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Ivy Lee and the Rockefellers' Response to the 1913-1914 Colorado Coal Strike



Ivy Lee's work on behalf of the Rockefellers and the coal mine operators in the after-math of the bitter Colorado coal strike of 1913–1914 was a milestone in early public relations. Based primarily on original manuscripts, this historical study chronicles Lee's work as a consultant in 1914 and as a Rockefeller staff member in 1915. Lee's best-known activity was a series of controversial informational bulletins targeted at opinion leaders. He also engaged in government relations, conducted some media re-lations, and provided advice on how the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company could im-prove labor relations. The findings provide no support for claims that Lee was inten-tionally deceptive, but supports a contradiction thesis, which suggests a gap existed between Lee's espoused principles of publicity and his actions. This contradiction can be explained by the fact that Lee worked in less than ideal circumstances. One of the most important episodes in the early development of public relations oc-curred in the aftermath of the bloody Colorado coal strike of 1913–1914. On April 20, 1914, a gun battle broke out between striking miners and the Colorado state mi-litia at the temporary camp set up by strikers outside the mines at Ludlow. Three strikers and one militiaman were killed. However, the real tragedy was revealed when 11 women and children were found dead in one of the many earthen storage pits dug below the tent colony. The innocent victims had hidden in the pit to escape the gunfire and apparently suffocated when a smoky fire later swept through the compound. The incident sparked 10 days of widespread violence in the surround-ing coal fields, resulting in at least 53 deaths.
Ivy Lee and the Rockefellers’ Response
to the 1913–1914 Colorado Coal Strike
Kirk Hallahan
Department of Journalism and Technical Communication
Colorado State University
Ivy Lee’s work on behalf of the Rockefellers and the coal mine operators in the after-
math of the bitter Colorado coal strike of 1913–1914 was a milestone in early public
relations. Based primarily on original manuscripts, this historical study chronicles
Lee’s work as a consultant in 1914 and as a Rockefeller staff member in 1915. Lee’s
best-known activity was a series of controversial informational bulletins targeted at
opinion leaders. He also engaged in government relations, conducted some media re-
lations, and provided advice on how the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company could im-
prove labor relations. The findings provide no support for claims that Lee was inten-
tionally deceptive, but supports a contradiction thesis, which suggests a gap existed
between Lee’s espoused principles of publicity and his actions. This contradiction can
be explained by the fact that Lee worked in less than ideal circumstances.
One of the most important episodes in the early development of public relations oc-
curred in the aftermath of the bloody Colorado coal strike of 1913–1914. On April
20, 1914, a gun battle broke out between striking miners and the Colorado state mi-
litia at the temporary camp set up by strikers outside the mines at Ludlow. Three
strikers and one militiaman were killed. However, the real tragedy was revealed
when 11 women and children were found dead in one of the many earthen storage
pits dug below the tent colony. The innocent victims had hidden in the pit to escape
the gunfire and apparently suffocated when a smoky fire later swept through the
compound. The incident sparked 10 days of widespread violence in the surround-
ing coal fields, resulting in at least 53 deaths.
Copyright © 2002, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Kirk Hallahan, Associate Professor, Colorado State Univer-
sity, Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, C–225 Clark, Fort Collins,
CO 80523–1785. E-mail:
The union also laid blame squarely on the coal mine operators, who, the union ar-
gued, could have avoided bloodshed if they had recognized the right to collective
bargaining.1In particular, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and his family were easy targets.
The millionaire New York investment family owned about 40% of the common and
preferred stock of Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), the largest of 170 coal
operators in Colorado. The public still vividly remembered JDR Jr.’s father, John D.
Rockefeller, Sr., now 75, as the vilified scion of the Standard Oil Trust.2
The month following “Bloody Ludlow” saw a flurry of public activity in the af-
termath of the tragedy. Senator Martin Foster of New York, at the behest of Presi-
dent Woodrow Wilson, pressed Rockefeller to intervene and to recognize the
union. Governor Elias Ammons, along with the operators, pleaded for help with
President Wilson, who on April 30 ordered federal troops into the strike zone to
maintain law and order and to protect property. Federal troops remained in Colo-
rado for the remainder of 1914.
Meanwhile, the publicity machine of the union’s local, whose headquarters were
in Denver, spearheaded a publicity campaign to rally support nationwide. Although
a Denver newspaper probably was the first to use the term, the union’s publicity di-
rector, Walter H. Fink (1914), quickly popularized the phrase “Ludlow Massacre.”
An “expedition” of women and children was sent to Washington to visit President
Wilson at the White House. After JDR, Jr., declined to see them, the Coloradans be-
came star attractions at a mass rally in New York. Socialist writer Upton Sinclair or-
ganized pickets outside Rockefeller’s offices at 26 Broadway in New York and held
a rally in suburban Tarrytown, New York, the Rockefellers’ hometown.
It was against this background that public relations pioneer Ivy Ledbetter Lee
was called on to apply principles of the newly emerging field of public relations,
which he called “publicity.” Lee, then 36, was the son of a Georgia preacher. Lee
had been educated at Princeton and worked at three New York newspapers before
forming a public relations agency in 1904. He later served as publicity director for
1A highly readable introduction to the strike and related events is McGovern and Guttridge (1972),
based on McGovern’s 1953 doctoral dissertation. The strife is discussed from the labor perspective in a va-
riety of books: Beshoar (1942), Gitelman (1988), Donachy (1989, 1990), Long (1989), McClurg (1959),
and Papanikolas (1982). A reasonably balanced description of life in southern Colorado coal mines was
written by Clyne (1999). The story of the strike and Ivy Lee’s role comprises an 11-min segment in the PBS
documentary The Image Makers (Corporation for Entertainment and Learning/BDM, 1984).
2The Rockefellers paid comparatively little attention to CF&I—it was one of hundreds of invest-
ments they owned. In fact, the Rockefellers had become involved essentially as a favor to financer
George Gould, who had wanted to wrestle control of CF&I’s lucrative steel-making operations in 1903
(Scamehorn, 1976, 1992). The family’s involvement was limited to holding three seats on the board of
directors, and the family intended to sell their shares as soon as they received a good price. Useful back-
ground on John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the family’s role in the strike is provided in biographies by
Chernow (1998), Collier and Horowitz (1976), Flynn (1932), Fosdick (1956), and Nevins (1953). The
most notable attack on JDR, Sr., was muckraker Ida Tarbell’s series on “The History of the Standard
Oil,” which appeared in McClure’s magazine from 1902 to 1904 (Tarbell, 1905/1963).
the Pennsylvania Railroad before spending 3 years in Europe in the banking indus-
try. He returned to the railroad in 1912 as assistant to the president, responsible for
Hiebert (1966a) remains Lee’s definitive biographer. Yet many of the rich de-
tails about his work for the Rockefellers in Colorado remain to be told. This study
examines the depth and breadth of Lee’s work for the Colorado coal operators and
the Rockefellers by drawing primarily on the archived correspondence between
Lee, the Rockefeller business staff, and the officials of CF&I. In so doing, this
study has two purposes. One is to chronicle the depth and breadth of Lee’s work
during the initial 20 months he worked as a consultant and as a staff member for
the Rockefellers, who became a lifelong client. The second purpose is to re-exam-
ine criticisms that have been lodged against Lee’s performance, including claims
he was deceptive and misled the public about the Colorado strike.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was shaken by the public reviling that followed news re-
ports about events in Colorado (Flynn, 1932; Pringle, 1926). As the controversy
brewed, Rockefeller and his staff recognized the need to stem the tide of negative
public opinion that was directed toward CF&I and the Rockefeller family. Although
CF&I officials in Colorado and Rockefeller’s staff in New York both had attempted
Various friends offered suggestions to Rockefeller and his staff on how to re-
spond. Recommendations ranged from saying nothing to taking out full-page ad-
vertisements in major newspapers. JDR, Jr., sought advice from other business
people as well as media executives such as editor Arthur Brisbane of the New York
Evening Journal. Brisbane was particularly influential, and was responsible for
recommending publicist Ivy Lee to the Rockefellers. Lee actually was Brisbane’s
top choice among four candidates he recommended. Brisbane characterized Lee as
“an intelligent, thoroughly trained man—and of high character.” JDR, Jr., later ex-
plained his search this way:
When this situation developed last year, finding that it was difficult to get the facts be-
fore the public, I personally took pains to inquire who could assist us in what I believe
[is] an important public work. After careful inquiry I was told of Mr. Lee, and asked
him if he could undertake to assist the operators’ committee and ourselves in the mat-
ter of properly presenting the facts of the situation. (U.S. Commission on Industrial
Relations [UCIR], 1916, vol. 8, p. 7772)
In their initial telephone conversation, Rockefeller began by asking whether Lee
could suggest someone who could cooperate with his office and the coal operators
in Colorado to get the facts concerning the situation before the public. “Mr.
Rockefeller explained to me his very strong feeling that the public wholly misun-
derstood his attitude and had misunderstood the essential attitude of the operators,”
Lee later testified. In their initial meeting on June 1, 1914, Rockefeller thought a
good strategy might be to reach the public through advertising. As Lee later ex-
plained, “I advised him that would be in the highest degree unwise, and that no
money should be used in any way, directly or indirectly, to influence the attitude of
the press on the subject” (USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, p. 7899). Lee later recalled that he
told Rockefeller that the operators should “make their story available to the news-
paper, say whatever they have to say over their own signatures, and take full re-
sponsibility for accuracy” (quoted in Wisehart, 1929, p. 126).
Lee’s approach contradicted Brisbane’s suggestion that public communica-
tions be distributed under the auspices of Colorado Governor Elias Ammons, but
was generally consistent with the straightforward, factual approach proposed by
Brisbane (1914). Rockefeller would remark, “This is the first advice I have had
that does not involve deviousness of one kind or one another. The obviousness of
the course you suggest does appeal” (Wisehart, 1929, p. 126; see also Berlin,
After Rockefeller and Lee struck an agreement in principle on June 1,
Rockefeller sent Lee additional background (Rockefeller, 1914a). Lee would be
a consultant, even though he worked full time as assistant to Samuel Rea, presi-
dent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and lived in Philadelphia. Rockefeller had al-
ready asked Rea whether he could talk with Lee. Rea agreed “in light of the
important questions involved” (Lee, 1914a). However, the assignment would
have to be completed so the work did not interfere with Lee’s regular full-time
duties for the railroad, which included seeking a large freight rate increase from
the Interstate Commerce Commission. Thus, ironically, what many scholars
consider a seminal undertaking in early public relations was essentially a moon-
lighting assignment.
Rockefeller staffer Jerome Greene initially oversaw Lee’s work,3but Lee
quickly developed a close relationship with his famous client. JDR, Jr., conferred
with CF&I Chairman Bowers, a long-time Rockefeller confidant who lived in
Binghamton, New York, and then sent a letter to CF&I President Welborn in Den-
ver to outline the plans. Rockefeller’s intervention was a sharp departure from the
3Greene and Lee talked to settle the particulars, which were recapped in a letter of agreement. In addi-
tion to being paid a $1,000-a-month retainer, Lee was authorized to hire a confidential assistant and cler-
ical assistance to secure office space in Philadelphia, and to purchase necessary office supplies. Lee re-
ceived a $2,000 advance to cover out-of-pocket expenses and was given discretion as to the terms on
which staff would be engaged. The understanding was that Lee advise Greene of such arrangements and
that important expenditures be approved in advance and vouchers be submitted for approval (Greene,
1914a; Rockefeller, 1914b).
pattern in most of the Rockefellers’ investments, and was undertaken in his role as
the largest—but not the controlling—investor in the firm. Rockefeller explained
that Lee was to plan and direct a publicity campaign that would emanate from Den-
ver, but was particularly directed to the eastern United States, “where the public is
still sadly in need of accurate information regarding conditions in Colorado”
(Rockefeller, 1914c).
Rockefeller described Lee as a “conservative, resourceful, a man of highest
character, absolutely free from the sensationalism of many newspaper men, and
his ideas as to methods of publicity are many of them to us new and in every in-
stance commendable.” Rockefeller outlined Lee’s plans, adding “it is not Mr.
Lee’s thought to publish controversial material, but rather to present the facts in an
entirely good natured, attractive, and impressive manner” (Rockefeller, 1914c).
Bowers had suggested that the other operators could probably contribute little
money to the project because of the downturn in revenues brought on by the strike.
Thus, Rockefeller told Welborn he would cover whatever expenses were incurred
that the operators’ committee could not pay (Rockefeller, 1915c).4
Two days later, Lee wrote Welborn to ask for background on the strike, includ-
ing statistics on mines, production, employment, and the number of strikers. He
explained that he wanted to get out to the press an article showing that the compa-
nies were mining all the coal the market could absorb and that there had been no
ruthless destruction of life by either the mine guards or the militia. (This was a du-
bious claim based on past events.) He added, “As you are doubtless aware, one of
the most serious ideas with which we have to contend in this whole matter is that
the operators in Colorado have been killing women and children. We ought to
meet that proposition quite specifically” (Lee, 1915e).
Of special note is the role of Lewis S. Bigelow, a journalist who resided in New
England and happened to be Lee’s brother-in-law.5Upon being retained by the
Rockefellers, Lee was authorized by Greene to “employ a man who will be compe-
tent to go out to Colorado with a view of preparing material for publication under
your direction” (Greene, 1914a; Rockefeller 1914c). Rockefeller explained to
Welborn that Bigelow’s involvement initially would involve preparation of a book-
let on the sociological and welfare programs that CF&I provided for its miners.
4The Committee of Mine Managers included Welborn as well as John C. Osgood of the Victor-
American Fuel Company and David W. Brown of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company. These three larg-
est operators had been appointed by others in the industry to coordinate all publicity and government re-
lations for the other coal companies at a meeting in September 1913. The three men met almost daily in
one of their centrally located Denver offices to coordinate strike response activities.
5Lee had met the young journalist while working at the New York Journal and lived with him for a
period in the home of their mutual friend. Bigelow had invited his sister, Cornelia, to visit New York
from St. Paul during Thanksgiving 1900. Bigelow invited Lee to join them for dinner. Ivy and Cornelia
were immediately attracted to one another and married the following year (Hiebert, 1966a, p. 37).
Bigelow would be employed by Lee in his agency during the 1920s (Hiebert, 1966a).
Rockefeller reaffirmed Bigelow’s involvement when he approved Lee’s proposal
(1914c, 1914d). Welborn later reported to JDR, Jr., that Bigelow arrived on June 13,
had collected information at the office, and would travel to Pueblo to meet CF&I’s
Fuel Department manager and medical director (Welborn, 1914a). Bigelow also
toured the model mining camp at Lime and possibly visited other mines as well
(Gilchrist, 1915). Bigelow returned with a large array of materials (Lee, 1914f,
1915a).6Lee later wrote Rockefeller that Bigelow had compiled information that
went far beyond the original purpose of his task and was working up the material at
home (Lee, 1914g). Lee’s family relationship to Bigelow was not mentioned in writ-
ing, although Lee might have disclosed it to Rockefeller.
During the first 3 months of Lee’s assignment, Rockefeller, his staff, and Lee
engaged in a steady steam of correspondence in which they exchanged clippings,
information, and suggestions on strategy (e.g., Greene, 1914b). Rockefeller him-
self was an active client who conferred with Lee several times in New York and
hosted Lee several times as an overnight guest at JDR, Jr.’s West 54th Street
home—a common practice of the millionaire. Rockefeller also wrote Lee at least a
dozen times in June and July. In addition to routine requests for materials
(Rockefeller, 1914e, 1914f) and suggestions of people to be put on Lee’s mailing
lists (e.g., Rockefeller, 1914g), Rockefeller routinely sent clippings (Rockefeller,
1914h, 1914i, 1914j), sought advice on how to respond to people offering help
(Rockefeller, 1914k, 1914l, 1914m, 1914n, 1914o), informed Lee about major de-
velopments involving the Rockefeller philanthropies (Rockefeller, 1914p), dis-
cussed prospective editorial contacts (Rockefeller, 1914q, 1914r), and suggested
content for Lee’s campaign (Rockefeller, 1914s, 1914t, 1914u).
Following their initial meeting, Lee recognized that all the “excitement” in Colo-
rado had already become old news, and that newspapers would not be interested in
mere news stories. After he dismissed advertising as a vehicle, Lee drew on his
work for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s rate hike campaign as the strategic anchor for
his effort.
