moore’s child-like fascination with her Fairy Castle was transformed by the Great Depression into a passion for helping children. She organized a national tour of the Fairy Castle to raise money for children’s charities. The tour stopped in most major cities of the United States and was often exhibited in the toy departments of prominent department stores such as Macy’s in New York City, The Fair in Chicago and May Co. in Los Angeles. A brochure from The Fair in Chicago promotes it: “A museum in itself—it awaits you—starting November 15th in our Eighth Floor Toyland. You will want to see it again and again.” The tour was a huge success and raised more than $650,000 between 1935 and 1939.” University Archives and Special Collection has a copy of Colleen Moore’s Doll House Cut-Outs, a child’s activity book that was produced for the Ullman Toy Department when the exhibit was there (MSS 084), and a copy of The Enchanted Castle, a children’s storybook written by Moore in 1935 that takes place within the castle. (Special Collections, call number PZ8.M802 En)

Since 1949, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle has been on permanent display in a climate controlled environment at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). In a 9-month project in 2013-2014, the castle was taken apart and repaired, and when restored to its original glory, reassembled by a team of curators. Each of the 1500 pieces was put back in place by hand.  Some were so small that the curators wore masks so as not to inhale them! MSI has a fascinating YouTube video that shows this process in less than three minutes.

Once upon a time a little girl grew up to create a masterpiece where a once upon a time story might have taken place. Maybe fairytales can come true!

Colleen Moore in her Fairy Castle, holding Cinderella’s coach.

Colleen Moore in her Fairy Castle, holding Cinderella’s coach.

Resources consulted:

Colleen Moore, America’s Favorite Flapper.  Silent-ology website, March 5, 2018.

Colleen Moore biography at IMDB.com

Colleen Moore Project website

Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle: A Doll House To Dream Of (CBS Sunday Morning)

Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle Restoration at MSI Chicago (YouTube video)

Exhibit / Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle:  The Original Tiny House (Chicago: Museum of Science and Industry

Smithfield, Brad. “Silent film star Colleen Moore created the most exquisite dollhouse, showcasing 1,500 miniatures.”  The Vintage News online, March 1, 2018.

Williams, Rob.  “Inside the $7m fairy castle doll’s house built by 100 people for a Hollywood film star.” The Independent online, August 2, 2013.

Posted in Art, Theatre | Leave a comment

#FlashbackFriday: Pearl Harbor Attacks

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections.

In one sentence, U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941) summed up the emotion of the Pearl Harbor attacks: “YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan”.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. The Pearl Harbor attack was planned by Yamamoto Isoroku; moreover, they had “… 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 11 destroyers, sailed to a point some 275 miles (440 km) north of Hawaii. From there, about 360 planes in total were launched” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017). The attack began at 7:55 AM and after the attack, there were “… more than 180 aircraft were destroyed. U.S. military casualties totaled more than 3,400, including more than 2,300 killed. The Japanese lost from 29 to 60 planes, five midget submarines, perhaps one or two fleet submarines, and fewer than 100 men” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017).

USS Mt. Vernon, photograph signed "Your shipmate, Emory P. Eldredge, Captain, U.S. Navy" "USS Mount Vernon (AP-22) was a troop transport that served with the United States Navy during World War II. Prior to her military service, she was a luxury ocean liner named SS Washington, 1945. Source: Charles LaFollette collection, MSS 005-021.

USS Mt. Vernon with a signature from Captain Emory P. Eldredge, 1945. Source: Charles LaFollette Collection, MSS 005-021.

At the University Archives and Special Collections, we have over twenty collections relating to World War II, such as the Ken McCutchan, Dorothy Zehner, Owen Hamilton, Paul Grimes, and many other collections. On our online digital gallery, we have more than six hundred digital various media items available, such as images, text, and media files.

References

Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017, February 23). Pearl Harbor attacks. Retrieved on November 27, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Pearl-Harbor-attack

Roosevelt, F. D. (1941) Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York Transcript. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afccal000483/.

Posted in #OnThisDay, American history, history | 1 Comment

Santa Claus is coming to town

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

Wait a minute—he already lives here! Did you know that there is a town in southern Indiana named Santa Claus? Santa Claus, IN 47579.  Population 2,411 in the 2017 estimated Census.  Some 60 miles ENE of Evansville.

264-1846

Statue of Santa Claus, 1949. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264-1846.

