Will Rogers' Weekly Articles

October 5 - December 28, 1924

October 5, 1924


Well, the Prince left us.1 We had no more than got rid of him until La Follette came.2 They just will not let New York settle down to normal. You often hear the expression that a person has left the country flat, but this case of the Prince’s departure was the only one in history where he left the country asleep. Long Island went to bed the night he left and has not woke up yet; in fact they didn’t even leave a call. You won’t be able to promote another dance on Long Island for years. A lot of men got their wives back much shopworn from dancing. The Prince left a trail of broken hearts and turned down hats that won’t be forgotten for weeks.

It was reported in the press that I purchased one of his ponies for $2100. Now that was a mistake. I bought one but it was for Mr. Flo Ziegfeld’s little daughter, and it was him that paid for it.3 I have some alleged polo ponies of my own; in fact I think I have the best string of $40 polo ponies in the world, so you would hardly get me giving $2100 for some old pony just because he belonged to the Prince. I wouldn’t give $2100 for the Crown, much less a horse. But anyway he was a very nice, gentle, real kid’s pony, and little Patricia Burke Ziegfeld was tickled to death with him.

She had him following her all around, even into the house, and that made a big hit with Mr. Ziegfeld, so he told me, “What do you know about that pony? Why, Patricia brought him right into the house.” I told him, “why, the barns that pony has been used to while he belonged to the Prince of Wales, you were lucky to get him to go into your house. The pony must have thought he was slumming.” That’s the reason I did not get one. I knew I could not support one in the manner in which it had been accustomed.

By the way, the night after the sale I met the Prince over at a party given in New York by Mrs. Rumsey and he come over and thanked me for buying the pony and commenced to tell me what a nice pony it was and all about it.4 Well, I didn’t have the nerve to tell him I had bought the pony for someone else. Incidentally he asked me if I was not going to tell them some more jokes about him there that night. So I did tell all about the sale and that now that the Prince had sold his ponies why he could leave. That I thought that was all the British come over for; it was not to play polo but to sell horses. Incidentally there was a mix-up in where the check was to be sent to, and that was what delayed his departure for a day. He had not received the money for the pony I bought. Maybe if I had not paid him at all England never would have got their Prince back.

Well, as I said before, La Follette come in to keep us awake with speeches where the Prince had kept us awake with dancing. He charged admission and filled Madison Square Garden. Can you imagine people paying to hear a political speech? But they did. Why, generally you have to conscript people to get them to listen to one of the things. Why you dare not turn on your radio now for fear some presidential candidate will be spouting, “What this country needs.” When as a matter of fact what this country needs is more working men and fewer politicians. Their every thought is of us, every 4th fall. La Follette in all his policies has always been ahead of his time so this year if he is not elected he will at least furnish both old line parties with their platforms in 1928. They will use the one he runs on this year.

Well then, we have been having a lot excitement over the nominations for Governor of New York State. They nominated Teddy Roosevelt, a young man that I have known and had to good fortune to be very friendly with ever since he was just a kid in school at Harvard.5 (Incidentally, I was not in Harvard at the time with him. I think it was Yale I was attending. I forget just now.) He always struck me as being a very fine man who was trying to make his way on his own and not on his father’s reputation. In fact, the only criticism I ever heard of him was that he was not the man that his father was. Well, that is not much to say against him for neither is any other man, another Roosevelt. If this boy is just half as good as his father he would be twice as great as any other man.

We will be lucky at the rate we are going now if we produce another Roosevelt in the next 100 years. This boy is practically just breaking in to Big League Politics. I kinder hate to see him break in, in a year when he has the opposition that he has this time. This Old Boy Al Smith is a tough bird to beat. Going in new against him is just like a new ball player being asked to go up for his first time to bat against Walter Johnson.6 If he can beat Al Smith in New York for Governor now, there is no way keeping him out o the White House some of these days. Al is a fine man and has made a wonderful record and it is remarkable the way the people love him. He is a real he-man, so no matter who wins we will have a good man as the next Governor of New York.

At any rate it will be a great race to watch to see if Smith with his personal popularity will sweep Davis in with him, or if President Coolidge with his popularity will sweep Roosevelt in over Smith.7

Last week the Holy Name Society, that as you know is a Society formed to prevent the taking of the Lord’s name in vain—well, last week 100 thousand of them went from New York down to Washington to see President Coolidge to get him to use his influence with Dawes to keep him from cussing.8 They were marching to the depot in New York when some one on the sidewalk remarked to an Irishman, “Gee, there is certainly a bunch of these fellows.” The Irishman says, “Why, that’s only the ones that don’t cuss. You ought to see the other bunch.” Well, President Coolidge broached the subject to Dawes and all he got for an answer was, “Hell and Maria, you can’t learn an old dog new tricks. If I have to give up cussing to be Vice President, I would rather not be one. The job itself is enough to make a man cuss.”

Well, this big Catholic Society thought that Mr. Coolidge in his address to them would perhaps name the Klan. It seemed like an opportune moment to do so but he did not. He named the Democrats, called them right out by name, but he did not name the Klan. I guess he figured of the two evils, as far as he was concerned the Democrats were the worst. Now Dawes worked it pretty slick. They kept after him to name the Klan, so he did. He told all the good things they had done.

I see where Illinois has come forward with another celebrated murder case. Some preacher poisoned his wife, and some woman her husband. It’s a typical Illinois cold-blooded murder, so I suppose on account of the fiendishness of the crime they will just get life. In fact I know they will, as they are middle-aged people and of course too young to hang. The jail at Joliet is making arrangements to put in a swimming pool and polo field to be ready for next year.

Washington, D. C., come through with a mystery the past week. They discovered an underground tunnel running from the Government Liquid Warehouses to the Capitol building. Traffic is so heavy on the streets that they could not supply the demand, so they put in this tunnel. It was also found to be a connecting link between the La Follette Progressives, and the Democratic and Republican dissatisfied. This Tunnel is the place also where men have been hiding when they didn’t want to be put on record with a vote on any important subject. No city in the world needs a secret Tunnel as bad as Washington. When the Senators and Congressmen receive their checks every month they need this secret passage to get to their homes, without someone arresting them for robbery.

They have a new sign here on Broadway advertising the picture The Ten Commandments, (which by the way is a big novelty in New York. Thousands of people are seeing the picture and reading the Commandments for the first time.)9 Well, they have a big electric sign of Moses striking the letters of his message on tablets of stone. Now the letters are in Jewish. It’s the first Jewish sign to appear on Broadway, but it has been more widely read than any English ones. It is only a matter of time until every sign on our White Way will be in the same language, because advertisers realize that they must keep their ads in New York’s mother tongue.

1For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
2For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
3Patricia Burke Ziegfeld, daughter of producer Flo Ziegfeld (see WA 3:N 1) and actress Billie Burke.
4Mary Harriman Rumsey, New York City civic leader, horsewoman, and heiress to the vast Harriman railroad fortune.
5Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., (see WA 64:N 4) won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in New York in late September. He was defeated in the general election by Al Smith, the incumbent (see WA 5:N 5).
6For Walter Johnson see WA 94:N 1.
7For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
8For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6.
9For The Ten Commandments see Cecil B. De Mille (WA 75:N 6).

October 12, 1924


Well, everything has been baseball this week. I have just this minute returned from Washington, D. C. where I went down Sunday to see the second game of the World Series. You talk about a cuckoo town. You should have seen that one after Washington won that game from the Gaints. The President was not there this Sunday. You got to be very careful about your habits just before election. It’s all right to listen to a ball game over the radio but it don’t hardly show the right spirit to watch one personally on Sunday.

The President threw out the first ball Saturday. So I thought perhaps La Follette would throw it out today.1 I wanted to see that because if he had he would have killed some one with it.

It’s too bad these Series don’t run long enough so all our presidential candidates can pitch out a ball.

I certainly did hate to see my old friend Walter Johnson lose his first game but you can’t blame him.2 He says himself he was not exactly at his best. He has been waiting 18 years for his chance. You take an actor and have him stand in the wings for 18 years and not let him go in, and then all of a sudden one day you shove him out there it would take the old confidence out of him I imagine.

Washington won the game the same way the New York won the day before—by making two home runs into some temporary stands that was built out on the playing field. Anyone of these four home runs could have been caught if the grounds had been left their original size. It does look like, as big a game as baseball and as much money as they make, they would be able to have a regulation playing field, the same size all over. If a team was not able to buy and have enough room to give the fielders a chance they should not be allowed in the league. You don’t see them build stands out in the middle of a polo field. No, it is a regulation size. You don’t see them cutting off the end of a tennis court to put in more stands, so why can’t baseball have a regulation size field? Then if a man got a home run he would know he deserved it, and everybody would have an equal chance on every field.

It’s a joke to see a home run in some of the ball parks, it ruins the whole interest of the game. In the first two games they were lucky in having them equally divided but it was a shame to have such a pitcher as Walter Johnson lose his first World’s Series game just to give the Washington owners a little more room for seats. For a couple of thousand dollars worth of seats they lost a game that might be worth the Series and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars to the club. Let them double-deck their bleachers like they do their grandstand. That would give them twice the room on the same amount of ground.

Well, it sure was a pleasure to go to Washington and not have to hear any speeches. It’s the first thing ever pulled off in Washington where passes to the Senators and Congressmen were no good. There was a line they said that reached clear from the Congressional Distilleries to the pass gate, of Senators that were trying to use their influence. There will sure be a bill in Congress when it opens to provide that they be taken care of in case Washington wins again.

They gave Walter Johnson a big demonstration the other day. The President himself made the speech. After a diligent search for 150 years Washington finally found an honest man. Johnson is the first man in public life in Washington to be publicly commended for his honesty. In no city would an honest man be more of a novelty. This demonstration to Johnson’s honesty should be a lesson to political men there, almost as great a lesson as Linclon’s message, “You can’t fool all the people all of the time.”

I sent down a contribution for the fund and offered to double it in case they found an honest politician. I was the guest in Washington of Mr. and Mrs. Ned McLean, and occupied their box with them.3 I got some real dope on the political situation from Mrs. McLean who knows her political alphabet. During home runs we discussed either baseball or politics. She knows both of them backwards.

Sitting right in front of us was the loveliest couple. It was Postmaster General and Mrs. New of Indiana.4 I asked Mr. New where Will Hays, his Indiana fellow Republican was.5 He told me the Presbyterians would not let Hays attend a ballgame Sundays. They will let him go in the movies but not to ball games.

Dr. Grayson was right by us (he, as you remember was President Wilson’s doctor during his terms in office).6 He is sure a regular guy. All you heard back there was the talk of the baseball scandal.7

Coolidge pitched the first ball and Washington lost the game. I am not saying anything but I think somebody got to Cal with a little bribe. That’s why he didn’t pitch any better and Washington lost.

The funniest thing about the whole thing is the idea that they had to bribe Philadelphia to get them to lose. Why, all you have to do to get Philadelphia to lose is have a ball game. The only way you can keep them from not losing is to call the game off. Whoever tried to bribe Philadelphia, their ignorance was greater than their dishonesty. So Philadephia is celebrating. It is the biggest honor that has been paid to them since George Washington used to do his eight hours a day in Independence Hall.

Well, anyway they let out two men on a baseball scandal that involved 500 dollars. The government, in their scandal that involved all our government oil land only let one man out. So baseball is twice as honest as the government.

You know it just kinder makes you lose confidence in everything when you read and hear all those scandals on everything. I tell you, about the only game we have left that is really on the level is craps. If the dice are on the square, and neither one of the parties shooting don’t know anything, that is just about as honest a game as you can get.

But this scandal thing is really terrible. I just read a clipping from a California paper an it, coupled with along conversation I had with Ty Cobb as we were on the baseball special coming up from Washington, kinder made me feel even more sorry for this poor unfortunate young fellow O’Connell.8 Just read this by his father and see the ones these things really hurt:
“I wish he was here right now, so I could take him in my arms. Right or wrong he is my boy. He has been a good boy. I can’t see where he thought he was to benefit, but you know he was once hit on the head by a baseball while playing Salt Lake City. He always complained that his head hurt him. Maybe it was that that made him do it. I can’t blame anyone else but still I don’t think my boy is entirely to blame.”
Now, is that not a pathetic yet honest confession. Cobb told me he played with this boy on the coast one winter and tried to coach him and he said at times he was a real star, and at others he just didn’t seem to grasp what you wanted him to do. He related me several instances of his lack of mind power, yet he said he was always honest and straightforward. Then I read Cobb the above clippings which he had not seen. Now, that kid is not a bad fellow. I bet you he is honest. In some way, he did not think he was doing wrong. Neither did he think of any such scheme of his own accord.

