Montana Citizens Opposing Political Corruption
From Corporate Contributions

People's Power League 
101 Years Old, Formed
June 11, 2011

The Vigilance of the Pen

The People's Power League formed in Deer Lodge, Montana on June 11, 1911. Forty-one men from towns all over Montana adopted a revolutionary plan to return political power to the citizens. The League worked to free Montana from the strangle-hold of megalithic corporations with headquarters in New York and New Jersey.  The League's efforts brought fair and honest elections to Montana. 

To this day, the voters nominate candidates in an open primary starting with the president and continuing down to local officials. The Corrupt Practices Act banned corporate money in the campaign and election of candidates for office.  The ban held the corporations in check for 100 years.  On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the ban unconstitutional.
                          Click Here for Supreme Court Decision

Just as today, the odds were against Montana in 1910. The legislature was bought and paid for by the Amalgamated Copper Company.  The legislature would never pass bills to implement the League's plan. Undaunted, three Initiatives were submitted directly to the voters while the small-town editors went to work on 'public opinion.'  Following are examples of the tidal wave of indignation.

  • "Campaigns were conducted by simply the opening of a barrel, and sowing the state from one end to the other with corporation money—the largest barrel winning in the end. This extravagant campaigning prevented the election of any but the wealthy or those supported by special interests." E.H. McDowell, Terry Tribune (February 1910)

  • Montana acquired a nauseating reputation during the Clark-Amalgamated-Heinze imbroglio and it has no stomach for a repetition of these scenes. 
    Livingston Daily Post (July  1910)


  • No stream can rise higher than its source and the law proceeds from the people, consequently there is no such thing as law that stands independent of popular opinion, and for the legislatures and courts to...divorce the law from reason,...would be fatal to the law and destructive to the country. 
    Billings Daily Gazette (April  1910)

  • "The legitimate business interests, honest industry, equality before law, representative free government, and individual liberty, are being destroyed in the state of Montana through the operation and encroachments of law-violating corporate combines. A modern feudalism is being established through the subjugation of the people to the power of organized wealth controlled by non-residents, who have enlisted in their service an army of mercenaries and fortified these behind special legislation corruptly secured to administer government to the people of Montana. These influences have penetrated to every branch and department of government in Montana–state, county, city, and school district; judicial, executive, and legislative. They dominate both party political organizations, and dictate the selection of representatives in congress and national senate. Through authority of laws secured from the last legislative assembly of the state, these foreign forces are now engaged in perfecting a monopoly-combine with power and purpose to control in every form of industry or business which can be made lucrative."
    J.C. Murphy, Montana Lookout  (April 1910)

  • "Not only does this new copper combine mean more powerful control over a commodity which has become one of the necessities of commerce; it means the total destruction of the helpless independent copper producers, and it means as well reckless juggling with stock markets."
    Collier's Weekly  (April 1910)

  • "Butte would be a bad place for the corporation to look for advocates of consolidation. We are consolidated and amalgamated to death. Some groups of financiers may be profiting by the operation, but out here in Butte we are playing the role of "goat' and it is far from a pleasant one."
    Butte Daily News  (July 1910)

  • "Whether through fear or for favor, control of the republican state convention was yielded to the political department of the Amalgamated Copper Mining Company--the same interests that...dictated the nomination of both the Democratic and Republican legislative tickets in Ravalli and most other counties in the state ... This great, overshadowing company, lusty offspring of Standard Oil, together with the half dozen other great combines that would dominate the national and all state governments, is now desperately striving to entrench itself in legislative halls from which the waves of insurgency are beating it back. In most states the people are apparently alive to the situation. What's the matter with Montana?"
    Miles Romney, Hamilton Western News  (September 1910)

  • "There are special interests in Montana far stronger than our state government.  This is absurd and dangerous." 
    Judge E.K. Cheatle, Miles City Independent  (January 4, 1911)

  • "The Outlook hopes to see enacted into law a measure which will severely and commensurately punish any agent or representative of a corporation who attempts to coerce or unduly influence any employee in his exercise of the voting franchise, and the penalty should be made such that in case of conviction the offending party may be sent to the penitentiary. In the recent election held in this precinct the deplorable spectacle was presented of hirelings of certain corporations domineering over employees in an effort to compel them to vote along certain lines, with the result that a great amount of indignation was aroused at the attempt to practice such disgraceful tactics."
    T.J. Johns, Laurel Outlook  (November 1910)