If you have children or are young at heart, you probably know it as the home of Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, with “top-ranked roller coasters and one of the world’s largest water parks.”  But there’s much more to it than just a theme park—here, to quote Paul Harvey, is “the rest of the story.”

The small town in Spencer County was settled in the 1800’s. It was surveyed and mapped in 1846, but there were settlers there at least as early as 1820.  The post office opened in 1856, and that’s probably when the town was named. There are a number of different stories about this, and the facts may never be known.  One source said the town had no name, another said it was originally named Santa Fe.  Either because there was another Santa Fe, Indiana, or because the town needed any name, legend says that during a December meeting to discuss this, the doors blew open and sleigh bells were heard on the wind.  The children cried, “Santa Claus!,” and thus Santa Claus, IN was born.

In the 1930’s, residents began to capitalize on their town’s name, with souvenir shops, toy manufacturers, and candy makers creating medieval themed architecture.  The Curtiss Candy Company from Chicago built the Santa Claus Candy Castle, seen here in 1940.

264-1976

Santa Claus Candy Castle, 1940. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264-1976.

At about the same time this 40 ton, 22 feet tall statue was erected in a scenic overlook park, along with a wishing well and a log cabin.  The dedication was “to the children of the world in memory of an undying love.”  This statue was restored in 2011.

Children standing around Santa Claus statue, 1940. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264.2174.

Children standing around Santa Claus statue, 1940. Source: Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 264.2174.

Promotion of Santa Claus as a tourist destination really hit its stride with the entrance of Louis J. Koch on the scene.  A wealthy industrialist from Evansville, Koch thought other families like his would enjoy spending time together in a happy atmosphere.  He purchased 260 acres of land in the area and began development of Santa Claus Land.  World War II put a halt to the project for some years, but work began in earnest in 1945 and the park opened the next year.

The park opened a year later all decorated in festive holiday attire and filled with attractions straight out of Santa’s sack of treats. Designed in an appropriate alpine architecture, Santa’s Headquarters included Toyland, a restaurant, a gift shop, a large doll house with more than 1,100 antique toys, a variety of playground equipment, a museum filled with antique toys, toys from foreign lands, and a selection of current toys that children could point to when they sat upon Santa’s knee to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.”

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Another way to tell Santa what you want for Christmas is to write him a letter.  Since 1914 children have been able to receive letters from Santa sent from Santa Claus, Indiana.  The post office, which normally gets 13,000 pieces of mail per month, receives over 400,000 during the month of December.

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In 1983, the post office began a contest to design a special Christmas postmark.  Local high school art students submit entries and a new postmark is made each year.  You can take or send your Christmas cards to the Santa Claus post office to have them stamped with this special art work.  The 2018 contest was won by Savannah McCutchan.

Santa Claus, IN has grown and changed quite a bit since most of these photographs were taken in the 1940s.  The post office has moved and modernized.  The attractions at Holiday World are far more sophisticated to appeal to 21st century taste.  But members of the Koch family are still involved with the operation of the parks, and the family vibe still reigns supreme.  And you thought it was all about roller-coasters!e

Resources consulted:

Photographs from the collection of Tom Mueller (1910-1993), a self-employed photographer who also worked for the Evansville Courier and PressMSS 264

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari

Santa Claus postmark

Town of Santa Claus, Indiana: Our History…The Facts

Town of Santa Claus, Indiana: Our History-The Legend

United States Census Bureau.  American FactFinder. (online)

Posted in Indiana history, Trains | Leave a comment

Serendipity: The Life of Kenesaw Mountain Landis

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

You just never know what you will find when you dive into one of our photographic collections!  The collection in question here contains the work of Helen Wallace. Helen Wallace was born on December 5, 1891 in Mt. Carmel, Indiana. She studied at the Chicago Art Institute and was a staff artist for the Chicago Herald Examiner during the 1920’s. She worked as a portrait painter, illustrator, and fashion sketcher. Wallace passed away on November 22, 1979.

Amongst the drawings of fashion and socialites, this sketch appeared. On the back it was innocuously labeled, “Former Judge Landis as he appeared the other day at a Salvation Army campaign luncheon at the Sherman Hotel listening to the reports of the campaign.”  It turns out there’s quite a story behind this dapper man enjoying his cigar.  First, there is his name—Kenesaw Mountain Landis. For reasons variously attributed to his parents’ inability to agree on a name, to his father’s insistence, he was named for the site of a Civil War battle in Georgia.  His father, Abraham H. Landis, was a surgeon with the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864.  (Note that the name of the mountain was misspelled when given to the child.)