Now, in every crime in the world there are extenuating circumstances and degrees of guilt, and when a man has been accused and convicted he is sentenced according to his crime and when he serves his time, he is through and comes out a free man. But here is a case where one fellow says he did something, and a man higher up, but not a legally appointed judge or jury says, “You are through. You are branded as a leper as long as you live.”

Why don’t they get that severe sentences for murder nowadays?

Why don’t they have a court trial and see how guilty he is?

Let them pass sentence and when it is served he will be free. He has no dozens of high priced lawyers to explain his mentality. But he has two ball teams that saw him hit on the head, and he has an honest father that admits of his complaining of his head hurting and I bet you he never admitted that to anybody but his own father.

He has always been homesick. He wanted to be home. A crook don’t do that. That’s the last place they want to be.

Baseball is our national game and should be kept absolutely clean. But don’t go and perhaps give this boy a more severe penalty than he deserves. He is far from home and has no friends now. But he is still in America. So, let a fair court and jury investigate and see how guilty he is.

1For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
2Johnson (see WA 94:N 1), in his first World Series in eighteen years in the major leagues, struck out twelve batters but lost the first game of the series 4 to 3, in twelve innings. Johnson eventually won one game and lost two. The Senators won the series in seven games.
3For Evalyn McLean see WA 9:N 5; for Ned McLean see WA 66:N 13.
4Harry Stewart New, United States postmaster general from 1923 to 1929. A Republican and former senator from Indiana, New was married to Catherine McLean.
5For Will Hays see WA 21:N 6.
6For Cary T. Grayson see WA 88:N 5.
7A few days before the opening of the World Series, a bribery scandal broke and threatened to cause the cancellation of the games. James Joseph “Jimmy” O’Connell, outfielder for the New York Giants, and Patrick Henry “Cozy” Dolan, a Giants coach, were barred from organized baseball for an alleged attempt to bribe a Philadelphia Phillies shortstop to “throw” a game with the Giants and thus help the New York team win the pennant.
8Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb, professional baseball player who starred for the Detroit Tigers from 1905 to 1926 and for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1927 to 1928. Known as “the Georgia Peach,” Cobb also managed the Tigers from 1921 to 1926. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

October 19, 1924


I been trying to read the papers and see just what it is in this election that one party wants that the other one don’t. To save my soul I can’t find any difference. The only thing that I can see where they differ is that the Democrats want the Republicans to get out and let them in, and the Republicans don’t want to get out. That, right there, is the issue. That is the only legitimate issue in the whole campaign, and it’s the only issue where the third or Progressive party differs. It wants them both to get out, and let it get in.

This is the only campaign in political history where there is no difference to fight over. Even back in the beginning when George Washington run against himself there must have been some little issue that the voters could be pro or con over. Even if it was just over the White Horse he used to have his picture painted on, or maybe it was over whether he should bob his wig or not. Then so on down to Lincoln. I don’t know what the particular issue was in Lincoln’s election, but you can bet as good an Axeman as he was had some kind of a clean cut issue.

Then on down the line to Bryan. It’s a long jump from Lincoln to Bryan. Even in years it’s long, and the reason I made this tremedous leap was I couldn’t think of any one who had been President in between the two.

Now Bryan in all of his series of starts had issues.1 There was silver at the ratio of 16 to 1. That was a real issue—a cut and dried thing to argue on. Nobody ever knew just where they unearthed these two particular numbers any more than we know why Volstead picked out ½ of 1 percent.2 They just think of some odd sounding numbers like that that will make good slogan literature. As I say, that was Bryan’s issue in the first campaign. Of course in the last few races he didn’t need any issue. He was just running through force of habit, and his last time, perseverance was the issue.

In one campaign you remember Hughes wouldn’t shake hands with Hiram Johnson.3 Well, that was the issue of that particular campaign. Then we come down to the last one. The issue was, “To League or not to League.”

But this thing they got started this year, both sides and even La Follette are all promising the same thing.4 They have had a half a dozen issues started. They would jump them up, and chase them a little ways, and the first thing they knew they would find the issue would double right back and be over among the other party.

The Democrats always, kinder out of respect to the memory of President Wilson, wanted to get into some sort of European affairs.

Well they were at the front door of Europe getting their tickets, when who should find a stage entrance to the same place but the Republicans. The entrance was marked, “World Court.”5 So that ruined another good live issue that might have given them something to argue on.

Then the Ku Klux bobbed up and the Republicans said it’s in the South and must be Democratic. So just as they were having their campaign literature printed to denounce the Democrats and the Klan and have a campaign issue, why somebody shipped some sheets north to Indiana, New Jersey, Maine and a few other places. Neither side didn’t know what to do. So that issue was chased up the same tree by both dogs.

Then the Lower Taxes Issue was dragged out and dusted off. When a party can’t think of anything else they always fall back on Lower Taxes. It has a magic sound to a voter, just like Fairyland is spoken of and dreamed of by all children. But no child has ever seen it; neither has any voter ever lived to see the day when his taxes were lowered.

Presidents have been promising lower taxes since Washington crossed the Delaware by hand in a row boat. But our taxes have gotten bigger and their boats have gotten larger until now the President crosses the Delaware in his private yacht.

In the early days they used to pay their whole year’s taxes with a few sacks of tobacco they raised on their farm. Now, the same farm, you put another mortgage on every time a tax comes due. But, mind you, in those days there was only 26 Senators and 50 Congressmen to support. It’s a good thing we haven’t got any more states to add on, for we would go broke.

They say we owe now about 30 billion, so just let our Administrations keep on economizing and it will only take a few more years and we will all be on an allowance from the government.

If I was running for President I certainly wouldn’t pull that old Tax Savings gag. I would just announce, “Folks, I don’t believe I will be able to save you anything. Taxes are going to be high and the only thing I would advise you to do is not to have anything, because if you do have anything they will tax it away from you and you won’t have anything anyway. So why have anything in the first place.”

You see they can’t make an issue out of the Tax problem. That has been used by every party including the Populists. Prohibition they tried, both sides of them at various times to make an issue as well as a drink out of it, but it’s a law and it will be a law just as long as the price stays up.

Prohibition is no longer an issue; it’s a business.

Both sides are breaking their necks to find something to make an issue out of. La Follette has got it in for the Supreme Court and wants to abolish some of their power. Well, that’s not an issue, that’s just a grudge. Besides, if he would only think for a minute he would know that when Congress passes a bill to abolish the power of the Supreme Court, why all the Supreme Court has to do is say the bill is unconstitutional. I might say I am going to fire my boss, but I can’t fire him as long as he is my boss.

They are so hard up for an issue that Mr. Coolidge has finally just announced his policy will be Common Sense. Well, don’t you know the Democrats will claim that too? Do you think they will call their campaign “Darn Foolishness?” Besides, Common Sense is not an issue in politics, it’s an affliction.

Davis announces that his policy will be honesty.6 Neither is that an issue in politics. It’s a miracle, and can he get enough people to believe in miracles to elect him?

La Follette’s policy is Government ownership. What is he going to use for money to buy these railroads from the people that own them now? We better be building some airships to compete with all these other nations.

Here we invent the airship and now we are buying one from a nation that was supposed to be down and out.7 Why a battleship will be as obsolete in the next war as a sword was in the last one, because in the next war there ain’t nobody going to shoot nothing at you. They are just going to drop it on you. So everybody better start flying or digging in.

Let us have an absolute issue, where we can stand divided. This year they will have to split it three ways. I don’t know how we are going to get any question where there won’t be at least two of them on one side, unless we can find a three sided question.

What’s the use of having an election if everybody wants the same thing? Why take people’s minds off worthwhile things every 4 years just to get them on politics if neither side has anything different from the other to offer?

The only thing I see now that the two old line parties are divided on is, the question, “Who will have the post offices?” You split the post office jobs 50-50 and you will have United Democracy and Republicanism. No matter how many parties you have they are all fighting for the same thing salary. You abolish salaries and you will abolish politics and taxes.

1For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
2For Andrew J. Volstead see WA 9:N 13.
3For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 3:N 4; for Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:N 3.
4For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
5For the World Court see WA 21:N 1.
6For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
7The Zeppelin works in Germany built a commercial airship, the Los Angeles, for American purchase. It was flown to the United States in October 1924 and used by the Navy for tests of dirigibles.

October 26, 1924


The Literary Digest, should change its name to the Literary Poll Test, because it is impossible for the Weather Department to announce rain on a certain day without the digest taking a Straw Vote on the matter. They have polled every question from “Should the Ku Klux be allowed to intermarry?” on down to “The personal morals of Louis Angel Firpo.”1

They got one poll running now on, “Who do you guess will be President?” It’s the only publication that don’t already know who will be.

They had one on the Democratic nominations and wasted enough mail back and forth to have made Sears Roebuck ashamed and they never did guess the right guy. But this one they are running now has brought out the only live spot in the whole Campaign. Papers are arguing over the poll of votes, more than they are the election.

Coolidge is away ahead and all the Republican Papers are saying that it is absolutely the fairest way to get the real sentiment of the entire country. The Democratic papers claim that the whole think is a field of Purgatory, and tool of the interests. They say they only mail these cards out to Republicans, and that the reason the Democrats haven’t got any more votes than they have is because they can’t get a hold of a card to vote on.

They say the Republican Post masters get the cards, sign them, and send them back in. This week the Republicans come back and say that half of the post offices are occupied by Democrats and that if that was the case the Democrats would get at least half. Now how did these Democrats get into these Republican post offices is what I want to know? If they haven’t got enough Republicans to fill all the post offices, how are they going to win the election, and if it is true that the offices are equally divided, why have an election? That’s all the election is for—to see who will be Postmasters.

Personally I don’t think this Straw Vote demonstrates but one thing: that is that there are more Republicans that can write than there are Democrats. Now when it comes to voting, a man can make a cross and get somebody to write his name. But on these cards he don’t know what he might be signing away. A Democrat hasn’t got much left as it is and he don’t want to take any chances on losing what little he has.

More men have been selected by Straw Votes to office, and fewer received salary, than any other industry in America. The same men that Straw Vote are the ones who can sit down all day and play solitaire. It’s like winning on the races in your mind. No mathematician in this country has ever been able to figure out how many hundred Straw Votes it takes to equal one legitimate vote.

Now, as I say, there has been quite a lot of dissatisfaction over this poll of votes, also over the mode of nominations. So I am opening up a department called Will Rogers’ Illiterate Digest, and I am going to take a poll vote of the entire country on who they want for President. We may develop a man, perhaps a hayseed, who will get more straw votes, than any of the regular candidates that are running.

Now send your vote to my Illiterate Digest in care of the Amsterdam Theater, New York. Then every week in this paper I will give the amount of votes. It’s just like The Digest only better. In this Illiterate one you don’t have to vote for just three candidates. Send in any one: Valentino, Bull Montana, W. J. Bryan, Goose Goslin, Al Smith.2 Lots of you feel that Al, and some of you that McAdoo should have been nominated, so put them up again.3 This nomination and election is on the level.

Now, I am not sending out any stamped cards for a return answer. If our voters can’t afford their own stamp then we don’t want their votes. We are appealing to an entirely different class of people from the Digest. Their’s don’t even own a stamp. So come on! Don’t let the postmasters do your voting. Get in behind the only square political poll ever held.

You know there is a chance that this election will be thrown into the House, thrown into the Senate, or maybe thrown into the street. This is one of those clown years, when anything can happen, not only can happen but is happening.

Who is the public’s choice? Not the politicians’ choice, but the public’s. There is only one difference between our election and the real one. In my election you will only be allowed to vote once. Of course on November the 4th you can vote till they catch you. The big Election is ending in a week or so but don’t let that worry you. That won’t stop us. We will just keep right on voting up till it gets too cold to vote.