6Materials collected by Bigelow included data compiled for government investigators, testimony,
statistics on accidents, circulars sent to superintendents, maps, earnings data, correspondence, speeches
by strike leaders, service records of superintendents and foremen, wage summaries for each mine, a brief
history of the strike supplied by mine superintendents, and copies of the company’s Camp and Plant
house organ published from 1902 to 1904. Many of the original documents were retyped for Bigelow
and Lee’s use. Lee billed the Rockefellers $391 for Bigelow’s special work in Colorado and $18.50 for a
secretarial service to retype Bigelow’s material (Lee, 1914b).
In a detailed memo to JDR, Jr., on June 5, Lee recommended publication of a se-
ries of leaflets or bulletins to be issued by the operators at Denver. He suggested as
the title for the series, “The Struggle in Colorado for Industrial Freedom.” He ex-
plained, “By sending these leaflets to a large number of leaders of public opinion
throughout the country, you will be able to get certain ideas before the makers of that
public opinion, which will be of value.” Although he would include the press in the
mailings,Leeessentially proposed to bypass journalists and go directly to the formu-
lators of opinion. Lee included a long excerpt of remarks by Wisconsin Senator Rob-
ert LaFollette, who had lambasted the railroads’ promotional effort in seeking a rate
hike and had called it a “monument to shame” in a Congressional speech. But in do-
ing so, LaFollette underscored the effectiveness of Lee’s work. The 32 fliers Lee
produced for the eastern railroads “played no small part in influencing a large pro-
portion of the 22,000 newspapers in the United States,” LaFollette said. It was a
not-so-subtle example of Lee’s salesmanship (Lee, 1914h).
Rockefeller responded by authorizing distribution of Bulletin No. 1, which Lee
had provided in galley form. The obviously pleased client responded, “We cannot
think of a better title for the series” (Rockefeller, 1914d). Lee had already sug-
gested the topic of the second bulletin, an excerpt of the report of the military occu-
pation of the strike zone. Lee envisioned as many as two bulletins being distributed
every week over several months, creating a virtual avalanche of turn-of-the-cen-
tury political direct mail.
Lee carefully crafted the design of the bulletins, which measured 5 × 11 in.,
printed on one side of good quality vellum stock in black ink. On June 15, Lee re-
ported to Rockefeller that the first number was delayed, “owing to the fact that I
want to get a typographic arrangement which is exactly as I think it should be.” He
assured his client, “The cumulative effort of this should be valuable ” (Lee, 1914i).
The initial run of bulletins included 11,000 copies, which were printed by the Beck
Engraving Company and addressed by the Howe Addressing Company, both in
Philadelphia. The printed materials were then shipped in bulk to CF&I in Denver,
where they were mailed by a mailing service in envelopes imprinted with CF&I’s
headquarters address, “720 Boston Bldg, Denver, Col.” Thus recipients would
think the mailings came from the coal operators.7
In all, 19 bulletins were distributed. The 15 titles in Series I were sent on behalf
of the industry between June and August 1914, and later were compiled into a
Facts booklet distributed to some 40,000 people in Fall 1914 (Committee of Coal
7Mimeographic stencils were cut for more than 11,000 names, which Lee had compiled for his work
for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Lee’s first invoice showed expenditures of $743 for printing the first four
bulletins, $1,187 for addressing and printing stamped envelopes. On average, each bulletin cost around
$350 in out-of-pocket expenses. In submitting his first invoice, Lee was careful to show how he spent his
new client’s money prudently. Individual envelopes were typed at $3/thousand, while stenciling per-
mitted the same work to be performed for 90 cents (Lee, 1914c).
Mine Managers, 1914). The four titles in Series II were published in the name of
CF&I only, following the company’s later split from other operators. Virtually all
the material in the first series drew on information from various reputable sources
in government and the community and was provided to Lee by CF&I or
Rockefeller officials. Lee would later admit that he saw his role as primarily one of
editor, not writer, of the bulletins (USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, p. 7899). He took al-
ready-existing materials and reworked them, adding introductions and transitions,
and edited them for clarity and to bring out key points. Bigelow might have written
many of the first drafts of the early numbers.
The effect was to create a deluge of information about the Colorado situation
from a variety of angles. Ultimately, the mailing list for regular bulletins reached
19,000 names—including various individuals suggested in correspondence from
Rockefeller, his staff, and CF&I officials. Lee provided small bulk quantities to
the Rockefeller offices in New York and to President Welborn in Denver for distri-
bution to personal contacts. Welborn later wrote Lee about how pleased he was
with the way Lee was handling the project (Welborn, 1914b, 1914c). Welborn
wrote JDR, Jr., “From the numerous letters of commendation I have received, and
the frequent requests for additional copies of the bulletins issued under Mr. Lee’s
direction, I am confident that the work he has inaugurated is doing some good.”
The effort resulted in a few responses from newspapers, and many letters from
ministers, educators, associations, and chambers of commerce (Welborn, 1914d).8
Although the production of the bulletins is the most widely known—and controver-
sial—of his activities, Lee provided counsel to JDR, Jr., and his staff on numerous
topics and engaged in a variety of other activities. These included fending off syco-
phant promoters who wanted JDR, Jr., to fund their own promotional activities on
behalf of the coal operators (Rockefeller, 1914k, 1914m, 1914v; Lee, 1914j,
1914k, 1914l). Lee also advised JDR, Jr., against writing an article requested by Ar-
thur Brisbane, the newspaper editor who had recommended Lee for his position.
Brisbane wanted JDR, Jr., to respond to critics who called for the nationalization of
8One unusual measure of Lee’s success lies in the response of the United Mine Workers of America
(UMWA) District 15. If imitation is the highest form of compliment, Lee must have been pleased with
himself. In August and September of 1914, the UMWA issued its own set of competitive bulle-
tins—which utilized the exact same title, the same paper and format, and the same typography as Lee’s
bulletins—but told the union’s side of the story. This set of 15 messages, which were written by District
15 publicity director Walter Fink, was an obvious effort to confuse recipients about the source. It was an
ingenious, although deceptive, way to expose opinion leaders to the opposing viewpoint (United Mine
Workers District 15, 1914). No concrete evidence suggests the union’s strategy worked, except that var-
ious numbers were reprinted in labor newspapers.
natural resources such as the coal supply (Lee, 1914m; Rockefeller, 1914w). Soon
after being retained, Lee attended a 3-hr meeting with JDR, Jr., and his staff, ar-
ranged through JDR, Sr., with James Brown of the International Harvester Com-
pany (Rockefeller, 1914k). The Chicago executive shared some of the strategies
that his company had used in earlier labor disputes. Lee later told the Rockefellers
these tactics were similar to those he had used for the Pennsylvania Railroad (Lee,
1914n). Welborn would later write a series of letters to the editor, in response to
negative press, as Brown had suggested. However, it is not certain whether Lee or-
chestrated this effort.
While in New York to meet with Brown, Lee met with Major Edward J.
Boughton, a representative of Colorado’s Governor Elias Ammons. Boughton had
traveled east on a promotional tour to make public facts about the strike and the mili-
tia’s response. His goal was to overcome the extensive negative publicity. Although
the origin of the project is not clear, Lee seized the opportunity to draft a letter that
could be signed by the governor of Colorado to outline the situation (Lee, 1914o).
The idea was akin to the strategy proposed by Brisbane (1914), and JDR, Jr., himself
dictated a four-page memorandum with talking points that might be included
(Rockefeller, 1914h, 1914u). Although Lee thought the project had merit, he later
admitted to JDR, Jr., that it was a tough assignment (Lee, 1914p, 1914q, 1914r). Al-
though Lee sent a final draft out to Colorado, Boughton apparently never passed it on
to the governor. Meanwhile, Ammons’ views on the strike were published in a mag-
azine article that received wide attention (Ammons, 1914).
Lee arranged at least two other mass mailings of materials other than his bulle-
tins. One was a pamphlet issued by the Junior Order United American Mechanics
union—an idea apparently initiated by JDR, Jr., after a copy was sent to him.
Rockefeller’s general counsel, Starr J. Murphy, consulted with CF&I President
Welborn in Colorado, then turned over the assignment to Lee (Murphy, 1914a). A
second mailing contained 20,000–30,000 reprints of a U.S. House of Representa-
tives speech by Colorado Congressman George N. Kindel, which was sympathetic
to the coal operators and attacked the union (Seligman, 1915).
Obtaining newspaper and magazine exposure per se was ancillary to Lee’s
strategy. In his first letter to CF&I President Welborn, Lee wrote,
I am eager to get out to the press an article showing, in the first place, that the compa-
nies are now mining all the coal that [the] market can absorb, and secondly, that there
has been no ruthless destruction of life by either the mine guards or the militia. (Lee,
The bulletins thus doubled as press statements and were distributed to a large num-
ber of editors across the country as part of the broader distribution (Lee, 1914s).
Welborn in Denver made it a special point to distribute copies to the local media.
About 6 weeks into the campaign, Lee sent Welborn a letter with the draft of a
letter that he recommended be sent over Welborn’s signature to about 30 newspa-
pers in 19 major cities. In part, Lee’s attached letter to the editors read,
As you are aware, the public mind with reference to this Colorado situation has been
very befogged by the attempt to make sinister capital out of the use of the Rockefeller
name. That effort was most unfair and unwarranted, for no matter what Mr.
Rockefeller’s interests in Colorado may be (and they in fact represent but a fraction of
the coal mining industry), he has not attempted to control the situation in this State in
any way and, as a matter of fact, he could not have controlled it if he had desired. (Lee,
Lee’s draft for Welborn denied that a legitimate strike was in progress. The letter ar-
gued that peace and quiet could only be secured if “enlightened public opinion”
makes it “clear to the so-called strike leaders that it is their responsibility to insure
law and order.”9
Lee’s daytime work kept him on the East Coast for the first 2 months. His primary
contact with the Colorado operators was through a trip to Binghamton, New York,
the home of CF&I Chairman Lamont Bowers (Lee, 1914a), as well as correspon-
dence with President Jesse F. Welborn in Denver. Beyond these contacts, he was de-
By summer, Lee was ready to investigate the situation first-hand, and he em-
barked on the first of two trips he would make west in as many months. Lee wrote
JDR, Jr., that although he planned a European trip with his family, he would forego
the vacation and go to Colorado instead (Lee, 1914t). On July 17, Lee had sent
JDR, Jr., a set of employee house organs (which Lee called “bulletins”) produced
by the Pennsylvania Railroad (Lee, 1914f). JDR, Jr. charged Lee with sending
samples to Welborn in Denver (see also Lee, 1914u, 1914v) and asking Welborn
whether a comparable approach would be useful at CF&I (Rockefeller, 1914x).
Few details are known about Lee’s visit, except for two letters he sent to JDR, Jr.,
and indirect references. In his preliminary report, Lee explained that he had met in a
9Rockefeller general counsel Starr J. Murphy congratulated Lee on the letter, which he forwarded to
JDR, Jr. (Murphy, 1914b). In turn, this prompted JDR, Jr., to ask whether editors shouldn’t be receiving
the bulletins (Rockefeller, 1914x). Lee reminded him that the editors, indeed, were receiving the bulle-
tins regularly. The personal letter from Welborn was to reinforce key points (Lee, 1914u).
Lee issued virtually no press releases or statements during the first months of his campaign, except
two announcements in July on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation related to the Institute for Medical
Research and a major gift to Johns Hopkins University. The press announcements were an apparent sur-
prise to JDR, Jr., who expressed pleasure with the coverage that was undertaken while he was out of
town (Rockefeller, 1914y; USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, p. 8869; Hiebert, 1966a, p. 114). Significantly, these
announcements made no mention of the Colorado situation.
series of meetings with President Welborn and Chairman Bowers, generally sepa-
rately. In particular, Welborn was enthusiastic about the bulletins (as were several of
the other operators) and embraced the issuance of more employee communications.
“For the moment, I’ll only say that it seems clear to me that intelligent sympathetic
handling of the human nature of the case should yield results which would be most
satisfactory to you and your associates,” Lee wrote JDR, Jr. (Lee, 1914w).
Lee spent 2 days touring the southern mining camps, located 180 miles south of
Denver. He spent 2 nights in Trinidad, the major town, toured eight mines, and visited
the strikers’ tent colonies at Ludlow and Starkville. He ate lunch with a superintendent
one day and took lunch at a boarding house for miners the other day. He talked with
women, military officers, mine supervisors, politicians, and others. In Denver, he vis-
ited with officials such as the Austrian consul, Fritz van Fischer-Ankern. He also met
Horton Pope, the former general counsel of Victor-American Fuel, a major competi-
tor. He visited no editorial offices because he did not want to generate a lot of visibility
about his presence (USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, p. 7900).
Lee was the first representative of the Rockefellers outside of CF&I management
to visit Colorado following the strike. On the trip, he assessed management, labor,
and public opinion. He found that Coloradans exhibited indifference toward the op-
erators and antipathy toward the union. Their concerns were mostly to “protect the
good name of the state.” Otherwise the state might face an economic decline because
investors would be hesitant to risk money in the area (I. L. Lee, Jr., cited in Atwater,
1967, p. 57).
The visiting publicist found CF&I’s management, particularly Chairman Bowers,
to be largely unenlightened about labor issues.10 Lee also quickly recognized the un-
due influence exercised by John C. Osgood of the Victor-American Fuel Company.
Osgood was a rabid, anti- union fanatic, and was the most vocal member of the
three-person coordinating committee. “Mr. Osgood is a load your people are having to
carry. His relation to this affair has been a great handicap to your general cause and still
is,” Lee wrote Rockefeller (Lee, 1914x). Although direct evidence is not available,
Lee appears to have played a pivotal role in CF&I’s breaking ranks with other coal op-
erators and in Bowers’ removal as CF&I chairman at the end of the year.11
Lee also blamed many of the problems on middle management in the mine dis-
trict. Lee wrote,
10Lee found that CF&I Chairman Bowers employed 19th century management philosophies that
were clearly more aligned with those of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. As the uncle of Frederick T. Gates, a
highly influential, long-time adviser to JDR, Sr., and the staff, Bowers’ opinions had been accepted
without question in New York. Lee concluded, however, that Bowers had misled the Rockefellers by ex-
aggerating the situation. He became convinced that Bowers should be replaced.
11Later, in the fall of 1914, Lee asked an official of the Pennsylvania Railroad to make inquiries in
Cleveland about Lamont Bowers. The result was a damaging letter that would eventually play a critical
factor in Bowers’ dismissal in December 1914 (Rockefeller, 1915a). JDR, Jr., obviously had Lee’s ear
on the point that Bowers had to go.
The men are very well paid, and the policy of the management is most enlightened as
to all important subjects. But the mine superintendents and petty bosses have all the
faults of their kind and the Company has no assurance that its policies are being car-
ried out. There is no appeal (in practice) from the decision of the pit boss. (Lee, 1914x)
He added, “The men are afraid to complain or appeal. This is a distinctly missing
link here. There is no safety valve for the men to get petty grievances out of their
system” (Lee, 1914x).
To open up the lines of communication, Lee recommended that an open letter
from Welborn be published as a poster. The poster’s message would thank the
miners for their loyalty during the strike. He also suggested that leaflets be distrib-
uted to miners’ homes because women could influence miners’ opinions and were
Colorado voters. The apparent plan was to prepare these posters and send them to
Colorado (Lee, 1914x).
Until his visit, Lee had undertaken no special efforts to influence opinion in
Colorado. Although most residents did not favor the union, citizens were more
outraged by the militarism that had taken place and the negative light shed on Col-
orado. Lee informed JDR, Jr., that he was adding the names of lawyers and clergy-
man in Colorado to his mailing list. He also said that citizens were hostile to the
Rockefeller name, and did not understand the family’s limited role. To rectify the
false impression, Lee recommended that a future bulletin detail the extent of
Rockefeller’s holdings: “I want to contrast the amount paid to you with the amount
put into the property out of earnings, showing your policy has been to build up the
Company (and thereby to build up Colorado) rather than to get quick profits or to
exploit the people here” (Lee, 1914x).12
Overall, Lee’s first trip to Colorado was a success—and pivotal in enhancing
his ability to understand the issues, counsel his clients, and cement his relation-
ships. Greene wrote JDR, Jr., that Lee had
planted so tactfully into the minds of Mr. Welborn and Mr. Bowers the seeds of some
ideas new to them, that they will develop in an apparently spontaneous manner, which
will, of course, be ever so much better than to force the ideas upon them against their
will. (Greene, 1914c; also cited in Atwater, 1967, p. 58)
12When JDR, Jr., later asked his staff to develop the data, he was met with strong doubts. Charles O.
