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The Clarence Darrow Letters

Edmond F. Richardson to Clarence Darrow, November 1, 1906

Richardson is referring to George E. Dickson who was for several years the president of the Workmen's Legal Security Company in Chicago. In that capacity he investigated accidents and filed lawsuits for workers injured on the job. Dickson had worked for Darrow before and while preparing for the Haywood trial, Darrow employed Dickson as the lead defense investigator trying to find out the real identity of Harry Orchard. The defense was unsuccessful and did not find out Orchard's real name until he revealed it on the witness stand. Darrow and Richardson did not get along and a major part of the difficulty was Darrow's investigator George Dickson. Before the trial Darrow offered to withdraw from the case but the defense eventually persuaded him to remain. Richardson's references to Mr. Kirwan are to James A. Kirwan, a member of the WFM's executive committee.

Click on the image to view as a PDF. A transcription of the letter is on the right.

Richardson & Hawkins
Denver, Colorado
November 1st, 1906.

Hon. C.S. Darrow,

1202 Ashland Block, Chicago, Ill.

MY DEAR MR. DARROW:- Responding to your letter of October 26th, directed to me at Boise City, and which reached here last night. My understanding of the conversation which we had in the Ada county jail was as follows:- That in order to let Mr. Dickson down easy you were to direct him to return to the Cripple Creek district, there to await your arrival, which then was expected would occur within two or three weeks. You were then to send him to Chicago, and that would terminate his services in the case. I am quite confident that both Mr. Moyer and Mr. Haywood understood that that was the solution of the Dickson episode. You will remember that the position which I took with regard to Mr. Dickson''s further employment was quite imperative at that time, and the solution was arrived at by way of a compromise, as I understood it. Thereafter Mr. Dickson came to Denver and called upon Mr. Kirwan, but did not come to see me, nor has he made any report to me of any of his proceedings for several months, and this, too, notwithstanding the fact that I employed him, as you know; of course, however, with your advice and by your wish, as I understood it. Ever since Mr. Dickson has become familiar with the present executive officers of the Western Federation of Miners, Mr. Kirwan and Mr. Mahoney, he has been persona non grata with them; in fact Mr. Kirwan has insisted pretty strenuously at times that I discharge Mr. Dickson, and the money which was being expended by the Western


Federation of Miners on him was money wasted. I have stood between Mr. Dickson and his discharge as long as I care to do so, and I thought that the ending had occurred in the Boise conversation referred to. When I received your letter I handed it to Mr. Kirwan, who read it, and this is his exact language, and this letter is now being dictated in his presence: "No sir; not another cent of the money of the Western Federation for that man. I think we have wasted $3,000.00 on him already, and so long as I am in charge not another cent will be spent on him."

I want to say to you, Mr. Darrow, that Mr. Kirwan will not say that I have ever prejudiced him in anyway, or found a word of complaint against Mr. Dickson to him. The complaints were all the other way. Mr. Kirwan has constantly complained to me for permitting Mr. Dickson to continue in the employment of the Western Federation of Miners. I presume that Mr. Dickson has been misrepresented in some particulars. People who conceive a dislike for another rarely state the exact truth with respect to such person, and I have, in all the reports which have come to me, made a very liberal discount with respect to the things which Mr. Dickson is said to have said and done, and especially where I was personally concerned; but the fact remains that he is and has been, whoever is to blame for it, an element of friction, and as such, even though the sacrifice be one which he is called upon to endure, it would seem as though he must suffer for it.

Conceding that everything that has been said against him to me is false, and that Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Kirwan are prejudiced against him, and that Mr. Nugent and the others have falsified with


respect to him, still it would seem as though the best interests of the case would demand that he be the one whose employment should cease. I am therefore constrained to say that, notwithstanding my desire to in all things defer to your wishes in the case, in this respect we will have to follow Mr. Kirwan's directions. I may say further that nearly five months ago Mr. Mahoney complained to me with respect to Mr. Dickson, after an interview which he had had with him in the office, at which I was not present, and thereafter, and more than three months ago, Mr. Mahoney insisted that Mr. Dickson should be immediately discharged. I placated him then in the interests of Mr. Dickson, being moved thereto by my regard for yourself, and by the further fact that I did not want to do anything unjust to Dickson. I didn't know but that it was possible that Mr. Mahoney had conceived a prejudice against him that was not well founded, and not desiring to do any injustice to Mr. Dickson, and being especially desirous to do the thing that you would wish to have me do, I did not accede to his request.

I had a very interesting time, I assure you, in Boise, both with regard to the political situation and with regard to our case. I went there upon a telegram from Mr. Nugent, and I think it was quite well that I did go. Some new and important evidence, in my judgment, has been secured, which I will communicate to you when I see you. I am arranging my affairs so as to go to Wallace whenever I shall be called upon to do so and assist in the trial of the Steve Adams case. I have everything now in pretty good shape to give practically my undivided attention to this case from now until its close.


The political situation in Colorado is altogether too long to rehearse at this time. I will say that Haywood does not approve of our course in appearing to sanction Adams candidacy. I am satisfied also that it is thoroughly disapproved by Kirwan and O'Neill. I do not know what Mahoney thinks about it. I have forwarded all of the correspondence, together with the proposed letters, to Haywood, so that he could see the motives which actuated you and me in the course which we have taken, because they are very fully expressed in those letters, and I am now going to submit a copy of the same letters to Mr. Kirwan for his consideration. It is unfortunate that men will differ upon what the interests of a case like this demand, but Haywood is a strong man, and if Kirwan were not present I would say some complimentary thing about him. They have as much right to their views in the matter as we have to ours, since the election or non-election of Adams is only an incident in this matter. The main event is, of course, their immediate defense, and I have not thought it wise to combat the position taken by either one of them. I do not claim to have much political sense, although I am somewhat conceited as to what I know about a law suit.

Very truly,

E.F. Richardson

Richardson & Hawkins
Attorneys at Law
Denver, Colorado

Hon. C. S. Darrow,

1202 Ashland Block,

Chicago, ill.