We will enter the Prince of Wales as a candidate so it will give the women a chance to vote.4 Remember, no slush fund connected with our election. I see by the papers where Senator Borah is out in Chicago trying to locate this slush fund.5 They are holding this investigation before election, so when it is found, the politicians can go at once to the party which has it. That is why they locate it before election. It wouldn’t be any good to any one to know after election that they could have gone to the Republicans and got more money than they were getting from the Democrats.

Butler the Republican leader said they have spent about 3 million, and I see by the Digest Poll that Coolidge had 1 million and 66 thousand votes. That makes it run around 3 dollars a vote.6

La Follette has spent only 190 thousand in all, and he had gotten 384 thousand votes.7 That makes his come to 50 cents a vote.

Of course, mind you, they were not as good votes as Coolidge’s. You can’t expect much of a vote for 50 cents. It’s just a vote, that’s all; no class or frills.

The Democrats according to that same Digest Poll had about 350 thousand votes but Senator Borah up to the time I had to go to press, had been unable to find where they had any Campaign fund at all. If anybody had given them any money they were ashamed to have their names mentioned.

Of course by the time you read this Borah may have dug up some evidence of the Democrats having spent something. That is, of course, in case the Democrats have been able themselves to have dug up some.

Borah is no more anxious to find a Democratic Slush Fund than the Democrats are to have one. Borah got out of lectioneering this time pretty slick. He didn’t know who to come out for so he got put on this Committee and claims he is so busy he hasn’t got time to make up his mind who he is for.

He is kinder like McAdoo. McAdoo told them in the hospital “keep cutting this out of me until after election. If I haven’t got enough to last send out and get some more, but whatever you do don’t let me out until after November 4th.”

La Follette won’t win, but for a man that is known to be a sure loser, he has dealt both parties more misery than any man in political history. He is a mosquito in a dark Bed Room, just gnawing on everything in sight. And the funny part of it is when they beat him in this election, they won’t be rid of him. He is right back where he started. He is still in the Senate.

He is one smart bird. He didn’t give up one job while he was running for another. This Presidential stuff is just a side line with him. It’s a problem to the Republicans if he won’t worry them more in the Senate than he would as President. Personally I don’t think there is any comparison in the position that he holds in the Senate and in being President. He would have been the only man that was ever elected to the Presidency that would have been going back politically. As La Follette the Senator, he dictates; as La Follette the President he could only suggest.

1For Luis Firpo see WA 35:N 7.
2For Rudolph Valentino see WA 9:N 9; for Bull Montana see WA 69:N 12; for William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7. Leon Allen “Goose” Goslin, outfielder who played for the Washington Senators from 1921 to 1930; inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968. For Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
3For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
4For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
5For William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6.
6William Morgan Butler, Boston attorney who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1924. After the 1924 election he was appointed to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy; he served in that body until 1926.
7For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.

November 2, 1924


At last the American people are aroused. They have found a medium through which to express their individual preference for President of these United States. Will Rogers Illiterate Digest poll vote, the only fair and honest and square test of the merits of a Candidate’s popularity, is now operating in full blast. I don’t want the title misunderstood. You don’t have to be Illiterate, personally, to vote. We will take votes from the minority. The poll, as I go to press, has only been open one day but it gives you a fair idea of which way the wind is blowing, socially as well as politically.

The vote so far proves one thing conclusively, and that is that if the people had had anything to do with the nominations, personally, instead of it being done by a half dozen men in the back rooms of some hotel, why America would be a Democracy.

The Illiterate Digest poll is as follows:
Underwood (for Alabama)1
Walter Johnson (not Hiram)2
Red Grange3
Knute Rockne4
Prince of Wales (all in feminine handwriting)5
Rufus Valentino (including one letter not perfume scented)6
Henry Ford (postmarked Muscle Shoals, Alabama)
Kermit Roosevelt7
Bucky Harris8
Will Hays (post marked Hollywood)9
W. J. Bryan (writer explains it as force of habit vote)10
Douglas Fairbanks (written on Mary Pickford stationary)11
Jack Dempsey (Kearns’ handwriting)12
C. A. Coolidge (of Illinois, not the Vermont one)13
W. G. McAdoo14
Al Smith (Indian head on top of letter)15
William R. Hearst (Arthur Brisbane stationary)16
Ma Ferguson (signed Pa Ferguson)17
Billy Burke (looks like Ziegfeld’s signature)18
Will Rogers (an alternate from Arizona with one half vote)
Calvin Coolidge
John W. Davis19
La Follette20
Charles (profanity) Dawes21
Charles (brother) Bryan22
Burton (investigating) Wheeler23
Now send in your favorite President! The big election will have nothing to do with our popular one. Remember, care of Illiterate Digest, New Amsterdan Theatre, New York.

Well, the publishing of the Income Tax amounts kinder knocked some of the big ones in the creek. It brought out many surprises. Few of us knew before that Jack Dempsey was as rich as J. P. Morgan.24 They both paid around 90 thousand dollars each. I thought Morgan made that much before breakfast every morning. I see where a lot of the big ones are against publishing the amounts. I think it is a great thing to publish them. What’s the idea of keeping it secret? Besides it will stop Press Agents lying about Movie Stars’ salaries.

Don’t feel discouraged if a lot of our well known men were not as wealthy according to their Tax as you thought they ought to be. They are just as rich as you thought. This publication of amounts had nothing to do with their wealth. It was only a test of their honesty, and gives you practically no idea of their wealth at all. The Income Tax has made more liars out of the American people than Golf has. You should get out a new kind of Tax every year or two, so they don’t know how to beat it. When this one first come out, the first year, every man’s name on it was down for two or three times the amount that he pays today. We had no tax experts, no lawyers that made a specialty of showing you what you would take off. You simply had a wife and so many children and that was about as far as you knew what to charge off.

Why don’t they use a sales tax? That is the only fair and just tax. Have no tax on necessary foods, and moderate priced necessary clothes, but put a tax on every other thing you buy or use. Then the rich fellow who buys more and uses more certainly has no way of getting out of paying his share. Collect it at the source, that is at the manufacturer’s. Don’t depend on the retailer. That way it would not cost much to collect. Canada has tried it and it has proven absolutely satisfactory. Do it that way and every time you see a big 10 or 12 thousand dollar limousine going down the street you would know that the fellow in there has already paid the government a big percentage of tax on it to help run the country. You would know the Government has already got theirs.

Put big taxes on everything of a luxury nature. You do that, and let the working man know the rich have paid before they got it and you will do more than any one thing to settle some of the unrest and dissatisfaction that you hear every day—not by the Reds or Bolsheviki, or even Pinks, but by real citizens and every day people of this country. They know there is something wrong with taxation, and I have yet to meet one person, since those lists were published, that didn’t think so. No slick lawyer or income tax expert can get you out of a sales tax. It is so much a dollar on every luxury you buy. Then if you like to live in wealth and luxury, the poor fellow knows you are paying for it and he will not feel envious of you. He will even encourage you to buy more so it will help out the government.

Now we, the Illiterate Digest, may start a poll vote on that, too. That would be one of my only planks if I run for President (which I doubt if I ever do again). The beauty of my plan is if you don’t want to pay any tax, just don’t buy anything out of bare necessities and you pay no tax. But the minute you want a pair of those knee Golf Breeches, why let the Government pop it to you for about 50 cents on each dollar. That would cure you of looking funny.

Children’s playthings, no tax; but Golf and Polo, hang it on them with plenty tax. If a man really feels like he wants to swing something Sunday morning, give him an axe and head him towards a woodpile. Let his wife give him a broom and see how many strokes he can go round the room in.

You do this and you wouldn’t have to wait until just before election to know what your local rich man paid in the way of tax. If you saw him with high priced things during the year you would know he had paid every cent of his share. Now that is what I call a real issue. Taxation is about all there is to Government. People don’t want their taxes lowered near as much as the politician tries to make you believe. People want JUST taxes, more than they want lower taxes. They want to know that every man is paying his proportionate share according to his wealth.

Now what has all this to do with election? Nothing. Election is here in a couple of days and a lot of people lose a lot of sleep and get all heated up over it, and Politicians will spout off to you that if such and such a man is not elected that will mean sure destruction to the whole country. Now just stop and figure, ever since we have had this Government why some man has been in there as President. Sometimes he belonged to one party and sometimes to another. Now what I want to know is what difference did it make to the country? Every man America has ever had in that high exalted position has done the very best he possibly could, and to their credit not a one has ever done bad. They have all been great. We haven’t been ruined under a single one of their administrations.

When is this terrible ruin that the Politicians have been predicting going to happen? I will admit that it has rained more under Republican administrations, but that was partially caused because they have had more administrations than the Democrats. There is no less sickness, no less Earthquakes, no less Progress, no less Inventions, no less morality, no less Christianity under one than another. They are all the same. It won’t make 50 cents difference to a one of you unless you were foolish enough to bet on it.

Our Government is so arranged that no President could do any harm even if he wanted to. We have a Congress that is all powerful. We have in addition a Supreme Court, to see that the Congress don’t go on a tear. What I just told you about Taxes is more important to every individual than the name of any man that will be in the White House.

Mr. Coolidge, although a Republican, is not going to start in poisoning all the Democrats. He is going to run the country as good as he can both for the Democrats and the Republicans. John W. Davis would be the same. He wouldn’t send just the Republicans into the front line trenches in case of a war. They are for America regardless of party.

La Follette, some tell you would do this, and would upset that. He has been in our highest legislative body for years and has not done anything to ruin our Government. We have lots of good laws on our Statue Books that he is responsible for. He couldn’t take over the Railroads, or suppress any of the power of the Supreme Court even if he were President. Congress has to do that.

They are all good Americans and have the interest of this country at heart as much as any three men in it. I don’t think we will be ruined Tuesday no matter who is elected, so the Politicians will have to wait four more years to tell us who will ruin us then.

Our Forefathers so founded this Country that it would still be safe even if Jackie Coogan were President.25

1For Oscar W. Underwood see WA 51:N 3.
2For Walter Johnson see WA 94:N 1; for Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:n 3.
3Harold Edward “Red” Grange, star football halfback at the University of Illinois from 1922 to 1925. Grange later played professional football, notably with the Chicago Bears from 1926 to 1934.
4Knute Kenneth Rockne, renowned head football coach at Notre Dame University from 1918 until his death in 1931.
5For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
6For Rudolph Valentino see WA 9:N 9.
7Kermit Roosevelt, American soldier, explorer, businessman, and writer; a son of President Theodore Roosevelt.
8For Bucky Harris see WA 94:N 5.
9For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
10For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
11For Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Mary Pickford see WA 31:N 2.
12For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1; for Jack Kearns see WA 31:N 2.
13Charles Allerton Coolidge, noted Boston architect who designed many government and university buildings.
14For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
15For Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
16For William Randolph Hearst see WA 19:N 2; for Arthur Brisbane see WA 49:N 12.
17For Miriam “Ma” and James “Pa” Ferguson see WA 91:N 1.
18Billie Burke, American actress who began her stage career in 1903 in The School Girl and later starred in motion pictures. Burke married Flo Ziegfeld (see WA 3:N 1) in 1914.
19For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
20For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
21For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6.
22For Charles W. Bryan see WA 84:N 2.
23For Burton K. Wheeler see WA 54:N 9.
24For J. P. Morgan, Jr., see WA 1:N 4.
25For Jackie Coogan see WA 54:N 31.

November 9, 1924


As the Illiterate Digest goes to press election is a day off. I would wait and write this after election, but the fellow who don’t know how this election is going to come out even a month before it happened, he should not be allowed to read a paper and probably can’t.

Of course some of the County Offices, and Sheriffs and road commissioners may be in doubt up to the counting time.

I hope some of the men who get the most votes will be elected. That is of course not generally the case. If I was running for office I would rather have two friends in the counting room than a Republican Slush fund behind me. More candidates have been defeated after 6 o’clock in the evening than were ever defeated during election day. That’s how Tammany Hall of New York has built up its unmatched reputation. They are not strong in point of individual numbers, but in order to belong to it you must be able to live in at least 6 precincts, and remember correctly your different name in each one, and in case you are put on the inside of the voting booth you must be able to count two for ever single vote of your candidate, and conceal in the palm of your hand every other ballot in favor of your candidate’s opponent. So you see it takes a bit of sleight of hand to be one of their braves. This system, while perfected by the Tammany tribe, has even been copied by various other organizations.