Heydt compiled a complex report but balked at the idea of releasing such private information. Heydt
even sent a memo to JDR, Sr., to tell him what was taking place (Heydt, 1914a). In turn, JDR, Jr., had to
explain to the doubting Heydt that Lee simply wanted summary numbers—not a detailed schedule of
transactions (Rockefeller, 1914z).
Lee returned to the East Coast briefly, only to return to Colorado to assist CF&I offi-
cials with communications related to a pending strike settlement. This important as-
pect of Lee’s work for the Rockefellers has been largely ignored to date. On Septem-
ber 5, as Lee had been told during his Colorado visit, the union wrote President
WoodrowWilson to waive its demand for union recognition in exchange for a 3-year
oversight commission empowered to enforce binding arbitration. Earlier, the union
had written Rockefeller in August to appeal for a settlement (Hayes, 1915).
On September 10, Lee sent a hand-written note to Greene. “It seems to me that
here is the chance [underscored in original] to get Mr. Rockefeller’s position on
the matter before the people. If I can help in any way, [I] would be glad to come
over to-morrow” (Lee, 1914y). Without delay, Lee arrived in Colorado on the fol-
lowing Monday, September 14, and spent several days helping Welborn and CF&I
attorney Fred Herrington frame a letter that would be sent by Welborn to President
Wilson. Lee’s editing artfully included phrasing prepared in New York by
Rockefeller’s general counsel, Murphy (1914c). Welborn told Rockefeller,
“Through the invaluable efforts, and what seems to me is almost if not infallible
judgment of Mr. Lee, our letter to the President has been prepared and will be
mailed tonight.” Welborn acknowledged Lee as the “proper” author and noted that
Lee had developed “a more comprehensive grasp of the conditions in Colorado
than I would have thought possible for any man to do in the time that he has spent
here“ (Welborn, 1914e).13
Lee’s letter was highly conciliatory, but articulated CF&I’s concerns with the
proposed settlement. Lee’s enlightened public relations philosophy was reflected
in the letter’s conclusion:
For many years past our company has made systematic efforts to promote the welfare
and happiness of its men. We fully recognize that the interests of stockholders and em-
ployees are really the same and neither can prosper permanently unless the just rights
of both are conserved. … We are now developing an even more comprehensive plan,
embodying the results of our practical experience, which will, we feel confident, re-
sult in a closer understanding between ourselves and our men. This plan contemplates
not only provision for the redress of grievances but for a continuous effort to promote
the welfare and the good will of our employees. (Welborn, 1914g)
13In a separate letter to general counsel Murphy, Welborn referred to the “invaluable assistance” ren-
dered by Lee. Welborn also apologized for not coming to New York to consult in person. He explained,
“Considering the probable public criticism of my presence at your office at the time when it would have
been generally known that the answers to the President’s proposal were being prepared, I think it very
fortunate we were able to make a reply direct from Denver, with the public fully informed as to my pres-
ence here” (Welborn, 1914f).
Significantly, it was Wilson’s proposal that drove the final wedge between
CF&I and the other coal operators. CF&I undoubtedly was under pressure from
Rockefeller to avoid additional confrontation. On September 18, while Lee was in
Denver and probably with Lee’s assistance, Welborn issued a terse statement that
said the coal operators would make individual replies to the president’s proposal.
He added that some of the operators sought a meeting to discuss the difficulties
created by the proposal (Coal operators will make reply, 1914). By contrast, the
other operators issued statements that flatly refused any form of arbitration (Corre-
spondence between the President of the United States and the Colorado coal mine
operators relative to the strike in that state, 1914; Owners reject Colorado truce,
1915). In Washington the following week, Welborn met with Wilson, who would
not compromise (President firm for mine truce, 1914). Thus, the stalemate contin-
ued for another 2 and a half months. The coal strike ended officially on December
8, 1914, support by the miners dwindled, and the union’s funds were depleted.14
Lee leveraged CF&I’s conciliatory response into a positive publicity opportu-
nity. Welborn’s letter to President Wilson was typeset and distributed widely as a
booklet (so was the response from the other operators). Lee finally drafted the
poster he had proposed previously. The message thanked both the workers who
had stayed on the job, as well as those who had returned. The poster added ex-
pressed a quite enlightened approach to labor relations that was undoubtedly in-
fused by Lee:
It is the purpose of our Company not only to pay high wages, but to make all other con-
ditions of employment satisfying to our men.
We want every man who works for The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company to feel
that the Company is his friend.
We will at all times be glad to have you send us, in writing, any suggestions which
you may feel will advance your own welfare, that of your fellow workers, or that of the
We want every man to be happy in his work, and we will hope you will help us to
make you so. (Colorado Fuel & Iron Company [CF&I], 1914a)
Lee also wrote a series of four newspaper ads, which appeared in Colorado
newspapers beginning Saturday, September 19, under the theme “That Colorado
May Know!” This use of advertising was in sharp contrast to his advice to JDR, Jr.,
against the use of advertising only 4 months before. The ads varied in their appear-
ance, suggesting the text was sent to newspapers via telegraph and then typeset by
the publishers. The series relied heavily on financial information about the com-
14CF&I officials in Denver were greatly relieved. But the prospect for returning to prestrike levels of
production were limited by a reduction in demand from the railroads, one of the company’s biggest cus-
tomers, as well a “dullness” in the demand for steel rails, the principal product of CF&I’s steel works in
Pueblo (Welborn, 1914h).
pany’s operations. The first ad, for example, pointed out that open shop mines
were more productive and that workers, on average, earned wages that were 27%
higher than unionized mines. Another ad compared wages in Colorado to else-
where in the world. A third ad explained how the company generated $100 in
wages for every $1 paid to stockholders. The last ad recounted the wages paid in
every mine to the “army of loyal employees, who in their silent fashion manifested
their preference to work in the ‘open shop’ promised to them at these mines, where
any good workman, union or non-union, is welcome” (CF&I, 1914c).
Following his second trip to Colorado, Lee returned to the East Coast. After nearly
a month away from his duties at the Pennsylvania Railroad, he had to focus atten-
tion on the needs of his employer, which was still awaiting word on its rate increase.
However, during the fall of 1914, Lee produced four more bulletins, which were is-
sued under the Series II for CF&I alone, maintained important contacts with the
Rockefellers, and engaged in scattered other activities.
Immediately upon his return, Lee met with Rockefeller and his staff in New
York. Welborn attended the meeting as well, and reported to the group on his talk
in Washington with President Wilson. At the New York meeting, Lee met for the
first time William Lyon Mackenzie King, the former Canadian minister of labor,
who was retained by the Rockefeller Foundation to conduct a study of labor condi-
tions in the United States, including Colorado.
By October, the stature of Lee in the minds of Rockefeller’s staff was evidenced
when general counsel Starr J. Murphy wrote Lee for advice on how to dispose of a
pestering publisher, H. H. Lewis of Industrial News: “I am in hopes that your dip-
lomatic and tactful mind will suggest some way of getting rid of the gentlemen
without any serious damage” (Murphy, 1914d; Lee, 1914z). Lee also leveraged his
position at the Pennsylvania Railroad, a major producer as well as user of coal, to
obtain valuable intelligence about how union officials saw labor conditions in Col-
orado (Lee, 1914aa). Finally, he consulted with Rockefeller Foundation officials
on a release they had prepared to announce the appointment of William Mackenzie
King as a labor relations consultant (Greene, 1914d).
Soon after launching the program, Lee hired several clipping services to re-
trieve stories from national newspapers. The clips were analyzed by Lee’s assis-
tant, W. T. Pollack, who began his work with Lee in Philadelphia and continued to
work for Lee in 1915. The single extant copy of the reports suggests that the re-
ports were produced about three times a month. Pollack’s analysis shows that 47
editorials were received in the 10-day period from November 1 to 10, 1914. The
report showed that 28 of the stories were positive, 14 negative, and 5 neutral. The
report also noted that several editorial replies by President Welborn were included
in the coverage (Pollack, 1914).
In November, Rockefeller and Lee discussed the prospect of the publicist joining
the New York staff—an idea apparently initiated by JDR, Jr.15 In a letter, Lee said
he would be honored but said he would require a salary of $15,000 a year, plus mov-
ing expenses—a figure higher than the $12,000 Rockefeller had suggested. Lee
justified the 50% increase in salary (compared to the $10,000 he was earning at the
Pennsylvania) based on the higher cost of living in New York, lost perquisites, and
the salaries of several of his peers at other major industrial concerns (Lee, 1914bb).
After some haggling and then paying Lee for his work to date, Rockefeller agreed to
Lee’s terms (Rockefeller, 1914aa, 1914bb, 1914cc). Lee would join the staff on
January 1, 1915.
Lee was busy during his remaining month as a consultant. He wrote a
1,500-word article under Welborn’s byline for Harper’s Weekly, which was never
published. He also wrote the bulletins devoted to the conclusion of the strike and
produced a report for Rockefeller Foundation’s General Education Board. His
strategy in this reputation-enhancing activity for the Rockefellers involved “giv-
ing a little to the papers every day or so” (Lee, 1914cc; USCIR, 1916, vol. 9, pp.
8810, 8875). On December 7, Lee’s appointment to the Rockefeller staff was an-
nounced in a press release (Office of Messrs. Rockefeller, 1914). The release was
based on a memo originally drafted by Murphy (1914f; Heydt 1914b).
Not coincidentally, the announcement coincided with the convening in Denver
of the first hearings on the Colorado strike by the U.S. Commission on Industrial
Relations, which had been established by Congress in 1912 to study labor-related
troubles. Lee was the first Rockefeller associate to learn about the investigation
and informed JDR, Jr., about the details during the summer (Lee, 1914g). Lee later
corresponded with his client about the impending proceedings in October (Lee,
1914dd; Rockefeller, 1914dd).
Commission Chairman Frank P. Walsh, a highly partisan, pro-labor congress-
man from Kansas City, was unabashedly out to attack Rockefeller and the coal
mine operators for their role in the strike. Lee was quite familiar with Walsh,
based on previous USCIR hearings involving the railroads (Hiebert, 1966a). Lee
wrote Welborn that he was concerned about the hearings and disappointed that
15General counsel Murphy first raised the prospect of hiring Lee on a full-time basis in a memo to
JDR, JR., on June 28, following an extensive lunch. Murphy thought Lee might “go so far to some day
give us all of his time” (Murphy, 1914e).
Governor Elias Ammons and Governor-Elect George A. Carlson were unable to
persuade Walsh to postpone them. Lee was unable to attend, but did not think at
the Associated Press would be as sensational as it had been in past months (Lee,
Lee’s bulletins would quickly become the focus of controversy in the hearings.
Perhaps because of his part-time consulting role, Lee did not aggressively verify
many of the facts he was given. Or he and his staff might have been simply careless
in handling material. Of the 19 bulletin issues, more than half had problems that ul-
timately surfaced. Perhaps the most significant error was the misstatement and
miscalculation of union officials’ salaries in Bulletin 14. Welborn and others had
quickly identified the problem. In fact, Welborn telegraphed Lee to alert him that
an error had been found, but did not say what it was. Welborn recommended that it
be corrected in the then-forthcoming Facts booklet. He noted, “Number Fourteen
has brought out some questions that cannot be easily answered,” suggesting that
Welborn really did not know the source of the error (Welborn, 1914i). Not recog-
nizing the enormity of the error, Lee simply suggested that a correction be inserted
in Denver (Lee, 1914ff). The problem was soon recognized by John A. Fitch of
The Survey, probably with the aid of disgruntled union leaders, who undoubtedly
faced questions from their rank-and-file membership. Fitch obtained the correct
figures from the union, and challenged Lee. An embarrassed Lee later promised
Fitch that a bulletin correcting the error would be issued and that future mailings
would include an errata sheet (Lee, 1914gg). Separately, crusading journalist
George Creel devoted a two-part Harper’s Weekly series in November 1914 to a
critique of the coal operators’ bulletins, without knowing who had produced them
(Creel, 1914a, 1914b).16 However, despite Lee’s efforts to rectify the problem,
copies were still being circulated without the correction.
CF&I President Welborn, one of the principal witnesses in Denver, was drilled
by Walsh about various aspects of the strike and about the bulletins. Walsh wanted
to know who wrote them, how the content was obtained, and the cost of producing
them. The initial discussion went on for nearly an hour without naming Lee be-
cause Welborn did not feel comfortable giving Lee’s name, despite the fact that
Walsh had already learned the author’s name (USCIR, 1916, vol. 7, pp.
6570–6586). Indeed, Lee had telegraphed him to say he hoped Welborn “can keep
my name out of the record, for to mention it just now might create a false impres-
sion.” Lee wanted to be sure no mention was made of the Pennsylvania Railroad to
avoid embarrassment and avoid reinforcement of unwarranted press reports that
the Rockefellers controlled the railway. He authorized Welborn to show the mes-
sage to Walsh (Lee, 1914hh). Two hours later, Lee wired Welborn that he had con-
sulted with Rockefeller, who agreed that a full statement should be made (Lee,
16Clarifying the errors in the bulletins was probably one of the key points that Lee would have in-
cluded in his unpublished Harper’s Weekly article (see earlier discussion).
1914ii). Then, an hour later, another telegraph from Lee contained a full statement.
Lee’s wire said that Rockefeller would take responsibility for whatever role he
played—but would leave the decision up to Welborn. Lee coached Welborn to not
be defensive, but to stress that the Rockefellers and the operators had every reason
and right to present their case to the public. He suggested that the operators could
issue yet another bulletin that corrected any verified inaccuracies (Lee, 1914jj).
Walsh persisted throughout the afternoon hearings and, in a mild threat near the
day, told Welborn that he had submitted the issue to his colleagues “to take such
action as they deemed necessary.” The members, in turn, decided to call for the
name (USCIR, 1916, vol. 7, p. 6609). Welborn asked to consult counsel. Before
Lee’s statement was received, Welborn had wired Lee that attorney Cass
Herrington and he had negotiated a deal so that Lee’s name would be given to the
chairman on a confidential basis, and Lee would be permitted to appear when the
commission met in the East (Welborn, 1914j). But when Welborn was recalled the
following morning, he read the full telegram from Lee that explained the publi-
cist’s role (Lee, 1914kk; USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, pp. 6668–6669).
In his fourth telegram, sent that morning, Lee instructed Welborn to read his tele-
gram and to make clear three points: (a) the operators were fully responsible for the
bulletins, (2) Lee served as an adviser to Rockefeller and the operators and “in no
sense as an intermediary with the public,” and (c) his concern was to get the accurate
facts out to the public, including correction of any inaccuracies (Lee, 1914kk). Lee
wrote Welborn the following day to apologize for not being in Denver to shoulder
the embarrassment Welborn had endured. Lee explained that his primary concern
was to avoid adverse publicity for his employer, the Pennsylvania Railroad. Other-
wise, he thought there was nothing that should not be disclosed, and that delaying the
announcement would have infused unneeded intrigue. Lee added,
Most of the newspapers treated me very decently though the Philadelphia Public Led-
ger for some occult reason tried to see things in it, which of course noone [sic] could
imagine. I have presumed that you have had your hands pretty full in taking care of
this situation, and I want here and now to express my very deep appreciation of your
loyalty to me and to our agreement. You have certainly done the square thing, as of
course anyone might have known you would do. (Lee, 1914ll)
Lee was obviously embarrassed by the episode. On December 7, the first day of the
hearings, he fired off a letter to JDR, Jr., to provide copies of the telegrams he had
sent. “We did nothing but was perfectly proper and in entire good faith,” he wrote to
assuage any concerns by Rockefeller. He reminded Rockefeller that any inaccura-
cies were based on information that had already been published and that “there was
no thought that it was incorrect.” He assured his client that he was “taking the
proper course in right away telling the whole story and offering to set the matter
right in case any injustice has been done to anybody” (Lee, 1914mm). Four days
later he would write extensive explanatory letters to Murphy and Greene. He
pointed out to Murphy that none of the other statements were questioned. “There is
some question as to the precise accuracy of some of the phraseology, but I cannot
see that any specific fact is called into question in a manner in which gives makes
opportunity to make any correction” (Lee, 1914nn). Lee wrote Greene:
It is very unfortunate that any inaccuracies should have been made in any of our bulle-
tins, because as you say they are likely to make people think that the inaccuracies are
typical. I console myself with the belief, however, that most people who receive the
bulletins are intelligent, and that they will realize from reading the bulletins that they
bear evidence of intrinsic accuracy. (Lee, 1914oo)
Generally, coverage about the revelations in Denver was limited to newspapers
in Colorado, Philadelphia, and New York. However, as news about employment
by the Rockefellers became more widespread, particularly in early 1915, Lee be-
came the subject of considerable publicity. Many newspapers played the an-
nouncement straight, while others were more complimentary—even if in an
off-handed way. For example, Financial World Magazine wrote,
No newspaper hack for the Rockefellers. They got hold of Ivy Lee, who for years
looked after the publicity for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and asked him to keep in
touch with the press by providing the newspapers with their company’s attitude in the
controversy. For this work they pay Lee around $1,000 monthly. He’s worth it all,
down to the last penny. (Financial World, 1915)
Others lampooned Lee, who they accused of being “perfectly willing at the salary
stated to play the clinging ivy” (Sioux City, 1915). One small Colorado paper noted
that Lee was not just a mere press agent but a “high brow disseminator.” The next
day, the paper observed, “One thousand dollars per month seems a fair salary for
Rockefeller’shigh brow publicity man, but a printer or a barker would have one of
a time pulling through on such a measly salary. That duffer should join the union”
(Durango Democrat, 1915). Carl Sandburg (1915), who would later become a noted
poet, called Lee a “hired slanderer” and “paid liar” in the New York Call, a socialist
newspaper. Upton Sinclair later dubbed Lee “Poison Ivy”—an epithet that he claims
originated with Colorado miners (Sinclair, 1919, pp. 311–313).17 A particularly
scorching exposé on Lee himself appeared in the socialist magazine The Masses
(Seligman, 1915), although criticisms of the Rockefellers’ actions in Colorado and
their efforts to explain their role were published for another 6 months.
