Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Three - The Church of the Servant-Girls

Secret Service

This Taft administration, urged on by the Catholic intrigue, made the most determined efforts to prevent the spread of radical thought. Because the popular magazines were opposing the plundering of the country, a bill was introduced into Congress to put them out of business by a prohibitive postal tax; the President himself devoted all his power to forcing the passage of this bill. At the same time the Socialist press was handicapped by every sort of persecution. I was at that time in intimate touch with the "Appeal to Reason," and I know that scarcely a month passed that the Post Office Department did not invent some new "regulation" especially designed to limit its circulation. I recall one occasion when I met the editor on his way to Washington with a trunk-full of letters from subscribers who complained that their postmasters refused to deliver the paper to them; and later on this same editor was prosecuted by a Catholic Attorney General and Sentenced to prison for seeking to awaken the people concerning the Moyer-Haywood case.

From my personal knowledge I can say that under the administration of President Taft the Roman Catholic Church and the Secret Service of the Federal Government worked hand in hand for the undermining of the radical movement in America. Catholic lecturers toured the country, pouring into the ears of the public vile slanders about the private morality of Socialists; while at the same time government detectives, paid out of public funds spent their time seeking evidence for these Catholic lecturers to use, I know one man, a radical labor-leader, whose morals happened to approach those of the average capitalist politician, and who was prevented by threats of exposure and scandal from accepting the Socialist nomination for President. I know a dozen others who were shadowed and spied upon; I know one case - myself - a man was asking a divorce from his wife, and whose mail was opened for months.

This subject is one on which I naturally speak with extreme reluctance. I will only say that my opponent in the suit made no charge of misconduct against me; but those in control of our political police evidently thought it likely that a man who was not living with his wife might have something to hide; so for months my every move was watched and all my mail intercepted. In such a case one might at first suspect one's private opponent; but it soon became evident that this net was cast too wide for any private agency. Not merely was my own mail opened, but the mail of all my relatives and friends - people residing in places as far apart as California and Florida. I recall the bland smile of a government official to whom I complained about this matter: "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear." My answer was that a study of many labor cases had taught me the methods of the agent provocateur. He is quite willing to take real evidence if he can find it; but if not, he has familiarized himself with the affairs of his victim, and can make evidence which will be convincing when exploited by the yellow press. In my own case, the matter was not brought to a test, for I went abroad to live; when I made my next attack on Big Business, the Taft administration had been repudiated at the polls. and the Secret Service of the government was no longer at the disposal of the Catholic machine.

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