Well, I have been reading in the papers various editorials in regard to a troop of our actors making a one day stand out of Washington, D. C. and having breakfast with President Coolidge. It was shown that they had their expenses paid by some one and it was also brought out at the investigation that some one claimed that he could deliver a certain kind of support for a candidate, consisting of jokes in his favor delivered on the stage by the actors.

It’s the first time the White House has ever been made a one meal stand. They arrived in the morning at 7 A.M. and it took them until 8:30 to find the stage entrance to the White House. They finally let them in through the Congressmen’s entrance, a kind of a side door affair. It was a new circuit for a great many of them. One didn’t know who was manager of the Opera House. It was about the toughest assignment a bunch of actors ever had, to try and make a man laugh at breakfast. If you are good enough to make ’em laugh for breakfast you ought to be able to knock ’em off their swivel chairs for luncheon or dinner. After dinner speaking is bad enough, but can you imagine crawling out of a sleeper and being called on during the stewed prune course to deliver a prepared impromptu speech on “What the present administration has meant to the humorous actor,” or, “Why are not more comedians in politics, and more politicians in musical comedies?”

This trip should do much to bring the two amusement ends of our country, the Senate, and the stage, into more close harmony. Now that the actors have journeyed to Washington and delivered their stage acts that nightly make the audience laugh, the Senate ought to put out a road show and bring it to N. Y. and have them all do their Chautauqua acts that have made the Buckwheat belt laugh for years. The only difference would be that the actors, in going to Washington to play, felt that they were barnstorming, while the Senators or Congressmen to bring their acts to New York would feel like they were at last making the big time.

Mr. and Mrs. Coolidge were very gracious, not only supplying a hearty meal, but laughing at the actor’s jokes, even to the one about the snail going for the aspirin tablets. George Washington laughed in the same house when La Fayette first told it to him.

Of course what made it look bad to everybody on the outside was the fact some outsider gathered them all up and paid their expenses down there. If they want to support somebody, they certainly earn enough to get to Washington without some outsider paying their fare. Mind you, I don’t think that they had any idea of the consequences when they went down. They just did it innocently as a kind of a lark, and because all the rest were going. They never stopped to think that every little thing just before election is ferreted out and made much of by the opposite party. Now it was brought out that it cost $1260.00, which I don’t think was an exorbitant price when you consider that it amused the President, and made him laugh.

On Hammerstein’s old Roof Graden one Summer they had an old lady that he dug up.1 They called her Sober Sue. She was supposed to never laugh. He sat her in the box every night and the Vaudeville act among us who made her laugh was supposed to get a raise in salary.

We tried all summer and never got a wrinkle out of her, and, mind you, he had acts that he was paying a lot more than $1260 to. So I can’t agreee with the papers who have criticised this politician for his outlay of money.

Of course, incidentally, in our case on the last night after the roof closed she confided to us that she was deaf, and was short sighted, and had never seen or heard any of us all summer. She laughed when she told us this, but that was too late to do us any good. She was one afflicted person after that I could never seem to sympathize with.

Then some guy at this Senatorial investigation said that he could have bought for 50 thousand dollars jokes on the stage in favor of any certain candidate. Gosh, I wish I had known that! I would have been rich by now! If I had collected for every favorable joke I have told about each one of the candidates, and if I had been paid for all I had told against each one of them I would be a millionaire. I have said something good about them when they have done something good, and I have knocked them when they didn’t do so good. That is why I am generally knocking them.

I generally give the party in power, whether Republican or Democrat, the more digs because they are generally doing the country more damage, and besides I don’t think it is fair to jump too much on the fellow who is down. He is not working, he is only living in hopes of getting back in on the graft in another four years, while the party in power is drawing a salary to be knocked.

The fellow who testified that was just trying to get himself some money he couldn’t deliver or change the opinion of men in our profession such as he mentioned. An actor has as much right as any one else to have his political beliefs. He pays his taxes and is a good citizen. But I don’t think he should carry any Campaign Propaganda into his stage work, either for or against any candidate. He has no right to use his privilege as an actor to drive home his Political Beliefs.

We are paid by an audience to entertain them, not to instruct them politically. While the things you say may please one part of your audience it may displease the other part, and as one pays just as much to get in as another, we want to be friendly with each. So distribute your compliments and your knocks so when the audience go out they don’t know where you are politically.

Then if you want to, as a citizen, go hire you a hall and tell them what you want to. You are a citizen not an actor then. I knock ’em all, and occasionally boost, when they do something meritorious, which is rare.

So here is hoping that the stage will not as some papers seem to think pollute politics. The worst we could do for it would be to help it.

Besides this contamination of actors dining in the White House won’t happen again soon, as there is no campaign until 1928.

My Illiterate Digest Poll is going along far beyond my expectations. I did not realize that there were so many fair minded American citizens who were interested in an honest nomination and election. I am getting the vote ready but won’t announce again until after election as we want to see how this fraudulent one come out. Mind you we will keep right on going with ours for weeks for the peepul must have a choice.

The Labor Government is out over in England now so the chances are that the Prince of Wales will stay at home now.2 So he may be eliminated as one of our candidates.

The leisure class is back in over there, so he can play at home now. I think the leisure class will get in here, too, no matter who is elected.

1William “Willie” Hammerstein, picturesque American theatrical producer whose Roof Garden in New York City featured some of the most freakish acts in vaudeville. Hammerstein offered prizes to top comedians if they could make Sober Sue laugh. There was a gimmick; the woman’s facial muscles were paralyzed: thus, she could laugh inwardly, but she never could show it.
2For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.

November 16, 1924


Well, the election is finally over. The result was just as big a surprise as the announcement that Xmas was coming in December.

The Republicans mopped up, the Democrats gummed up, and I will now try and sum up. Things are terrible dull now. We won’t have any more comedy until Congress meets. That’s the next serious drama with funny lines.

This next Congress will be composed partly of men who were defeated in the late Democratic annihilation. That is, it will be composed of what is known as Lame Ducks. That’s a man who has been defeated and still holds office. There is no other business in the world that allows a man to work after he is fired except politics. Politics is different from any other business; in fact, it is different from anything. So, plainly speaking, a Lame Duck is a politician who has had his salary shot from under him.

Now you know that a man who already knows he is fired is not any too cheerful a bird to get along with in the way of getting through any kind of constructive legislation. He goes home the minute it is over and for the next 4 years complains of the frauds and the injustice of the present election system.

As I say, they just held an election but no one knows WHY. It cost this country millions of dollars just to see how many votes Mr. Coolidge could beat Mr. Davis and Mr. La Follette by.1 It would be just like putting me in the ring with Jack Dempsey.2 Everybody would say, “Why Dempsey will knock him clear out of the ring,” and the promoter would say “Yes, but come and pay your money and see how far out of the ring he will knock him.”

Now this was no disparagement to John W. Davis. He is a fine high class gentleman, and would have made an excellent President if he had gotten in. It just wasn’t in the cards to beat Coolidge this year. It would have taken an original Roosevelt or a Lincoln to beat him, and we haven’t got either one of those kind laying around in either party.3

Financially Davis is the gainer, as he is the only Presidential Candidate I know of who is smart enough to earn by his own efforts, more money than a Presidential Salary. He was the best Ambassador that we ever had in England. In fact he was the only one who spoke good enough English so they would understand him. He foolishly ran on honesty, and I told him at the time he would never get anywhere on it. It was too radical for Politics. Mr. Coolidge ran on common sense and the returns showed that there was 8 million people in the United States who had Common Sense enough not to believe that there was honesty in Politics.

As for La Follette he is sitting as pretty as ever. He is still in the Senate. It looks like he won’t have his usual power, but you just wait; that guy will dig him up a gang before he is in there a month. You could put him up in Heaven with everything going fine, and he would get himself up an organized minority, and have Saint Peter compromising with him.

As for the Vice President, they didn’t miss anything any way.

Mr. La Follette ran on the dissatisfied vote, but the trouble was that they were so dissatisified that they didn’t even vote.

Now let us sum up and see just how Mr. Coolidge polled this big majority. I have read many Editorials all claiming a hundred and one differnet reasons and that luck had brought it about. Some lay it to rain in California, some to Washington winning the Pennant, some, and justly so to some extent, to the failure of wheat in all other Countries. I personally lay some of it to the conjested traffic, on election day the Republican Chauffeurs in their Pierce Arrows crowded the poor Democrats out so they couldn’t get to the Polls in their Fords.

But the big reason I have never heard spoken of in any of the explanations. It is just as I told Mr. and Mrs. Alice Nicholas Longworth when I was in Washington last June after returning from California and also visiting various states coming back East.4 They asked me, “Will, how does Coolidge stand all over the country?” I told them, “He is very very strong; he has a kind of uncanny hold on the people; they all seem to be for giving him a chance. They know he had nothing personally to do with all this oil mess, and he inherited a lot of ills for which he was not to blame.”

Now that is just what I said from personal knowledge in June and the same has held good right up to election time. It’s just an illustration of the fairness of the great mass of people, or crowd fairness. If you went to any sporting event and one of the principals in it was unable to go on and they substitute another for his part you would see the big majority of that crowd with the substitute. That is exactly how they felt in regard to President Coolidge. Everybody said, give him a chance. They knew and felt that he was honest, and that he was economical. But it was the great American Spirit of “give every man a fair chance,” that is what elected him by this big majority.

Price of wheat didn’t do it. I can carry all the wheat in my hat they raise in New York State. Lower Sur Taxes didn’t do it; there was only a couple of million paid Sur Taxes. No sir, it was the psychology of a fair deal that did it.

We had had one Vice President make good in Roosevelt, so the people felt like trusting another one, and he kept his mouth shut. That was such a novelty among Politicians that it just swept the Country. Funny we never had another one to think of that before. You see originality will be rewarded in any line.

Now that we have summed up on how and why he won, let us sum up on why the Democrats lost. The first is the League of Nations. Now that may be a great thing and put properly in operation no doubt would, but why keep on trying it on the same voters who don’t seem to want it. I have time and again in my act a joke or saying that I just knew and felt was good and funny. Well, I would tell it once and get no laugh, but I would feel that I knew it was good so I would go and try it again; same result; it would die standing up. I have, through my bull headedness, tried to make an audience see it as I did, but it couldn’t be done.

That is exactly the way with the League of Nations in any form. You have given it a couple of trials, now for the Lord sake, can it. If the Democrats want to help Europe let them get in office first. Then they will be in a better position to help them than they will be out of office. So the first thing to do is to try and find how to get into office. If they give half the thought to helping the man at home that they give to Bromo Slovakia, they might come nearer presiding over the old Post Offices again.

Never mind downtrodden Ukarania; downtrodden New York is the one with 45 electoral votes. Concentrate your sympathy on Ohio, and Indiana; promise to look after them. They’ve got a mess of electoral votes that, counted on your side on Nov. 5th, would look mighty sweet. Slavonia hasn’t even been admitted to the Union yet. If the Democrats will only sympathize with Rhode Island they have more electoral votes than the whole Balkan Nations combined.

Get yourself in office first; then send Underwear to Siberia. The Democratic Party is worse off right now than the slums of Poland.

There is more discontent in the Democratic Party than there is between the Turks and the Greeks. Study up and get yourself some new stuff in the next 4 years. If your so called Democratic Policies can only elect two Presidents since the Civil War, there is something wrong with your Policies. Get a new act. You are on the small time and don’t know it.

If the Republicans attract the rich to their Party, why think of something that will get some of the rich into your Party.

If my act only appeals to a 10 cent audience, I will get a better act and see if I can’t amuse the $5.50 guy. If they got a slush fund don’t waste all your time criticising and investigating theirs; get out and get a bigger one yourself.

You pulled another bone head by concentrating on the Oil Scandal. You didn’t study human nature. You know the oil happened 6 months too early to do you any good as a weapon. Ask any Soldier and he will tell you America forgot the War in one year. How was they going to remember the Oil Scandal 6 months. You can’t beat an Administration by attacking it. You have to show some plan of improving on it.