17For a review of other criticisms of Lee, see Hiebert (1966a, pp. 297–318).
The tumult of early December 1914 continued into January 1915, as Lee relocated
from Philadelphia and took a place on the small Rockefeller staff in New York.
Rockefeller and Lee were both subpoenaed to appear before the USCIR hearings to
be held in New York. One of Lee’s first tasks was to help complete two extensive
questionnaires, and then a set of supplementary questions, provided by the USCIR
staff. To help frame the responses, Lee sought advice from several of his contacts in
the railway industry (E. Lee, 1915; see also Scheyer, 1915).
Most of what is known about the preparations for the hearings is found in the di-
aries of William Mackenzie King, the labor consultant. As early as January 11, two
weeks before Rockefeller’s appearance, Rockefeller’s staff was divided about the
strategy that should be undertaken. In an example of the classic standoff between
public relations professionals and attorneys, Lee advocated a strong proactive
stance that included publishing information prior to the hearings, while general
counsel Murphy took the opposite position (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 77–78;
also p. 94). In another dispute, Lee (with King) successfully argued that the Com-
mission’s concerns about the Rockefeller Foundation’s activities should be sepa-
rated from the Colorado situation. But Lee was forced to acquiesce to King’s
argument that questions related to general labor policies should be addressed be-
fore the specific Colorado problem (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 125–126).
With the surprise announcement that JDR, Jr., would be called on a Monday
morning, Lee recommended (with King) that his testimony be distributed in ad-
vance for publication in the morning papers. Editorial changes continued for sev-
eral more days, until Friday night when Lee submitted the final statement to the
printer. Lee also distributed a 14-page typeset press release (Office of Messrs.
Rockefeller, 1915a).
On the rainy morning when JDR, Jr., gave his testimony, the New York City
newspapers were filled with publicity. Upon arrival at City Hall, where the Com-
mission had rented a hearing room, Rockefeller and his entourage entered through
the front door. Rockefeller’s arrival was deliberately planned. An account by
Lee’s brother, J. Wideman Lee, contends that Lee objected to the assumption made
by aide Jerome Greene that JDR, Jr., should slip through the rear door. “The days
of the rear-door philosophy are over. Mr. Rockefeller will have to enter through
the same door as everyone else” (Berlin, 1946, pp. 80–81; Hiebert, 1966a, p. 104).
That evening, Lee and Mackenzie King both coached JDR, Jr., about his first
day’s testimony. As possible, they suggested that he clarify his position on the
right of union officials to enter camps, explicitly state his opposition to a 7-day
work week, and express his resolve to solve CF&I’s problems—even if the Colo-
rado managers were offended (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 146–147). The follow-
ing morning, Lee and Mackenzie King both urged JDR, Jr., to be honest in
expressing his own beliefs and principles, to ignore the motives of the commis-
sioners, and to sound a human note in expressing his feelings. The advice seemed
to work.
By most accounts, Rockefeller’s performance on the witness stand was better
on the second day. Indeed, when JDR, Jr., concluded his testimony that afternoon,
he graciously thanked the commission, despite mistreatment by the chairman.
JDR, Jr., then received a thunderous ovation from the packed audience (USCIR,
1916, vol. 8, p. 7895). The January hearings were a seminal event in swaying pub-
lic opinion concerning the coal strike and Rockefeller’s role in it. Later, Lee would
widely disseminate JDR, Jr.’s prepared statement as a pamphlet (Rockefeller,
1915b), generating considerable demand for additional reprints and favorable re-
sponses from opinion leaders (Lee, 1915a; Welborn, 1915a, 1915b).
As part of his calculated attack on Rockefeller, the Commission on Industrial Re-
of Rockefeller’s actions. By putting Lee on the witness stand, Walsh hoped the pub-
licist’s testimony would serve as an irrefutable indictment. Lee was drilled about his
lack of knowledge about the situation in Colorado, the source of errors in his bulle-
tinsand his efforts to correct them, the impropriety of writing a letter for the governor
of Colorado, and more (USCIR, 1916, vol. 9, pp. 7897–7916). Lee’s response to the
commissioners’ leading questions can be summed up in this statement:
My job is simply that of adviser and I advise my clients to tell the truth. I think you and
I have somewhat different opinions as to the function of a publicity agent. My theory
of a publicity agent is that he should not act as an intermediary. The old theory of a
publicity agent is that his function should be to take what his employers give him to
hand to the press, and then to use his influence or any other way that suggested them-
selves to him, and get it published. That is totally foreign to my idea. My idea is that
the principal himself should be his own publicity agent; that the function of a person
like myself, for example, when acting in that capacity, should be to advise with the
man who is to take responsibility for the act itself as to what he should do and what he
should say, and that he should do the same. (USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, p. 7911)
Lee’s testimony produced hackles from the hearing room several times. He was
nailed by several commissioners, especially Austin B. Garretson, president of the
International Brotherhood of Railway Conductors. Garretson asked Lee if his mis-
sion had been “that of the average publicity agent … to give the truth as the man
who you were serving for saw it.” Lee responded, “As to your characterization, I
don’t know that I can give the answer” (Quoted in USCIR, vol. 8, p. 7910; also see
Hiebert, 1966a, pp. 101, 298).
Although Lee’s demeanor during the testimony was undoubtedly an effort to
avoid being trapped by Walsh through leading questions, Lee failed to charm the
commission. One newspaperman wrote Lee “was there with the eye of a general
staging a battle … with the acuteness of a man who wants the headlines to read his
way and who knows how to see that they do” (Wright, 1915). Yet, Lee appeared to
be evasive, uniformed in some points (Raucher, 1968), and possibly contrite—an
aspect that is surprising to many Lee admirers. But, Lee was only human. Lee
would later sum up his reaction this way:
And then they put me on the stand for a grilling. I felt very much embarrassed about
my own testimony because I had to make it clear that the responsibility for the sub-
stance of the bulletins was on the Colorado operators. As you had already taken full
responsibility, of course, the testimony was simple. The Commission evidently
thought I was a pretty crooked kind of person, and their questions were decidedly un-
pleasant; but I was equally aggressive in claiming that whatever I did was in the ut-
most good faith. I also insisted that if any errors were made, they were made unwit-
tingly, and that we were only too glad to correct them. I think the testimony as a whole
left a good impression on the minds of the Commissioners. (Lee, 1915b)18
In the several days following the January hearings, JDR, Jr., held personal
meetings with UMWA national vice president Frank Hayes, “Mother” Jones, and
Colorado union local leader John Lawson. This was a marked break from the past,
when Rockefeller distanced himself from direct involvement. Mackenzie King
was primarily responsible for arranging these meetings, but Lee was integrally in-
volved. Mackenzie King notes, for example, that Lee and he both advised JDR, Jr.,
that the meeting with Hays be held in Rockefeller’s office (Mackenzie King, 1973,
p. 152). At the conclusion of Rockefeller’s meeting with Hayes, Lee marshaled a
bevy of press people waiting outside the door to talk to the participants. Lee wrote
Welborn that he thought “much good had been accomplished during the week”
and “that a much better feeling has been established. This is the main thing, and it
is what we all here want to work to develop” (Lee, 1915b).
Throughout this period, Lee continued to carefully monitor press coverage
through clippings. An analysis of press clippings about the hearings by Lee’s as-
sistant, W. T. Pollack, showed that 520 newspapers ran editorial commentaries on
18Nothing suggests that the beleaguered Rockefeller was particularly concerned by Lee’s testimony.
Indeed, he already been skewered himself. A week after the hearings, Greene responded to a crank ob-
server who had written with advice on how the Rockefeller Foundation should handle its public affairs.
“As approved and honorable ways of doing the latter Mr. Lee will be a competent valuable adviser to Mr.
Rockefeller, and I shall not hesitate to ask his advice myself if occasion requires because I know him and
respect him. If the operators in Colorado committed on unpardonable fault it is that they did not sooner
enlist some one [sic] to perform the very service which Mr. Lee performed so ably for them. I do not hold
him responsible for the one egregious blunder in regard to the compensation of union officials, though I
wish he had caught it before it was too late” (Green, 1915). Gitelman (1988, p. 60) opined that the stir
created by the bulletins seemed to be only a minor irritant to Lee’s client. And only a decade later, one
profile of Lee described the entire incident as “ancient history” to be uncovered in the musty,
worm-eaten reports of the Commission (Pringle, 1926).
the hearings. Of these, Pollack identified 311 as being favorable and 88 as being
neutral toward Rockefeller’s position (Pollack, 1915).
Quickly on the heels of the January hearings, on January 29, Lee was elected a di-
rector of CF&I—one of several directorships that he would assume as a representa-
tive of the Rockefellers. Following his formal appointment, Lee wrote CF&I Presi-
dent Welborn to assure him of his desire to cooperate in any way Lee could (Lee,
1915b).19 In a note that Lee would later route to JDR, Jr., and Murphy, Welborn ac-
knowledged that he had been looking forward for about 4 months to the time when
Lee would become an active director in the company (Welborn 1915c; see also
John D’s press agent member CF&I board, 1915; Ivy Lee on Fuel Co. board, 1915).
Immediately following the USCIR testimony, Lee was inundated with work
(Lee, 1915c). Among his activities was the ordering and distribution of the last lot
of 1,000 Facts booklets, which he made sure were amended with an errata sheet,
distributed copies of the Commission testimony (which generated numerous fa-
vorable responses), and shipped leftover materials to Denver (Lee, 1915d, 1915e,
1915f, 1915g; Welborn, 1915d, 1915e, 1915f, 1915g, 1915h).
Controversy continued during the 3rd week of February. On February 15,
USCIR Chairman Walsh, reeling from the drumming he received at the hearings,
told his hometown reporters in Kansas City that JDR, Jr., had testified that funds of
the Rockefeller Foundation could be used to establish a strike-breaking agency.
Walsh denied making the statement, but the comment attributed to Walsh was
widely reported by newspapers. Despite an admonition from Mr. Rockefeller, Sr.,
to do nothing (J. D. Rockefeller, Sr., 1915), JDR, Jr., authorized Lee to issue a re-
buttal 2 days later (Office of Messrs. Rockefeller, 1915b). Walsh then lashed back
and attacked Lee as the source of the statement. Not surprisingly, Walsh coyly re-
minded the public that Lee had prepared the erroneous bulletins distributed the
prior year (Frank Walsh sees hand of Ivy L. Lee, back of John D., 1915; Walsh
back at John D. Jr., 1915).
19Lee apparently developed a close affinity with Welborn. The day after he inked his agreement with
Rockefeller in November 1914, Lee wrote Welborn a personal letter telling of his decision. “I need not
tell you that there are few among the personal aspects of this matter which give me greater pleasure than
the thought I shall be associated somewhat actively with your interests and your good self. I have appre-
ciated most deeply the splendid support which you have given the efforts I have made on behalf of your
Company and I have appreciated even more keenly the exceptionally hearty personal attitude which you
have so uniformly displayed to me. As you are aware, in leaving the Pennsylvania Railroad, I shall be re-
tiring from a personal relationship of almost unique attractiveness, and it is more than satisfying there-
fore to feel that in the new work I shall be forming relationships with people like yourself” (Lee, 1914aa).
Then, following CF&I’s break with the remaining coal companies, 71 Colorado
coal operators wrote President Woodrow Wilson to voice their opposition to the
appointment of the three-person Low Commission to study the Colorado situation.
Lee telegraphed Welborn to explain that the other operator’s letter had been pub-
lished in the Eastern papers. Lee urged Welborn to send his own conciliatory letter
to Chairman Seth Low. Lee undoubtedly consulted in drafting the response, which
gently suggested that there was no need for intervention by the Commission be-
cause CF&I intended to retain its own mediator (CF&I side steps Wilson media-
tors, 1915; Lee, 1915h; Welborn 1915i).
Much of Lee’s work as a staff member in 1915 revolved around resolution of
CF&I’s underlying labor problems. Among his duties, Lee fended off direct re-
quests for financial assistance, which he referred to CF&I officers in Denver (Lee,
1915i). He also monitored information received from company officials and others
about what was happening in Colorado—information that found its way into a
memo JDR, Jr., sent to CF&I President Welborn (Rockefeller, 1915c). Lee ob-
tained and forwarded a confidential report on the desperate financial state of the
UMWA (Lee, 1915j). He also politely declined a request from the Austrian consul
(whom he had met on his first trip to Denver) for $16,956 in restitution for property
lost by 77 immigrant miners. Drawing on JDR, Jr.’s earlier directive that CF&I was
to “provide fully” for any employees or their families injured in the disturbance,
Lee pointed out that none of the consul’s constituents were CF&I employees (Lee,
1915k, 1915l, 1915m, 1915n, 1915o; van Fischer-Ankern, 1915; Welborn, 1915j).
Lee also tactfully fielded still other suggestions from outside experts and others
who wanted to help (Welborn, 1915k).
When CF&I President Welborn came to New York in late February 1915, Lee
participated in a series of high-level meetings. Rockefeller reviewed for Welborn
his conversations with the various union leaders and admonished the CF&I execu-
tive that there must never be another strike in the mines. Based on his two visits to
the state, Lee was particularly vocal about the exploitation of workers by company
stores (Landin, 1915). Rockefeller and Lee both asked whether some kind of
profit-sharing plan might be implemented—an idea that Welborn eventually
warmed up to as it was discussed (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 215, 230).
The several days of talks ranged over the full gamut of needed reforms. As he
had testified he planned to do, Rockefeller reminded the group that he fully in-
tended to visit Colorado and to take Lee with him. The group also decided that
Mackenzie King should go to Colorado in advance of JDR, Jr.’s trip. Mackenzie
King discussed the idea with Lee, who thought it was a first-rate idea as long as the
public did not perceive that his investigation was in any way connected with the
upcoming trip (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 236, 241).
On Saturday, February 27, the group—Rockefeller, Welborn, Murphy, Mac-
kenzie King, and Lee—held an informal meeting with the members of the Low
Commission (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 242–245). Lee was no stranger to Seth
Low. Upon leaving newspaper work in 1908, Lee’s first job had been to write a
160-page book for Low’s campaign when he ran for mayor of New York on a re-
form platform (Hiebert, 1966a, p. 38). In light of the rebuke from the other opera-
tors, the commissioners asked the group’s advice about its own plans to go to
Colorado. Later, on March 29, Lee met with Low to review the commission’s draft
interim report to the president, and made several substantive suggestions, includ-
ing the inclusion of Rockefeller’s name. In an effort to assuage labor leaders, Lee
suggested that Low show the report to UMWA officials (Mackenzie King, 1973,
p. 287).
