Schemes and scams by unscrupulous hucksters are nothing new as we’ll see in today’s post. The American Architect and Buildings News reported about one such hustle that occurred during the 1900 bid opening of the New Capitol.
A Hustling Contractor and the Governor of Mississippi
An old acquaintance of architects has made his appearance in official circles in Mississippi, to the astonishment and disgust of the people there, who are less familiar than Northerners with the “hustling” contractor. The State of Mississippi is about to build a new capitol, from the designs of Mr. Link, of St. Louis, and bids for the work are now in course of preparation, naturally, under the supervision of the architect. A few days ago, the Governor of the State received a visit from a personage who desired to give him warning that “a combination” had been formed to secure the State-house contract, and that the architect, Mr. Link, was a party to the combination. It appeared, further, that this virtuous and self sacrificing person had come to Mississippi for the purpose of defeating the nefarious schemes of the “combination,” and that, with the Governor’s help, seconded, no doubt, by the favor of Heaven, the fell designs of the conspirators might still be thwarted. In order to accomplish this end, the champion of justice proposed that the Governor, after the bids were in, but a day before they were to be formally opened by the Capitol Commission, should privately inspect them, and communicate their contents to his new friend, who would then prepare and submit a bid lower than any of the others, which, being considered with the others by the Commission, would naturally bring the contract to him. In this way, not only would the infernal plot of Mr. Link and the other bidders be frustrated, but a handsome amount in cash would be available for the heroes in the transaction. The Governor, at this point, seems to have had his curiosity excited, and asked for further particulars; and, in response, his new friend coolly offered him a check on account, for the services to be rendered in accordance with his plan. The Governor’s reply was to send for a policeman, and the “hustler ” was forthwith locked up in jail. On being brought into Court, he was charged with an attempt at bribery, and placed under five thousand dollars bonds to appear for trial later.
The American Architect and Building News Vol. LXX No. 1304
December 22, 1900