If Lincoln, Nebraska, fell down three times electing a President, what made you think they could elect a Vice President?

What made you think a Vice President had to be from a Farmer State?

Why a Farmer can’t even make a living; how is he going to be smart enough to be Vice President? You can’t win with Bryan policies and you can’t win with Bryan’s kinfolks.5

Charley Bryan is politically a fine man.6 History tells us that Frank James was never responsible for half as much deviltry as his brother Jesse.7 But you can’t disconnect the two names.

There is something wrong with a Party that sits in a Hall for 6 months trying to nominate a Presidential Candidate, when it will only take from 7 o’clock in the morning on election day, to 7:30 A.M. on the same morning to get him beat.

Now you got 4 years to think of something original. Mr. Coolidge thought of the idea of keeping still. Too bad you all didn’t think of that. But you didn’t, and he did so give him credit.

Now if you can’t think of anything by next election I would just give up your Democratic Franchise and join the Republicans. This criticism is offered by an unbiased Sportsman who just loves to see a close race.

1For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1; for Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
2For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.
3For Theodore Roosevelt see WA 48:N 3.
4For Nicholas Longworth see WA 17:N 4; for Alice Roosevelt Longworth see WA 9:N 4.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
6For Charles W. Bryan see WA 84:N 2.
7For Frank and Jesse James see WA 14:N 11.

November 23, 1924


Well, as the old Illiterate Digest goes to the post this week, we are able to report much jubilation on the part of the disgracefully rich, or Republican, element of the entire country. They are celebrating the Country’s return to Wall Street. Wall Street never had such a two weeks in the history of that ancient and honorable Institution as she is going through now. They had to keep open 20 minutes longer and all the papers made headline stories of that fact. Just think of the inconvenience of the brokers having to wait until 20 minutes after 3 P.M. in raking in more dough.

It is one of the worst personal hardships that the Exhange members has gone through with in years. Wall Street men missed golf games that hadn’t missed them in years. And Stocks, why anything that looked like a stock would sell. People would wire in “buy me some stocks.” The Brokers would answer, “What kind?” The buyer would wire back, “Any kind; the Republicans are in, ain’t they all supposed to go up?”

Men bought stocks who had never bought even a tooth brush before in their lives. People bought Wheat and sent a truck to the Exchange to get it. Even Moving Picture Companies’ stock went up, figuring I guess that pictures will be funnier with Charley Dawes as Vice President than they would have been with Charley Bryan.1 I can imagine Rudoph Valentino’s hair falling out affecting the value of the moving Picture Company’s stock, but I didn’t know before that Ma Ferguson being elected Governor of Texas would do it.2

I didn’t know that Gloria Swanson could look better in her pictures if there was only about 36 Democrats in the Senate, than she could if there was 40.3 But the stocks showed that such was the case, because there is absolutely no sentiment in business. Premier Clemenceau refusing to meet Jackie Coogan in France seemed to have no financial bearing on Coogan Movie Stock.4 But a blind man defeating Magnus Johnson, the loud milker of Minnesota, caused a ready sale of Coogan stock.5

I know Ben Turpin personally and have always been very friendly and confidential with him, but he never told me that he could look more ways under a Republican administration than he could under a Democratic one.6 And my old friends Bill Hart and Tom Mix—why the way stocks are going buyers evidently feel that they can whip twice as many men in one fight as they could under any previous administration.7

I am kinder sorry that Flo Ziegfeld is not incorporated and serving his stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.8 I would be curious to know if they took a rise during the present time, if they did I would feel certain that the Public anticipate me having more humorous events to talk on than under any other administration, or perhaps that my Gum would chew better under the old guard. Now while our Follies stocks were not listed I knew the prosperity had struck Wall Street long before the papers announced that fact, as I could tell by the class of fur coats our show girls were showing up in. I never saw in all my years with the show a better or more expensive line of coats. Only one Seal has shown up so far. All the rest have been Minks, and Sables. That’s the best financial barometer in the World.

Now what is worrying me is what they will do with movies that were made under the late Divided, or Vetoing administration. They will perhaps just destroy them and make new ones, as no true Artist could do his best work only under an Administration that was sympthetic to Capital.

Even the Subway stock in New York has gone up. Now what I want to know is how they can make any more money? Capacity is the only way. How are you going to get more people into one of those cars than they are now? They got men hired now just to push and assort you around in there so you will take up the last space. Unless people decrease in size in the next few years there is no way they can carry a single person more than they have in the past year.

In the paper in front of me here I see where Fisher Bodies took a spurt of 10 points just today. Now I venture to say that there are lots of good American voters who are absolutely honest and want to do their share in maintaining the upkeep of this old Commonwealth that don’t even know what a Fisher Body is. They wouldn’t know whether to go to the Aquarium to look for a sample of one, or to a Broadway Musical Comedy Chorus. Yet here was this object just sitting waiting for Mr. Coolidge to be elected to double itself in value. Now it is, as a matter of fact, a certain kind of Body on an Automobile. It would have been absolutely useless under an administration of Robert La Follette.9 No user of a high class car could have thought of riding in a Fisher Body with him President. Even under Davis I doubt if the Fisher Body could have ever amounted to much.10 It is just one of those things that thrive better under a Republican Cabinet.

Personal fortunes have been made over night. I read of one Automobile Manufacturer who has been in speculation for several years. (I think it was my old friend Durant, and I hope it was.)11 Well, they say he cleaned up 10 million in Cast Iron Pipe. Now there is one for the book. Here cast Iron Pipe has been laying around for years and we never thought much of it. It was all right to hit some one over the head with, or to stumble over, but it really didn’t cut any figure in the political or social, or financial life of our Country. And here all it needed was a President from Vermont to put it on its feet. You know it is really remarkable when you think of it how near Cast Iron Pipe is linked up with New York’s 45 Electoral votes, or even Nebraska’s 10 votes.

Radio Stock took a sput, that means the Republican Bed Time Stories will be even more sleepy than the ones in the last Administration. Why, with Davis in the White House, people would not have listened to a Radio at all. But now static will arrive nightly in every home.

Woolworth’s took a jump; shows you these Republicans are smart. They are going to take care of their 5 to 10 cent patrons the same as they are their Fisher Body trade. This Woolworth boost in stock was a kinder of a surprise to me as I did not know that the Republican Party had any Woolworth trade among them. I thought the Democrats were the backbone of the Woolworth Tower.

Cross Word Puzzle Stock made a jump, you would have imagined that everybody had thought of the right word at the same time. I tell you, with Cross Word selling at 12 to 14 points above par, I can’t see how we can have anything staring us in the face but prosperity.

Coca Cola took a jump right out of the glass. That seems kinder strange that a summer drink stock should wait until November to show its value. Just think what a great Campaign slogan that would have made. “Vote for Coolidge and put Coca Cola on its feet” or “Keep Coolidge and Coca Cola.”

International Harvester was another. Now harvesters are all in the sheds and will be until next June, and nobody knows whether we will have any wheat to cut them. Still people are just crazy about them even idle.

Simmons Bed! Now I don’t know what that is. I suppose it is some brand of sleeping apparatus. Now, just off hand, I don’t see why you couldn’t sleep just as good or as much on one of them even if Bull Montana was President as you can under Coolidge.12

Postum Cereal, Montgomery Ward, Orpheum Circuit and Distillers Products, Inc. Those last 4 mean I suppose, that everybody will fill up on Postum Cereal go clear out west to attend the Orpheum Circuit Shows, get half their supplies from Montgomery Ward, and the other half from Distillers Products Incorporated. Now don’t ask me why, I don’t know any more about it than you do. I thought we elected Mr. Coolidge to lower our Taxes, and keep us at peace with the World. I didn’t know that we had to ride in a Fisher Body and, sleep in a Simmons Bed, eat Postum, and drink Coca Cola.

What makes these things worth so much more on November the 5th than they were on November the 3rd? Of coruse I was old fashioned enough up to now to think that supply and demand regulated the price of everything. Now I find Nov. the 4th regulates it. Who is going to pay all these extra profits these things are supposed to earn? I don’t know, unless it is the purchaser. These fellows that are doing all this buying and selling this stock, they don’t have to buy any individual Harvester next year when their wheat is ripe and pay for it to make up for this raise in the price of stock. Maybe next year on account of not being a Presidential year here, Russia’s and Argentine’s wheat crop will not be a failure, and ours might be. Where will the farmer come in, with his high priced Harvester and low priced wheat? It’ all right to let Wall Street bet each other millions of dollars every day but why make these bets effect the fellow who is plowing a field out in Claremore, Oklahoma.

You are interfering with personal rights then. Another class of men bet thousands of dollar every day on Race Horses, yet they don’t interfere with the Horse raiser in Texas. They get their gambling just the same, but they don’t manipulate the price of Horse flesh all over the Country.

Mind you, I am not going to remedy it right now. I will allow Wall Street to run on a few days. Maybe their conscience will hurt them. (What’s that you said would hurt them?) But, on the level, it does seem funny these guys can sit here, produce nothing, ride in Fisher Bodies, and yet put a price on your whole year’s labor.

You mean to tell me that in a Country that was run really on the level, 200 of their National commodities could jump their value millions of dollars in two days? Where is this sudden demand coming from all at once.

I am supposed to be a comedian, but I don’t have to use any of my humor to get a laugh out of that. Didn’t we have a saying one time something about 100 percent Americans?

1For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6; for Charles W. Bryan see WA 84:N 2.
2For Rudolph Valentino see WA 9:N 9; for Miriam “Ma” Ferguson see WA 91:N 1.
3Gloria Swanson, American actress who made her film debut in 1913 and went on to leading roles on the screen and stage.
4For Georges Clemenceau see WA 1:N 7; for Jackie Coogan see WA 54:N 31.
5Johnson (see WA 35:N 4) was defeated for reelection by Congressman Thomas David Schall, a Republican who had lost his eyesight in 1907.
6For Ben Turpin see WA 81:N 2.
7For William S. Hart see WA 76:N 3; for Tom Mix see WA 90:N 4.
8For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 3:N 1.
9For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
10For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
11For William C. Durant see WA 6:N 4.
12For Bull Montana see WA 69:N 12.

November 30, 1924


Well, as the Illiterate Digest goes to press we are just getting over a day or so of very cold weather. For a couple of days there it looked like we were going to be able to KEEP KOOL WITH KOOLIDGE. In fact I would just as soon have kept WARM WITH WADSWORTH.1

Well, prosperity must have hit us because a lot of prominent men have suddenly got enough to get into the Follies on. We have had a disgraceful mess of them lately. One night last week we had the War Industries Board, 200 strong, all in one party. They were the famous $1.00 a year men during the War. Now, will you tell me how men who only got one dollar a year could afford the Follies? They still have their organization and once every year they meet and have a kind of a Reunion, and live over again the old prosperous days. Then, in between, they just sit and pine for another War.

They were all Republicans but one. That was Mr. Barney Baruch, the head of it during the War.2 With all the boasted Republican properity they made Baruch buy the Tickets. They keep this one Democrat in there so he can pay for everything.

You see, when President Wilson formed this Board during the War he told Baruch to go out and get all the prominent business men of every line together and see if they couldn’t form some kind of Association to speed up supplies for the War. Well, he thought of course Baruch would come in with members of both Political Parties. But when they round them all up, why they are all Republicans!

So Mr. Wilson asked him why be so partial to one Party? And Mr. Baruch told him: “You told me to get prominent men from every Industry and I did. Now I can go and get you some Democrats but they won’t be very prominent and won’t have any Industries with them. Besides I doubt if you can get a Democrat to work for $1.00 a year. They are used to getting at least a $1.00 a day.

Well, they decided to use these Republicans and let the Democrats do the fighting. They knew they could do that.

Now you see Baruch took care of all these Political opponents and now that his Party is out and their’s is in, they have not done a thing for him. It is a shame they won’t repay him. Why, they even make him pay their fare to these Reunions every year. But he is a game guy and don’t squawk. He is, you know, the Sight Draft of the Democratic Party.

He come back in my dressing room and sit and talked for an hour, and he complimented me on an Article of mine showing why the Democrats didn’t do better in the last election. He said I had it absolutely right when I said that the Democrats had to get rid of the League of Nations Idea and get a Slush Fund in it place, and that if the Republicns had been kinder promiscuous in peddling our Oil, why, it only showed that Voters admired personal preparedness in their Public officials.