Following the meeting, Lee reversed his opinion about the wisdom of Macken-
zie King’s going to Colorado. Lee wanted to avoid any public impression that
Rockefeller had persuaded government officials to delay their study trip in order to
give his consultant more time (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 287–288). Neverthe-
less, Mackenzie King left for Denver soon thereafter. Lee suggested several peo-
ple for Mackenzie King to see, and arranged at least one introduction (Mackenzie
King, 1973, p. 434).
Lee devoted considerable time during the first half of 1915 to government rela-
tions. Besides the Low Commission, Lee was besieged following the release on
March 3 of a U.S. House Committee on Mines and Mining report produced under
the auspices of Rep. Martin Foster. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, for example,
editorialized that the committee had far overreached its mandate by launching into
a general discussion of relations between capital and labor and by singling out
Rockefeller as an individual (The Colorado strike report, 1915; see also Congres-
sional majority report on industrial disturbances in Colorado a curiosity, 1915).
Lee’s time also continued to be taken up by the USCIR’s ongoing inquiry. Part
of this responsibility involved providing answers to follow-up questions. Lee also
reviewed and corrected transcripts of the hearings, and responded to requests. In a
flurry of letters, Lee was asked by the USCIR staff to provide copies of yet addi-
tional letters and telegrams that he had exchanged with Rockefeller and CF&I offi-
cials in the course of his work the prior year (Brown, 1915a, 1915b; Lee, 1915p,
1915q, 1915r, 1915s).20
In March, Lee proposed that the answers to the three questionnaires submitted
to the USCIR be reprinted, along with the substantive portions of the testimony
20As early as March 25, Lee had heard that the fate of the USCIR was in trouble. Lee wrote JDR, Jr., a
memo accompanied by a confidential report that he had obtained from sources at the Pennsylvania Rail-
road. Congress had not appropriated funds to extend the work of the Commission beyond August. The
commission would hold hearings in Chicago, but was forced to cancel hearings in Pittsburgh (Lee,
given by various witnesses, concerning the role of the Rockefeller Foundation. He
recommended that copies be distributed to every public, college, and newspaper li-
brary and to people prominent in public life (Lee, 1915u). Separately, he recom-
mended preparation of a legal brief, which could be filed with the USCIR, given to
the press, and distributed as part of the book containing the USCIR questionnaires
and testimony. Lee contended that the brief should be written in popular language,
without legal phraseology. General Counsel Starr recommended that Lee proceed
on the first suggestion at once (Lee, 1915v). No evidence suggests that the second
recommendation was ever adopted.21
Overall, Lee devoted only a small portion of his time to media relations during 1915.
Lee found himself riding herd over a wide range of journalists doing stories about the
testimony, but he issued only a few press statements. In one early case, for example,
he asked CF&I President Welborn to recommend a Colorado journalist who might
be interested in doing a freelance article for the Unpopular Review (Lee, 1915x). Lee
also coordinated with Mackenzie King the distribution of an important telegram to
the Trinidad Chamber of Commerce in Colorado, and a subsequent press announce-
ment that the Rockefeller Foundation had pledged $100,000 toward social improve-
King, 1973, pp. 286, 310). Lee helped arrange at least one journalist’s visit to Colo-
rado, and enlisted Welborn’s assistance (Welborn, 1915m). An array of newspaper
clippings exchanged hands between Welborn and Lee (Welborn, 1915n, 1915o,
1915p, 1915q) and countless others were undoubtedly circulated among the New
York staff. In perhaps his most unusual action, Lee attempted to ascertain details of
plans for a new newspaper in Denver, which would have as its backer the former
CF&I Chairman Bowers (Lee, 1915y; Welborn, 1915r).22
Lee’s knack for nurturing the confidences of media personnel was evident in an
extensive memo, apparently written at Lee’s request, by S. J. Dunleavy, a former
Rocky Mountain News editorial writer. Dunleavy had moved to New York for his
21Not all of Lee’s duties while on the Rockefeller staff were related to the strike. He performed some
routine duties, such as serving as intermediary between CF&I and representatives of the Railway Busi-
ness Association (which wanted CF&I to become a member; Lee, 1915c). Similarly, Lee received and
later, after consultation with Welborn, responded to a young man who sought a position in CF&I’s engi-
neering department (Lee, 1915w; Welborn, 1915l).
22Although Lee said he was making the inquiry for a friend, Lamont M. Bowers, the deposed CF&I
chairman, had sent Rockefeller a clipping from an unidentified newspaper. The clip stated that a new
newspaper was to be started in Denver, and occupy the abandoned facilities of the Denver Times, which
had been sold to the Rocky Mountain News. The clipping stated that the Denver American was to be con-
trolled by Rockefeller and run by Bowers—a fact that Bowers did not address in any way in his letter
(Bowers, 1915).
wife’s health and so worked in a comparable position at the New York World. The
reporter detailed in 10 double-spaced pages his views on the political, social, and
economic contributors to the situation in Colorado and made various suggestions
(Dunleavy, 1915). Lee undoubtedly used this memo to push Rockefeller on the
need for reforms. JDR, Jr., would later write Welborn that criticisms outlined in
the memo should never be allowed to occur again (Rockefeller, 1915d).
Although Lee generally advocated openness and cheerful assistance in press re-
lations, client imperatives sometimes prevented him from following his own advice.
In once instance, Lee essentially stonewalled Paul A. Kellogg, editor of The Survey,
an influential publication in the social welfare arena. Kellogg wanted a response
from the Rockefellers to a proposed article from a witness in the USCIR hearings
who had been critical of the Rockefeller Foundation. After an exchange of letters be-
tween the magazine and the Rockefellers’ attorneys (Kellogg, 1915a, 1915b, 1915c;
Murphy, 1915a), Lee sent Kellogg a confidential set of background materials, say-
ing Kellogg was free to use the facts, but could not identify the source. “In case you
may make any publication on the subject, simply point out that we decline to com-
ment … to enter into any controversy with him” (Kellogg, 1915d; Lee, 1915z).
A trickier problem followed several weeks later, when union local leader John
Lawson was convicted and given a lifetime prison term for a murder that occurred
during the strike. Critics charged that the attorney representing CF&I had meddled
in the prosecution. Welborn denied the charge in a statement that was published in
Colorado newspapers on April 23 (Had no part in trial of men, 1915). Lee’s possi-
ble involvement in the development of Welborn’s statement is not certain. How-
ever, when the Lawson conviction was announced on May 3, Lee and Welborn
exchanged a battery of telegrams that compared newspaper coverage in New York
and Colorado (Lee, 1915aa; Welborn, 1915s, 1915t, 1915u). The two men were
particularly concerned about the revelation that the trial judge had received an
anonymous letter the prior week. The sender threatened to kill “all coal company
officials from Rockefeller down” if Lawson were convicted. Separately, Lee made
a long-distance telephone call to Welborn to say that the Eastern press carried a
long statement from Lawson’s attorney charging that the union official’s convic-
tion was the result of Rockefeller’s influence. Lee drafted two statements, but nei-
ther was ever used. One statement reiterated that the Rockefeller interests played
no part in the trial (1915bb). A second statement was directed to the UMWA and
criticized its attorney’s comments. After extended discussion in Denver that in-
volved Welborn and King, it was decided that Lee’s claims could not be substanti-
ated unequivocally (Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 626–627).
The Rockefeller group would again be called as witnesses in the third round of
USCIR hearings on the Colorado strike. The hearings took place this time in
Washington, DC, in May. Rockefeller, Lee, and Mackenzie King were among
the witnesses called in this round, which took place against a politically charged
backdrop. Basil M. Manly, the commission’s new research director, had re-
vealed the commission’s motive when he wrote Walsh, “I am not sure that the
papers are not tired of Bowers, Mackenzie King and Lee, but Rockefeller is, of
course, always front page news” (McGovern and Guttridge, 1972/1996, p. 325;
Manly, 1915).
On April 23, Walsh held a press conference in Kansas City, where he pub-
licly refuted Rockefeller’s earlier testimony that JDR, Jr., was not directly in-
volved in the strike. Instead, quoting extensively from recently subpoenaed
letters, obtained through Lee, Walsh contended that Rockefeller was involved in
the entire strategy, and had attempted to influence the statehouse at Denver
through Lee’s letter for Boughton. On April 25, Lee issued a one-page, concilia-
tory statement. But this response was followed the following day with a blister-
ing five-page statement that blasted specific claims made by Walsh (Office of
Messrs. Rockefeller, 1915c, 1915d; see also Mr. Walsh at People’s Power
League, 1915).
More than in January, the hearings in May proved to be an ordeal. Rockefeller
himself was under considerable personal strain at the time, following the deaths of
his mother and his father-in-law in the prior 2 months and the cancellation of his
planned trip to Colorado. Meanwhile, the Rockefeller staff again labored to pre-
pare testimony. Lee circulated a first draft to Welborn, and probably others, as
early as April 30 (Lee, 1915cc).
Both Lee’s press statement and testimony written for Rockefeller drew on
correspondence to refute Walsh’s claims. The focus was to outline a list of the
10 specific “suggestions” that Rockefeller’s office had given to the Denver man-
agement. Rockefeller also addressed charges of price manipulation and interven-
tion in the Lawson trial and the plans to rectify labor conditions. Using
hard-hitting language intended to deflate the sails of a belligerent Chairman
Walsh, Lee included an appendix that addressed other criticisms. These included
the attack on the Boughton letter, the claim that Rockefeller had withheld infor-
mation from the Secretary of Labor, the rumor that Rockefeller planned to oper-
ate a string of daily newspapers and to finance the official house organ of the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Rockefellers’ alleged indifference to the
suffering in Colorado. Lee produced the testimony as a press statement for re-
lease on the day of the event (Rockefeller, 1915e) and later as a booklet
(Rockefeller, 1915f).
Lee knew that the Rockefellers were in for a bitter fight. Based on Walsh’s at-
tack, and knowing that the documents would eventually be published in the Com-
mission’s report, Lee had recommended as early as May 5 that the Rockefellers
publish all the documents and JDR, Jr.’s testimony in booklet form. Lee wanted
the public to be able to judge for itself who was telling the truth. This suggestion
received resistance from Murphy, Heydt, and Mackenzie King (1973, p. 627).23
Eventually only 50 proof sets of the multivolume series containing all of the testi-
mony of key company officials from the Denver, New York, and Washington
hearings were produced (Lee, 1915dd).
Lee’s work again was in the limelight during the May hearings. JDR, Jr., was
drilled about origins of the project and Lee’s role in the effort. JDR, Jr., repeated
the fact that the work was conducted on behalf of the operators and that Lee never
“issued” the bulletins. Walsh read a June 11 letter that Lee had written to JDR and
enclosed a speech outlining Lee’s ideas about human psychology (Lee, 1914g; see
also Ewen, 1996). He asked whether JDR remembered and agreed with points re-
lated to Lee’s views on human psychology (USCIR, 1916, vol. 9, p. 8631). Walsh
also engaged in a long interrogation regarding Rockefeller’s views about a May
1914 article by Professor John J. Stevenson in Popular Science Monthly on the
problems of “Labor and Capital.” JDR, Jr., had sent it to Lee as an idea for the cam-
paign (Rockefeller, 1914s). Walsh proceeded to read carefully chosen excerpts,
which made Rockefeller appear to be unsympathetic to labor and the labor class.
When Walsh asked if Lee had written his testimony, Rockefeller curtly an-
swered that the answer was not pertinent. Not giving up, Walsh later asked
whether Lee had also written news interviews and statements in the testimony,
particularly one concerning JDR, Jr.’s attitude toward labor (USCIR, 1916, vol. 9,
pp. 8626, 8702). Rockefeller defended Lee, saying, “You are trying to make it ap-
pear that Mr. Lee had attempted to do something wrong and that I sanctioned it”
(USCIR, 1916, vol. 9, p. 8633).
Lee’s second turn on the stand was comparatively brief—there was hardly any-
thing that Walsh had not already covered with Rockefeller. Many of the questions
posed to Lee were recast from the January hearing. Walsh blasted Lee nonetheless:
“As a matter of fact, now, Mr. Lee, didn’t you simply go to work for Mr.
Rockefeller to do anything he wanted you to do—that is, properly—in a publicity
way.” Lee never directly responded (USCIR, 1916, vol. 9, p. 8728).
During Summer 1915, Lee was largely involved in producing the testimony tran-
script booklets. Following the near circus-like environment created by Chairman
Walsh at the May hearings, the credibility of the USCIR waned. The inflammatory
23King was in Ottawa during most of the preparations for the May hearings, but continued to be in-
volved through correspondence and telegrams, although not as extensively as he had been in the January
hearings. If he had been present, his diaries might have provided additional useful insight concerning the
coverage also diminished dramatically as the American public became bored of the
Lee’s other noteworthy activity during this period involved drafting a letter on
behalf of the operators to the Colorado Attorney General to urge disposal of the
450 or so pending indictments, many of which were of questionable merit. The op-
erator’s goals were simple: to reduce needless tensions and to get the negative
news off the front pages to restore peace. After discovering the task was nearly im-
possible, Lee suggested preparation of a position statement that could be sent by
Rockefeller to the Low Commission. However, Low was averse to the idea, be-
cause it would require his group to go to Colorado immediately to take up the mat-
ter (Mackenzie King, 1915, p. 680). The draft was never used (Lee, 1915ee). Later,
on October 7, Lee would issue a press statement expressing Rockefeller’s pleasure
on hearing the news that Lawson had been released on $3,500 bail, pending a re-
trial in which Lawson eventually was acquitted (Office of Messrs. Rockefeller,
With the arrival of fall, the Rockefeller staff turned its attention toward putting
into place permanent policies and procedures to improve relations with the miners.
Lee took an active role in these discussions. First, the staff considered the hiring of
Clarence J. Hicks as executive assistant to CF&I President Welborn. Hicks would
eventually manage a comprehensive employee relations program that included
grievance procedures and revamped social services programs (Hicks, 1941). Lee
had actually served as the inspiration for Welborn to hire an executive assistant of
this kind.25
During the same 4 days of meetings in September, Lee helped forge details of
what would later be called the Colorado Industrial Plan, or the Rockefeller Plan.
Mackenzie King had prepared the initial draft during the summer, and forwarded
the proposal to Rockefeller, who reviewed it extensively with Lee and Murphy
(Mackenzie King, 1973, p. 682). The CIP called for a company union, which
24Lee personally received mail from citizens who were disgusted with Walsh. One anonymous
woman from Kansas City consoled Lee that Walsh was a “man to be ignored” and expressed hope that
“something will be done to check him! I abhor injustice!” (A widow, 1915). Later, the manager of the
Pennsylvania Railroad’s telegraph department wrote Lee to say he had heard “the Rockefellers had put
Walsh at the head of the Kansas City Star.” He wanted to know if the intent was to keep Walsh away from
Washington (Johnson, 1915).
25Lee had encouraged Welborn to seek a person to handle publicity, particularly in light of CF&I’s
role as an important institution in Colorado. He counseled Welborn that CF&I “ought to be a most active
force for good in every line.” He added, “It is evident that when this present trouble is over, your Com-
pany will enter on a new era and there will be many avenues of activity opened up which perhaps have
not been traveled very energetically before.” Lee envisioned this assistant to the president as being of
value in larger matters, as well as routine work in the office, such as correspondence and interviewing
callers. He noted that “my advisory services will always be at your disposal, and I shall avail myself of
the opportunity to make any suggestions which may from time to time occur to me” (Lee, 1914gg).
would not be subject to collective bargaining. The plan would serve the CF&I for 2
decades until the Wagner Act of 1935 guaranteed American labor the right to col-
lective bargaining.
Lee thought it would be preferable for the Colorado company, if necessary, to
make an agreement with the UMWA rather than allow the continuation of a fight
(Mackenzie King, 1973, p. 710). However, Lee fully supported Mackenzie King’s
compromise plan, which included an extensive mechanism for promoting upward
communication and grievance resolution. Lee believed it necessary to address the
miner’s labor grievances before implementing any of the social services programs
also under discussion—including the construction of new schools, churches, hos-
pitals, and clubs (Mackenzie King, 1973, p. 710). Among Lee’s specific recom-
mendations were inclusion of language pertaining to freedom of meeting and a
schedule of wages and working conditions. Lee was the one who suggested that
the proposal be in the form of an agreement between the employees and the com-
pany. All of Lee’s suggestions were readily welcomed by the plan’s author (Mac-
kenzie King, 1973, pp. 712–713).