  • "Less than a decade of time has been required to bring the mineral wealth under combine control, to dismantle all the half dozen great ore reduction works in Butte which employed thousands of men; to acquire most of the tremendous water power and electric power resources of the state to one ownership, together with the most valuable franchises for the public utilities of water and light and power in cities; to bring the banking interests of the state practically under the domination of a single chain of banks owned by the same interest; to compel the best part of the mercantile interests of the state to pay tribute to these banks; to bring the agencies and officers of state and local governments under subjection and into service of the same interests."
    J. C. Murphy, The Comical History of Montana  (Scofield 1912)

  • "Referring to the democratic affair at Livingston last week; it was evidently engineered as "Ryan and Morony wanted it" to be. And this development points somewhat definitely to the intention of the Amalgamated gang to run the next campaign for us taking charge of both sides and executing a flamboyant sham battle for us, something that the people will thoroughly enjoy, but not understand until the affair is over and the 'props' put away. This act has been put on before in a small way but it now looks as if it was to be made the main feature and to occupy the entire arena."
    Sam Gordon, Daily Yellowstone Journal  (September 1910)

  • "Montana will declare in favor of a government by the people and against government by the trusts; will have pronounced against the robber tariff and its robber beneficiaries; will have joined with Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa and other progressive states, in repudiating the agents of Wall street and proclaimed to the world that the Treasure State will again be a free people represented by men untrammeled by the octopus of greed and graft."
    Sanders County Democrat  (October 1910)

  • The basic principal upon which our republican form of government rests is that the inherent right to govern lies with the people themselves. But the growth of the caucus and convention system of party nominations has so far removed the government from the people, that an impartial observer today is able to recognize very little democracy in our politics.
    L. W. Pierson, Havre Promoter (January 1911)

  • "Even now you hear legislators from the cow regions declaring that party affiliations and party fidelity be thrown to the wind and a grand assault on the citadel of the potent and wicked combine be consummated–-a thing devoutly to be wished."
    Daniel Whetston, Cutbank Pioneer Press  (January 1911)

  • "Just now the people of Montana are in a somewhat belligerent frame of mind toward the Amalgamated Copper company, but the grievance proceeds only from the unwarranted and unnecessary attitude of that corporation in its effort to control the politics of the Treasure State. They resent having the big company controlling political conventions of both the leading parties in the state, dictating the selection of public officials and brazenly attempting to block legislation which is desired and needed by the people of Montana....its continued interference in the exercise of independent political rights of these people is arousing a righteous wrath, which may, ere long, reach a point where, in sheer self defense, reprisals may be necessary to bring the corporation to its senses."
    Tom Stout, Fergus County Democrat (April 1911)

  • "Montana will never be free from the dominating power of the corporations as long as its newspapers and well thinking people are held in fear of the great octopus."
    George Flashman, Fromberg Herald  (February 1911)

  • "The state suffers because every large daily newspaper of general circulation is controlled by special interests, and its news and editorial columns are under the censorship and control of monopolistic combines in restraint of trade, or by individuals of great wealth and power lacking patriotic loyalty to their state and with all their interests concentrated in themselves."
    A.M. Anderson, Livingston Daily Post  (May 1911)

  • "The issue in Montana is clearly defined. Shall the special interests which know no party allegiance, acting in our own state through the Amalgamated Copper company and its allies, control the republican, as well as the democratic party, or shall the republican party be controlled by the people themselves? There can be no compromise in the situation which confronts us. It is a struggle between two diametrically opposed and conflicting ideals and interests. There is and can be no middle ground. The action of the majority of the state committee at Helena has forced the issue, Let him that hath no stomach for the fight depart."
    U.S. Senator Joseph M. Dixon, The Daily Missoulian (March 1912)

  • The substitution of direct party nominations of every candidate from constable to president in lieu of the old-time corporation ridden caucuses and convention system will revolutionize the political status of this state. . . It will be impossible for the agents of the great copper trust, who boast of the employment of half the men in the state, to coerce or buy a majority of the voters in any given county, or the state as a whole, protected as they will be both in the primary and the general election by the Australian ballot and a drastic corrupt practices act.
    Miles Romney, Western News (April 1912)

  • "(P)rogressivism in Montana presupposes and embraces opposition to the Amalgamated and all its works. In fact to all of us who call ourselves Montanans, it is really of more importance that the tentacles of our Octopus be clipped,... Montana cannot, must not, stand for any further extension of the influence of the big copper combine. The revelation of its sinister power in the far outlying counties, in the presidential convention campaign this spring, must have been a surprise to many and a warning to all who hope to live free men in this state."
    Sam Gordon, Daily Yellowstone Journal  (August 1912)