Sketch of Kenesaw Mountain Landis smoking a cigar by Helen Wallace, n.d. Source: Helen Wallace collection, MSS 056-012.

Sketch of Kenesaw Mountain Landis by Helen Wallace, n.d. Source: Helen Wallace collection, MSS 056-012.

That is quite a name to live up to!  Landis was up to the challenge. The family moved to Logansport, Indiana, and Landis later played first base for a semipro team in Goosetown, IN and became its manager at the age of 17.  He dropped out of high school and held a variety of jobs, among them a court reporter. It was here he began to shine—he caught the attention of influential men and first was an aide to Indiana’s Secretary of State.  At the age of 21, he was admitted to the Indiana bar.  At this time, there were no educational or examinational requirements to pass the Indiana bar—Landis had not even been to law school!  He eventually did enroll in and graduate from law school at what today is Northwestern University and opened up a practice in Chicago. Continuing his climb, he was secretary to Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of State by the age of 26, and in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to a newly created federal judgeship in Chicago.  He made a name for himself in United States v. Standard Oil of Indiana, taking on John D. Rockefeller himself and levying a fine of $29.2 million.  An appeals court later overturned the verdict.

Taking on John D. was no small task, but that is not really, why Judge Landis is remembered to this day.  Remember that 17-year-old first baseman?  Landis loved baseball, and he really loved Chicago’s teams.  “In 1915, Landis presided over an antitrust case involving Major League baseball, as it had been established for a little more than a decade, with its American and National leagues. The upstart Federal League charged that the Major Leagues were, in essence, a huge trust, and the structure should be dismantled. The Federal League, it claimed, should have equal access to every player now under contract, and should be allowed to offer players as much money as the market would bear, as in an open economy. Landis knew this was a time bomb of sorts, and could have far-reaching implications. Knowing the flimsy legal structure of organized baseball, he issued a stern warning to both parties, saying, “Both sides must understand that any blows at this thing called baseball would be regarded by this court as a blow to a national institution.” His decision was — to make no decision, until the Federal League gave up the pursuit. A sports writer opined, “Many [people] felt that Landis had saved baseball in 1915.”” (http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2074.html)  As if baseball’s reputation wasn’t tarnished enough after this, the Black Sox scandal soon hit the news–members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.

In an attempt to restore public faith in America’s game, Landis agreed to become baseball’s first commissioner in 1920.    National League President John Heydler said,  “We want a man as chairman who will rule with an iron hand.  Baseball has lacked a hand like that for years. It needs it now worse than ever. Therefore, it is our object to appoint a big man to lead the new commission.”  Heydler and his colleagues got this in spades in Judge Landis.  He decreed, “Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ball game, no player that entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever again play professional baseball,” He banished the 8 players for life.  He took on those who gambled on baseball, blacklisting 7 players and suspending 38 others.  No one was too big for Landis to take on.  Babe Ruth attempted to cash in on his fame in 1921 by booking post-season exhibition games, but Landis said no go.  When Ruth defied him, Landis fined him all his World Series winnings and suspended him for the first 6 weeks of the next season.  The Babe was not happy, but he never crossed Landis again.  Over the next 24 years, the judge did much to improve the game of baseball and restore its reputation.  Players and fans loved him; those in authority, not surprisingly, did not.  Kenesaw Mountain Landis served as Major League Baseball’s first commissioner until his death in 1944.  Two weeks after his death he inducted into Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame.

All this from a simple pen drawing in a collection mostly associated with fashion!  You just never know…

Resources consulted:

National Baseball Hall of Fame website (https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/landis-kenesaw

Major League Baseball history website (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/history/mlb_history_people.jsp?story=com_bio_1)

U.S. History website (http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2074.html)

Society for American Baseball Research website (https://sabr.org/latest/richards-legacy-judge-kenesaw-mountain-landis)

Watson, Bruce.  “The Judge Who Ruled Baseball.” Smithsonian. v.31, no. 7 (October 2000) p. 120+ (https://login.lib-proxy.usi.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/236865919?accountid=14752 )

 

Posted in art collections, Baseball, sports | Leave a comment