To sell the plan, Rockefeller resurrected his postponed trip to Colorado, which was
now planned for late September and early October. Lee had suggested that
Rockefeller go to Colorado (Lee, 1925, p. 12).26 After all, JDR, Jr., had not been in
the state for a dozen years. While ostensibly a study excursion, a secondary purpose
of Mackenzie King’s trip in March had been to pave the way.
Although originally scheduled to accompany Rockefeller, Lee did not go on the
Colorado trip—a fact that disappointed Welborn (1915v). Rockefeller was accom-
panied only by his secretary, Charles O. Heydt, who compiled a detailed 63-page
record of the trip (Heydt, 1915). The two New Yorkers were met in Denver by
Mackenzie King and his personal secretary, Fred A. McGregor. Local officials es-
corted the four men through the southern Colorado mine district for 10 days, al-
though Mackenzie King was already familiar with territory and did a good bit of
shepherding. Rockefeller also sojourned to CF&I’s mine in Sunrise, Wyoming, af-
ter which he also met Colorado Governor George A. Carlson. Rockefeller gave ex-
temporaneous pep talks to miners in each community, as well as two major
addresses—before the CF&I employees in Pueblo and the Denver Chamber of
26It is not certain that Lee was the first person to make the suggestion (see Beckwith, 1964, p. 71).
Welborn and King undoubtedly encouraged him to see the situation for himself. JDR, Jr., made his first
public commitment to the trip at the USCIR testimony in January 1915. His original plan to go immedi-
ately on the heels of King’s March 1915 visit was delayed by family deaths and the May 1915 USCIR
Commerce. Lee was undoubtedly involved in preparation of Rockefeller’s major
talks, which were subsequently reprinted in a booklet on the Industrial Plan pro-
duced the following year (Rockefeller, 1916a) and later in a vanity press book pro-
duced by Lee (Rockefeller, 1923).
Lee’s involvement in planning details of the trip are less clear—despite claims
that JDR, Jr.’s trip was Lee’s greatest triumph (e.g., Ballinger, 1994). One story
goes that Lee suggested Rockefeller and King don miner’s outfits before going
down into the mineshafts (Chernow, 1998, p. 588). However, general counsel
Starr J. Murphy had worn a similar miner’s uniform on his trip in June. Local com-
pany officials later sent Murphy a new, sharply pressed miner’s outfit, sold in the
company stores for $2 (Murphy, 1915b). Also, eight reporters accompanied JDR,
Jr., and Mackenzie King on their tour—six from Colorado and two representing
newspapers in Chicago and New York. Because of Lee’s limited contact with the
Colorado press, it is quite probable that arrangements to accompany JDR, Jr., were
coordinated by Welborn, who had cultivated close contacts with the press by this
time. However, Lee undoubtedly was able to follow details because the New York
newspapers carried daily dispatches.
During the last months of 1915, evidence suggests that Lee helped recruit directors
for the CF&I board. In fact, his only extant correspondence with Rockefeller from
the period during the trip outlined suggestions and sought direction from JDR, Jr.,
about several potential candidates (Lee, 1915ff; Rockefeller, 1915g).27 Later, Lee
consulted with Rockefeller to formulate a strategy for CF&I to increase production
of its barbed wire and steel rail products (Rockefeller, 1915h, 1915i). Lee also be-
gan preparations to distribute a half million copies of the booklet outlining the Col-
orado Industrial Plan to a broad range of opinion leaders (Lee, 1915hh).
Lee’s last major publicity initiative, while on the staff, involved spearheading
preparation of a 6,500-word article on “Labor and Capital,” which had been re-
quested by Ellery Sedgwick, the editor of Atlantic Monthly, in the wake of
Rockefeller’s widely publicized trip to Colorado (Sedgwick, 1915). Lee traveled
to Hot Springs, West Virginia, where Rockefeller was vacationing, to work on the
initial draft. However, Rockefeller did not rely on Lee exclusively for advice or ed-
itorial assistance. Instead, he also engaged in a 10-day round of revisions that also
involved Mackenzie King and Murphy. Lee worked separately with Mackenzie
King, who submitted various changes referred to as their “united advice” (Mac-
kenzie King, 1915). By contrast, Murphy also forwarded their collaborative rec-
27This was not Lee’s first involvement in the recruitment of board members. In April 1915, Lee corre-
sponded with George Gould to inquire about the possible appointment of Edwin Gould (Lee, 1915ee).
ommendations, but freely disagreed with several of Lee’s specific points (Murphy,
1915c). Although Rockefeller would later write Lee to express “my satisfaction
with the paper and my appreciation of the valuable cooperation which you and Mr.
Murphy have rendered in its preparation” (Rockefeller, 1915j), Rockefeller di-
rected Murphy—not Lee—to compile the very last changes and submit it to the
publication (Rockefeller, 1915k, 1915l). The effect of the Colorado trip publicity,
the booklets, the Atlantic Monthly (Rockefeller, 1916b) , and other articles (e.g.,
Rockefeller, 1916c) was to position Rockefeller as a leading proponent of indus-
trial relations.
Lee’s absence from finalizing the Atlantic Monthly article can be explained by
his third and final trip to Colorado for the Rockefellers. Lee went to Colorado in
mid-November 1915 to discuss publicity and other matters. Lee consulted with
Hicks, Welborn, and Mackenzie King, who was in Denver to work with Welborn
on the extension of the Industrial Representation Plan to CF&I’s large steel mill on
Pueblo. Lee advised on plans for a new employee publication, the CF&I Industrial
Bulletin, which was going to be produced under Hick’s direction, as well as the is-
suance of other publications.
Lee worked for Rockefeller for 7 months in 1914 as a consultant and 15 months as a
staffmember in 1915 and early 1916. On April 1, 1916, Lee left Rockefeller’s staff to
open his publicity agency with his brother, J. Wideman Lee, and W. W. Harris. He
had negotiated to continue to work for the Rockefellers, but quickly signed on other
clients. He allegedly told Rockefeller, Sr., that he was not motivated by financial
gain,28 althoughLeewould eventually earn far more than he did as a Rockefeller staff
member.29 He explained that “I’ll never be entirely dependent on anyone, and will be
in a position to give advice no matter how unpalatable.” He expressed similar senti-
ments in a letter to his father (Lee, 1916b).30 Indeed, Lee wrote Rockefeller on April
6 to thank him for JDR, Jr.’s generosity for continuing the employment of his former
secretary, N. W. Dengler, Jr. “Incidentally, I haven’t said anything about leaving
you, because I do not look on it as leaving. You may be sure that your interests do and
shall occupy a very large portion of my own attention” (Lee, 1916c). Rockefeller re-
28This story is recounted by Hiebert (1966a, p. 117) based on a Merryle S. Rukeyser column distrib-
uted by International News Service.
29Upton Sinclair (1923) would later chide Lee for his success in being able to purchase an apartment
at 4 East 66th Street, a few blocks off Fifth Avenue. According to Sinclair, the cheapest apartment rented
for $25,000 a year.
30Indeed, T. J. Ross, second in command at Ivy Lee & Associates, and Lee’s eventual business part-
ner, later said that Lee had been increasingly called on by other business leaders as an advisor on a vari-
ety of business activities (T. J. Ross, quoted in Berlin, 1947, p. 91). Lee made a similar comment in his
initial negotiation letter to Rockefeller (Lee, 1914bb).
plied, apologizing “that I have not had a chance to either see you or communicate
with you since you moved your office” (Rockefeller 1916d).
Lee’s decision to leave Rockefeller’s staff was probably grounded in frustra-
tion. Although Rockefeller relied on Lee, and obviously came to respect his views,
JDR, Jr., sought advice from Greene and Murphy and developed a particularly
strong personal relationship with Mackenzie King. With increased frequency, oth-
ers challenged Lee’s advice. Evidence points to an emerging lack of confidence in
Lee among the staff over the summer of 1915, despite Lee’s active role in helping
refine the Industrial Plan. On September 13, Lee talked to Mackenzie King about
the great difficulty he was having getting anything done in the office, and Macken-
zie King surmised that much of his publicity work had been stopped (Mackenzie
King, 1973, p. 740; Hallahan, in preparation). These events—coupled with the
scrambling that took place in preparation of the Atlantic Monthly article and the re-
sistance Lee encountered on his third visit to Colorado compared to his warm wel-
come a year earlier (Lee, 1914n; Mackenzie King, 1973, pp. 772–773)—suggest
that Lee might have been too strong in expressing his views about the importance
of publicity, or his recommendations for openness simply did not square with
those of the others. Although no other personal writings of Lee exist to support
such a conclusion, he appears to have been frustrated by a lack of power as a staff
member—an efficacy he would regain as a consultant (Hallahan, in preparation).
By detailing Ivy Lee’s work for the Rockefellers in 1914 and 1915, this study goes
beyond the available histories to shed light on what many consider to be a milestone
in the early development of modern public relations. This study looks beyond the
traditional focus of historians on Lee’s bulletins to suggest that Lee was involved in
a broad and rich range of communication and counseling activities. The details pre-
sented also offer insights into the tactics used during the period, when publicity
work largely depended on using newspapers and magazines as well as direct com-
munications with opinion leaders. Finally, this study presents a rare glimpse at the
interaction with a practitioner and two client contacts involved in the same project
(Miller, 2000).
Ivy Lee has been heralded as the father of modern public relations; he was
named the outstanding professional in history on several polls (Burson hailed as
PR’s no. 1 influential figure, 1999; Lewis, 1970; Top ten names in corporate PR,
1979). Clearly, the ideals that he espoused in his famous Declaration of Principles
of 1906 signaled a move away from pure press-agentry. He helped forge a model
of public relations based on the dissemination of factual and timely information
given gladly to the press and public (Goldman, 1948; J. E. Grunig & Hunt, 1984;
Image maker for PR, 1963; Ross, 1959). Yet, Lee also was important in the devel-
opment of public relations because he also envisioned a quite different approach to
how companies dealt with the public—a precursor to more enlightened views. His
enlightened thinking is no better evident that in the closing sentences of the last
bulletin he wrote for CF&I:
The strike has been productive of great bitterness and misunderstanding. It is hoped that
under the calmer conditions now to be expected that the friendliness and harmonious re-
lations heretofore existing between the companies and the men will further develop. No
company can succeed permanently which does not deserve and receive the confidence
of both its own employees and the public. It is the policy of the management of the Colo-
rado Fuel & Iron Company to command this confidence. (The struggle in Colorado for
industrial freedom, 1914–1915, Bulletin II-4, “The strike ends,” p. 2)
In writing these words, Lee no doubt helped CF&I institutionalize a more en-
lightened management approach to labor relations. Thus his words helped make
this commitment a self-fulfilling prophecy, at least in terms of his Colorado-re-
lated work. Lee’s biographers might sell Lee short when they suggest that Lee
did less to change the Rockefellers’ policies than to give them a public hearing
(Hiebert, 1964, p. 9). Alternatively, critics suggest that Lee played a policy role
in only relatively minor matters and did little to liberalize or reform his clients’
policies (Tedlow, 1979, p. 37). The evidence presented here about Lee’s coun-
seling role certainly challenges those conclusions and is more consistent with
Gras, who suggested that Lee both was interested in publicity and had a “sound
notion of business policy which must underlie any successful publicity” (Gras,
1945, p. 128).
Lee’s counseling role, while not as prominent as his publicity work, served as an
experiment in his vision of the greater role of public relations. In 1916, the year he
Publicity, in its ultimate sense, means the actual relationship of a company to the peo-
ple, and that relationship involves far more than saying—it involves doing.An ele-
mentary requisite of any sound publicity must be, therefore, the giving of the best pos-
sible service. (Lee, 1916a, p. 48, italics in original; also cited in Goldman, 1948; and
Ross, 1959)
Cutlip (1995) observes that this is the essence of today’s mature public relations
concept. Beckwith (1964, p. 67) pointed to Lee’s quick rise in less than a year to di-
rectorships in three Rockefeller enterprises as evidence that Lee’s influence ex-
tended beyond mere publicity. Similarly, Gras (1945, pp. 133–134) suggests that
Lee’s work with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and later with the Rockefellers,
marked an important second step in the evolution of public relations—when pub-
licity professionals served as close advisers to chief executives.31
Lee’s Contribution to the Colorado Situation
In recognizing Lee’s important counseling role, it also is important to avoid attrib-
uting credit to Lee goals or strategies that were not necessarily his alone. The re-
sponse to the Colorado problem was very much a collective effort. Much of the
credit for the enlightened response must be given to JDR, Jr., who following his
graduation from Brown University in 1897 went to work in his father’s office to
help manage the family’s business affairs and growing philanthropic activity.
(Rockefeller, Sr., had actually stepped down from active involvement at Standard
Oil the previous year.) While the Rockefeller staff was housed in the same building,
JDR, Jr., was removed from direct management at Standard Oil and avoided any
contact with details of the oil business (Clarke, 1925). JDR, Jr., was a sensitive and
incisive man—quite unlike his crusty, competitive father, although he was fiercely
loyal to and followed his father’s advice.
It was JDR, Jr., who ultimately recognized the need for action—both to address
negative public opinion and to intervene in the employee relations of the company,
which the Rockefellers—like all their other enterprises—left to the stewardship of
local management. Simultaneously with hiring Lee, JDR, Jr., retained William
Lyon Mackenzie King, the former labor minister of Canada, who would play an in-
fluential role in advising JDR on how to reconcile CF&I’s labor problems. Lee and
Mackenzie King agreed philosophically on the need for two-way communication,
but differed on various points as to how Rockefeller should handle his dealings
with government officials and the press. While Lee focused on public communica-
tions, it was Mackenzie King who ultimately had the greater influence on em-
ployee relations (Hallahan, in preparation).
To his credit, Lee was an individual of character, who believed in the decency
of humanity and had faith in the ability of people to think rationally and discern
truth when given the necessary facts. In part, this reflects his upbringing and liberal
arts education. Lee, like other publicists during the Progressive era, depended on
factity—the reliance on strong persuasive and rational arguments.32 Yet the mere
31Gras (1945) suggested that public relations has evolved through five steps: (a) recognition of its im-
portance by organizations (typified by Thomas Vail), (b) appointment of assistants to chief executive re-
sponsible for publicity, (c) appointment of vice presidents to take charge of the public relations function,
(d) the emergence of public relations departments, and (e) emergence of public relations as an all-round
research organization involved in formulation of new company policies.
32Lee depended on the logic of the written word, rather than emotion of graphical devices that would
be introduced later (Ewen, 1996, p. 76). In this regard, Huebner (1979, p. 106) pointed out that publicists
of the era were not much different from the muckrakers, who primarily saw themselves as inform-
ers—not leaders, revivalists, or agitators. Indeed, publicity was a cornerstone of many Progressive re-
forms (see also Gitelman, 1988, p. 35).
dissemination of facts does not constitute effective communication. Little evi-
dence, other than the political flap created later by his critics, provides much evi-
dence as to the impact that his bulletins had on mainstream public opinion. Yet,
unlike crisis or issues management today, the main thrust of his efforts came a full
2 months after the triggering event, when general public awareness began to wane.
At best, anecdotal evidence suggests that other business people, community lead-
ers in Colorado, and clergy who were already predisposed to the company’s posi-
tion were the ones to request copies of the bulletins. Indeed, Lee’s publicity
audience constituted America’s middle class (Ewen, 1978, p. 78), while his gov-
ernment relations efforts were directed to people in positions of power.
Criticisms of Lee’s Work: The Problems of Inaccuracies
Lee’s work in 1914–1915 was riddled with controversy.33 Historian George
McGovern, for example, states, “Adding Ivy Lee to the payroll augured no great
improvement, since the publicist’s function was to receive the same biased or inac-
curate information that Rockefeller had been getting” (McGovern and Guttridge,
1972/1996, p. 289). Concerning Lee’s suggestion that leaflets be placed in miners’
homes, he added, “It must have been this sort of private counsel from Lee that
Rockefeller believed to be something special. No one paying the publicist $1,000 a
month for the Facts [bulletins] could have thought he was getting his money’s
worth” (McGovern and Guttridge, 1972/1996, p. 291). Elsewhere McGovern com-
pared Lee’s work to a “snow job on behalf of the coal operators.” More generously,
McGovern explained, “It was the first time in any American labor struggle where
you had an organized effort to use what has become modern public relations to sell
one side of the strike to the American people” (McGovern, quoted in “The Image
Makers,” Corporation for Entertainment and Learning/BDM, 1984).
