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Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer (Part 4) –

Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer (Part 4) -

Throughout Rhoda Fox’s efforts on behalf of the Republican Social gathering from 1918 by way of 1923, there was plenty of praise for her within the media and no criticism, but she was a non-office holder. When she decided in 1924 to run for an Assembly seat, anti-woman resistance was evident, gently discouraging the thought by praising her activism but insisting the job was greatest executed by a person. When she stunned most individuals and gained, the anti-woman factions maintained their stance but have been pressured to grudgingly accepted her.

Now, with the announcement of a run for the Senate, the kid gloves have been off. The social gathering cut up, evidenced by the robust help she acquired from the Watertown Every day Occasions and the virulent assaults emanating from Ogdensburg, especially in the Republican-Journal, when Rhoda’s opening salvo went proper to the guts of the matter.

“I’m making this announcement with full information that a era or extra ago, a so-called ‘gents’s settlement’ tried to dictate that the door of the State Senate should open to a St. Lawrence County resident only in occasion the congressman from the 31st district resided in Franklin County. I’m a agency believer in social gathering regularity, but I can’t agree that the best to carry public workplace in 1933 ought to be foreclosed towards me by some historic political deal.”

That deal, in fact, assured continued widespread help for US Congressman Bert Snell and State Senator Warren T. Thayer (of Franklin County), the latter of whom was Rhoda’s direct opponent. Nevertheless it was clear that by challenging Thayer, she was also difficult Snell’s influence as the de facto leader of regional GOP members, which numbered about 18,000 in St. Lawrence County and 11,000 in Franklin County. Rumblings of discontent have been heard, but the initial celebration response to her announcement was considerably restrained, principally because she was expected to lose, and lose badly.

However that position did not account for her immense reputation among the voters, regardless of the occasional flaunting of social gathering guidelines and practices. Her battles within the halls of Albany on behalf of the individuals versus firms resonated amongst them, however irritated celebration leaders. She began making inroads in Ogdensburg when media protection talked about her push for public possession of utilities, which was the case in Prescott, Ontario, on the other shore of the St. Lawrence. In Prescott, 500 kilowatts value a buyer simply $7, whereas in Ogdensburg, citizens paid $45 for the same quantity of electrical energy as a result of utilities have been privately owned, and the principal objective of these corporations was monetary revenue.

While the Watertown Occasions was crucial of Senator Thayer’s report, the Ogdensburg Republican-Journal was downright nasty in a blistering editorial towards his opponent. “How can she declare any credit score when her only motion on this necessary water-power improvement was to oppose her personal celebration and vote as an rebel?…. An examination of Mrs. Graves’ document of eight years within the Assembly exhibits nothing completed. She has occupied no committee membership of any consequence; she has not been capable of get any legislation passed besides a couple of minor, routine bills. These individuals from Ogdensburg who have had enterprise in Albany know that Mrs. Graves has had no affect whatever within the Meeting…. With a report of eight years which is a clean as far as any accomplishment is worried … a lone lady within the Meeting or the Senate is out of place. She is hopelessly handicapped in representing her district. Mrs. Graves’ ‘document’ proves it. She has given her meeting district no illustration, has been capable of accomplish exactly nothing, and now asks to symbolize the interests of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties in the State Senate.”

Every week later, the Republican-Journal ran the next headline: Guardian of State Finances in Albany Declares Mrs. Graves, After Years in Assembly, Has Proven Complete Failure — Says Thayer’s Influence Massive Asset to Northern New York. Referring to comments made by Senator Charles Hewitt, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the paper stated that Thayer’s report “thus far surpasses” Graves that “a comparability … can be laughable.” Thayer, stated Hewitt, had constructed friendships essential to passing legislation, however “Mrs. Graves’ angle within the Meeting has been such that her own colleagues within the Republican delegation cannot seem to work together with her.” With such a poor report, her pursuit of a Senate seat “puzzles me,” he stated.