  • "It has been announced from time to time that the Amalgamated is 'out of politics,' but its lobby and other legislative agencies have not disappeared from public view..."
    Wm. K. Harber, Ft. Benton River Press  (March 1913)

  • "As a result of conferences between the progressive elements of the legislature just adjourned a call will soon be issued for a non-partisan conference of citizens of Montana, who will form the People's Direct Legislation league.  It will be the purpose of the league to present to the people of Montana at the general election in November 1914, such legislation in the interest of the general welfare as may seem most needed at the present time. ... The gathering will be made up of all shades of political belief, and will include members of the woman's suffrage state organization.  Those who have interested themselves in this movement are convinced that representative government in Montana has utterly failed to justify itself so far as lawmaking by legislature assemblies is concerned, and that the democratic powers of the people themselves must be asserted directly if the reign of Special Privilege is to be checked in the state."
    Joseph Dixon, The Daily Missoulian  (March 1913)


  • "To assert the contrary is to impugn the honesty of scores of men...who stand ready at all times to combat any effort of the Amalgamated to fasten its corporate tentacles about the state, its industries or political institutions."
    Tom Stout, Helena Independent  (August 1917)

 FOUNDING  MEMBERS

Miles Romney
  Hamilton
  Western News

Robert N. Sutherlin
  Great Falls
  Rocky Mountain Husbandman

William K. Harber
  Ft. Benton
  River Press

Robert Lee McCullock
  Hamilton
  Judge

Sidney Fox
  Red Lodge
  Judge

Edwin K. Cheadle
  Lewistown
  Judge

Thomas J. Walsh
  Helena
  Lawyer

Walter S. Hartman
  Bozeman
  Lawyer

John F. Duffy
  Kalispell
  Lawyer

A. G. Hatch
  Big Timber
  Lawyer

Lewis J. Duncan
  Butte
  Mayor

Edward Cardwell
  Jefferson Island
  Stockman

Tom Alexander
  Forsyth
  Stockman

Charles Wilson Chowing
  Ennis
  Shopkeeper

William E. Nippert
  Thompson
  Schoolmaster

Max McCusker
  Livingston
  Federated Railway Trades

Ed Carlton
  Livingston
  Federated Railway Trades

James O’Leary
  Livingston
  Federated Railway Trades

H. Jurner
  Livingston
  Federated Railway Trades

D. J. Fitspatrick
  Missoula

Edward Suitor
  Deer Lodge
  Federated Railway Trades

T.S. Brown
  Deer Lodge
  Federated Railway Trades

Edward Thomas
  Deer Lodge
  Federated Railway Trades

T.J. Heron
  Deer Lodge
  Federated Railway Trades

Wolmer Hanson
  Deer Lodge
  Federated Railway Trades

Al Divine
  Deer Lodge
  Federated Railway Trades

W.S. Harter
  Miles City
  CM&PS Railway Workers

Folk Williams
  Butte
  Mill & Smeltermen's Union

Dan Leary
  Anaconda
  Mill & Smeltermen's Union

Andrew Mallon
  Anaconda
  Mill & Smeltermen's Union

H.W. Nelson
  Billings
  Trades & Labor Council

Edward Shields
  Butte
  Trades & Labor Council

Albert Michaud
  Miles City
  Trades & Labor Council

Phil Christian
  Butte
  Miner’s Union

Robert Squires
  Butte
  Miner’s Union

M. M. Donoghue
  Butte
  MT Federation of Labor

Oscar M. Partelow
  Butte
  MT Federation of Labor

Henry Drennin
  United Mine Workers

W.J. Dorrington
  Choteau

Charles Dieter
  Mondak

 

 MEMBERSHIP EXPANDS

E.H. Goodman
  Townsend
  Lawyer

George Maywood
  Philipsburg
  Lawyer

William M. Johnston
  Billings
  Lawyer

Edward C. Russel
  Lewistown
  Lawyer

Theodore Lentz
  Missoula
  Lawyer

James Holland
  Havre
  Businessman

John Blewett
  Fromberg
  Businessman

James Jergenson
  Whitehall
  Student

Charles Sackett
  Anaconda
  Court Stenographer

Daniel J. Donohue
  Glendive
  Doctor

John C. Lowney
    Western Federation of Miners

O.H.P. Shelley
  Helena
  Modern Brotherhood of America

Dennis Murphy
  Butte
  Miner's Union

Hurburtus Corkish
  Butte
  Miner