So the Democrats should go out and get themselves some slick Candidates and not preach too much on their party’s honesty in the Campaign. Shrewdness in Public life all over the World is always honored, while honesty in Public Men is generally attributed to Dumbness and is seldom rewarded.

Among some of the many prominent ones I introduced to the audience was Eugene Meyers of some finance Board.3 They sent him out all over the west to loan money to the Banks to finance the Farmers until after election. He put the money in and the Republican Candidates for Senators in each State borrowed it all themselves, so they were the only Farmers benefited. I told this on him in the show and it got a big laugh and I have always noticed that people will never laugh at anything that is not based on truth.

Then they had the great Republican Leader Charlie Otis from Cleveland, an old Ex Cowpuncher, by the way.4 He is such a strong political factor in Ohio Politics in Cleveland that La Follette carried the City by a big majority. Too bad La Follette didn’t have him working against him all over the Country.5 He is a great old fellow even if he is such a poor Politician.

Herbert Swope the enterprising Editor of the N. Y. World was among them.6 They had him along so, in case of a raid, they would have a Democratic name to give the Police. He is the first Democratic Editor to revive without stimulants after the election returns come in.

At their business meeting some man representing a Farmer’s organization made a speech asking that the Farmer be given the same protection in financing by the Government that is given Eastern Industries. That got the biggest laugh of the meeting.

Al Smith, New York’s popular Governor, was also in a few nights ago.7 Our show seems to be a relaxation from all the humor of Public office. They like to come in and be instructed and think seriously every once in a while. After all, most prominent men have sensible sides if you can only get their mind off themselves and the humor of their importance.

Al is a bear. He come up on the stage and I made him promise that he would run for President on the Democratic Ticket in 1928, provided they decided to enter a man by then. Al promised he would if I would be his Secretary of State. I wouldn’t mind the job so much but, Lord, I would hate those Whiskers. Perhaps we can compromise on a Bobbed Mustache.

No kidding though, you just watch that Guy stop in ’28. If the voters still want “Plain Folks” by then, why here is a Bird that has got ’em all skinned for just old down to earth Horse Sense.

And, say, by the way, with that Industrial Board that night by mistake was another good Democrat. That was Governor Ritchie of Maryland.8 In looking for a Democratic Governor Candidate next time don’t overlook this one. They sometimes nominate Men for geographical reasons. Well, here is a man that is nearer to the White House than any Governor living. Baltimore is only an hour from Washington over Bootleg Boulevard.

Gov. Ritchie could be President and still run and govern Maryland. That ought not to take over a couple of hours a week of his time to oversee a little patch of ground like that. He could get those Stills systematized over there so we would only have to go over and check up and come back.

Another distinguished visitor we had last week was Sir Thomas Lipton, who I introduced and he made a very pretty little speech.9 I introduced him as the man who had made more Tea and drank less of it than any man living. I told him that he truly represented the British Isles, as he was Born in Ireland, weaned on Scotch Whiskey and made English Sportsmanship famous.

He is such a good loser it would be a shame for him to win; it might spoil him. He is, by the way, over here seeing something about running second again.

And last Saturday Matinee who should we have but Chauncy Depew!10 That was wonderful. It was the first time I had ever had the honor of talking for him. I did all the political stuff, which I thought he might enjoy, and then I introduced him to the audience and what an ovation he did get.

Just think, this wonderful old man who will soon be 91 years old, and has been making the world laugh and think for years. He is the most famous after Dinner speaker we ever had. He made the loveliest and brightest little Speech for us, said he had been trying to amuse people for 70 years but had never found it necessary to use a Rope to do it.

I told him that the Follies would get him. We might have to wait 91 years to get him but we would nail him sooner or later.

Then, a night or so ago, who should come back to see me in my dressing room but Mrs. Richard Croker, just over from Ireland on her way to Florida.11 You know, we are fellow Cherokees. Her folks are Cherokee Indians and so are mine and we are both mighty proud of it. I have known her for years. She is really quite a remarkable Woman. There was no marrying this Man for his money. They really loved each other and had a very happy married life, and when he left her this money and property he knew where it should go. She deserves every cent of it, and everybody I ever talked with is glad she got to keep it.

She told me they made a mistake by attacking her in Courts in Ireland. You can’t buy Judges over there. They are appointed for life. Political promises don’t interest them. She told me of that wonderful place outside Dublin, “Glencairn” his Irish Estate, and told me of the wonderful Horses and Stock.

She had me all excited to go to Ireland. That is where some of my folks come from. There is a fine breed for you, Irish-Indian. Ziegfeld says I have a touch of Hebraic in me, too.12 Which would make me an Irish, Jewish, Indian.

My family crest would in that case be, a Shillalah with a Tomahawk on one end, and a percent sign (%) on the other.

1James Walcott Wadsworth, Jr., Republican United States senator from New York from 1915 to 1927; later served in the House for many years.
2For Bernard M. Baruch see WA 14:N 9.
3 Eugene Meyer, American financier and publisher who served as chairman of the War Finance Corporation from 1918 to 1927.
4Charles A. Otis, Cleveland investment banker and Republican party official.
5For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
6Herbert Bayard Swope, journalist and publicist; correspondent and editor of the New York World; winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for his wartime correspondence.
7For Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
8Albert Cabell Ritchie, Democratic governor of Maryland from 1920 to 1935.
9Thomas Johnstone Lipton, British tea merchant and yachtsman. Sir Thomas often competed for but never won the America’s Cup, the premiere international yachting championship.
10Chauncey Mitchell Depew, attorney, businessman, and Republican politician. A former senator from New York, Depew was well known for his charming and witty after-dinner speeches.
11Bula Benton Edmondson Croker, Cherokee Indian wife of former Tammany Hall “boss” Richard C. Croker. After Croker’s death in 1922, his sons by an earlier marriage began a series of lawsuits to obtain a share of their father’s $5 million estate, charging Mrs. Croker with bigamy. The sons, however, never succeeded in obtaining a share of the fortune.
12For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 3:N 1.

December 7, 1924


Well, we have had a very strenuous week in the sinking department of our Navy. We were all last week trying to sink our greatest battleship, the Washington. It’s hard to go against Public Sympathy. When a thing is carrying the good wishes and hopes of a majority of the people it may get licked in the end, but it generally puts up a pretty good fight. And the Washington (that would have been our most magnificent battleship) was no exception. She was hard to sink, not only on account of her armored plate, but because everybody hated to see her sunk. In other words, she was carrying too much sympathy to go down easy.

Here is a boat we had spent thirty-five million on, and we go out and sink it. And the funny part about it is that it cost us more to sink it than it did to build it. We shot all the ammunition we had left over from the war into it and those big guns on the Texas they were using, they only are good for so many shots during their lifetime. So we spoiled the guns of our next best trying to sink the best one.


A great many people don’t understand just how this sinking come about. You see we had a conference over here a few years ago.1 It was called by America. We were building a lot of battleships and we had plenty of money to do it on, and it looked like in a couple of years we might have what would be the largest Navy in the world. Well, the League of Nations gathering in Paris had attracted a lot of attention and got quite a lot of publicity, most of which had been shared in this Country by the Democrats. So, when the Republicans got in, they conceived the idea of a publicity stunt for the Republicans. Why not then have a conference? So they decided that was a good thing. But what would they confer about? Well, that was kinder of a sticker because the League of Nations had conferred about six months, and in that time had taken up about every question on the Calendar.

So Secretary Hughes happened to think of the idea: “Let us confer on sinking battleships.”2 Well, the idea was so original that they immediately made him the toastmaster. You see, up to then, battleships had always been sunk by the enemy, and when he proposed to sink them yourself it was the most original thought that had ever percolated the mind of a statesman. So, when we communicated the idea to England and Japan that we had an idea whereby we would sink some of our own battleships, why they come over so fast, even the butler wasn’t dressed to receive them when they arrived.


In order to add a quorum, and also to make a colorful picture, why we invited other nations, some of which didn’t even have a river running through them much less being near an ocean. Well, all the powers got seasick coming over, as it was their first voyage.

Nations who heretofore had no Navy had to take up some kind of Naval Uniforms. When they arrived in Washington everybody wondered where the Masquerade Ball was going to be held. Of course, the foreigners had to furnish most of the picturesqueness, but our members did the best they could. They got out their old inauguration suits and turned them upside down and scattered moth balls all over the carpet. What we lacked in personal appearance at the conference we made up in generosity.

The toastmaster arose, re-assembled his beard, and spoke as follows:
“Friends and Debtors, (Because they all owed us money) at the rate we are building battleships in this Country in three years we will make the song, ‘Britania Rules the Waves,’ sound like ‘Yes We Have No Bananas.’3 Now we don’t want to destroy the truth and merit of a song which a nation has already gone to the trouble to learn, so we want to do what is right. We don’t want to be the biggest naval power because we have no song to that effect. So we figure it is better and cheaper to stop and destroy what we have than it is to go to the trouble of writing a new song. Now let us get right down to brass tacks and lay our plans on the table, England, what have you got.”


England replies as follows:
“Well, my plans call for the building within the next six months of 51 battleships of the first one, 286 destroyers and 500 miscellaneous gunboats. Now we are willing for the sake of world peace to tear those blue prints in half. We will, for national unity, sacrifice half what we intended to do. Now I don’t think that any nation could be fairer than that, these plans that we made up on the boat coming over cost us time, and paper is high, and I don’t think that we should be asked to give up more than that.”

Mr. Hughes responded as follows:
“That is the kind of spirit that I was sure you would exhibit and think that what you offer is not only fair but more than fair. Now, Japan, what are you prepared to do to help America get rid of some of our superfluous Navy?”

Togo (with apologies to Wallace Irwin) replied as to wit:
“Honorable Gentlemen, Ha! Ha! (Excuse laugh, I don’t speak very good English) Japan she have a dream of having more ships on seas as any nation under rising sun.4 Now Japan is willing to do what she can to help America from being too big on Ocean. So Japan propose as these facts: She, Japan, will forget half of her dream. Well, not quite half, (Excuse me, I know not American figures very well). She will forget two-fifths of her dreams, she will promise to be just three-fifths as big as America and England. Of course, she is now only one-ninth as big but we will build as fast as we can and we think that by us doing away with our big dream and only remembering threefifths of it that we are acting in a very honorable and generous mood. I thank you.”


Mr. Hughes arose, bowed and thanked our Nipponese guest as now related:
“I had an idea when I called this Conference that I would get the whole hearted support that I am now receiving. England is tearing up half her blue prints and Japan has discarded two-fifths of her dreams and I have just been informed that Switzerland has promised to cut her bob sleds in half. Now Gentlemen, I will show you what America is prepared to do. FOR EVERY BATTLESHIP YOU FELLOWS BUILD AMERICA WILL SINK ONE.”

Well, that just brought down the house. He was appointed Secretary of State for life. It was good economy because with him Secretary of State, they would soon need no Secretary of the Navy. And for an encore of this knockout speech he replied: “Yes and to show you we will live up to it, I don’t care how big a battleship you build, we will sink a bigger one.”

Well there was nothing left but for England and Japan to go home and start building, and to start sinking. Of course, if Mr. Hughes had known that our battleships were going to be as hard to sink as they are, why we could have put it in the contract that they were to stand their pro rata share of the cost of the sinking. It would be cheaper for us to give the battleships to them, than it would for us to have to sink them ourselves. Now they are talking of having another naval Disarmament Conference. We can only stand one more. If they ever have a second one we will have to borrow a boat to go to it.


You see, we don’t like to ever have the start on any nation in case of War. We figure it looks better to start late and come from behind. If we had a big Navy some nation would just be picking on us all the time. But as it is now, with us and England 5-5, that is we are supposed to be equal, why if we ever had a war it would be a tie. But why fix it so two nations will fight a tie in a War? They will only want to fight it over again. Agreeing on how many boats each nation shall have would be like agreeing on how many shots each soldier could fire a day in case of war. Before you went to war you would have to look at your contract, to see what you was allowed.

