we think of government and corporations as big and impersonal. But
then, and now, the people who run things are relatively small in
number, a club. The Club follows its own rules, rules from a book
nearly a century old, which mandate two standards of behavior,
kindness, honesty and concern for Club members, real people, and an
entirely different set of rules for ordinary Americans. Normally
members of the Club do not discuss the difference in standards. But
one member of their club did so, with stunning candor.
this about his use of propaganda, which he had deftly repackaged as
public relations. “(The) American
business community was also very impressed with the propaganda
effort. They had a problem at that time. The country was becoming
formally more democratic. A lot more people were able to vote and
that sort of thing. The country was becoming wealthier and more
people could participate and a lot of new immigrants were coming in,
and so on.
what do you do? It's going to be harder to run things as a private
club. Therefore, obviously, you have to control what people think.”
clients were, for the most part, the large industrialists who wanted
to sell product which Americans were resistant to buying. Using this
simple plan of execution Bernays changed our diet, introducing a
hearty breakfast with bacon as a nutritional improvement, persuaded
women to smoke, and accustomed us to accepting his carefully selected
'experts' instead of thinking for ourselves. He viewed manipulation
of opinion as both the road to riches and a fascinating intellectual
Bernays, the brother-in-law of Sigmund Freud, viewed ordinary
Americans as 'a herd,' needing guidance from an enlightened elite.
Such guidance was provided by appealing to what he identified as
'need for security,' 'self-preservation', 'aggression,' or ' sex.'
can be viewed as an early Leo
who instead of creating a 'philosophy,' cherry picked 'expert'
opinions without associating himself with any specific institution.
The outcome is the same, in either case.
Crispin Miller, a respected writer, sent out this
by Glenn Beck on Bernays recently. Ordinarily, this is not a film
this writer would have encountered.
Benarys and Robert Sterling Yard operated using the same standards.
Robert Sterling Yard designed the PR campaign which sold Americans on
National Parks as resorts.
in 1915, the campaign persuaded Americans lands held in perpetuity
for them should be used to build high end hotels, following the elite
model of Europe. A practiced public relations expert, Yard, paid
partially by government and partially by the new Park Director,
Stephen T. Mather, produced a book, also issued as a series of small
booklets, on the National Parks. Other members of the Club, for
instance the head of the National Geographic, also assisted.
you leaf through the The
National Parks Portfolio
all six editions, photographs of resort hotels resembling those found
in Europe far outnumber photos of camp grounds. The building of
roads and travel by automobile are strongly encouraged. Feeding the
wildlife made the Parks seem like an outdoor zoo without bars.
materials read like promotion for a time-share. They were aimed at
ordinary Americans who knew little or nothing about the raging
debate, only recently stilled by the death of John Muir in 1914, on
conservation (orderly use of natural resources) and preservation
(wilderness kept in its natural state).
appointed head of Parks, Stephen Mather sold the plan using rhetoric
glowing with superlatives, asserting the idea the public should view
these wilderness areas as their personal 'resorts,' where they could
encounter the world of nature while expecting the comforts of home.
It was Mather's proven ability as an adman along with his wealth,
which moved Franklin K. Lane to appoint him.
original notion for National holdings of land was to reserve some
limited land in perpetuity, as it was before Europeans arrived and
such practices as hydrological mining and clear cutting of forests
had remade the landscape of much of California, and North America.
Not Conservation, but Preservation.
the America had been a nation of people managing their own destiny
and making their own decisions the issue would have been presented to
the American people directly. Instead, Americans were presented with
a public relations campaign, resulting in passage of the Organic Act
in 1916, establishing a separate body to manage the Parks.
Previously management was shared between three agencies.
Club was not large, then or now. When you dig into the details,
personal relationships pop up like mushrooms. It was a small,
exclusive, club, very much as Bernays' quote indicates. The policy
on Parks originated with Stephen Mather, who, with the help of his
friends molded opinion and controlled what Americans believed.
Was Stephen T. Mather?
