championed the small businessman and the farmer against therndepredations of the railroads and Eastern bankers; stood for therndemocracy embodied in popular referenda, part}’ primaries,rnand the direct election of senators against the inherent elitismrnof part}- politics; jealously guarded the constitutional legacy ofrnthe Founders; and fought against forging entangling alliancesrnabroad. They were the last Jeffersonians, whose insight into thernworkings of the new “planned capitalism” was perceptively expressedrnby the man Cole describes as “one of the most impressive,rnscholarly, and powerful of the Western progressives,” SenatorrnWilliam E. Borah of Idaho: “The concentration of wealthrnalways leads, and has always led, to the concentration of politicalrnpower. Monopoly and bureaucracy arc twin whelps fromrnthe same kennel.”rnBorah was the kind of senator that Jesse fielms pretends tornbe. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee startingrnin 1907, and until the ascension of FDR, he was the ever-vigilantrnguardian of American sovereignt}’, the intractable nationalistrnwhose stentorian voice and oratorical eloquence werernmight}’ weapons wielded to great effect against every scheme torndrag us into the intrigues of Europe, from the League of Nationsrnto the Lend-Lease Act. The “Lion of Idaho”—so-calledrnby the Kansas City Star because “when Borah starts, it’s just likerna lion getting out on a circus ground, evervbody hunts a highrnpole and holds their breath until they hear they got him backrnagain”—was the exemplar of the Midwestern populist-progressivernspirit in its purest and fiercest form.rnBorah was a farm boy from Illinois who went West, tookrnup the law, and, in 1887, wound up in Idaho, wherernhe gained fame for prosecuting syndicalist labor leader “BigrnBill” Haywood for the murder of the state’s former governor.rnThe trial, and the fact that it was a fair one, devoid of red-baiting,rngave him a national stage. Active in Republican politics,rnhe was an insurgent from the beginning, allying himself withrnthe “Free Silver” wing of the GOP. He soon returned to thernregidar Republican fold, “free silver” having died as a campaignrnissue, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1906 on a platformrnof direct election of senators, government ownership of railroads,rnrestrictions on the trusts, tariff protection for agriculturalrnproducts, and free trade in manufactured goods. Inveighingrnagainst the marriage of capital and state, Borah and his fellowrnprogressive Republicans formed a regional bloc that continuallyrnattacked the predatory monopolism of the Eastern “interests.”rnThis placed him in direct opposition to the powerfulrnhead of the Senate Finance Committee, Nelson W. Aldrich,rnleader of the Old Guard Republicans and father-in-law of JohnrnD. Rockefeller, Jr. Aldrich did not immediately realize this.rnWlien Old Guard Republicans questioned the choice committeernassignments of the freshman senator from Idaho, Aldrich isrnsaid to have remarked, “Oh, he’s all right,” and pointed out thatrn”he is the attorney for seven different corporations.” But whenrnthe Senate Committee on Education and Labor began introducingrnlegislation to improve working conditions for railroadrnworkers and investigating the 12-hour day and seven-day workweekrnin the iron and steel industries, Aldrich contacted Borah’srnIdaho clients. Borah confronted Aldrich in the Senate corridor:rn”Wliy didn’t ‘ou come to me direct?”rn”I thought my plan was the better one,” Aldrich replied.rn”To save you the trouble hereafter,” Borah said, “I will tellrnyou that I severed all relations with corporation law practicernwlicn I was elected to the Senate.”rn”That was a pity,” observed Aldrich.rnAs financial titans fought an economic war that pitted the risingrnRockefeller interests against the House of Morgan, Borahrnand the progressives responded by launching a “fight for thernpreservation of the little man, of the small, independent producerrnand manufacturer, as a fight for a sound, wholesome,rneconomic national life,” as Borah put it. The progressive cause,rnhe averred, is “a fight for clean politics and for free government.”rnWlien that old bugaboo of the prairie populists, the MoneyrnTrust, unleashed its drive to establish a banking cartel, and thernfirst legislation creating the Federal Reserve was introduced byrnAldrich and his allies in the guise of banking “reform,” Borahrndenounced the scheme: “Not satisfied with giving over to privaterninterest… monopoly of currency and credits, it gives themrnthe astonishing privilege to say how much [currency] we shallrnhave or not have.” Borah realized that the whole panoply ofrn”reforms” pushed through Congress—antitrust legislation, therncreation of the Federal Trade Commission, etc.—were just figrnleafs for the continuation of monopolism. “Enacting a lawrnwhich says that unfair competition is unlawful” while leavingrnvague “just what does constitute unfair competition” arousedrnhis suspicions. “This strait-jacket” of regulation, he warned,rn”will be far more embarrassing to small competitive firms” thanrnto “great combinations.” In a trenchant analysis that sums uprnthe aims and origin of business regulation in this era, Borah remarkedrnthat “most of the fellows who should have been jailed”rnunder the Sherman Antitrust Act “turned reformers and wentrninto politics.”rnBorah’s initial clashes with President Wilson were over thernpossibilit}’ of southward expansion. Mexican democratic reformerrnFrancisco Madero was overthrown and assassinated byrnthe caudillo Victoriano Huerta. Wilson demanded that Huertarnhold democratic elections and absent himself from the running.rnI’he President, averred Borah, had “announced a policyrnthe inevitable logic of which was war with Mexico.” Borah’srnown ingrained nationalism led him to understand how Mexicansrncould only resent such meddling: Mexico must be left tornwork out its own salvation. Wilson had denied that the UnitedrnStates was embarked on a policy of continental domination, butrn”that is what we said while taking New Mexico, California,rnHawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.” If the Americanrnflag “ever went up in Mexico it woidd never come down.” Notrnonly that, he prophesied, the United States would not stop untilrnit had absorbed everything north of the Panama Canal. AsrnAmerican troops intervened in Nicaragua, Haiti, and SantornDomingo, and made good on the investments of New Yorkrnbanks, Borah lamented that the Monroe Doctrine had becomernan “instrumentalit}- of imperial aggression.” In taking on thernburden of empire, we would cast aside forever the cultural homogeneit}’rnthat was the bedrock of our republican institutions.rnIf we took foreign peoples under our wing, it would be impermissiblernto treat them as subjects—and dangerous to admitrnthem to the Union. The Mexicans, Borah observed, had nornmore idea of representative government “than I have of therntechnical value of Beethoven’s music.”rnWliilc turmoil across the Rio Grande claimed Borah’s attention,rnwar clouds were gathering on the other side of the Atlantic.rnWlien the Lusitania went down, he declared that this inrnno way compared with “the act of hunting oitt, robbing, assaultingrnand murdering American citizens,” which had becomerncommonplace in Mexico. American citizens who insist-rnNOVEMBER 1998/23rnrnrn