Now we find that a storm was instrumental in sinking the Washington, Mr. Wilbur, our Navy Secretary, said, “the results of the experiments on the attempted sinking of the Washington were of great military value.”5 I guess it showed him where to have a boat located in case a storm was coming and you wanted it sunk. He also says: “The Treaty required this vessel sunk or broken up but permitted us the privilege of using it as a target before sinking. This was one of the advantages accorded us by the Treaty.“

Now those are his very words. If I purposely thought a year I could not think of anything as ridiculous as that. ONE OF THE ADVATAGES GAINED WAS TO USE OUR OWN BOATS AS A TARGET. My Lord, can’t we shoot at all of them if we want to? Maybe that is why we are going to hold another Conference, so we can get permission to shoot at the rest of them.

He says he don’t want the other nations to find out how we did it. Don’t worry, they are not going to sink any of theirs. Sinking your own boats is a Military Strategy that will always remain in the sole possession of America.

Here is the funny part about the Disarmament Treaty. It says there is to be no more war, so we must sink our boats, but we are allowed to practice shooting at them as they go down, in case there is another war and we need the marksmanship.

If they are trying to outlaw war, why don’t they quit practicing shooting?

BUT I SHOULD BE THE LAST ONE TO KICK, THEY FURNISH ME WITH MATERIAL TO MAKE A GOOD LIVING. Next week “England and Egypt and the League of Nations.” I think it is a funnier act than this one.

1For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 57:N 2.
2For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4.
3For “Yes, We Have No Bananas” see WA 35:N 1.
4Heihachiro Togo, Japanese admiral who commanded the Japanese fleet during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and who was present at the Washington Conference on naval disarmament.
5For Curtis Wilbur see WA 69:N 1.

December 14, 1924


Well, all I know is what I read in the papers. Like my illustrious competitor, the Literary Digest, I just cull the high spots of the day’s news, giving both sides, provided there are two sides. So many of our public questions are so one-sided that it is hard to dig up another side. But the old reliable Illiterate Digest is here to say that news has begun to pop.

I knew the minute that Congress met that the comedy element would prevail. Of course the high lights of today’s news, as I go to press, is not Coolidge’s message to Congress, not Mellon’s prediction of prosperity, not France talking of paying our debt.1 Those are all minor affairs. The big thing headlined is CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S WIFE ONLY 16 YEARS OLD, and, if so, what should be done with her?2

If she is 16 and said at her wedding ceremony that she was 19 she is the only female of the species that ever increased her age voluntarily. She is a novelty already and if those odd traits keep up she will show as much originality as Charlie.

Now Los Angeles, to be sure and get its share of the publicity out of the wedding, has said she would be compelled to go to school. I am glad they put an age limit on knowledge instead of a test limit out there, because if a lot of us (me particularly) had to stand an educational test before marriage we would have all been bachelors.

This girl don’t need to go to school. Any girl smart enough to marry Charlie Chaplin should be lecturing at Vassar College on “Taking advantage of your opportunities.” I consider Charlie Chaplin not only the funniest man in the world, but I consider him to be (and this comes not from hearsay but from personal observation and contact with him) to be one of the smartest minds in America. Any man that can stay at the absolute head of his profession as long as he has, can’t do it on a pin head. It’s an education to be associated with Charlie Chaplin. He is a student of every form of government, and well informed on every national and international question. And human nature? What that guy don’t know about that! He never puts a bit of business or gag into his picture until he has studied out whether it will hit every man, woman and child, be they American, Chinaman, or Zulu. He is the only man, actor, statesman, writer, painter that has ever been able to please the entire world.


News Reel No. 2. It’s a long jump from “Is she 19 or is she lying?” to the President of the United States going across the Continent in an ordinary Pullman. But that is a bit of news that has been read by every man and woman who can read. He delivered a message to Congress explaining the affairs of the country we live in, its assets, its obligations. That message was read by perhaps a hundred people. He goes to Chicago in the drawing room of a Pullman. That was read by 10 million. So that is the thing nowadays. Be like Chaplin, be like Coolidge, do something that everybody will understand. He, like Chaplin, knows human nature. Knowing human nature is what put Chaplin where he is, knowing human nature is what put our President where he is.

And the President didn’t do it for effect either. He did it because for a private car they wanted him to buy 25 tickets and he could only accommodate 10 persons. Why pay for 15 that were not going? No, sir, that was not his training and it was not his nature. He believes, and his actions have always borne it out, that you should get value for what you spend, and if he can only get it through the head of that Congress and stop them getting appropriations widen and deepen rivers back home where a mud turtle can’t even get up at the present time, and stop building post offices in towns where less than 10 letters a month come in, why he is liable to put this country on a paying basis yet.

It was no particular hardship for him to go to Chicago in a mere drawing room, where he had traveled all over New England for years in a day coach. He knows that the people know that 5 years ago he would have gotten lost in a Drawing Room, and as the wife of a man like that don’t need a school teacher.


For having a private car there was only one ever in New England and they charged admission for people to see that. He preaches economy because he has always practiced it. There is no four-flushing about it. Election is over, so you can’t lay these things to political reasons. No sir, there are two things you can’t make this country ever believe (I don’t care how partisan a man’s politics may be): One is that our President is not the Soul of Honesty, and the other is that he is not trying his best to curtail expenses of our National Government.

After Cal and Charlie, what is the next bit of business to pick up? Been a lot in the papers about some Rajah over in England.3 Over there they wouldn’t publish his name. Over here if we didn’t publish people’s names that are mixed up in scandals why we would have no scandals. That’s all they get into them for. If you left a man’s name out of a scandal here he could sue the paper for libel and get it. They are kinder afraid over there, because where this Prince comes from in India they have a law that if a man is married and is unfaithful to his wife her family can take him out and publicly shoot him. There is no trial or anything. It is just their religious and state custom (and we call them uncivilized). Well, anyway, if that was the custom over here I would take every cent I make and put it into an ammunition factory.

Oh, yes, I like to forgot (I should have had this in there with that other Coolidge talk). Here is the only thing that sounds a little fishy. Mr. Coolidge wanted to get near the farmers and deliver them a message so he went to Chicago and had dinner with a club called the “Saddle and Sirloin Club.” That was supposed to be an Agricultural club. Can you imagine a real farmer belonging to a thing with a name like that? If a farmer ever came in there to that club they would arrest him for poaching. I don’t know what it is, but I bet you that is a lot of commission men at the yards and Doctors, and Lawyers that have one old horse. They go out and put on their breeches and ride every Sunday morning. It would be a laugh to a farmer to ask him if he was a member of the Saddle and Sirloin Club. They ride a pan cake saddle, then come in and eat a sirloin steak (that has been shipped by the farmer 1,500 miles) then invite the President to deliver a message to the farmer.


Well, from the Saddle and Sirloin, the Farmer’s Exclusive Club, the Illiterate Digest jumps over the Egypt. England got an officer killed down there by a lot of fanatics. Now here is what she demanded in return: 2 million five hundred thousand dollars, to be paid in 24 hours, do away with all political demonstrations, take all Egyptian soldiers out of Sudan (a part of Egypt), withdraw all opposition to the wishes of His Majesty’s government.

Now here is what it would mean to localize the case. Suppose an English officer was killed here. We would pay $2,500,000, withdraw all our troops from West of the Mississippi (in fact the Sudan comprises more of Egypt than all our West does of us), and withdraw all opposition to the wishes of His Majesty’s government.

That looks to me to be the highest priced man ever killed. Now mind you, they have got the murderers and are going to punish them, and the money has been paid in O. K. But can you imagine a country that is not allowed to hold any kind of a political demonstration? Of course it has its advantages. I wish it had happened over here before our two conventions. But what, if the whole thing was on the level, has the foul murder of one man got to do with making a nation move their army out of over half their own country.

Egypt of course appealed to the League of Nations. The League looked it up on their book and found that they only settle disputes where two small nations are involved, that England was able to settle its own and that the Egyptians would have to take it up with the English.

Why don’t nations let people alone, and quit trying to hold what they call a protectorate over them? Let people do their own way and have their own form of Government. We haven’t got any business in the Philippines. We are not such a howling success running our own Government.

Take cotton out of the Sudan and England would not be so anxious to protect it. I notice no nation has ever claimed protectorate over the Sahara Desert. But you let some native find gold there, and right away England or France or some of them would decide that the Sahara needed protection.

President Wilson will turn over in his grave when he knows what has happened to his “Determination of small nations idea.”4

Well that’s what they get for being Egyptians anyway. A fellow ain’t got any business being born in Egypt. I hope we never get any valuable foreign man killed over here. If they ever demanded 2,500,000 dollars out of our treasury on 24 hours’ notice, we might not have time to float bonds for it.

1For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 57:N 2.
2Chaplin (see WA 11:N 8) married Lita Grey on November 25. A week later it was revealed that Grey, Chaplin’s second wife, was only sixteen years old and still subject to compulsory school attendance in California.
3Hari Singh, the maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir. Sir Hari Singh was the central figure in the blackmail conspiracy in Great Britain.
4Self-determination for all nations was a crucial element in Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points.

December 21, 1924


All the papers the last week or so have devoted columns of space to the new invention of sending photographs by radio. What good is it? They look just as bad as the ones we used to get by mail. In fact they don’t look as good. Every one I saw that had their pictures sent by radio looked like they had the small pox. If you have to have the smallpox to be prominent enough to have your picture sent I wouldn’t want it. Now will you just honestly tell me what good this invention adds to life, limb or science?

If you could transport some food, or drink, or something useful there would be some sense to it, but who wants to receive a picture. It’s bad enough to get ’em by mail. But the way some editors are raving over it, you would think Thomas Edison with his invention of the electric light was a piker.1 Or that Henry Ford with his mechanical Ground Hog should not be spoken of in the same breath with this great addition to civilization. Why, they make you wonder how we got along when we used to have to wait four days to see how Valentino looked out on the Coast.2

Now with this latest addition to the welfare of humanity, why we see how he looked in the morning edition, then all we have to do is wait patiently until the afternoon editions come out and see how much he has changed since breakfast. We used to have tintypes taken and they crossed the plains by pony express. That was not hailed as a miracle. Why? Because people were smarter in those days. They didn’t go cuckoo over looking at pictures in the papers. People could read in those days. They wanted to know what was going on not what kind of hat some guy had on. Your looks meant nothing to them; it was what you did that counted.

The first ones transmitted by Radio was, of course the Prince of Wales, Secretary Hughes, President Coolidge, and the Premier of England, (whoever it happened to be that particular day).3 Now the Prince of Wales had just been over here and we had a siege of two months of doing nothing but looking at his pictures in eight poses in every edition of every paper printed. We saw so many pictures of him we knew by heart every necktie he owned. He leaves and we say: “Well we will get some news in the paper where his picture used to be.” But no, some nut invents a way to send pictures by radio, and we start getting his again. Now, he is a nice boy and I like him, but I believe I can remember how he looks without being reminded every day. I know one fellow who likes carrots, but there is days when he won’t eat a one.

Then there was President Coolidge. We had just gone through a political campaign so we were just getting a pretty fair idea established in our mind as to how he looked. Then here comes the radio with identically the same pictures. Now until he smiles we can just use the ones we have (and he is not going to smile as long as this lame duck Congress is in Session.) As for Mr. Hughes, he always looks and acts the same. Unless you catch him off his dignity in some picture, why don’t send it to us. We know how he looks.

Everything in the World and everybody in the World that is worth while has been photographed. We knew just how they look. So getting them to us quicker is no invention. That’s a calamity. I have seen pictures of John D. Rockefeller getting ready to hit every golf ball in the world.4 We have seen Douglas Fairbanks’ picture taken at his studio with everybody that ever had to visit Los Angeles.5 As I say, these are men and things that a 10 year old child can sit down and draw pictures of for you, just from imagination.

When Peggy Joyce gets married each time, we can visualize just about what her new husband will look like.6 We don’t need a radio picture. We can draw him, and we know Peggy can draw on him.

When as a child you went to school and in the old first readers they had pictures of a cat, rat, dog and all kinds of animals and things. But as you learn what they were they stopped putting them in your books, and started in learning you something else. They didn’t insult even a child’s intelligence by putting the same pictures in day after day. But with us now we look at the same thing every day. If a prominent man is going to Europe, we have to look at him waving on the deck. When he comes back we pick up our morning papers and see him waving again. Maybe the same ship, and perhaps the same handkerchief.