Tyng Mather was a descendant of Cotton Mather, the Puritan minister
involved in the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials. The Mather family later
relocated to Connecticut. Stephen's father, Joseph W. Mather,
suggested his son for a job with Pacific Coast Borax Company, for
whom Joseph ran the New York office, in 1893. Stephen Mather had
been working as a reporter for the New York Sun since soon after his
graduation from UC Berkeley in 1887.
Sterling Yard stood up as Best Man for Stephen T. Mather's wedding on
October 12, 1893. The two were friends of long standing.
was hired as advertising manager for Pacific
Coast Borax Company
in New York, and then at the main branch in Chicago. Mather, a
talented writer and adept at enticing public interest by positioning
adoption of the theme, “20-Mule Team,” which dramatically
increased company sales, and ran the ad campaign. In Chicago he met
the man who would be his partner in Sterling Borax, Thomas
younger slightly than Mather, was a first generation American, the
son of a Norwegian lumberjack from Wisconsin. Both Mather and
Thorkildsen were skilled with sales. Thorkildsen reported to Mather
as his superior. It was reported Thorkildsen suggested the two men
share funds skimmed from their employer. These is no evidence Mather
mentioned this proposal to Smith. Smith discovered Thorkildsen
backdating orders in 1898 and fired him.
and Thorkildsen then joined in a covert partnership. Mather
continued working for Smith and so had access to his employer's
customer base while the two established a company, Thorkildsen-Mather
Borax Company, of which Mather was president, in California. Mather,
using his salary, provided funding, as Thorkildsen worked to
establish Borax holdings in Ventura County, CA.
1902 Mather suffered an psychological break-down and was
institutionalized for a period of time. Smith refused to continue
his salary, of which, Mather complained. Soon Mather ended his
employment and began publicly working with Thorkildsen in California,
their company became profitable around 1905 and its name changed to
Sterling Borax. In 1911 Sterling Borax was sold to Pacific Coast
Borax for what today would be $500,000,000. Mather and Thorkildsen
shared the profits and also received salaries from Smith for ten
mention of the impact this scheme had on Smith's company was found
but Smith's company was bankrupted soon afterward. Francis
started again and recovered his wealth, spending much of it on
the Mather and Thorkildsen justify their behavior toward Smith for
the purpose of writing this article I contacted three long time,
respected businessmen, their careers in stock brokering, sales, and
mining, and outlined the actions of Mather and his partner without
using their names. Each man condemned their actions as unethical and
possibly legally actionable.
to an article, 'Borax
King' Cleaned Up, but Died Washed Up
published in the Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2000, written by
Cecilia Rasmussen, Thorkildsen used physical threats to discourage
competition and engaged in outrageous personal behavior which
scandalized Hollywood. The two men remained friends and Thorkildsen
was introduced to Mather's other friends and associates as he became
involved in government.
Park Service Public Relations Campaign
National Park Campaign began in 1915 but the forces which determined
its form were in motion much earlier. The appointment of Franklin K.
Lane, as Secretary of the Interior, was a political pay-off by
incoming President Woodrow Wilson, made to ensure Wilson's election.
The Hetch-Hetchy would become the water supply for San Francisco,
spending its crystal waters to start the flow of profits from lands
awaiting subdivision around the city, according to Gray Brechin in
his book, “Imperial San Francisco,” page 110.
was offered the position of Director for the National Parks by Lane
in early 1914. Despite traditions to the contrary, Lane was not
previously acquainted with Mather personally and no letter was
written by Mather resulting in the appointment. The recommendation
came through a mutual friend, Adolph Miller, formerly a professor at
UC Berkeley who accepted an appointment suggested by Lane in the
Albright is admitted to the Club
Albright, then newly graduated from UC Berkeley, had been working for
Miller at the time Miller accepted the position as Assistant
Secretary of the Interior. Miller invited Albright to come with him
to DC as his assistant. When Miller moved on to a position as
Governor for the Federal Reserve System the next year Albright
remained at the Department of the Interior. Lane suggested Albright
to Mather as an able assistant, in his position as Director for the
Albright hesitated. He was engaged to be married to woman living
in San Francisco and planned to return and start a law practice..