The problem of inaccuracies in Lee’s bulletins has been the central question in
most critiques of Lee’s work in Colorado. Generally, theorizing falls into two are-
nas. The deception thesis suggests that Lee’s work had the effect of misleading the
public. Even Lee’s largely uncritical biographer observes, “Most of the bulletins
contained matter which on the surface was true, but which presented the facts in a
way as to give a total picture that was false” (Hiebert, 1966a, p. 101). Although
Hiebert fell short of accusing Lee of deliberate deception, Olasky (1987a,b) con-
tended Lee’s Declaration of Principles were artfully concocted to deceive news peo-
ple and others about Lee’s actual practices by advocating an approach that would
33Controversy accompanied Lee throughout his career. His work for the railroads previously had trig-
gered a diatribe in Congress (see Hiebert, 1966a, chapters 7–8). Lee would be criticized later in his ca-
reer in connection with his advocacy of better relations with Russia and his firm’s work for the German
Dye Trust at the time Hitler rose to power (Hainsworth, 1987; Hiebert, 1966a).
resonate well with Progressive era ideals, but served to obfuscate Lee’s motives and
Other researchers, beginning with Atwater (1967; see also Lyon, 1968), have ad-
vanced what might be termed the contradiction thesis; that is, there was a gap between
Lee’s espoused tenets of public relations, as articulated in his Declaration of Principles
of 1906 and his other writings (Lee, n.d.), and his actions in handling CF&I’s work. No
assumption of deliberate deception is assumed, but scholars have called Lee to task on
normative grounds. Atwater (1967) contended that contradictions in Lee’s behavior
were rooted in his personal ambition—Lee’s desire for status, rich fees, a high stan-
dard of living, power, and prestige. According to Atwater, “As a publicity man with
bigbusinessmen as clients, his own personal success depended on their approval of his
work. His theory of values took precedent over his theories.” Atwater added, “His
principles established sound standards for the publicist. Unfortunately, they were too
stringent even for their creator” (Atwater, 1967, pp. 102–103).
In a similar vein, Tedlow (1979, p. 54, from Lee Papers, Box 6) pointed out that
Lee had written in a brochure he had produced in the early 1900s, “My strength is
being uniformly prepared to send to the press only such information as I can take
responsibility for personally.” Warren (1991) similarly pointed to the watchword
of the Parker & Lee agency, which promoted itself on the tenets of “accuracy, au-
thenticity, interest” (reviewed in Hiebert, 1966a, p. 49). Warren systematically
compares the claims made in the Series I bulletins to information culled from other
contemporary sources. McGovern and Guttridge (1972/1996, p. 290) noted that,
although Lee “boasted of being concerned only with facts, he let a number of blun-
ders or deceits slip by him.”
This study suggests considerable support for the contraction thesis, but makes
no attempt to defend or pass judgment on Lee’s actions. However, students of pub-
lic relations history must examine Lee’s work given the difficult circumstances in
which he worked. First, it is ironic that this milestone event in public relations was
undertaken as a moonlighting assignment while Lee carried out the duties of his
full-time job. This might explain, for example, his reliance on his brother-in-law
and the input of the clients in the early stages of the project. But after his visit to
Colorado, Lee was able to exercise much greater judgment. Was he wrong in ac-
cepting the assignment on a part-time basis? Probably not. Most practitioners un-
doubtedly would be flattered to be called on by one of the nation’s scions to help
resolve a problem perceived by the business community as having wide-reaching
implications: improving labor relations.
Second, it is easy to overlook the influence of sheer physical distance in Lee’s
decision- making. Although Lee had free railway passes to many destinations, his
clients were split between New York and Denver. And, it was largely the physical
distances between the mine district and Denver, and between Denver and New
York, that led to many of the problems in the first place. The physical distance was
a major handicap that has been largely overlooked by critics writing today when
real-time communications are second nature. Lee had to rely on correspondence,
telegram messages, and occasionally telephone conversations to exchange infor-
mation. Lee’s lack of knowledge of the Colorado culture, and the influence of the
frontier mentality on management and labor practices, undoubtedly led him to ac-
cept at face value information that was not completely accurate, or that he was not
in a position to evaluate critically.
Third, Lee was operating in a highly emotion-charged environment. Indeed the
Colorado strike was one of the first classic examples of crisis and issues manage-
ment. This emotion might have dichotomized the thinking of the Colorado manag-
ers, as well as the Rockefeller staff, who became naturally defensive. In
contemporary management parlance, they enacted an environment or worldview
that poorly matched reality (Heath, 1997; Weick, 1969). The unrelenting pressure
from union activists, coupled with support from prominent and vocal sympathizers
such as Upton Sinclair and George Creel, and the unabashed partisanship of
pro-labor government officials, would make the task difficult for anyone.
Given the circumstances, some might forgive Lee for errors in judgment when
he took information from the Colorado managers without questioning its veracity,
or possibly for not verifying the information more extensively than he did. Perhaps
a more dubious practice was the fact that his entire bulletin strategy was predicated
on making it appear that the bulletins were published on behalf of the operators,
not the Rockefellers. But, in fact, Lee consciously considered the coal mine opera-
tors to be the client for whom his program was conducted. Welborn was the one
who approved most materials, except the very first bulletin. And CF&I ultimately
picked up the entire $25,000 cost of Lee’s work, exclusive of an additional $1,000
paid for by the Rockefellers. The only real deception was that none of the bulletins
clearly indicated that coal mine operators paid for the promotion, except for the
outside corner card of the envelopes (USCIR, 1916, vol. 8, p. 7915). Was it a mate-
rial fact for the operators to have disclosed that Ivy Lee created the campaign? No
evidence suggests that anyone ever asked the question—or that Lee ever denied
his arrangement. He was, however, concerned about how his involvement was re-
vealed in the government testimony to protect his employer, the Pennsylvania
Railroad. Whether Samuel Rea or other officials of the Penn Railroad knew about
the problems in the bulletins is uncertain.
Lee’s Work in Perspective
If historians question Lee’s success, Lee was confident about his results. Although
he had an obvious economic interest in merchandising his success, he wrote to
I think your letters to the editors, the various bulletins, etc. are doing good. You could
not expect all of the bulletins to be published, nor is to be expected that all of the edi-
tors would change their point of view, but this has been accomplished in so many
cases, that the effort has certainly been worthwhile. (Lee, 1914aa)
Stories differ as to how the Rockefellers responded to Lee’s work. In an interview
in 1967, Ivy Lee, Jr., told Atwater (1967, p. 57) that JDR, Sr., did not fully under-
stand the views that his publicist–father espoused. In fact, it was not until after the
Colorado episode that the Rockefellers began to formulate policies with the public
in mind. Lee’s son believed that JDR, Jr., hired Lee, Sr., for the wrong reason, as a
publicist and not an adviser on policy. Lee, Jr., said that JDR, Jr., almost fired his fa-
ther because of the lack of improvement in the situation—and only became confi-
dent in Lee after events bore out Lee’s analysis that bad management was the cause
of the troubles.
Alternatively, Gitelman (1988, p. 60) suggested that Messrs. Rockefeller both
found Lee charming and serious and valued his counsel. In particular, JDR, Jr.,
was fascinated by Lee’s grasp of public opinion and cordial relations with the
press. In 1918, as Lee took on Standard Oil of New Jersey as a client, JDR, Jr.,
wrote the then-head of the company, “Mr. Lee is very much more than a publicity
agent. He is one of our advisers in regard to various matters of policy”
(Rockefeller, 1918; cited in Chernow, 1998, p. 584). This contradicts statements
that would tend to minimize Lee’s influence. Hiebert (1966a, p. 114) suggested
that the fundamental decisions about Colorado were not of Lee’s making (see also
USCIR, 1916, vol. 9, p. 8855). Likewise, Huebner described Lee’s message to cli-
ents as one of consolation, not reform (Huebner, 1979, p. 18; see also Tedlow,
1979, pp. 37–38).
Critics have tended to exaggerate Lee’s influence, whereas others closer to the
Rockefellers have minimized his role (Hiebert, 1966a, p. 145). With each telling, the
influence of Lee in reshaping public opinion about the Rockefellers has been dis-
tortedsothat Lee has become a myth-like legend (Hiebert, 1965). Similarly, summa-
ries of the story have become riddled with inaccuracies, as authors have played
loosely with the details and attributed to Lee actions that simply were not his.
For example, Lee was not the first publicist to work for the Rockefellers. That
distinction goes to Joseph I. C. Clark, who was employed by Standard Oil and was
involved in some Rockefeller publicity during his tenure from 1906 to 1913 (see
Clarke, 1925; Dudley, 1952; Hiebert, 1966). Similarly, other publicists were
working for large corporations, including railroads (Tedlow, 1979), and used
many of the same techniques as Lee. Lee introduced no particularly new public re-
lations techniques as part of his Colorado work, although the bulletins strategy had
been adapted from his successful campaign for the railroad only a year earlier.
Moreover, neither the creation of the Rockefellers’ extensive program of philan-
thropy (which began in 1901), nor John D. Rockefeller, Sr.’s penchant for giving
out nickels (later dimes) were Lee’s ideas, nor were they directly related to the
Colorado situation. Lee was hardly responsible for reversing the public image of
JDR, Jr. As early as 1905, following the publication of Ida Tarbell’s expose, the se-
nior Rockefeller began to redress his silence, which had led to misunderstanding,
suspicion, and hatred (Nevins, 1953, vol. 2, p. 350; Hiebert, 1966b). Rockefeller,
Sr., slowly allowed press people to interview him, gave some speeches, and pro-
vided his reminiscences to World’s Work magazine, which later were reprinted in a
book (J. D. Rockefeller, Sr., 1909/1933). What Lee did was accelerate the pro-
cess—as part of a long-term engagement that might have never taken place with-
out the acute problems in Colorado.
Ironically, it was the notoriety of Lee’s work—not the work itself—that cata-
pulted Lee into a position of prominence. The Colorado experience, particularly the
Commission hearings, gave Americans their first glimpse into the growing impor-
tance of the emerging field of publicity and public relations. And it was this notori-
ety—and JDR, Jr.’s public endorsement—that allowed Ivy Lee to leverage his
position into being one of the most influential men of his time. Thus, the rancor and
venom directed at Lee by such people as Frank Walsh and Upton Sinclair had an ef-
fect directly opposite to what they had intended (Ballinger, 1994; Irwin, 1936).
Lee’s late partner, T. J. Ross, provided one of the most balanced summaries of
Lee’s role in the episode. He explained that improvements in public opinion about
the Rockefellers
came out of Mr. Rockefeller’s own understanding of his problem and genuine desire
to serve the public and the community in which he had built his fortune. But it was the
sensible counsel of Ivy Lee, which furthered that purpose, plus the character and
warm sympathy of John D. Rockefeller Jr. as he carried on the work begun by his fa-
ther. (Quoted in Broughton, 1943, p. 232; also see Hiebert, 1966a, p. 146)
The fact that Lee served Rockefeller as a client for 18 years until his death in
1934 (and the successor agency continued the relationship thereafter) suggests the
respect and loyalty Lee engendered from his client. Following Lee’s death,
Rockefeller wrote a warm letter to Mrs. Cornelia Lee that lauded her late husband
for his “fundamental principles” of “sincerity, honesty and integrity.” JDR, Jr., de-
scribed Lee as “broad-minded, far-seeing, sound in his judgments, wise in his
counsel, and through these many years one of my valued associates and advisers.”
Some 20 years later, Rockefeller would single out Lee’s work in 1914–1915:
“What he did for us in the Colorado situation and in the general situation of our
family and business interest to the public thereafter was of the greatest value”
(Rockefeller, 1935).
Funding for this research was provided by a Grant-in-Aid from the Rockefeller Ar-
chive Center of Rockefeller University, Sleepy Hollow, New York, and supple-
mental research funds from Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts.
Public relations historian Scott M. Cutlip, prior to his death in 2000, provided his
customary unbridled support for undertaking this project.
Original manuscripts related to Lee’s involvement in the Colorado coal strike were
culled from three primary sources:
Rockefeller Family Archives, RG2 (Office of Messrs. Rockefeller), Series II
(Business Interests), Boxes 17–26, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Ivy Ledbetter Lee Papers, MC #85, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.
Jesse F. Welborn Collection, MS#1218, Stephen J. Hart Library, Colorado His-
torical Society, Denver, CO.
William Lyon Mackenzie King dictated a special 779-page memoir related to
his work for the Rockefellers in Colorado. The manuscript was later inserted by ar-
chivists into the typescripts of his hand-written diary at page 2,539, with his regu-
lar memoirs continuing on the following page. The page numbers provided refer to
the pagination of the special diary within Mackenzie King’s Diaries (1973; see
also McGregor, 1962).
The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations took testimony in December
1914 in Denver, January 1915 in New York, and May 1915 in Washington, but the
transcripts of the proceedings were not published until the following year in a
10-volume, 10,000-page report that included all of its various investigations
(USCIR, 1916). The USCIR also published an interim report on the Colorado
strike (West, 1915).
Adams, G., Jr. (1966). Age of industrial violence. The activities and findings of the United States Com-
mission on Industrial Relations. New York: Columbia University Press.
A widow. (1915, August 17). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 21, File 207.
Ammons, E. (1914, July). The Colorado strike. North American Review, 200, 35–44.
Atwater, E. (1967). Practice or principle? A study of Ivy Lee. Unpublished senior thesis, Princeton Uni-
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New York: Arno Press.
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Frank Walsh sees hand of Ivy L. Lee, Back of John D. (1915, February 20). New York Call. Rockefeller
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Box 22, File 200.
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900, Box 20, File 148.
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Ivy Lee on Fuel Co. Board. (1915, January 30). New York Times.
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23, File 206.
Kellogg, P. U. (1915b, April 8). Letter to Starr J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
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Lee, I. L. (1914a, June 3). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
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Box 22, File 201.
Lee, I. L. (1914c, July 14). Letter to Starr J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File 201.
Lee, I. L. (1914d, July 30). Letter to Starr J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II. Box 22, File 201.
Lee, I. L. (1914e, June 10). Letter to Jesse F. Welborn. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23 File 211A.
Lee, I. L. (1914f, July 1). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914g, July 11). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, 11, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914h, June 5). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File
Lee, I. L. (1914i, June 15). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914j, July 17). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914k, July 20). Telegram J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914l, July 24). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914m, July 24). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914n, June 19). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914o, June 11). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914p, June 24). Letter to E. J. Boughton. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 207.
Lee, I. L. (1914q, June 24). Draft of suggested statement for Governor E.M. Ammons. Rockefeller Ar-
chives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 207.
Lee, I. L. (1914r, July 2). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914s, June 30). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File 200.
Lee, I. L. (1914t, July 17). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22. File 200.
Lee, I. L. (1914u, July 1). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914v, July 24). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Lee, I. L. (1914w, August 11). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File
Lee, I. L. (1914x, August 16). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Lee Papers, Box 3, File 23.
Lee, I. L. (1914y, September 10). Letter to J. D. Greene. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File.
Lee, I. L. (1914z, October 13). Letter to S. J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File 199.
Lee, I. L. (1914aa, November 27). Letter to J. F. Welborn, Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 3.
Lee, I. L. (1914bb, November 13). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Lee Papers, Box 3, File 22.
Lee, I. L. (1914cc, December 12). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Lee Papers, Box 3, File 22.
Lee, I. L. (1914dd, October 13). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2 II, Box 23,
File 211.
Lee, I. L. (1914ee, November 26). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 3.
Lee, I. L. (1914ff, October 1). Telegram to J. F. Welborn. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File
Lee, I. L. (1914gg, December 11). Letter to J.A. Fitch. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box22, File 203.
Lee, I. L. (1914hh, December 7). Telegram to J. F. Welborn (1:23 p.m.). Welborn Collection, Box 1, File
Lee, I. L. (1914ii, December 7). Telegram to J. F. Welborn (2:30 p.m.). Welborn Collection, Box 1, File
Lee, I. L. (1914jj, December 7). Telegram to J. F. Welborn (3:45 p.m.) Welborn Collection, Box 1, File
Lee, I. L. (1914kk, December 8). Telegram to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 3.
Lee, I. L. (1914ll, December 9). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 3.
Lee, I. L. (1914mm, December 7). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller Jr., Rockefeller Archives, RG2, Box 20,
File 180.
Lee, I. L. (1914nn, December 11). Letter to S. J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, Box 20, File 180.
Lee, I. L. (1914oo, December 11). Letter to J. D. Greene. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File
Lee, I. L. (1915a, January 29). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 9.
