Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Ohio Gang and "the little green house"

A few weeks ago I received a comment on my US History Site Web site that reads:

I am editing a french version of _Propaganda_ , a 1928 book by Edward L. Bernays. At some point, he writes: «In some instances the power of invisible wirepullers is flagrant. The power of the invisible cabinet which deliberated at the poker table in a certain little green house in Washington has become a national legend.»

I am unable to find out what are this house, this Poker table and what he is referring to ( presumably most persons knew about this legend in 1928) Do you
have an idea?

At first I had no idea what he was talking about, but I wanted to help him out. So I did some research and... voila... I found exactly what he was looking for. Below is what I sent him, and like a good scholar, I even showed my sources.

Hi Normand,

Thanks for inquiring... I'm always up for some quick research and the sharing of knowledge...

The "Green House" in Washington seems to be kind of a meeting place where illegal activity would go on. In other words, mobsters, criminals, organized crime leaders etc, would meet certain congressmen in this house on K Street and bribe and negotiate for shorter sentences or for favorable legislation.

Warren G. Harding, a well known corrupt President of the US from 1921-1923, brought with him to washington grifters, blackmailers, and crooks, known as the "Ohio Gang"

... Some members of this "Ohio Gang" rented...
"what came to be known as "the Little Green House" at i6ï5 K Street, and it soon was a center of revelry almost twenty-four hours a day. For the right people, good liquor was available in unlimited amounts; much of it had been confiscated by the government, and sometimes it was delivered in official vehicles by armed guards in uniform. The Ohio Gang eagerly solicited bribes from bootleggers seeking immunity, men in jail who wanted to be released, men under indictment who wanted the proceedings dropped, and German owners of property sequestered during the war. Nobody knows what the take amounted to in the thirty months or so that the Ohio Gang was in the saddle, but it has been estimated that, in graft and waste, this group cost the country about two billion dollars."

to this day, K Street is a well known as being Washington's lobbyist corridor...

Here's more information...

luck with your editing. And if you end up using my name as a reference, I would love a copy of the book. Thanks.

Kevin Katz

As it turns out, Normand is going to put in a good word for me to see if my name might appear in the book. Granted, it is going to be a book written in French, but that's just the same.

Edward L. Bernays pioneered the scientific technique of manipulating public opinion, only he called it "engineering of consent." Basically he was a very influential and persuasive writer. Here is a link to his book, Propaganda.

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1 comment:

dh said...

That's a neat little story. Who would expect they'd learn something about America from a French translator?

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