Mather's proposal to him changed this. Albright reported in
the National Park System – The Missing Years,”
feeling elated at being part of the vision Mather enunciated while
reluctant to delay his marriage. He agreed to stay on for a year,
the term Mather set as his own time limit for the work.
had been raised in Bishop, California and had hardly left there until
beginning college at UC Berkeley in 1908. His parents were hard
working and used every opportunity to enlarge the opportunities for
education available to their children, but lacked the resources to
support Horace in college. Albright worked to pay his living
expenses and educational costs himself and luxuries were few. His
relationship with Mather, who was always prepared to pay for
incidental luxuries, enlarged his experience, showing him a very
different world. Mather augmented Albright's government pay, a
practice legal until 1919.
could be the soul of generosity, awakening in those who knew him
strong feelings of obligation and loyalty. His
expenditures included a club
for the Park Rangers in Yosemite in 1924, which advanced his
popularity enormously with a group not usually provided with such
first time Mather met Grace, Albright's fiancee, she and Albright
were his guests for dinner at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
Albright reported, “In
one hand he (Mather)
had a corsage of roses and, in the other, a small box. He handed both
to Grace and laughingly said, "I don't know how Horace could
ever have been lucky enough to get you. I wasn't around at that time,
but I wish you all the happiness in the world." Inside the
little velvet box was a small Tiffany brooch, silver with a diamond
in the center.”
said, when accepting the job, he wanted Albright as his assistant to,
him out of jail.” Mather, it turned out, was not entirely joking.
brought the same values and ethics to government he had demonstrated
in business. His style was autocratic and impulsive. He personally
decided on a corporate monopoly to run each Park. This approach was
adopted in opposition of advice from such men as Fred
of Fred Harvey Company, whose experience with serving the public
began in 1875 with service run in conjunction with railroads across
America. Harvey advised against absolute monopolies.
persisted, causing a series of disasters within the Parks, starting
ignored the causes of problems existing in the National Parks. Many
of these were the result of government mis-management. For
instance, in Yosemite Mather complained concessionaires, such as
David Curry of Camp Curry, had inadequate septic systems. But
concessionaires could not finance expensive capital improvements
without an assurance their loans could be repaid and these had been
withheld for decades. Those in charge, including Mather, ignored
repeated requests for licenses to do business longer than one year,
granted only at the beginning of the year.
consistently abused the power entrusted to him, causing harm to
people engaged in doing business within the Parks. He evidenced
strong likes and dislikes, which appear to have driven his actions.
1915 Mather unilaterally gave the concession in Yosemite to J.
Desmond, who started a corporation in which Mather and his friends
covertly invested. Mather granted a twenty-year exclusive concession
and also allowed the sale of liquor, forbidden to all other
concessionaires, to ensure Desmond every possible avenue for
had no experience in running hotels or providing food services to the
public. The corporation went bankrupt and Desmond departed to be
replaced by A. B. C. Dahrmann, who as president of the next
incarnation of the original Desmond interests, was quoted by the
Stockton Record in 1924 as saying,
”The California Sierra is one of greatest undeveloped resources in
the golden state.”
the beginning of 1917 complaints and problems were increasing. At
the close of a conference in January Mather suffered an 'emotional
break-down' and was institutionalized for a year and a half in a posh
facility, described by Albright, “It was a lovely large home,
tucked into green lawns and lush forested land.” The next chapters
describe Albright's efforts to ensure Mather is not subject to any
pressure or problems.
suffered another break-down in 1922
according to Park correspondence. Again, Albright and others cover
and emotional instability should have raised questions on his
suitability for any position within government. Mather was, however,
a member of the Club, wealthy and connected. Therefore his interests
and well being were a priority in the bifurcated system then being
rhetoric was used routinely to deceive, as proven so thoroughly by
Edward Bernays, examining the actions of individuals reliably reveals
did the Club view ordinary Americans?