Lee, I. L. (1915b, January 30). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 9.
Lee, I. L. (1915c, February 11). Letter to P. W. Noxon. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 12.
Lee, I. L. (1915d, February 8). Letter to J. F. Welborn Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 10.
Lee, I. L. (1915e, February 2). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 10.
Lee, I. L. (1915f, March 10). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 15.
Lee, I. L. (1915g, February 15). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 12.
Lee, I. L. (1915h, February 14). Telegram to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 12.
Lee, I. L. (1915-i, February 11). Letter to John J. Shearer. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 11.
Lee, I. L. (1915j, March 25). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 16.
Lee, I. L. (1915k, March 20). Memo to S. J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13, File 101.
Lee, I. L. (1915l, March 10). Letter to F. van Fischer-Ankern. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13,
File 101.
Lee, I. L. (1915m, March 29). Letter to F. van Fischer-Ankern. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13,
File 101.
Lee, I. L. (1915n, June 22). Letter to F. van Fischer-Ankern. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13, File
Lee, I. L. (1915o, June 22). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13, File 101.
Lee, I. L. (1915p, April 10). Letter to L. K. Brown, Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915q, April 17). Letter to L. K. Brown. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915r, May 12). Letter to L. K. Brown. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915s, April 27). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 20.
Lee, I. L. 1915t, March 25). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 15.
Lee, I. L. (1915u, March 20). Memorandum to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box
23, File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915v, March 20). Memorandum to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box
23, File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915w, April 26). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 20.
Lee, I. L. (1915x, January 6). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 5.
Lee, I. L. (1915y, April 3). Telegram to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 17.
Lee, I. L. (1915z, April 16). Letter to P. U. Kellogg. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915aa, May 5). Telegram to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 21.
Lee, I. L. (1915bb). Untitled draft press statement. (Not issued). Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23,
File 206.
Lee, I. L. (1915cc, April 30). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 20.
Lee, I. L. (1915dd, October 6). Letter to J.E. Greene. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, III, Box 21, File 156.
Lee, I. L. (1915ee). Draft of letter to S. Low (not sent). Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 21, File 191.
Lee, I. L. (1915ff, October 1). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File
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Lee, I. L. (1915hh). Memorandum of distribution of 500,000 copies of the booklet entitled “The Colo-
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Lee, I. L. (1916a). Publicity applied to public service corporations. Speech before American Electric
Railway Electric Association. Reprinted in I. L. Lee (1925). Publicity. Some of the things it is and is
not. New York: Industries Publishing Company.
Lee, I. L. (1916b, April 1). Letter to J. W. Lee. Lee Papers, Box 12, File 1.
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Lee,I.L. (1925). Publicity: Some of the things it is and is not. NewYork:Industries Publishing Company.
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Murphy. S. J. (1914a, July 13). Memorandum to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr., Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II,
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RG2, II, Box 22, File 200
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Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914k, June 18). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914l, June 22). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914m, June 24). Telegram to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RGS2, II, Box 23,
File 211A.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914n, June 30). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914o, July 17). Letter to I. L. Lee concerning Charles Frederick Carter
Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 211A.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914p, June 29). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914q, June 24). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914r, June 13). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914s, June 17). Letter to I. L. Lee concerning John L. Stevenson’s “Labor and
Capital.” Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 211A.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914t, June 10). Memorandum. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 22, File 203.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914u, July 15). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914v, June 9). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 2.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914w, July 21). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives Center, RG2, II, Box
22, File 212.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914x, July 20). Letter to I. L. Lee Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914y, July 1). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, Box
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914z, August 27). Memo to C.O. Heydt. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 17,
File 146.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914aa, November 17). Letter to I. L. Lee. Lee Papers, Box 3, File 22.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914bb, November 24). Letter to I. L. Lee. Lee Papers, Box 3, File 22.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914cc, November 25). Letter to I. L. Lee. Lee Papers, Box 3, File 22.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1914dd, October 22). Letter to I. L. Lee, Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23,
File 21.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915a, January 18). Letter to John D. Rockefeller Sr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2,
III (Family and Services), Box 49, File 359.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915b, May). Statement of John D. Rockefeller before United States Commission
on Industrial Relations [Booklet]. n.p.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915c, February 11). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 11.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915d, April 3). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 18.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915e, May). Statement before United States Commission on Industrial Relations
at Washington, DC [Typeset news statement]. Lee Papers, Box 57.
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Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915g, October 7). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box File.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915h, October 22). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 28.
Rockefeller Jr., J. D. (1915i, October 28). Letter to J. F. Welborn. Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 28.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915j, November 8). Letter to I. L. Lee, Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13,
File 102.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915k, November 17). Letter to S. J. Murphy. Rockefeller Archives, RG 2, II, Box
13, File 102.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1915l, November 22). Letter to E. Sedgwick. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box
13,File 102.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1916a). The Colorado industrial plan [Brochure]. New York: Author.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1916b, January). Labor and capital—partners. Atlantic Monthly, 117, 12–21.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1916c, August). There’s a solution to labor troubles, System, 30, 115–121.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1916d, April 8). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG 2, III, Box 74, File 568.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1918). Letter to W. C. Teagle. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II 2.H, Box 1, File 3.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1923). The personal relation in industry. New York: Boni and Liveright.
Rockefeller, J. D., Jr. (1935, August 26). Letter to Mrs. Ivy Lee. Lee Papers, Box 20, File.
Rockefeller, J. D., Sr. (1933). Random reminiscences of men and events. Garden City, NY: Doubleday,
Doran. (Original work published 1909)
Rockefeller, J. D., Sr. (1915, February 14). Message to C.O. Heydt [Transcript]. Rockefeller Archives,
RG2, II, Box 23, File 210.
Ross, I. (1959). The image merchants. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Sandburg, C. (1915, March 7). Ivy Lee: Paid liar. New York Call.
Scamehorn, H. L. (1976). Pioneer steelmaker in the West: The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company,
1872–1903. Boulder, CO: Pruett.
Scamehorn, H. L. (1992). Mill and mine: CF&I in the Twentieth Century. Lincoln: University of Ne-
braska Press.
Scheyer, E. (1915, January 9). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 211A.
Sedgwick, E. (1915, October 11). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13,
File 102.
Seligman, H. J. (1915, August). A skilled publicity man. The Masses, 6(11), 14.
Sioux City, Iowa. (1915, January 25). Untitled clipping from unlabeled newspaper. Lee Papers, Box 20, File 11.
Sinclair, U. (1919). The brass check. Pasadena, CA: Author.
Sinclair, U. (1923). The goose step. A study in American education. Pasadena, CA: Author. Undated
transcription in Lee papers, Box 22, File 11.
Tarbell, I. B. (1963). The history of the Standard Oil Company. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith. (Original
work published 1905, McClure Philips & Co.)
Tedlow, R. S. (1979). Keeping the corporate image: Public relations and business, 1900–1950. Green-
wich, CT: JAI.
The Colorado strike report. (1915). St. Louis Globe Democrat [Typescript of editorial]. Welborn Collec-
tion, Box 1, File 18.
The struggle in Colorado for industrial freedom. (1914–1915). Series II bulletins written by I. L. Lee for
Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Lee Papers, Box 57, File 3.
Top ten names in corporate PR. (1979, January 22). Business Week, p. 48.
United Mine Workers of America District 15. (1914). The struggle in Colorado for industrial freedom
[Bulletin series]. Denver, CO: Author.
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mitted to Congress by of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations (63rd Cong., 1st ses-
sion, Vol. 7–11). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
van Fischer-Ankern, F. (1915, June 18). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 13, File 101.
Walsh back at J. D. Jr. (1915, February 19). Kansas City Times. (Same article appeared as a wire story in
New York Herald under the headline, “Frank P. Walsh makes reply to Mr. Rockefeller.”)
Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 210.
Warren, C. D. (1991). The art of getting believed in”: The paradox of Ivy Lee’s publicity and principles
in his information campaign following the Ludlow massacre. Unpublished master’s thesis, Univer-
sity of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.
Weick, K. E. (1969). The social psychology of organizing. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Welborn, J. F. (1914a, June 15). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr., Welborn Collection, Box 1, File 2.
Welborn, J. F. (1914b, July 2). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 211A.
Welborn, J. F. (1914c, July 3). Letter to I. L. Lee. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23, File 211A.
Welborn, J. F. (1914d, July 18). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box 23,
File 211A.
Welborn, J. F. (1914e, September 18). Letter to J. D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller Archives, RG2, II, Box
22, File 203.
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... Fully Functioning Society Theory (FFST) maintains that organizations can play a meaningful role in society by empowering stakeholders, publics, and others through ethical communication processes and practices that foster shared culture and meaning co-creation (cf. Heath, 2006;Kent & Taylor 1998, 2002Lane & Kent, 2018;Pearson, 1989;Theunissen & Wan Noordin, 2012); FFST is about the inclusion of employees, relevant parties, and other groups, rather than the tacit exclusion or deception that many organizations practice (Lane, 2014;Mahin, 2017). Ultimately, the commitment to a dialogic approach to organizational communication rests with the organization and its communication professionals. ...
... Lee's contributions provide an excellent, practical path toward the type of organizational dialogic engagement that should become more prevalent today (cf. Hallahan, 2002;Hiebert, 1966;). ...
... Being open to dialogue (cf. Cypher & Kent & Taylor, 1998, 2002Lane & Kent, 2018) is being open to the potential of a dialogic encounter-something that happens infrequently in the everyday world-and accepting that people should be treated as ends and not means to ends. As Cypher and Kent (2018) argue, being prepared for a dialogic encounter requires a degree of psychological readiness: ...
... Lee's principles of providing accurate information in the public interest profoundly influenced later practitioners, who viewed him as the father of public relations (Stephenson, 1971;Hicks, 1953). 1 Despite this emphasis on democracy and the search for truth, Lee was first and foremost an advocate for the private interests of his clients. His clients and contacts appreciated his personal integrity and listened to his counsel, but his primary objective was to service the client's interests (Hallahan, 2002). ...
... En este marco, Hallahan (2002) identifica el proceso por el que los mensajes son creados e insertos como un frame y señala como uno de sus protagonistas a los image-makers, quienes desempeñan "la actividad central de construir la realidad social, ayudando a la gente a que se establezca perspectivas sobre los temas que les afectan" (p. 17). ...
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El presente artículo tiene por objetivo realizar un análisis bibliográfico sobre el concepto de mediatización en el campo de la comunicación política. Como una explicación alternativa a la incidencia de los medios sobre la opinión pública, la mediatización hace hincapié en analizar cómo los actores políticos y sociales se apropian de las reglas del juego de los medios de comunicación. Esta teoría ha sido desarrollada ampliamente en la literatura anglosajona y en este artículo se realiza una revisión completa en español, a través del diseño de cinco ejes que muestran el desarrollo teórico del concepto desde sus orígenes a la actualidad (1979-2017). De este análisis bibliográfico, y a la luz del contexto actual de los estudios de comunicación política en América Latina, surge el cuestionamiento sobre la validez de utilizar el concepto de mediatización de forma aislada, sin integrarlo a lógicas transmediáticas o de una construcción de agenda pública compartida entre diversos actores.
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Com a invenção da impressão rotativa, nos inícios do século XIX, os jornais começaram a ter uma circulação que lhes permitia propagar mensagens de forma regular e profusa. Nascia a penny press e com ela surgia uma atividade que produzia narrativas informativas com a mistura de factos de fantasia e que resul- tava em artigos e chamadas à primeira página compostas por imagens cómicas e coloridas. Na mesma altura, e a par com este modelo primitivo de jornalismo que ficou conhecido como yellow journalism, nascia também uma outra ocupação profis- sional que se encarregava de promover circos, teatros, escrito- res, empresários, igrejas e políticos – a press agentry. Sabe-se, também, que os executantes desta atividade, os press agents, atuavam com técnicas próximas do campo da assessoria de imprensa. Mais tarde, esta denominação profissional caiu em desuso e a promoção começou a ficar a cargo dos autodenominados publicists. Umas décadas depois, a promoção passou a ser denominada public relations e, mais recentemente, tem pro- liferado uma infindável heterogeneidade terminológica que vai desde communications director e press officer, passa por media consultant e pode terminar em head of reputation management ou spin doctor. Perante esta variação identitária, não é difícil perceber que abundam equívocos e imprecisões quanto às origens desta atividade de promoção para-jornalística que vulgarmente se denomina de assessoria de imprensa, mas que frequentemente pode empregar múltiplos e variáveis rótulos e autodenominações. E também é com irresponsabilidade que se atribui a Ivy Lee a fun- dação (e até invenção) da assessoria de imprensa. Então, onde assentam os pilares fundadores desta atividade e porque ocorreram ao longo do século cíclicas mutações na sua denominação e autodenominação? Assim, procurando contribuir para o mapeamento da evolução histórica da assessoria de imprensa política, partimos para este capítulo com o objetivo de: 1) tentar compreender porque decorreram estas alterações na denomi- nação profissional; 2) quais foram as mais utilizadas e em que períodos conjunturais tiveram o auge de utilização; e 3) quais os seus principais atores.
This study aims to describe the development of crisis communication as a subfield of Communication Studies, through an analysis of data taken from journal publications. By tracing the origins of crisis communication, this study identifies some of the primary forces that have influenced its development. Next, the results of an analysis of crisis communication articles drawn from twelve periodicals over nineteen years within the larger communication discipline are offered. The results suggest that Journal of Applied Communication Research has been the most common outlet for this subdiscipline, human subjects data accounts for less than half of the published research, and that crisis communication articles are often prominently featured in mainstream Communication journals. An authorship analysis suggests leading scholars in the subdiscipline, and potential centers of excellence at Wayne State University, Michigan State, and the University of Central Florida.
It is widely known that large business corporations have accumulated enormous political and economic power since the early 20th century. They not only create barriers to entry to small firms in the economic domain, they also pose a serious threat to democracy by dominating public discourse and occupying a wide range of public spaces. Efforts to halt or reverse the growth of corporate power have been largely ineffective, in large part because they have been entirely reactive. In order for citizens to reclaim the economy and politics, a new strategy is necessary, one that starts by analyzing the source of corporate power. The method of analysis in this article is historical, specifically the history of changes in the United States of the legal instruments of incorporation and their relationship to emerging conditions in the economy and business. In the first half of the 19th century, corporations were chartered by state governments to carry out public benefit activities, particularly infrastructure projects. These mixed corporations lost favor during the depression of the 1840s and were replaced by private for-profit corporations that continued using the same debt financing instruments employed by states. They were also still regulated by the states that issued their charters. When corporations sought to avoid competition by creating cartels, they had difficulty maintaining discipline and discovered they needed new rights in order to gain permanent control of markets. In the 1890s, they were granted the status of “natural persons,” with the legal protections of citizens, but they also gained the right to buy other corporations, thereby solidifying their market power and making them largely autonomous from public control. Each transition was contested, but when it was completed, it seemed to the public as if corporations had always had their new powers. In order to regain the power to hold corporations accountable to the public, those old contested issues need to be brought back into public discourse, so that citizens might decide for themselves how much power corporations should have.
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When the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of Standard Oil in 1911, it marked the end of an unsuccessful campaign by the company to improve its public standing. Standard Oil's failure to mollify public opinion in the aftermath of Ida Tarbell's muckraking masterpiece, “The History of the Standard Oil Company,” has resulted in a historiographical record that negatively assesses the company's response. This article reassesses the company response by placing it within the wider context of business history in the early twentieth century. It offers a detailed exploration of the public relations initiatives of Standard Oil from 1902 to 1908. Additionally, the article views the affair through the lens of standard corporate practices of the early Progressive Era, when large businesses had only begun to promote favorable public images. It argues that progressive reform inadvertently aided the rise of big business by teaching corporations the importance of promoting favorable public images. This wider context reveals that Standard Oil's public relations response, if unsuccessful, was not as aloof as others have argued. In fact, the company made a concerted effort to change public opinion about its business practices.
This analysis of the literature on public relations history indicates that the field has been dominated by a business history approach. Most scholars have studied public relations in its corporate context, and most have utilized business history’s dominant paradigm, which calls for a general theory of PR history based on the review of a large number of case histories. But the business history frame is both flawed and inadequate for a complete understanding of public relations history. Political and social histories show that public relations was emerging and apparently would have emerged even if big business had not. In reality, these histories are intertwined. No single strand of PR history can be understood except in relation to the others, and none should be given a privileged position in public relations historiography.