#Onthisday in 1898, a government contract was let to make gloves for the army which Congressman Littauer showed an interest in.
This became known as the Gauntlet Scandal of 1903. Members of Congress are legally prohibited from entering into contracts with the federal government.
During the Spanish-American War, Littauer Brothers had manufactured and sold three thousand gloves to a contractor for the War Department. The contractor then sold three thousand “muskrat gauntlets” to the US Army. When the charges surfaced, Laittauer turned over all the relevant books, ledgers, and documents to the War Department, contending that the entire effort was by his political enemies to discredit him.
The Secretary of War Root investigated and found one violation. However the case dragged on for so long that the statue of limitation expired before any action could be taken.
It was reported in the Schuylerville Standard that
“A CASE AGAINST LITTAUER”
Secretary Root Refers It to Attorney-General Knox. A Demand May Be Made For a Return of Part or All the Money Paid on Contract.
Washington, D. C—Secretary Root made public all the papers relating to the investigation into the Government contract for gloves with E. R. Lyon.
This contractor obtained the gloves from Littauer Brothers, the senior member of the firm, Lucius N. Littauer being a member of Congress. Secretary Root has referred the case to the Department of Justice in order that it may be ascertained if the law has been violated, and. if so, that appropriate measures may be taken in the premises.
General Davis recommends that the testimony of two witnesses who could not be found by Inspector Garlington is rather important and that the investigation be continued with a view of getting their testimony.
When taken he says it can be referred to the Department of Justice with the other papers in the case. Secretary Root in an indorsement on the opinion of Judge Advocate-General, which sends the case to the Department of Justice, says: “There appears to be no evidence that in the manufacture of gloves by the Messrs. Littauer Brothers, to be used in filling Government contracts made by Lyon and others, there was any violation of the statute except in one case, the contract of December 7 1898. “
I think the indications of an interest by the manufacturing firm in the jobbers’ contract with the Government are sufficient to require me to proceed upon the theory that there is a prima facie case of violation of the statute.
The article in the Standard goes on.
What is interesting is the way that a newspaper like the Standard reports on a local Congressman.
In 15 July 1903 the San Francisco Call reports some interesting background on this story.
DUMMY BID GETS ARMY CONTRACTS
Littauer Operates in Another’s Name. Startling Kevelation by a Johnstown Manufacturer Says Congressman Sought to Bribe Him to Defraud Government Special Dispatch to The Call
NEW YORK. July 15.— The Sun this morning publishes a special from Johnstown, credited to the Daily Republican, in which Timothy Keck of Johnstown throws additional light upon Representative Lucius N. Llttauer’s relation to Government contracts.
Timothy Keck has been engaged In the manufacture of gloves in Johnstown for thirty years. Keek’s firm always had been able to get its share of Government work up to 1896, when L. N. Littauer became a member of Congress.
Since that time. Keek says, he has had only four contracts, and incidents connected with some of these appear very peculiar. Keck says that in 1899 he bid on 10,000 pairs of buckskin gauntlets, and although his bid was the lowest he was awarded only 2300 pairs, the balance going to Lyon (who brought suit against Littauer) and Littauer supplying the goods.
Again, in 1901, he bid upon 4000 pairs of muskrats for gauntlets, and again his bid was the lowest, but he was awarded only one-half of the number of gloves called for, and the other 2000 pairs were awarded to William Topp. Keek’s bid was $1 58 3/4 and Topp’s bid was $1 76 7/8 a pair.
William Topp was a manufacturer fur gloves and buck gauntlets, and died on April 16, 1902. Two or three days after that date a large Government contract for gloves was to be bid for in Philadelphia. On the day after the death of Topp, Littauer went from his home in Gloversville to Johnstown and visited the factory of Timothy Keck & Son. Finding no, one there, he went to the house of William T. Keck, a son of Timothy Keck and junior member of the firm, who says that Littauer entered into conversation with him in regard to bids for this Government work.
“Mr. Topp is dead, of course, you know,” said Littauer, to which young Keck replied that he had heard so. Littauer then said: “Of course, you know that I own the Topp business. I have about $50,000 invested there, which I cannot afford to have lying Idle, and I want to see if we can’t make some kind of arrangement in regard to this Government contract by which I can get it at a price at which I can make something, and I am willing to make it an object to you if you will not put in a bid, or put It in at a price to suit me.”
Keck informed Littauer that he could make no arrangement with him, but he would have to see his father, who was in New York on his way to Philadelphia to put in his bid for Government work.
After obtaining Timothy Keek’s address in New York Littauer made an appointment with him in New York, and Littauer made substantially the same proposition to him that he made to his son. Keck, however, refused to enter into any arrangement as proposed by Littauer and put in his bid, but the contract was awarded to Hr T. Patterson of Philadelphia,
It was decided not to prosecute this case by the President Theodore Roosevelt’s Justice Department due to the statue of limitations have passed. In a speech in 1900, to the Harvard Club, then Governor Roosevelt said that his “most intimate friend and the person to whom he most frequently went for political advice” was Lucius Littauer.
Littauer name was later cleared by an investigation done by Attorney General Philander Knox.
In 1914, Littauer plead no contest when charged with smuggling a diamond and pearl tiara into the country. The jewelry was reported to be once owned by Empress Josephine (married to Napoléon Bonaparte). He was fined and put on probation.
Lattauer spent his later life involved in philanthropy donating more than 6 million dollars. Among his major gifts were to his alma marta, Harvard University where he funded a Chair in Jewish Literature and Philosophy, 50,000 volumes of Hebrew text for the library and established the Graduate School for Public Administration (now known as the Kennedy School).
He funded hospitals in Breslau (Germany), Paris (france) and New York (including the hospital in Gloversville).
Lucius Littauer was the Congressman that represented the Town of Saratoga. Also in 1901, Littauer traveled to Schuylerville with a group of fiscal experts on a tour of inspection of the Hudson Valley Railway Company. On this trip, was Congressman James Sherman (24 October 1855 – 30 October 1912), who went on to become the 27th Vice President of the United States (1909–12), and banker Benjamin Strong, Jr. (22 December 1872 – 16 October 1928), who went on to be the first Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There are many individuals like Lucius Nathan Littauer that help define this country and our region. It is the determination of our forefathers, in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.