Charles Cantwell, managing editor of the Republican-Journal, followed with several scathing attacks of his own. Using headlines like Mrs. Graves Claims Credit for Ogdensburg Payments, But Data Show Equivalent Payments Provided in Senate by Thayer Often Passed Before Her Measures — Thayer Helped Her Repeatedly However She Did not Reciprocate, Cantwell did all within his energy to ensure her defeat. Help for his efforts came from Lawyer George Bowers of Canton, whose publicized speech noted that, “It isn’t my objective to throw stones at, or say unkind things, about either of the candidates.” But he adopted with, “It has turn out to be a question of whether or not Mrs. Graves shall or shall not overthrow the Republican organization of St. Lawrence County. She has introduced that such is her function.”

After lauding Bert Snell’s performance on the nationwide stage (Snell presided at the national convention and personally knowledgeable Herbert Hoover that he was the GOP candidate), Bowers added this: “I do know if she secures the nomination, that every Democratic paper from Boston to San Francisco will keep on its entrance web page in letters an inch excessive the assertion that Bert Snell has lost the arrogance of his constituents and been defeated in his residence bailiwick. I do know that underneath such circumstances he would return to Congress with a critical loss of prestige, and with lessened potential to be of service to his district and his celebration. And I do know one other thing that may reduce still deeper; the sensation on his half that his residence individuals had gone again on him.”

Taking the opposite aspect, Lawyer H. Walter Lee stated, “One of the arguments that is being used towards Mrs. Graves is that the senatorship from the 34th district is a person’s job. The implication is that men are endowed by their Creator with a special aptitude for passing laws that may convey happiness and prosperity to the individuals. Nicely, males have been making the laws of this nation for the past 150 years, and you may see for yourselves [in the throes of the Great Depression] simply how glad and prosperous we are immediately.”

For her part, Rhoda seized on two most important points: preventing for low electrical rates, even whereas Senator Thayer loved a suspiciously cozy relationship with power corporations; and her unwavering help of New York’s farmers. She also continued to reject the gents’s agreement as particularly unfair to ladies, who had lately gained the best to vote. What good was suffrage when the choices themselves have been dictated by draconian restrictions imposed (by males) on the nominating process?

Countering the attacks on Rhoda have been supportive feedback from many outstanding Republicans, which, in combination together with her longstanding reputation, helped her carry St. Lawrence County, however only by about 300 votes. She misplaced in Canton, Massena, and Potsdam, but gained huge in rural areas. Nevertheless, it wasn’t sufficient to counter heavy losses in Ogdensburg and in Thayer’s base, Franklin County, where she did fairly nicely among farmers. General, she fell brief in the main by fewer than 1,000 votes, making certain Thayer’s return to Albany.

However Rhoda didn’t go away silently. Chatting with the Syracuse Herald, she attacked the GOP’s course of of choosing a candidate, and stated, “Corruption equaled anything ever seen in Tammany…. We [including husband/campaign manager Perle] do not concede the election. We keep that we gained the nomination by the individuals, but corruption and political bosses gave it to Thayer. We propose to hold proof to the courts and ask for an trustworthy election.”

Calling it “one of many hardest fought campaigns in the history of the 34th Senatorial district,” the Ogdensburg Republican-Journal declared (gloated) that, “The vote in Ogdensburg proved beyond any question the regularity of the enrolled Republicans on this city who rallied to the help of Senator Thayer and Congressman Snell with vigor.” And her corruption feedback, stated the paper, “created a stir in Ogdensburg the place she went right down to defeat underneath an avalanche of 958 votes. Local leaders referred to as her fees ‘the result of a political defeat that was exhausting to swallow.’ Mrs. Graves’ supporters now declare they may investigate ‘certain alleged acts of the Snell-Thayer machine in appointments in Ogdensburg.’ Simply what she means by that hasn’t been clarified.”

Throughout a back-and-forth between Thayer and Graves, she accused him of corruption, prompting this response: “Mrs. Graves’ costs of corruption are ridiculous and absolutely unfounded. Every little thing on this election was open and above board. As far as courtroom action is worried, I welcome any investigation.”

The Brooklyn Day by day Eagle, masking political happenings up north, stated, “The plump consultant from St. Lawrence County” took on Thayer, chairman of the Public Service Committee. “The row ended disastrously for the woman and efficiently for the businessman from Chateaugay.”