Now that we have the photos by radio, we will have to watch him land on the other side too. And still they claim paper to print on is high. You never look at a Sunday picture section without seeing somebody jumping a horse over a hurdle—mostly a low one. Why don’t the papers just pick out the best and highest picture of a jumping horse, and leave it in there? Then if you must see a jumping horse before eating your breakfast, why at least know that you are looking at the best one there is.

A dog with pups is another regular Sunday morning dish. Just pick out the picture of the one who had the most pups and keep it in regular! So that the people that can’t go to church without looking at pups can have their fill.

This picture stuff is nothing new. The Police Gazette was the originator of it. Every newspaper in America should pay a royalty to them. They used to print actresses and chorus girls pictures in tights, and people thought it was terrible. Now our newspapers have taken the tights off them and people think it is artistic.

Of course in the old days of the Gazette we used to have to look at the photos of the champion barbers. But what is the difference? Now we have to look on every page at the champion golfers of each tournament. On sheer looks and ability and service to mankind, I much prefer the barbers.

We are getting to be a nation that can’t read any more. If the thing hasn’t got a picture of it, why we are sunk. Instead of reporters nowadays, we use photographers. A guy with a camera would make a sucker out of Rudyard Kipling.7 Newspapers are advertising themselves as having “20 pages of advertising, and 278 cameramen.” That’s why the Bible is not read more than it is, because it is not in the picture section. If they could see Moses in a golf suit writing his sermon on the mount by radio, why they would look at it. Or pictures of David in his training quarters getting ready to slay Goliath with the jawbone of a Senator, why people would stop to glance at it.

DeMille, in a moving picture parted the Red Sea, and more people have seen it in the pictures than ever heard of it outside of pictures.8 I have had more people ask me where DeMille got that idea, and say it certainly was original.

If some Preacher was just smart enough to put the Bible into a cross word puzzle the entire United States would know it by heart. On tomb stones in years to come will be inscribed: “John Smith, died Jan. 2. He was a remarkable man, he had looked at a million newspaper pictures of prominent men, educated his son at Harvard to look at twice that many.”

Yale will advertise: “Come to Yale. We will learn you how to look at more pictures than any school of its size in the World.”

You will receive a Western Union Telegram and there will be a picture of William Jennings Bryan.9 An educational note will read: “Miss Lizzie Bean is taking a picture looking course at Vassar. She can look at two pages of Rotogravure Section at once. She is by far the best educated woman of our time.”

Conversations in the Senate of the U. S. will be as follows:
Senator Low Gear—”I have the picture of a bill here to assist the farmers.”
Senator Obstract—”Well, I didn’t see any pictures in the paper of the farmers in need. So I don’t think we should help them.”

Or a Social Note in the paper will read: “Mrs. Vanderbilt is giving a very select party tonight where she is having the very latest photos of members of the House of Representatives sent her by telephone. Come: you don’t need to know anything—just look.“

I see where they quote some Chinaman as saying hundreds of years ago, that “one picture is worth 10,00 words.” Sure. That’s Chinese words. It is yet. What would you do with 10,000 Chinese words? It wouldn’t take you a minute to burn up one picture, but it would take you an hour to burn up 10,000 Chinese words.

So again I ask you, what good is this invention. Who wants to look at the same faces day after day whether they come by radio or whether they come by freight. Let the radio find a way to reach the boll weevil in the cotton, and get him listening in, long enough to let the cotton grow.

If Radio wants to do something worth while let them figure out some way to get rid of the static, and stop that growling and whistling and barking inside them. Maybe it is pictures that are coming over mine. It certainly is not words. No sir, mechanical scientist. It’s bad enough to get a man’s voice, much less his picture. So of all the unnecessary inventions I can think of that might be produced, this is the most useless.

Figure out a cigar lighter that will work and then you will go down in history. Or figure out a toupee that the hair won’t stay combed the same way all the time.

1Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor best known for the phonograph and improvement of the electric light bulb. He was a public idol by the 1920s.
2For Rudolph Valentino see WA 9:N 9.
3For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8; for Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4; for Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin see WA 9:N 11.
4For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 9:N 11.
5For Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., see WA 25:N 4.
6For Peggy Hopkins Joyce see WA 89:N 1.
7Rudyard Kipling, English journalist, writer, and poet; among his works are The Jungle Book and Captains Courageous. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907.
8For Cecil B. De Mille see WA 75:N 6.
9For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.

December 28, 1924


As I am writing this 2 blocks away the body of Samuel Gompers, the great labor leader, is being viewed and wept over by hundred of big strong men, who are appreciative of what he had spent his life in doing for them.1 He was a good friend of mine. Just a few weeks ago he come to see our show and is customary with any notable in the audience, I introduced him, with: “Our notable guest has been 40 years at the head of the largest organization of men in this country. He has done more for the working man than any man living. The reason the Federation of Labor has been so successful is because when they found a good man they kept him. They didn’t go off electing some new fellow every 4 years, and the smartest thing that he ever did for them was to keep his organization out of Politics. He makes them work his way, but vote like they want to.”

Well, that introduction seemed to please the old fellow, and I then tried this one on him for a laugh: “Mr. Gompers has spent his life trying to keep Labor from working too hard, and he has succeeded beyond his own dreams.”

I have before me here in the dressing room a Picture Post Card mailed in Mexico from him, just before he took sick: “Am going to bring you back a new lariat and some new jokes.” He will be missed, and that’s saying a lot in these times. All labor stops for two minutes today as a tribute to him. I suppose Capital will take it out of their salary at the end of the week.

And while we are on the subject of labor, I see a lot in the papers about this 20th or Child Labor Amendment, and I have been asked how I stand on that. If Congress or the States would just pass one law, as follows, they wouldn’t need any 20th Amendment: “EVERY CHILD, REGARDLESS OF AGE SHALL RECEIVE THE SAME WAGE AS A GROWN PERSON.” That will stop your child labor. They only hire them because they pay them less for the same work that they would have to pay a man. If children don’t do more for less money, why is it that they want to use them? No factory or farmer or anybody else hires a child because he is so big hearted he wants to do something for the child. He hires him because he wants to save a man’s salary. It’s become a habit and a custom that if a child does something for us, no matter how good and prompt they do it, to not give them as much as we would a grown person, because I suppose, people think they would just spend it foolishly if they had too much.

There is no use getting excited over a little thing like an Amendment to our Constitution nowadays, because if you don’t like this one wait till the next day and they will have some more. I think I will miss a few weeks in voting and wait till they get up in the thirties on their Amendments, and then start voting again with them. It’s pitiful when you think how ignorant the founders of our Constitution must have been. Just think what a Country we would have if men in those days had the brains and forethought of our men today!

Well, yesterday was the 20th Anniversary of the first Flying Machine flight by the Wright Brothers.2 People wouldn’t believe that a man could fly, AND CONGRESS DON’T BELIEVE IT YET.

The anniversary of the Wrights’ flight was celebrated all over the World yesterday. France launched their 54th Flying Squadron (Squadron, I said; not airship. But a whole Squadron! 54th!) England turned out two gross. Japan hatched out a batch. American celebrated the occasion by letting one Aviator out, and deciding to keep up the other three. Our Air Service is waiting for Congress to make an appropriation to have the valves ground and carbon removed from the engines.

Of course this year was a kinder slow year for us because our Aviators were gone around the world.3 If a war ever breaks out while our Air Force is off on a trip like that we are going to be up against it. Of course we hold all the records in doing everything that an Aviator ever did, and of course Congress figures that in case of a War we would just show the enemy these records and the enemy would call off their Air part of the war.

We are improving though. We have two Dirigibles now, the Los Angeles, which holds 20 million feet of gas, (somebody with a sense of humor named that) and we have The Shenandoah. So in case we get one shot down we will have another one in reserve.

Of course we will have to notify the enemy that they will do us a great favor by shooting one of them down near where the other one is, because we have to use the same air in both of them. We have two Airships but only one set of air, so they will have to give us time to change.

The Germans had some of the helium gas in one airship when they brought it over there, but their Contract only called for delivery of the Ship, and nothing was said about the Air. So some Dutchman opened the gate and let it all out.

Congress, by the way, is going to make an appropriation to get some more of this gas, as soon as some one tells them that they use it in the navigation of this ship. They will perhaps compromise on only appropriating enough money to get half enough gas. And then tell the Air Service: “Well, use what you got there and take it up as high as you can, and when we meet next year we will see what can be done about getting enough to get you on up.”

America invents everything, but the trouble is we get tired of it the minute the new is wore off.

Well, I see where the Holiday Booze has started in on its Spring Drive. It’s getting so Xmas kills more people than it makes happy. I used to think it was the Bootleggers that were the ones responsible for Prohibition, but I think the Undertakers are behind it stronger than the Bootleggers.

New Jersey had a big 50 million dollar Booze Scandal and they tried to bring it into Court but they couldn’t do anything because they couldn’t find anybody in the State to try the case, because everybody was mixed up in it. A Catholic Priest was the one who discovered the Gang, and now I see where the Ku Klux have offered to make him a member. That will be a Cosmopolitan organization yet.

I see a good deal of talk from Washington about lowering the Taxes. I hope they do get ’em lowered down enough so people can afford to pay 'em. Well, of all the fool things, the prize one goes to a troop of Society Women here in New York who for the last couple of weeks have been entertaining some woman who was supposed to be the Czarina of Russia, of course, that was in case Russia decided to have a Czar and a Czarina.4 It would be about like me announcing that I had decided to be King of Oklahoma (in case, of course, Oklahoma ever decided to have a King).

Well, the Monday Opera Club, an organization that just can’t stand Opera unless it is served on Monday, (Monday, by the way in any Theatrical business is an off night and you can get a Party Rate). Well, these people had lost out on the Prince of Wales’ visit, so they decided to dig ’em up some Royalty of their own.5 This Czarina didn’t have anything booked, (not even a Country) so she offered to come for expenses Plus 10 percent of the gross.

It seems, according to press reports, the Social standing of the Monday Opera Corporation was not just what the members desired, so it was figured a Cook’s Tour of homes of the Elite of Park and Fifth Avenue personally conducted by the Monday Opera Club with a possible but not probable Czarina, would just about put the Monday Opera Club up among the Six Best Sellers.

Mind you, this Opera troop couldn’t lose anything. They got the French Line to transport Exhibit A, over free. It’s the off season on our best Oceans, and the Waldorf had about run out of Democrats since (and even a little before) election. Nobody was occupying their Royal Suite, (Oscar had gone to Europe) so in exchange for Press Notices that was arranged for Gratis a Rolls Royce in exchange for Photos in its weeklies did the taxi-ing.6

On the last night at a big farewell reception, the ladies bended the knee to Royalty, and men kissed the hand and wished her God speed on her journey to the Throne. Now can you see some big bohunk American stooping over kissing the hand of somebody who wanted to be Czar of all the Russians? In the first place he would do it about as gracefully as a Cub Bear trying to play Mahjong, because we all know he is only a half generation removed from a dinner pail. And these Monday Opera Women—they would have jumped off the Palisades if they had been sure of the first mention in the Society Casualty list. The attempted Czarina has returned to Europe with enough quiet laughs tucked away to last a Russian a lifetime.

Then we wonder why we are funny to Europeans. We are funny to ourselves if we just get a mirror. One thing, the Monday Opera Club was not a hooded organization. They allowed, even welcomed, the publication of names.

1Samuel Gompers, American labor leader who helped found the American Federation of Labor in 1886. He served as its president almost continuously from 1886 until his death on December 13, 1924.
2Orville and Wilbur Wright, American aeronautical pioneers who made the first successful flights in a motor-powered airplane. They conducted the flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.
3Four United States Army airplanes, each carrying a two-man crew, made the first complete air flight around the world in 1924.
4Cyril, grand duchess of Russia and the wife of the leading pretender to the Russian throne. She visited the United States in late 1924 to raise money for her husband’s campaign to gain the throne.
5For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 9.
6Oscar Tschirky, known as “Oscar of the Waldorf,” famous Swiss-born maitre d’hôtel of the Waldorf-Astoria and its successor, the Waldorf, from 1893 to 1943.