Club operated on the view Americans, 'the 'herd,' were to be managed
with lies. These events illustrate the world view, reflected in the
propaganda used by Yard and later by Benarys, on behalf of both
government and corporations, reinforcing the ugly truth of the quote
from Bernays cited earlier, “So
what do you do? It's going to be harder to run things as a private
club. Therefore, obviously, you have to control what people think.”
subtext is this: The only people whose property and well being
matter are members of the Club. Albright's behavior illustrates the
degree to which he had adopted Club attitudes and beliefs.
these events unfolded Mather received enormous attention and concern
as his emotional condition becomes impossible to ignore. This
reflected in Albright's book and in correspondence within the Park
Service. At the same time, the well being of those viewed as “just
ordinary Americans,” was ignored, as in the case of those
concessionaires such as Curry who objected to the theft of their
years of time invested, the train of arbitrary demands issued by
Mather and disregard of the conditions created by government
M. Albright had been, not surprisingly, seduced by the privileges of
power and was now a member of the Club.
the interests of full disclosure, now nearly a century after these
events took place, a full examination of the records is called for.
While writing this article this writer attempted to access the
Superintendent's Reports for Yosemite from 1916 – 1926. The
reports from 1906 – 1915 are clearly available and complete and in
our files. Those from 1916 – 1926, covering the years when Mather
and Albright's management most demands examination, are fragmented.
Parts of monthly reports appear to have been eliminated. This
report, purported to cover years 1923 – 1925, inclusive, deviating
in form from all other reports was requested.. Upon examining it
this writer discovered a report spanning 1923 – 1925 which included
less than 11 pages, all photographs, for three years of activity. SEE
request was also sent to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of
the Interior. A Freedom of Information Act demand will now be filed.
to George A. Gonzalez in his book, “Corporate
Power and the Environment,” published Rowman
and Littlefield, 2001,
Albright received gifts from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., beginning in
1926. Gonzalez also reports Albright's home in Washington D. C. was
partially funded by a gift from David Rockefeller as Albright
continued up the ladder of success after Albright left government
service, moving on to work in the matrix connecting corporations and
government, unfailingly courteous and kind to those who had assisted
to the Albright's daughter and co-author, Marian Albright Schenck,
writing in the Introduction to the book, “Creating
the National Parks, The Missing Years,”
Albright reviewed every letter and document and considered destroying
materials while in the process of its writing. In the end the story
of years 1917 – 1919 is told in a form while the reader takes away
the sense much remains unsaid. Albright's acts in covering for
Mather, during this period and later, bring illustrate how in a short
period of time an individual can accept the idea a small elite can
rightfully abuse power. His later history only raises the level of
probability Albright's concerns were also for his own position as an
attorney in the employ of government engaged in a cover-up.
Marian Albright Schenck wrote,"My
father worshiped Mather and wanted to do nothing to damage his name." While
her sentiments are understandable, she after all, grew up as a member
of the Club through her father, evasion of the facts is not
acceptable. Americans have a right to know.
baronial system displaced a representative Republic, beginning in the
first decade of the Twentieth Century. Inherently hierarchical, it
was comprised of corporate interests and the more elevated levels of
government. Those involved believed they were justified in deceiving
the American people, acting out the openly enunciated beliefs
expressed by Benarys, and slightly earlier, by Robert Sterling Yard.
These self-identified interests in government and corporate America
began to install gatekeepers, and routinely limit what Americans
could know. Spin and propaganda displaced open dialog and disclosure
of facts as the standard.
bifurcated system which confronts us today was being solidified in
outline and attitudes in the first and second decades of the
Twentieth Century, its pattern perpetuated by the very different
treatment accorded 'members of the Club' and 'ordinary Americans.'
Americans face proposals the Parks be sold to pay for the profligate
behavior of those same Club members. As millions suffer foreclosure
and Main Streets ask in vain for help, banks and other corporate
interests, other Club members, receive the sympathy and open support
of Congress. The term, 'Barons of Industry,' is not a phrase, but a
correct assessment of the system which was once America.
started much earlier than you imagined and in the places you most
the excuses: Lose Your Illusions, No. 2 – Coming Soon.