With out legislative duties in 1933, Rhoda was busy in other areas, having risen to turn out to be a New York State Director of the DAR. But whereas many dismissed her as political poison after a failed coup attempt of the regional GOP, a comeback was already in the planning levels. In November, her letter within the Albany Night Information proposed as a candidate for governor her good good friend, strong supporter, and editor of the Watertown Every day Occasions, Harold B. Johnson. “The political bosses can be towards him,” she wrote, “but why fear? They are being thrown into the discard. The individuals are coming into their very own. It’s about time.” What stunned many have been her bold comments within the letter concerning the social gathering she had supported for almost 20 years. “I’ve all the time stated that the key to the just about complete annihilation of the Republican Celebration in New York is to be discovered proper here in our own North Nation.” Within that statement, discerning readers might have detected a portent of what was to return.

Senator Thayer would quickly remorse earlier statements welcoming any sort of investigation into his past. While some celebration members have been aware about behind-the-scenes developments, most GOP members have been surprised in late March 1934 when Thayer was charged by the Federal Trade Fee with corruption on behalf of the Associated Fuel and Electrical Company. He denied all wrongdoing, and his supporters amongst North Country media caught by him to the top — which actually meant they continued dwelling in denial. He resigned earlier than the Senate might convict him in individual, saying he did so to save lots of his colleagues the embarrassment of voting on his destiny. However the query was posed: why would a vote be embarrassing if he have been harmless as claimed? Further investigation, he stated, would reveal an unsullied report.

But none of that was true. In a special session eight days after he resigned, the Senate unanimously voted him guilty of official misconduct. Had Thayer still been in office, he would have been eliminated.

The story of years of corruption is a prolonged one, but could be summarized in a brief record of key points. 1) Thayer owned the Chasm Energy Firm in Chateaugay. 2) In January 1925 he was appointed chairman of the Public Service Committee, which oversaw utility laws, including power corporations. 3) A couple of days later, he bought the Chasm Energy Company to the Related Fuel and Electrical Firm of Albany for $87,500. Prematurely of the sale, he bought the holdings of unknowing fellow stockholders and bought them to the corporate at previously agreed-upon inflated prices.  four) Over the subsequent seven years, he was paid installments totaling $21,600, purportedly as wage he would have earned as manager had he stored the corporate. 5) He was elected president of an AG&E subsidiary with out having any investment within the company. 6) AG&E offered him with funds for village elections. 7) Amongst his letters learn aloud during hearings was one to AG&E, saying that he hoped his providers as chairman of the Public Service Committee had been “passable to your organization.” (He had killed or passed payments based mostly on the whims of the company, and residents paid the worth by way of greater charges.)

Rhoda, it was proven, had been proper all along.

Subsequent week, the conclusion: following her own path to victory.

Pictures: Rhoda Fox Graves, Elmira Star-Gazette (1929); headlines, Ogdensburg Republican-Journal (1932); headlines, Massena Observer (1932); headline, Ogdensburg Republican-Journal (1932); headline, Ogdensburg Advance-Information (1934).

Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence Gooley, of Clinton County, is an award-winning writer who has hiked, bushwhacked, climbed, bicycled, explored, and canoed within the Adirondack Mountains for 45 years. With a lifetime love of research, writing, and history, he has authored 22 books and greater than 200 articles on the region’s past, and in 2009 organized the North Country Authors within the Plattsburgh area.

His guide Oliver’s Struggle: An Adirondack Insurgent Battles the Rockefeller Fortune gained the Adirondack Literary Award for Greatest E-book of Nonfiction in 2008. Another title, Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, was a regional best-seller for 4 years operating.

Together with his companion, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004, which has revealed 83 titles thus far. Additionally they supply modifying/proofreading providers, net design, and a variety of PowerPoint shows based mostly on Gooley’s books.

Bloated Toe’s uncommon enterprise mannequin was featured in Publishers Weekly in April 2011. The company additionally operates a web-based retailer to help the work of different regional people. The North Country Store features more than 100 ebook titles and 60 CDs and DVDs, along with quite a lot of other area products.


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